Royal Holloway students on their year abroad during a pandemic

‘It’ll be what it’ll be’

The build-up to a year abroad is always full of excitement for those who chose it – that is until Covid-19 happened. There were endless questions about where and when students could travel or if they could at all. After many language students’ year abroad were cut short last year due to the pandemic, there was no guarantee as to whether this year would go ahead.

It wasn’t until July Royal Holloway decided to give students a choice between deferring their year abroad or continuing as normal.

Those who decided to go on their year abroad this academic year have spoken to The Tab Royal Holloway about their experience so far.

Views like these as you go to uni- not complaining

Tilly, third year, French and English

Tilly is currently teaching in six primary schools in northern France.

She told The Tab Royal Holloway: “It has been great. There were additional challenges this year but I think the same can be said for any student. A lot of the pre-planning involved thinking it’ll be what it’ll be. It is so much fun, the children are excited to learn but it is definitely testing my knowledge of nursery rhymes!”.

Mary, third year, French and German

Mary had planned on splitting this academic year abroad between Germany and France. She said: “It’s amazing even though there are no current events. In Germany everything is closed so I’m basically just going around the city. The most stressful part was trying to find a place.”

She had concerns about borders closing or national lockdown because in Germany, cases continue to rise and it’s the same situation in France.

Alice, third year, Classics and French

Alice is in Annecy, France and is spending her time working as an English Assistant in an A-Level Maths class. Annecy is a town in the South East of France bordering Switzerland and Italy.

She said: “Despite not studying at university I still have access to Erasmus funds and France also has an organisation which gives a certain amount of money for living expenses, so it’s definitely doable. Also, people are very considerate of you as a foreigner and try to help as much as possible. Coronavirus has hit France badly. What sucks the most is losing the ability to have social interactions with French speakers, especially since the latest quarantine rules. I speak French with the other assistants and try to talk as much as possible with the teachers, to compensate.”

vibing with the whole thing; the skirt, the plants, EVERYTHING


Maria, third year, French

Maria is currently working as a language assistant at a school in Épernay.

She told The Tab Royal Holloway: “My experience so far has been amazing and has been such a wonderful opportunity to meet new people. For the past month, I have loved getting to know the French culture and have enjoyed appreciating the beauty of France.”

Juliet, third year, Spanish and English

Juliet is in a remote part of Castilla y León in Spain.

She told The Tab Royal Holloway: “So far I have had a positive experience. Nobody really speaks English, which is amazing for my language learning and terrible for my homesick moments. There also are times I find I am much better than I thought. The main challenge I have faced being here was the Spanish bureaucracy to open a bank account. At the moment, I’m getting settled into the bubble of my town – hopefully travel will follow.”

She also said: “Once you get the big things sorted the little things will be ok.”