Notes: Aero-Mechanical Engineering Student
My name is Euan and I’m an aero-mechanical engineering student about to enter my honours year at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
What languages have you learned?
My first experiences with learning a language came at the end of primary school where we were taught the fundamentals of French. I continued to develop my knowledge of French throughout secondary school taking it as far as higher level. Despite deciding not to study a language course at university I was keen to continue developing my French and so elected to take an intermediate class in my first year at university.
In my third year at university I was lucky enough to be involved in the Erasmus exchange programme which allowed me to spend the year studying at the Czech Technical University in Prague. While in Prague I was determined not to rely on communicating in English and so I signed up for a beginners course in Czech to help me get to grips with the basics of the language.
How have language skills helped you so far?
One of the main lessons I learned from living in a foreign country for a year was that having even a basic understanding of the language allows you to integrate with much greater ease into the local culture. When simple tasks such as going shopping or asking for directions can be carried out without first having to ask to continue the conversation in English not only does it make life a lot simpler but gives you a great sense of achievement. I think it’s safe to say that having already studied French helped me a lot when trying to pick up Czech, knowing what to expect when first starting to learn a new language makes everything easier.
Another aspect of life I’ve found where language skills help massively is when meeting new people. Having a passion for language helped me a lot when making new friends while I was on exchange. My roommate's attempts to teach me some basic Spanish phrases and my hilariously bad attempts at pronouncing them went a long way in getting over the early awkwardness that comes when living with a new set of people.
What benefit do you think languages will have on your future career?
When the time came for me to select my degree choices for university one of the main draws to a career in engineering was the ability to travel that it offers. I’ve always been interested in the idea of living and working abroad and my year in Prague has only fuelled this desire. Learning a foreign language or even just having the desire to learn one opens up countless employment opportunities all over the world and would allow me to better communicate with international colleagues.
Do you have any advice for those looking to learn a language or study abroad?
My first piece of advice for anyone considering studying abroad or learning a language would be to go for it. The year I spent in Prague was the most exciting year of my life, not only did it allow me to experience life in a major European city and make new friends from all around the world but I’ve also grown in self-confidence. I would particularly recommend studying abroad for anyone, like me, who is still living at home while at university as living in a completely foreign environment gives a great opportunity to gain some independence and experience a new side of university life.
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