Languages was a great fit for me because I was able to combine so many of my passions, like literature and history, with my love of Spain
Why did you choose to study in Sheffield?
I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go while I was still in school. I knew I wanted to go far away from home since I’d lived my entire life in the West Country.
I visited other universities like Belfast, Manchester and Cardiff, but the big thing that drew me to Sheffield was the range of languages and other courses available since I initially wanted to study history and only changed my mind to including Portuguese instead a few weeks before applying.
What did you particularly enjoy about your degree?
Hispanic studies was a great fit for me because right from the outset I was able to combine so many of my passions, like literature and history, with my love of Spain.
I started Portuguese from beginner’s level and with the help of some friends from Brazil I met through the Portuguese and Lusophone Society I could make really quick progress and didn’t feel out of depth studying Portuguese literature in my second year.
How did you spend your year abroad?
I spent the majority of my year abroad in Salamanca, Spain, teaching at a boarding school. I fell in love with the city straight away, and it was in a great position to let me explore the rest of the country. I could also hop on a bus to Porto, which I did pretty well every bank holiday.
My contract with the school ended at the start of June so I explored Portugal for a month, visiting Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and some of the beautiful countryside, before heading down to spend a few weeks in Andalucia.
What skills did your degree equip you with and how will this add to your employability?
The main thing is obviously the language skills. As soon as I graduated I started looking for jobs in Portugal and being able to speak three languages gives you a massive head start over other people.
I tried to get involved with as much as I could while I was at university, so I also learned a lot about organisation and management from working in the Portuguese Society in my last year.
The other thing was the teaching experience that I got from my year abroad. I fully recommend TEFL to other language students as it’s a great way to travel and improve your language skills, and without a year’s teaching experience under my belt, I could never have got this job.
What have you been doing since graduating?
In early September I found a job teaching English on Terceira Island, part of the Azores; a group of Portuguese islands in the mid-Atlantic ridge. I had been planning on moving to Portugal after graduation since my year abroad since I was full of regret that I hadn’t managed to spend more time than in Portugal.
I wanted to speak Portuguese as well as I could Spanish or English, so moving to Portugal felt like the natural next step. The Azores are an unusual place to live: I live in Praia da Vitória, the second largest town on the island, and a place steeped in history with a very unique culture and cuisine.
My Portuguese lecturer at Sheffield was a specialist on the Azores and on those who have emigrated from them, so to be here, living the life that I studied at university, is quite surreal.
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