Jordan Wrigley is currently studying Economics and Management here at Aston. Last year, he undertook a study placement at Stockholm Business School in Sweden. Here he talks to us about his placement experience…
What did the work on your placement involve?
I was on a study placement, so the work wasn’t too different to what I was used to at Aston. Exams, essays, group work: the placement functioned much the same as a year at Aston would, but was structured differently – with modules taking place one at a time, a month each – and with many more opportunities for language study and picking modules outside of my usual area of study, such as Fashion and Psychology.
What skills did you develop during your placement?
Multiculturalism – Being an international student meant I met people from all around the world, rather than just the local Swedes. I learned how to communicate with people from other countries, in a place where English isn’t a requirement, and had ample opportunity to learn about fellow students’ home countries.
Languages – Learning a language is great, but there’s so much more development when you use it outside of a classroom. Being able to develop Swedish day to day, and French with the other international students was amazing. I learned more of a language in a month than I would do in a year back in the UK with a textbook.
Timekeeping – Juggling university and a part-time job in the UK can be a challenge, but when you’re also wanting to see everything the new country has to offer, you have to learn how and when to fit sightseeing trips into your schedule.
What was the highlight of your placement?
Being mistaken for a Swede was the highlight outside of studying! Knowing that I’d adapted to the language and culture so well that I could be mistaken for a local was overwhelming; I felt like I belonged there.
In terms of the placement itself, being able to study something so different was a real highlight. As much as I enjoy Economics, after four years of studying it, it was amazing to branch out and learn about topics I’d never have been able to consider on my degree otherwise.
How did you secure your placement?
As with all study placements, I applied through Aston Futures with my CV and a cover letter, and went to an interview with Aston’s international placements team.
Has doing an overseas placement helped or changed your plans for the future?
Living outside the UK was always something I’d considered, but was never sure if it was really something I could do. After a placement overseas I saw the benefits of living outside the UK, and I found a culture that I could embrace and be a part of. My goal now is to move to Sweden permanently!
What advice would you give to other students thinking about doing a placement abroad?
Do it! There’s no other time in your life when you can live in another country without the risks. Aston supports you the whole way, and you have your home country and home university to fall back on at the end of the placement. Don’t wait until you’re locked into a job, a family, or a home in the UK and find yourself unable to try life elsewhere in the world – do it now!
What tips would you give to other students to help them make the most out of their placement?
A year goes by so much faster than you think, especially when you’re working/studying most of the time. It’s not a holiday where you can take a week out to visit somewhere nice. Plan ahead, and make sure you know everything you want to do while you’re out there, and fit it around your work/study.
At the same time, don’t treat your placement as just a year that you have to do: throw yourself into it and work on improving yourself in every way that pops up. Your placement year is the year to do things you’d never do otherwise, so use the time wisely!
Make sure you’re also prepared for the climate of wherever you’re going. So many of the other international students were surprised and complaining when Stockholm had four months of snow. Plan ahead!
Has Jordan’s experience inspired you to undertake a placement abroad? Find out more about international placements, visit Aston Futures to search available opportunities or chat to us about your options.