My Year Abroad Studying in Las Palmas

I’ve just returned to Belfast after spending the last nine months studying Translation and Interpreting at the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. The year abroad is undoubtedly the scariest, but also the best, part of a language degree.It was an unforgettable experience which has allowed me to vastly improve not only my level of Spanish and my cultural awareness, but also my ability to fend for myself having never lived away from home before.

I arrived in Las Palmas last September without knowing anyone and with very littleknowledge of the city or the course. I must admit that I’ve never been so terrified and during the first few weeks of flat-hunting and trying to understand the unfamiliar Canarian accent and slang I wondered how I’d ever be able to cope for the rest of the year.It was difficult to imagine how anyone could study in such an amazing place with temperatures in the thirties and so many beaches to choose from. However, I soon found a flat with students from France and Spain and made lots of friends,both with the Canariansand other Erasmus students from all over the world, and we all helped each other to find our feet.There were Erasmus events most weekends such as boat parties and asaderos (BBQs) and everyone was extremely friendly. I was lucky enough to see my favourite Spanish band EfectoPasillo perform a few times as they are from Gran Canaria and the two-week long carnival, which is supposedly the second biggest in the world after Rio, was incredible. By the end of the year I was so busy that I didn’t even have time to think about home!

Studying at a foreign university was the perfect way to improve my Spanish as all the classes were taught in Spanish and although they were difficult at first I learnt a range of skills that have improved my overall ability as a language student. I not only learnt how to translate and interpret into Spanish but also how to dub and subtitle. The first few days of class were incredibly daunting as I struggled to understand what was going on and was too self-conscious of my level of Spanish to converse much with the Canarian students but by the end of the year I felt like I had known them forever and I still talk to many of them every day. I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone and it has made me a much more confident and independent person.

However, my year abroad isn’t over yet! As a joint honours student in French and Spanish  I will be spending July studying French at the University of Grenoble with other Queen’s students. Finally, to top off what has already been an incredible year, I will be spending August travelling around some of the most famous landmarks in South America before returning to Queen’s for my final year.