Biology with study abroad student at University of Leeds

Sophie Barnett

Where did you do your study year abroad and what did you study?

University of Alberta, Canada. I studied Biology related topics, such as medical parasitology and human osteology (study of bones). I also took a non-biology related course in the history of clothing in the western world.

Why did you want to do a study year abroad? 

I wanted to experience living in another country and take part in sports and activities that it is not possible to do in England. When else are you going to be able to move abroad so easily?

Could you describe your day to day life whilst you were on your study year abroad?

I would go to one of my classes (normally had around 3 hours of classes in a day), study for a mid term exam, then in the winter I would sometimes go to the local ski hill for an evening of skiing.

How did you get the chance to get involved with the culture and practices of the country you studied in? Were there any significant differences to studying at Leeds?

You could choose modules in anything, things like native studies, learning to play ice hockey or curling. The assessment was throughout the year instead of one big exam at the end. You would get marked on essays, quizzes, participation, lab work and then the final exam would only be worth 30% or so. 

Student support is an important part of a successful placement. How did the support of the university help you during your study abroad year?

Leeds were amazing at helping to find a university that would suit you. It was so easy to go abroad, you research with the help of the study abroad team, look at destinations, pick 5 universities you want to go to, then get placed, fill in visa forms and off you go!

What skills and personal developments do you think you have gained from your study abroad year that will benefit you in the future? What opportunities has your study abroad opened up to you?

My study year abroad helped me to develop new studying techniques for when I was back in England. My grade average went up by 7% from second year to final year. My year abroad gave me more confidence and independence.

Has your study year abroad changed your outlook on how you see your career path after University?

It confirmed to me my career choice and gave me time to think about my options for the future.

What was the real highlight of your year abroad?

Travelling and visiting some incredible places that you normally don’t get to visit on a regular family holiday. 

How do you envisage your study year abroad to be relevant to your career prospects in the future?

I think employers look favourably on a year abroad as the confidence required to go abroad and having to look after yourself in a new environment are skills that can be used in a workplace.

What advice would you offer to students considering undertaking a study abroad year?

DO IT! You'll have the best year of your life no matter where you go. Never will you get the chance to move abroad so easily again. Don’t be afraid to get involved with new activities. 

Tell us about your time at Leeds

I chose the University of Leeds because of the fantastic student life and the opportunity to study abroad. 

The libraries have every book you will need, as well as access to a huge range of journals. The sports facilities have been great at providing a break from studying.

The Scarborough field trip in first year was a great way to meet everyone from your course and meet new friends. I was also a member of the Leeds University Union Mountaineering Club for the first two years of my degree, I met many friends there and it provided me with lots of opportunities to get out of the city and explore the local countryside.

Anything else?

My year abroad was amazing. Being able to go to the local ski hill in an evening is something I ended up taking for granted and I miss it so much. We could use the university ice rink at specific times in the week, which was really fun to go to between lectures and meet up with your friends. I went backcountry camping with the outdoors club, which was great, though we had to hang our food between trees to stop bears from eating it in the night! I went skiing several times to some amazing ski resorts in Alberta and British Columbia and got to experience wild hot springs. At the end of my trip I was lucky enough to go on a month long road trip around Western USA.

I met many friends from all around the world and loved experiencing living in another country. I miss Canada so much and hope to go back there soon.