Lizzie Fane is a graduate from the University of Edinburgh where she did a Joint Honours Masters degree in Italian and History of Art, with minors in French and Mandarin Chinese, and spent her third year abroad at the Università degli Studi di Firenze in Italy. After two months of culture shock, language barriers and Italian red tape, Lizzie began work on a website to solve the problems she and her friends experienced while abroad, and created the social network ThirdYearAbroad.com to help other students in her situation. Often students are put off studying a language at university because of worries about the compulsory year abroad, so the network offers a platform where year abroad students and graduates can come together to ask and answer questions about the year abroad based on their experiences, and make the whole process less scary and more fun.
“Many people think that studying a language at university can only lead to becoming a teacher, interpreter or translator. These are really important careers, but language skills open up a much more extensive range of options for graduates! The results of the British Academy and UCML’s ‘Valuing the Year Abroad’ report include case studies of bilingual graphic designers, journalists, lawyers, EU officials, actresses, engineers, dieticians, PAs, pilots and police officers. Language skills enable you to have an exciting, varied career involving foreign travel and work abroad, and bringing international business to any company you choose to work for. Everything I’m working on now is aimed at inspiring students to study languages at university so they (and the UK) can reap the benefits.”