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France, Spain, Belgium and Singapore: The Insider Scoop

When traveling to a country, it’s hard to know where to go and what to do – especially if you want to escape the beaten track and really get stuck into the culture. So who better to give us the scoop than someone who’s not only travelled in that country, but spent an entire year there soaking up all it has to offer?

Recently back from their Year Abroad, these students are here to share their top travel tips and exclusive insider info…

 

Olivia, 4th year student of French, Italian and Spanish:

Where did you go on your year abroad?

I spent the whole year in Brussels at uni, but spent a month the summers before and after in Italy and Spain respectively to work on those languages too. I also did a Spanish tandem and studied Spanish modules while I was in Brussels.

Your favourite thing about where you spent your year abroad?

My favourite thing was about Brussels was falling in love with a city I knew almost nothing about before! I found it to be the most incredible place to live as it’s not too big so feels homely but it’s still a city with loads to do. The locals were so open and I’ve never been anywhere with more cultural events, parties and socials on all the time around the city. I loved the multicultural nature of the city. There were just so many people from all over the world who spoke different languages. My flat mates and my friends came from all over Europe which was perfect for my language degree!

Somewhere amazing that you visited?

Somewhere amazing I visited would probably be Vienna. I used my reading week to hitchhike the 1600km+ from Brussels to Vienna, exploring Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Stuttgart and Munich on the way. It was the most amazing experience to just travel without plans over such a distance and passing so many different cultures.

One insider travel tip?

I’d recommend using free sites like Couchsurfing for a free overnight stay. I met so many incredible and friendly people from just hitching a lift with them or staying in their spare room.

Any advice for someone traveling there?

Don’t be afraid to just take off and go somewhere! Just go and have adventures. But obviously be safe and travel with a guy when hitching!

Saskia, 4th year student of Spanish and French

Where did you go on your year abroad?

I went to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to study for 6 months, and Paris to work for 5 months.

Your favourite thing about where you spent your year abroad?

My favourite thing about Santiago was the food market (surprise, surprise!) and all the fresh, local produce, plus the incredible culture of Galicia (the region): their music, myths etc. And in Paris I adored the architecture and the boulangeries.

Somewhere amazing that you visited?

I visited Lisbon which I loved. I’d never been to Portugal before and it’s gorgeous! Tiles everywhere and pastel de nata (Portugese egg tarts) which were heavenly!

One insider travel tip?

It’s not a touristy place to visit, but Galicia has a stunning coastline with white sand beaches and turquoise waters – it could almost be the Caribbean if it was a bit warmer!

Any advice for someone traveling there?

One piece of advice for someone going to Santiago would be to eat Pulpo (octopus) in their famous Gallego style. I thought I’d hate it but it’s delicious!

Ally, 4th year student of History and French:

Where did you go on your year abroad?

I was working in Nimes in the south of France for 9 months and then Nice for 2 months.

Your favourite thing about where you spent your year abroad?

It probably sounds quite cliché but I loved the sunshine and the café culture. It was always warm enough to sit outside and enjoy either a coffee in the morning or an apero after work. That’s what I miss the most!

Somewhere amazing that you visited?

My favourite place I visited was probably Baux de Provence. It’s a little town situated right on the top of a hill in Provence and has the most amazing views. It also has art exhibitions in an old limestone quarry, projecting the art pieces on the walls, ceiling and floor – it’s amazing!

One insider travel tip?

If you’re ever in Nimes, go to the Jardin de la Fontaine and climb right up to the top – it’s beautiful. And don’t miss out on the rooftop bar in the Carré d’Art that looks over the Maison Carré, a Roman Temple. It’s absolutely stunning.

Any advice for someone else traveling there?

If you’re ever in France, download the app ‘Drivy’. It’s car hire but between individuals, a bit like Airbnb. It’s so handy and flexible and about a quarter of the price of going through a big company like Hertz. I used it regularly, sometimes just for a day to go out exploring or for weekends away.

Ellie, 4th year student of Biochemistry:

Where did you go on your year abroad?

I went to Singapore and studied at Nanyang Technological University.

Your favourite thing about where you spent your year abroad?

As it’s a relatively new country, the people of Singapore are a mix of Indian, Malaysian and Chinese. The mix of cultures is incredible and there’s a great sense of diversity. This also means there are so many different festivals and religious holidays to celebrate during the year for each culture, which all have a great atmosphere, like Chinese New Year or Deepavali. Its culture of inclusivity and diversity is empowering.

Somewhere amazing that you visited?

I was lucky to travel quite a lot because of Singapore’s location in Asia, but some of the most fantastic countries I visited were Japan and the Philippines. Japan is a complete contrast between old and new, and is a truly incredible place. You could be walking through the high rises of Tokyo, turn a corner and enter a beautiful, quiet Japanese garden or temple. And the food is amazing! The Philippines is an absolutely wonderful place for beaches, sunshine and some of the happiest, loveliest people you’ll ever meet!

One insider travel tip?

Something I’d definitely recommend is spending an evening on Satay Street. Eat freshly made traditional Satay from food stalls whilst having a beer in the street between some of the city’s biggest high-rises.

Any advice for someone else traveling there?

When visiting Singapore, one of your biggest priorities should be FOOD! Eating your way around the city is one of its highlights – all its different ethnicities gives incredible quality and so much variety. You could spend each day eating different things and never have the same thing twice. And it’s so cheap! Singapore is the home to the cheapest Michelin star in the world – a food stall of Singaporean speciality Chicken Rice!

I'm a final year languages student with a passion for art and travel. My favourite place to go? Everywhere and anywhere in Italy, which is probably where you'll find me, cappuccino and sketchbook in hand.
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