A bit about yourself...
I’m Rachel, I’m 21 and am in my fourth year here at King’s. I moved down from a small-ish town from the Midlands, so it definitely took me a while to get used to London life! When I have free time away from studying, I love taking photographs, going to gigs, and pretending I know how to cook.
What do you study at King’s?
I study a joint honours French and Spanish degree, so my time is split between both languages. I absolutely love my course because I get to surround myself with languages but also take modules on lots of different subjects such as history, film, literature, culture and politics. It’s a really good way of trying out different things and keeping your options open.
Where did you Study Abroad?
For my year abroad, I had to go to both a French-speaking and Spanish-speaking country, so I spent my first semester in Lyon, France, then went to Mexico City for my second. Although I thought about finding a work placement for one of my semesters, I ended up deciding to study in both because I liked the idea of having more flexibility with my time, and also thought that I’d be able to meet more people in a university than an office. I was really lucky because I had an amazing time in both of my semesters and fell in love with each city, but they were both very different experiences. In France, I definitely spent a lot more time living my life like I would’ve done back in London, with doing a fair amount of work and just going out for certain things around the city. However, in Mexico I was given a lot more time around my classes, so spent most of my semester travelling around.
Why did you choose to Study Abroad?
It was actually a mandatory part of my degree! Living abroad is an important part of learning a language to a higher level, and it has made such an incredible difference to my speaking and writing skills so I am really glad it’s something that King’s makes you do. I was always really excited by the idea of travelling around for a longer period of time so I definitely would have wanted to do it anyway.
Favourite travel destinations on your trip?
I absolutely loved travelling all around Mexico and managed to cram in loads of beaches – my favourite of which was Mazunte, a tiny town on the West coast with super clear water and really lovely locals. Mexico was definitely an incredible country to travel around because it has so much variety in nature and culture, so I got to see a lot in a very short space of time. The place I was surprised about most on my year abroad, however, was Switzerland, which I visited for a few days from Lyon. I expected it to be quite businessy and boring, but I found that there were actually so many things to do, and the country itself was stunning.
Lost in translation moment?
One of the things that comes to mind first is Mexico and their interesting relationship with vegetarianism. While I was over there, a friend came to visit me who doesn’t eat meat, and I assured her that there were plenty of vegetarian options. However, in our first meal out, she ordered some enchiladas, and we checked with the waiter that they had no meat in them (“carne, ¿no hay carne en estas?”). He promised there was no meat, but, when they came, they were ham. We came back to him and asked him for something that didn’t have any meat whatsoever in it, as my friend wouldn’t eat it, and he brought out a second set of enchiladas, claiming that they were “vegetarianas”. My friend got three bites in and realised that they were chicken! We all thought it was crazy that this guy didn’t understand the concept of no meat, but, after thinking about it, I realised that it probably came from the fact that, in Mexico, the word “carne” (which in Spain just means “meat” as a general term) is used a lot more to mean red meat specifically. We’d completely forgotten the difference.
What advice do you have to anyone interested in travelling abroad?
Be open! Although a lot of things about living abroad can be scary, often the best things you experience are those that you don’t see coming. When you’re abroad, you will have more free time, and the people around you will have more of a ‘let’s go enjoy this as much as possible’ attitude, so really make the most of trying out things you wouldn’t ordinarily think of doing. This year is all about new experiences, and you might find something you fall in love with!
Where would you like to travel to next?
After 6 months in Latin America, for my next trip I’m actually thinking of something a bit closer to home, and would absolutely love to go to Scandinavia. I’ve heard amazing things about Norway and Sweden, and have family in Copenhagen so a winter holiday in the snow sounds perfect! Although I always like to keep an eye on cheap flights on Skyscanner so watch this space…