From Cardiff to Bordeaux: Rhiannon’s Adventure Abroad !


Guest post by Rhiannon Harry

Being a recent languages graduate of Cardiff University (BA Welsh & French) I was unsure of what I wanted to do next – go into further education, or go down the teaching, translation or journalism route? Torn between the vast opportunities involved with languages as a result of varied work experiences, I decided I wouldn’t mind spending more time living and working abroad – and that’s when I stumbled upon the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme. Not only would it provide me with valuable experience of working abroad, but expand my cultural awareness and linguistic skills, as well as gaining a City and Guilds Professional Development Award and Europass by the end of it. A win-win situation!

I opted for Bordeaux (as much as Seville, Florence and Berlin all sounded extremely tempting) as I wanted to further improve my French language skills and live la belle vie française once more. After having previously worked abroad as part of my degree as an English language assistant in two French secondary schools, I wanted to gain a different kind of work experience. My three-month stay in Bordeaux started off with a four-week language course, which was perfect for brushing up on my French before starting the ten week work placement. At the end of the language course I attended an interview and got a placement in the international relations department of Université Bordeaux Montaigne. It was just perfect for me, as it gave me valuable administrative, marketing and project management experience within the Higher Education sector. My role consisted of organising and managing my own project, which was to create brochures for all outgoing Erasmus+ students. This allowed me to network and meet a range of professors and international students, whilst increasing my confidence in speaking French.

I felt I really made the most of my experience there, constantly getting involved with events at the university, such as a staff relay, various cultural evenings, a film night, and wine and tapas on Friday evenings. Fortunately I was also with a great group of fellow Welsh participants so we socialised in the evenings and on weekends, and managed a wine tasting trip to Saint-Emilion, trip to Arcachon and made plenty of new French friends. I fully immersed myself in the French culture, met some lovely people and have very memorable experiences of my time in Bordeaux.

Since arriving home I have a much clearer idea of what sector of work I want to be in, and having the Professional Development Award qualification has been a great benefit for job interviews. Employers really value work experience abroad as it shows you’re able to adapt to a different work culture and the different life experiences help make you a more rounded individual – which is great for standing out on the CV! I have since got a job at Swansea University working in student recruitment, mainly working with post-graduate and overseas students, which is right up my street after my work placement in Bordeaux.

I have already thoroughly recommended the programme to fellow graduates and friends as I think it is a wonderful opportunity and certainly enhances your future career prospects. I wish I could do it all over again!