Top tips from Student Ambassador Lea on life in the UK

Since the start of the year, Lea has been completing a work experience programme here in Devon. During her time, Lea became Student Ambassador and has reflected on her experience, along with providing some great advice for future students...

I've been living in South England for 22 weeks, coming all by myself to hopefully have a good experience, meet new people and improve my English. I never thought that these 22 weeks (almost 6 months) would be like this.

I will not write about sightseeing things you can do around Torbay but I will tell you about my experience and some cute little spots I found while living in South England.

At first, I think it's helpful to know that every beginning is new, different and uncertain. I flew to England with a mixture of feelings. I was happy to go somewhere new but sad to leave all my beloved people at home, curious about the next 22 weeks but also counted the days when I will see my family again. To summarize these feelings I think I knew that these following weeks will be the ones I will remember forever.

I attended a language school in my first 2 weeks in Torquay to get back into speaking English as I haven't done it since my graduation in June 2018. In this school, I met an Italian girl named Maria who turned out to be one of my best friends during my stay. It was really good that she wasn't German as I am, so we really had to speak English.

One of the important things I learned right at the beginning of my experience is that I have to be open and get to know people that maybe I wouldn't normally choose as my friends. I can't even say how many people I became friends with during my stay whether from my internship, from the language school or at the meeting from TTPL each week. The point is to be open and get confident in speaking to newly arrived people to welcome them and try to talk to as many as you can. 

After about half of my stay, Debra asked me to be the ambassador for Torbay which was a new step in my experience. With this, I even spoke to more people and try to talk to people from different countries as well because this is how you practice English the best. Sometimes other people don't understand every word that you're saying and instead of typing the word in into a translator into their language, just try to explain the word with other words. This is what I learned in school and for this, it really helped.

If you're living in Torquay, Paignton or Newton Abbot (this is a town nearby, where I lived), here are my favourite places where I spent my time with my friends. There is a cute little coffee in Torquay named "Calypso" which is just lovely, as most of the English people! It is really charming and every time I went there I felt a bit more settled in. Another spot is a small beach behind the aquarium called Living Coasts. This place is great to just hang out with your friends and have a nice time. I cannot count the number of times we have been there to just relax and be grateful to have such a cute beach nearby (a pic of it below). If you love penguins as much as I do I recommend visiting Living coasts where many penguins are just walking right next to you (so cute!).

Having a "cream tea" is also something I would suggest to try as it is now my new favourite dessert! It is served as having an English Scone filled with Cream and Jam and with Tea or coffee. 

And of course one of the things you should do the most is going to a pub and enjoying a typical English beer or cider. My favourite pub is called "Jolly Farmer" in Newton Abbot.

Another suggestion from me would be to try to get in touch with English people too, to get into the culture even more and learn some words just British people use as "lush", "Hiya or saying "cheers" instead of "thank you".

All in all, I am very proud of myself that I did this experience. I've grown as a person, improved my English and made friendships with people who will always be in my heart. I can highly recommend an experience in another country to learn a bit more about yourself and make memories for your life. Maybe my blog post will help you if you don't know if you should and can do a stay abroad? I say you should and you can! smile