Home and Away

By Caragh Aylett

Last year, I was lucky enough to take a year abroad, this year I’ve been lucky enough to be elected as the SJCR year abroad rep.

Many students choose to take a year abroad for a variety of reasons: a chance to develop language skills for their degree or otherwise, to see the world, to make new friends from tonnes of different places or maybe even just to extend their degree by a year!

It can be difficult to leave the lovely community in John’s, especially if you know that many friends will graduate before you return. As a result, I’ve worked hard this year to ensure that students abroad feel a part of the community even while they’re a thousand miles (or more!) away.

At the beginning of the year, I, along with other students who had just returned from a Year Abroad and the welfare team created a Year Abroad Handbook to help students if things don’t go so well during the year. It covered key topics such as homesickness, loneliness and culture shock, as well as more positive things such as sharing people’s favourite parts of their Year Abroad.

In Michaelmas term, I ran an event to allow first and second year John’s students to consider whether they might want to take a year abroad. As always, John’s students were quick to support this idea and those who had already done their year away were ready to answer any questions and encourage other students.

Last term, I hosted a postcard writing event where students in Durham could write a postcard to those on their Year Abroad. It was great to see first year students writing postcards to people that they had never even met, as well as older students using this as a great opportunity to keep in touch with their friends. To me, this event really reflected the welcoming and friendly community of the college and reminded me of why I’m so proud to be a Johnian!

At the end of Epiphany term, Ruth took over as Year Abroad Rep and has been continuing to send out postcards and encouraging emails to those away. Alongside this, she is currently working on updating the handbook as well as planning another information event at the end of this term.

Looking forward, I hope that the SJCR will continue to find new ways to support students on their Year Abroad and ensure that they continue to feel part of the great community that we have in John’s.

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