Gabrielle Westhead is a Bachelor student in Communication, Media and Culture at Oxford Brookes University and who is currently doing her film-making summer internship in Latvia. Enjoy the read on her first-time struggles, first-time joys and first-time victories.
When I started university last September and heard the routine talk about life at university in Fresher’s Week, one thing stuck out for me – study abroad! Right there and then, I knew I wanted to do it. Research and discussions with lecturers led me to the perfect location: the beautiful south of France. Three quarters of the way through piles of application forms, contracts and thinking of strategies to learn an entire language over the summer (yeah, right!), it is becoming more and more of a reality everyday…
After receiving my nomination from the French university, I went home for the Easter holidays determined to actually tackle some of these essays due a few weeks after. It was when I had nearly finished my final essay that I noticed I had been sent an email from a name I didn’t recognise. Intrigued, I opened to email – my plans for summer were about to change..
“Gabrielle, you have been selected to come to Latvia for a three month film-making internship…”
After reading the email at least a hundred times to check that I wasn’t imagining it and running to my mum to tell her the news, I did the typical thing and wrote a Facebook status about it accompanied with a shocked face emoticon. This shocked face literally resembled my face at the time. I really didn’t know how to feel.
Confession time! I have never been abroad before so this will be my FIRST time overseas and by MYSELF. So this random but amazing email told me that I will have to be in Latvia on June 1st, giving me just over a month to prepare. Of course, this date seemed like ages away. I mean, going abroad can’t take that much time and effort… can it?
Following this email, more and more questions and things to remember keep popping into my head as each day goes by. I need to buy suitcases. What’s the currency over there? I need plug adaptors. How will I get to the airport? Me being me, I get the notepad out and write down EVERYTHING. While these thoughts floated through my brain and onto paper, one big question lingered: how exactly am I going to pay for all of this on a student budget?! It was then I contacted the right people about funding this short trip through university as an Erasmus work placement.