Take a break with a 'sandwich'

Overseas-education | Crystal Wu 31 Aug 2021

Some people know early in life what they want to do when they are older, but that is rarely the case for a lot of students, including Student Globetrotter of the week Jorja Townson.

Interested in many fields, it was difficult for Townson when it came to choosing a course and a university to go to.

"Because I was not 100 percent sure on what I wanted to do, I had three different courses that I would love, but they were very different," she recalled.

While looking up students' reviews and school rankings helped her gain insight into what different universities and programs were like, Townson was still unsure of what she wanted to do and therefore took a gap year.

"This is in between your high school and your university, or after university - your gap year can be anywhere - but it is when you take a year out of your studies to do anything.

"So that could be traveling, that could be work experience, that could be volunteering," she said.

Townson took her year off to work as a teaching assistant in a boarding preparatory school for students between years five and 12.

"It has given me an experience of what my course may look like, as a teaching degree is very practical and hands-on," she said. "That's how I knew that I wanted to do a teaching degree."

The remaining challenge is which university to go to?

Among Townson's criteria are the accommodation and facilities, but an important aspect is the support provided by the university.

"Because I struggle with dyslexia, I would appreciate the support that the university can provide for me so that I can create the best papers and assignments I can."

Another criterion was the course structure provided by different universities in primary education.

The course structure at the University of Western England Bristol is ideal for Townson as it provides students with a "sandwich" year.

"You can go away for a year and teach in a different country like South Africa," she said. "You are able to do that within your four years of studying, so I thought that was really cool."

After applying for the universities through UCAS, Townson was then invited for a group interview with the universities online, due to the pandemic.

"Bristol asked me to make a five-minute presentation on something to teach the other people in the interview online," she recalled. "So I decided to choose a little five-minute Mandarin lesson."

Her counterparts taught a variety of things, including French and rugby. She described the experience as interesting, but said she felt nervous.

Upon getting her offers in UCAS, she made her insurance choice and a firm choice. Students who choose an unconditional offer as their firm choice will not have to make the insurance or second choice.

"At this stage, I was all done - I've chosen my accommodation, my course, my university and I am ready to start in September."


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