Study Abroad Reflections: Clare Grist

As we approach the end of the academic year, many students grow sentimental and begin to reflect on all their experiences of the past term, whether they be successes or some shortcomings. We can understand the challenges and wonders of pursuing a degree with the University of St Andrews, but what only some select students can detail for us is the experience of studying abroad. The Collaborations & Study Abroad Office works hard to send impressive and inquisitve students to universities all over the world throughout the year, and now that many of our students are reaching the end of their exchanges, we asked them to reflect on their semester or year abroad. These students have immersed themselves in new social and educational cultures, and as you read their stories, you will understand how much study abroad helps an individual grow and learn more than they could staying at one university. Today’s feature is Clare Grist, a third-year studying Maths and Spanish at Universidad de Montevideo in Uruguay!

“I’ve been in Montevideo now for 9 weeks and I am loving it! At the Universidad de Montevideo, I am taking classes in cinema, history of Uruguay, literature and Spanish language and writing, all of which I thoroughly enjoy. Learning about the history of Uruguay is very interesting and something I would not be able to study at St Andrews. The professors are also very welcoming and understanding of the fact that Spanish was not our native language and are willing to help us out with whatever we may need.


The university has a great buddy programme so I arrived already knowing one Uruguayan and everyone from the group of international students is incredibly friendly and welcoming, including 3 other students from St. Andrews. I very quickly felt settled and comfortable. Once a week, we have a social volleyball club with the international group and some Uruguayans which is always a lot of fun!


One thing that I have had trouble adjusting to is the food! Uruguayan cuisine is very meat-heavy and very salty and lacking in spice, something that I miss a lot from home! Last week, the international students got to participate in a Uruguayan cooking course where we made chivitos, a traditional Uruguayan sandwich, which was absolutely delicious. I’m also getting used to the Uruguayan obsession with dulce de leche, a sweet caramely confection that they add to EVERYTHING!


My timetable here isn’t too intense which has given me the opportunity to explore some of Uruguay. Although it is by no means easy, the workload is light enough that I felt I could enjoy my time abroad and plan weekend trips away. We’ve had the chance to visit Punta del Este and Cabo Polonio, beautiful seaside towns nearby and also, during Spring Break, we travelled to Rio de Janeiro and Ilha Grande in Brazil which was loads of fun! Because my semester started in March, I also had the opportunity to travel before I arrived in Uruguay and got to visit Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia!


My spoken Spanish has improved drastically and, although I initially had fears about understanding the Uruguayan accent, I’ve managed to get my head around it by now. Living with a Uruguayan family has definitely helped with my confidence when it comes to speaking.


I’ve had such a great time here already and I could not recommend study abroad highly enough!”




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