A huge thankyou to Fergus for agreeing to be interviewed following his Gap Year experience with Lattitude at a School Assistant placement in Australia!
Why did you choose a Lattitude Placement for your Gap Year?
I had only been outside of Europe once and wanted to become much more independent. I’d heard really good reviews from other Lattitude volunteers who had already been on the programme.
Why did you choose to go to Australia?
I wanted to do a placement in an English speaking country but one with a different culture. Australia provided this and would enable me to be able to meet new people and travel in a beautiful country.
What kind of support were you offered before you went on your placement?
The support was very beneficial to my preparations. A full pre-departure event for Australia at the Lattitude office in Reading prepared me for my placement and everything that was involved. Speaking to current Australian Lattitude volunteers who are on placement in the UK was a highlight of the pre-departure briefing event.
How did you raise the money for your placement?
I worked full time for several months to raise the money and save for my gap year. I also did some fundraising like running a sponsored half marathon. I found friends and family were really supportive in helping me to fundraise. I raised 80% through paid work, 10% from fundraising events and my parents very kindly gave me the remaining 10%.
Why did you choose to do a Schools Placement?
I really love to work with other people and inspire young people. The most rewarding part was seeing young people learn. Before I went on placement I didn’t know what career I wanted to go in to. The placement made me realise that I want to go in to teaching as a career and so I’m about to start an Access to Teaching Course. I’m really glad I took the time to find out what I really wanted to do for my career.
What happened once you landed in Australia?
I was met by Lattitude staff at the airport and we had our 3 day Orientation. This helped us settle in to Australia and adjust to our surroundings. It was a great opportunity to meet and bond with other working volunteers. The Lattitude Australia staff were brilliant at doing everything to help us make the transition to being in a new place which I was incredibly grateful for.
How did you feel when you arrived at your placement?
I felt excited to arrive at my placement and I enjoyed meeting the host family that I was living with. My host family were incredibly welcoming to me and were certainly one of the main highlights of my Gap Year in Australia.
What class were you working with and what was the highlight?
I was allocated to the Year 1 class. The highlight was dance lessons. I saw students loving being at school which was hugely inspirational. Seeing students improve their reading and numeracy skills was very satisfying from a teaching point of view. This inspired me and made me realise that anything is possible. The students were always excited to be at school which made it a brilliant environment to be part of.
What was the biggest challenge during your gap year?
There were a few moments when I was travelling that I felt a little bit homesick. But I overcame that by getting involved in activities. It was great to do a Skydive, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and go to the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains was my favourite trip in Australia – they were very impressive and the rainforest below was incredible.
How did you feel when you finished your placement?
I felt good finishing my placement as I felt I had made a real contribution at my School and I was looking forward to my next challenge back at home. It was sad saying goodbye to people at my school and my host family though. I still keep in touch with my host family regularly and hope I can go back to Australia soon and visit them.
What were the main skills you developed on your placement?
I became much more independent during my placement and was much more organised in terms of time management and booking tickets for myself. My confidence improved greatly through learning to meet new people and spend time in new environments. I worked mainly with Year 1 students but also occasionally worked with other age groups which helped me become more adaptable.
Would you recommend a Lattitude placement?
I would definitely recommend a Lattitude placement as the support I was provided with was outstanding. It was a real life-changing experience for me. The only reason I now know I want to go in to a career in teaching is as a result of doing a School Assistant placement with Lattitude. I’ve been hugely inspired and motivated by my experience.
Are you interested in a Lattitude placement in Australia? Click here for more information.