Name: Dan Barnes
Degree: American Politics with History
Job: Reinsurance underwriting technician
Year of graduation: 2011
University: The University of Arizona
Looking back, the year abroad was the best year of my life. The experiences and challenges I had to overcome have led me in good stead in the three years since I have got back. The University of Arizona was a fantastic and welcoming College with fantastic support to the international students. When arriving in Tucson a couple of my friends and I decided to live on off campus housing, meaning we were extremely self-dependent. It was very similar to living in Norwich in the 2nd year, apart from the swimming pool, hot weather, cacti, basketball courts, volleyball courts and bikini clad females. It is true what they say to you in the pre departure meeting, the worst part of the year abroad programme is coming back to England. I also feel that I didn’t appreciate it enough when I was there, it went far too quickly. My professors included a former UN ambassador to Finland, a former Chief of Staff to Senator DeConcini, as well as many other experts in their specialised fields.
As a result of my year abroad I think that I gained a lot more confidence than I had before I went, as I had to throw myself into a completely different culture than what I was used to. Before I went I didn’t think that their culture would be much different from ours but as I was mistaken I had to adapt quickly to my new surroundings. The Americans who lived in the same complex as me made it very easy for me to fit in and my confidence grew as a result. In England I lived two hours away from UEA, so if I needed to go home for whatever reason I could. This was not an option in Arizona. If I had a problem I had to lean on people who I had only really just met, or dealt with issues on my own. I grew up throughout the year, coming back a lot more mature than when I left. Both these aspects have helped me in the working world, as I have to constantly deal with brokers and lawyers from all around the world, and I now have the confidence to just talk to them. The year abroad is also a great conversation starter when you meet Americans in the insurance market and you are remembered because of this. My year in Arizona helped me become a more rounded and cultured individual, meeting people from all over the world. The way I was able to meet and introduce myself to people who I would not have normally spoken to has helped me a great day in the business world, meeting new people every day.
After leaving university I took a job in the Insurance industry as a Reinsurance underwriting technician. Although this is not particularly connected to a degree in American Politics and History, the skills I learned have helped me a great deal. Communication is key in the business world and the confidence and ability to talk to new people I learnt when I was away has helped me. Insurance is an extremely international business so the lessons I learnt from living in another country sometimes help me when we do business in America. The fact I have lived in America is something that a lot of people here at work find fascinating and am often asked by many senior people about my experiences and it helps in getting my name about. It wasn’t easy finding a job after university but I do feel that doing the year abroad opened many more doors for me than may have been open otherwise.