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Third Year Abroad Awards winners announced

A student from Sheffield Hallam University has been named the most transformed study abroad student in the UK, winning the Universities Choice category in the Third Year Abroad Awards, which celebrate UK students who have spent time studying, working and volunteering abroad.

The winning entry for the photography award, from Lauren-Emma Parrott.

The awards showcase the qualities that “epitomise a year abroad student”: creativity, bravery, ingenuity, a global mindset and a sense of humour

Rae-Ellen Collins, who was described in award her nomination as an “ambassador for the university” working for a French startup during her year abroad, was among nine winners of the annual awards, organised by, a network supporting students who study and work abroad during their degree.

“Rae was particularly anxious during her preparation module in her second year, and had to be reassured that she was capable of completing her compulsory one year industry placement in France,” SHU’s academic placement officer for France wrote in the nomination.

“Rae then rose to the challenge… [and] has seriously considered continuing to work in France and deferring her return to her final year, having enjoyed her work and experience in France so much.”

“I’d never had a chance to really be independent. Now I really know how to be self-sufficient”

The awards showcased the qualities that “epitomise a year abroad student”: creativity, bravery, ingenuity, a global mindset and a sense of humour and recognised students’ talents in blogging, photography, videography, travel writing and storytelling about their experiences.

There was also an entrepreneurial category for the best startup idea and an adversity award for the most inspirational student.

The adversity award, won by Emma Findlay Wilson, an English Literature and Italian Language student at Cardiff University, is given to someone who has a positive message, good storytelling skills and someone who has overcome a problem or obstacle in a positive and inspiring way.

Findlay Wilson, who suffers from severe anxiety and depression, studied for a year abroad in Verese, Northern Italy. She said: “The year, and particularly six months, before I left for Italy were extremely difficult for me.”

She described overcoming fears such as using public transport, where she had experienced panic attacks, and said her year abroad had given her more confidence and independence.

“Coming from the cliché small town (with no train station!) and all-girls’ boarding school, I’d never had a chance to really be independent,” she said. “Now I really know how to be self-sufficient, and I know that I can rely on myself to be okay even when no one is there to help me.”

There was also a Students Choice Award given to the most outstanding university advisor, as nominated by students.

The winner of the award this year was Ninon Taloté, the placement officer at the University of Bath, nominated by a student named Sarah.

“She had little background knowledge of each student yet she took on the role with confidence and open arms,” Sarah wrote in her nomination. When Sarah was struggling with her first placement, Taloté took it upon herself to ring or email her daily to see how she was doing.

See the full list of winners below:

The Blogging Award for Best Documentation of Adventures: Rosa Furneaux, University of Kent/University of California
The Photography Award for the Photo of the Year: Lauren-Emma Parrott, Exeter University/Iowa State University
The Videography Award for the Film of the Year: Martha Snow, Newcastle University
The Entrepreneurial Award for the Best Startup Idea: Tom Charman and Olivia Higgs, University of Exeter/Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich
The Students’ Choice Award for the Most Outstanding University Advisor: Ninon Taloté, University of Bath
The Adversity Award for the Most Inspirational Student: Emma Findlay Wilson, Cardiff University
The Year Abroad Yarn Award for the Most Brilliant Anecdote: Maisie Prior, Bangor University
The Universities’ Choice Award for the Most Transformed Student: Rae-Ellen Collins, Sheffield Hallam University
The Travel Writer Award for the Best Mole Diary: Charlotte Darrell, Durham University

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