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Sabbaticals - an interview

Perhaps you've always thought sabbaticals were just a thing people talked about in films...well, you're wrong! One of our wonderful Corporate Account Managers here at PLS, Jane, has been on her very own adventure and we asked her a few questions about it.


First things first, what exactly is a sabbatical?

For most people, a sabbatical - or ‘career break’ if you don’t return to your role - is the perfect opportunity to do that thing they always wanted to do but never got round to, maybe some charity work or achieve their lifetime ambition to actually live abroad and even learn a new language! The reasons for taking a career break or sabbatical are endless and, above all, at least in your own eyes unquestionably valid!


So, Jane, what made you decide to get away from everything and take a sabbatical?

Well, I needed a break, a proper break totally away from my day-to-day life not just a week or two on a crowded beach. I did a bit of research, spoke to family, thought very hard and then decided to just go for it!


What kind of things would you recommend people actually do during a sabbatical or career break?

You will have time off exclusively and entirely to do whatever you want and when you want!  

You can use that time for whatever you think is best, such as learning a new skill, say learning Italian cooking or simply improving your language skills from long-forgotten school lessons; Spanish, French or German, (or maybe even Brazilian Portuguese), by actually going to the actual country and immersing in the culture to learn the language from the locals.

So, the motto is simple; get away from the routine and out of your comfort zone and do things you always wanted to do and thought you’d never have the time to do, or maybe were even too scared to do!

So, what did you get up to on your sabbatical?

Between 1997 and 1998, my husband and I took time off to go travelling. We started our journey in Brazil, where we visited many of the most famous and iconic landscapes on the planet, such as the Iguaçu Falls, the Christ the Redeemer, Ouro Preto, etc. However, the highlight of this visit was trekking through the Amazon rainforest and meeting the indigenous people. From Brazil, we flew to Argentina then New Zealand, the Fiji Islands and then Australia, where we stayed for three months, taking the time to improve my English skills and travelling around the country. We then spent our last month chilling on the beaches of Thailand.


Sounds perfect! I’m sorry, but we need to mention the M word – money! Is it really possible to take an entire year off work?

I agree, for most people, taking a year out will remain a pipe dream - who in this day and age actually has enough money to stop working and spend a year travelling the world?

But in reality, most people who actually make the decision to make the break, have been saving for a few years and with ‘a bit in the bank’ think that they can cover the cost of the air tickets/ travel and survive a few months of travelling, which is great! However, with a bit of forward planning it is possible to pick up some paid work as you go. It’s actually a fantastic experience, working abroad – go outside your comfort zone and it will help you not just to survive but to actually give you the chance to dive headfirst into a unique cultural experience!


Can we have some words of wisdom on how to prep for such an adventure?

Don’t get too overexcited and ignore the sensible stuff! Very calmly, consider your options, list possible destinations, clearly identify your goals - if you can, organize yourself financially, balance the risks and set up a timeline with a schedule of how you can make the dream a reality.


Finally, how do you suggest people handle language barriers?

Well, firstly, don’t look at language barriers as a daunting challenge but more as the ‘raison d’etre’ (reason for doing).  Don’t plump for the safety of travelling to English speaking countries, such as North America or Australia, but embrace the challenge of doing something different and enjoy the journey. Whether you need to brush up on the language skills you already have, or you are starting from scratch, studying the basics of the language of the chosen country before you actually leave can help you to connect very quickly with the local people their local culture.


Travelling the world and having once in a lifetime experiences is made all the more easier if you can speak the local language, get in touch today to see how we can help.

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Language Solutions

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London, W6 0GY


Language Solutions Holdings - our companies

  Professional Language Solutions Ltd
Established in 1991, PLS provides language training in multiple formats and over 50 languages for corporate and government customers across the UK.
  Language Solutions International Ltd
Operating since 1993, LSI is the international wing of our organisation. We offer specialist English language training and assessments, as well as recruitment and manpower solutions for projects around the world.


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