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American dream

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Published: 24 April 2020

BSc (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management student, Alexandra Bratu has gotten really involved in the life of the University of Sunderland in London. Whether that’s joining the crew of the Atyla to sail from Canary Wharf to the University of Sunderland, or her latest adventure travelling to America for an integrated work placement, she’s taking advantage of all the University has to offer.

“I chose to study here because one of my good friends went to the University of Sunderland and loved it. But I really wanted to study in London. I was so happy to be accepted.” 

She told us about finding the work placement programme. “When I found out about the work placement programme, I was so excited. It’s always been one of my dreams, to go to America. I knew I had to do it.”

The University offers two international options, the Study Abroad (see below) and the Integrated Work Placement. The work placement gives you the chance to take a year out from your studies and spend a year in industry. The experience also earns Alexandra an extra 120 credits, effectively making her course a four-year degree. 

The process of choosing the right person for a placement is normally done face-to-face in Sunderland. But with Alexandra over 200 miles away in London the interviewers asked her if Skype would be a better option. “But I said, ‘No. I’m coming to Sunderland.’” Alex told us, keen to go on another adventure to our campus in the northeast.

The team in Sunderland saw just what they were looking for in Alexandra because she was chosen for the programme. She was sent to Courtyard by Marriott, a relatively small hotel in Austen, Texas. “It’s a rotation, which means over the twelve months that I’m there, I’ll do lots of different jobs. That’s great because I get to see all the departments in the hotel - front desk, back office, housekeeping and food and beverage.”

Unlike the Study Abroad programme, the work placement programme aims to give students real-world experience in companies around the globe. “I was still a registered student though,” Alexandra tells us. “I had to write a blog for the work placement module of my course, which goes towards my final mark.”

With a room provided by the hotel, Alexandra quickly became a part of the normal running of the business. “At the beginning, the most challenging part was trying to adapt to American culture and traditions - not to mention the Texan accent! But my colleagues were all very friendly and willing to help, which made things a lot easier. They even took me out for a traditional Texas barbeque on my first day.

“It’s been a demanding experience,” Alexandra told us. “But I’ve had such a good time, it makes me feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to go on the placement. I’ve learned loads of transferrable skills which will help me in my future career in the hospitality sector. I also think I grew as a person. Looking back, I’m glad I pursued the placement and fulfilled my American dream.

If you would like to follow in Alexandra’s footsteps, get in touch with Senior Lecturer at the University of Sunderland Joel Arnott.

Study Abroad

 University of Sunderland in London students studying abroad

The University also gives you the chance to study abroad at a number of our partner universities. The programme is part of your degree, so your studies will count towards your final degree. 

Past study abroad placements from the University of Sunderland have gone to the USA, Australia, Germany, Norway, Canada and more. 

To find out how you can get involved, make an appointment with the Study Abroad team via Compass or email Megan Molloy at the University of Sunderland.

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