- Course: Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I am a second-year University of Leeds student from Manchester. I am currently living in Hyde Park in my first student house with five other girls. I am studying Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American studies and I am loving it. My other interests include playing netball and tennis, and of course enjoying the city’s nightlife!
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
I attended a secondary school which had a huge focus on Languages. I completed my French GCSE in Year 9 and thoroughly enjoyed it. After this I chose to take up GCSE Spanish, and continued my Spanish subject choice through to A-Level. I chose to apply to Leeds’ SPLAS course as it would enable to continue and develop my Spanish skills. However, it also meant that I could pick up a completely new language from scratch which I thought would be a great challenge. I was also interested in Portuguese and Brazilian culture and wanted to investigate more into this area of study which I had not learnt about before.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
I have a love for foreign languages and believe that they are incredibly important. I am aware that the interest in languages amongst young people is diminishing and this is something that needs to change. With a world that is becoming increasingly globalised and connected, more than ever language skills are hugely valuable in businesses and companies which operate on an international scale. I also believe that learning about other cultures is vital in having a broad understanding of the modern world in which we live in today. Having a degree in a foreign language will only ever widen one’s job prospects and is bound to open many doors for the future.
What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
My favourite aspect of the course is that a large proportion of it is taught in the target language, whether that be Spanish or Portuguese. For me, this makes it more interesting and challenging as we are constantly developing our languages skills even if the purpose of the lecture or seminar is to learn about something different, for example regarding Spanish society or Portuguese culture. The small class sizes also are very beneficial as the lecturer knows the students personally and can tutor them in a much more focused way, knowing their own strengths and weaknesses. The smaller class sizes also encourage more discussion and seminars are far more interactive than a lecture in a large hall would be.
What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?
The most surprising thing I have found about coming to Leeds is that it is actually a relatively small city, yet has everything available that a student would want. At first the centre seemed huge yet I soon discovered it is very compact and is only a 10 minute walk from the Parkinson Building. I lived in Headingley in first year and I now live in Hyde Park so I feel as though I have experienced both. Headingley is great for pubs and shops, whilst Hyde Park is closer to the university. The reality is that the University, Hyde Park and Headingley are all so close to one another and have so much to offer. The wide range of shops, gyms, bars, restaurants and clubs mean that you will never be bored in Leeds! It is small enough so that students can navigate it easily yet large enough for you to discover new places all the time.
What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?
The university libraries are great. Edward Boyle, Laidlaw and Brotherton are all fully equipped with computers and charging points and have coffee shops attached which are perfect if you need a break from revision. There is also an easy system in place to take out books and resources whenever they are required. Although they do get busy during exam period, as long as you get there early you will find a seat! There are also study spaces in most faculties as well as in the Student’s Union – for example Common Ground or the Balcony. Michael Sadler is the languages building and there are always tutors on hand to help out with any issue you might have.
What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?
There is a huge variety of student societies for anybody to become involved in. Last year, I was involved in netball and represented the languages school. I took part in a number of matches and met other girls from different years who were also interested in the sport. This year I have been part of the tennis society, which train in Woodhouse Moor. I have thoroughly enjoyed the socials they have put on as they have allowed me to meet lots of people and widen my social circle. The secret social was a personal favourite and I had never participated in anything like that before!
Did you take a work placement or study abroad year? If so, how did you find this experience and what have you gained from it?
As I am only in second year I have yet to complete my year abroad, however I am very excited for it! I study two languages which means I will spend time in both Spain and Portugal. I am going to be studying in Granada, Spain for the third semester of this year. I have been enrolled onto an intensive language course at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas, attached to the University of Granada, and will be spending 12 weeks improving my language skills and immersing myself in the Spanish culture. For my year abroad I am hoping to study in either Porto or Lisbon, where I will be able to significantly bring up my Portuguese skill level and meet other students from all over the world. Both of these opportunities will not only improve my linguistic abilities, but they will give me invaluable experience which studying at just a British University would not provide. I hope to become more independent and confident and the challenge of studying abroad will make anything seem achievable!
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
I would hugely recommend studying SPLAS, and languages in general, at Leeds. The combination of small class sizes and enthusiastic tutors mean that your language skills will come on leaps and bounds. The campus style also gives you that university feel and makes everything, from libraries to lecture halls, extremely accessible. Leeds is a great city with a bustling nightlife and there are always events and activities to get involved in during the week and at the weekend. The links to foreign universities mean that there are so many opportunities to spend time studying, working or volunteering abroad. Instituto Cervantes and Instituto Camões are valuable teaching organisations which allow language students to take their studies even further and gain support or advice should they need it.
What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed / you’re developing at Leeds will help with these plans?
I am still unsure about my career plans for the future. I hope to use my language skills in some way, whether that be working in translation or in an international company. I also intend on spending time after my degree working abroad. This would enable me to explore and experience another way of life and communicate with natives at a high level. I am excited for my future job prospects and am confident that having a degree in languages will only ever be a positive thing!