Alyse Fan, MA English Literature student

Alyse Fan

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Classical music training and the passion for reading in my early years enriched my childhood experience with the development of imagination and creativity. I naturally discovered my enthusiasm for literature. The unique fusion of Western and Eastern cultures in my hometown Macau also opened a gateway for me to develop my interest in cultural studies. I completed my BA in English Studies and joint minor degrees in Chinese-English Translation Studies and Spanish Studies at the University of Macau. 

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

During my undergraduate degree, I studied a wide range of literature modules, but I had a significant interest in Romanticism. I wanted to explore this in depth, so I started planning to do a Masters in the final year of my undergraduate degree. I was fascinated by the module content of the Romantic Pathway offered by the School of English at Leeds. The postgraduate office of the School of English was extremely helpful to answer all my questions about the application. Without hesitation, I decided to come to Leeds for my Masters. 

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Music and literature are the two things that I always hold onto in my life. I had been lost when my health condition prevented me from fulfilling my aspiration to pursue studying a music Bachelor’s degree. It was the moment I gained back my inner strength when I first read John Keats’s Ode on Melancholy: ‘Ay, in the very temple of Delight/ Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine’. This line was the music to my soul which resonates with me as if it was a part of me long before my birth; it was a stream of light that shone through the perpetual darkness in my emotional cracks.

Through reading Keats’s poetry, I have found my connections to my authentic self and the world. I tried to explore the interdisciplinary studies between music and poetry in my Masters dissertation; the research project gave me an amazing experience of pursuing my passion. Studying literature not only provides me insight into the history and the present, it gives me a fresh vision to discover the hidden beauty and the unheard music in life. 

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

The small class size of the taught modules was perfect, since it enabled everyone in the seminars to be fully engaged in the discussions. I also enjoyed working on my dissertation; it was amazing to see the original ideas in my mind being explored and transited into words. My supervisor was very supportive, and the guidance that I’ve received truly helped me to improve my critical thinking and research skills.  

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

There is no place like Leeds. It will always be the scattered puzzle pieces that make the bigger picture of ‘home’ in my memory. 

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

I tried a lot of new things in Leeds. I never went to the gym before I became a member of The Edge. I completed the taster sessions of climbing, it was something I would have tried before, and so I was a bit surprised to see how I managed to do it. I enjoyed the monthly poetry reading event presented by Zarf magazine at Wharf Chamber. It was an incredible experience, I was so impressed by the fantastic transition from the written words of poetry to the beautiful audible form of music. The moments when poetry brought everyone together were still very vivid in my mind.

Occasionally I joined the Leeds Art Walk organised by Pavilion and the Interconnection Team of the Postgraduate Student Office. Lunchtime organ sessions at the City Town Hall was amazing too. There’re lots of music and art events going on in Leeds; I can never have enough time to experience all these cultural events.

What do you plan to do now you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with these plans?

I think what the programme granted me is more than an MA degree, all the skills I learnt and the time I enjoyed at Leeds have prepared me to be open to new directions in life. I’ll be ready for my next journey.