Jane Kennery

What made you want to come to Leeds to study MA Professional Language and Intercultural Studies?

I am an American from a small city called Nashua in the state of New Hampshire, situated about an hour north of Boston, Massachusetts. I graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts with a degree in French and Women’s and Gender Studies and International Development. I then spent the next school year teaching English in a university outside of Paris. 

I applied to the MAPLIS course when I was working as a teacher, during which time I became really interested in the intercultural aspect of language teaching. I had always been fascinated with intercultural studies, language and culture and felt that the course covered everything I was passionate about. I knew I wanted to attend a large university for my postgraduate experience and the combination of the University of Leeds' resources and the lively city atmosphere was ideal for me.

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

I love how dynamic studying language and culture can be. Whenever I think I have fond the most interesting sub-topic, I find yet another fascinating topic within a week. The skills and ideas we learn can be applied to any other aspect of life for both personal and professional interests. I think I get so much out of it because I truly live what I learn.

I also absolutely love the variation in MAPLIS classes. Students are able to tailor their year to what they are most passionate about - whether you take a translation route or a professional language route, or even focus on an area of study in another School (which you can do!), you will get a very unique combination of classes. In any given week, I can be studying linguistics, politics, development, psychology, anthropology, and anything in between. This course gives you the ability to perform analysis from many different viewpoints.

There are two course leaders for MAPLIS, both of whom I felt are very invested in the well-being of all MAPLIS students. Because we are all international or come from an intercultural background, our experience coming to Leeds and starting the course might not look like the ‘norm’ and our tutors always keep that in mind. The learning environment is always positive and encourages student participation.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds truly is an outstanding city for students. The University is situated close enough that going to the city centre is a breeze, yet it is far enough away that the campus is not congested with city-goers. There is always something to do and new places to learn about.

As a postgraduate, I was nervous that I wouldn’t have opportunities to connect with and meet other postgrads but it turned out to not be a problem at all. There are still several things that you can get involved in as a masters or PhD student that won’t completely overflow your schedule. I found that my worry is quite a common one and that most other new postgraduates — especially international ones — felt the same way, but we all fell into a rhythm quite quickly. 

What other activities have you enjoyed doing outside of your studies? 

Think of any interest and you will find it at the University of Leeds! Masters students don’t usually have much time on their hands, but there are activities that you can take part in that don’t require a large time commitment, such as joining the Yoga Society. I started attending classes within the first couple of weeks here and it is a great break from the fast-paced student life. I also auditioned for a play with Theatre Group and worked on a production of Macbeth for about 6 weeks. It is definitely more time-consuming, but I believe if you are passionate enough about something, you can get it done!

What do you plan to do after you finish your course?

I plan to return to the United States and settle in Boston for at least a few years. I’m interested in perhaps working with corporate relocation services, getting a job in an international student or study abroad office in a university, or being a cultural facilitator. This course covers so many different fields and teaches such different skills, though, that I could be fit for a job I have yet to learn about!

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to MA Professional Language and Intercultural Studies?

If you feel that you have too many interests in different areas of language and culture to possibly fit into one course, you need to apply for the MAPLIS program. Every single student brings something new and unique to the table and we learn from each other every single day. This course is great for international students because you get to experience an intercultural life as you learn about theories about the kind of communication you take part in every day. Best of all, you can take that unique background and use it to fuel your dissertation, moulding your experience into a piece of work you can be proud of.