Portrait of Melanie Graves

Melanie Graves

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Being the first in my family to attend Higher Education, going to college and University was almost like walking into a dark forest without a torch. It took a lot of determination and grit to be able to get to where I am now. I have an insatiable passion for learning, 

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

Linguistics is an incredibly niche subject to study at undergraduate, and only a few universities in the UK provide the option of a full undergraduate degree in Linguistics. The course at Leeds has a vast amount of modules to enrol on, as well as interdisciplinary modules in other departments through the Discovery Modules.

Why did you choose Leeds?

There are a million reasons why I chose Leeds. I am an advocate for following your gut feeling, and my first Open Day at the University told me this is the right place for me. The Linguistics department is so tight-knit – all the lecturers are friends and know students on a first name basis, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that too. The reputation for incredible academic rigour, city life, and the diversity in student population, and so much more enticed me to studying here. 

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

From a young age, I have always been curious about linguistics. This was fuelled later by my love of the social sciences, such as sociology and psychology. Lingustics combined my love of these topics, with the study of languages. I always had questions in my mind, such as; why do I know this sentence is ungrammatical? How does a bilingual mind work? What are the origins of language in humans? Why do men and women use language in different ways?

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

The modules I studied were so intellectually stimulating. I felt like I was studying something that I was truly passionate about. When you are surrounded by amazing lecturers it makes such a difference; the staff are truly passionate about Linguistics! The content is so interesting, I never find myself being disengaged from the materials. This course is for the curious minds, I came here with a million questions I wanted to find the answer for, found the answer, then found a million more to ask!

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is heaven for any student – cheap living, amazing shopping centres, so many events and activities on 24/7, and easy to get around! I felt so connected to not only campus but also Leeds as a city. There is always something going on in and around the city – including many events in our union. From theatre, to comedy, to abseiling down the Michael Sadler building, all for the name of charity! Plus, there are so many events on in the city centre, such as Light Night, Christmas Markets, Student Shopping nights, ice skating, and so much more!

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

I am extremely satisfied with the learning resources and facilities we have in my school. The Language Centre is an incredible space which is filled with thousands of language learning resources. We have so many libraries to choose from, and the choices are vast. From historical Brotherton, to modern Edward boyle and Laidlaw library, there is a revision and studying space perfect for you! To add, the university has free Rosetta stone, and it normally costs a lot of money. So now I learn languages like Korean and Italian for free! 

Did you spend any time abroad and if so how was your experience?

During my Undergraduate degree, I was determined to tick off some countries that had been on my bucket list for years. I am so proud to say I have travelled to 15 countries since the start of my degree! I spent every summer at university travelling. In first year, I did an internship teaching English in Spain for 6 weeks, which was an excellent experience. It put my linguistics skills to the test when being exposed to Catalan! In my second year, I Au Paired and taught English for 7 weeks in Italy. It was the best experience living with a host family and immersing myself in a culture that differed to my own. As well as in the summers, I would try and spent as much time travelling during term time. I have been to Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, Czech Republic, etc, just for a couple of days. I would highly recommend travelling whilst studying, you will never get so much free time!

Did you undertake any work experience or worked in a job related to your degree during your time at university? If so how did the skills gained as Leeds help you?

I decided to spend my last two summers teaching English in schools in Italy and Spain. I have also worked in my department as an ambassador for Linguistics on many open days, as well as being the single honours course representative for my course. I have also co-convened the Final Year Undergraduate Dissertation Conference in 2018 for Linguistic students. I am on the committee for the Erasmus Student Network Society.

What are your career plans after finishing the course?

After graduation I am hoping to kickstart an academic career in International Development by studying a postgraduate degree. However, I might defer a year and travel full time for a year.