Portrait of Elizabeth wilder

Elizabeth Wilder

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

My name is Lizzie and I studied French and Japanese at the University of Leeds. I come from Barnsley, which isn’t far from Leeds, and I studied French, English Literature, and Classical Civilisation during my A Levels. Quite random, but I really enjoyed French and therefore decided to study it further and learn more about French culture and literature (which I got to do!). I did end up coupling it with a completely out-there language, however since I already had an interest in Japanese culture I decided to go for it! 

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

I’ve always had an interest in languages, and Leeds seemed like a really culturally diverse and vibrant city to learn and live in. Being close to my home town and being so strikingly different to Barnsley made it really stand out for me, since I wouldn’t have to go down south to get a good city experience. Leeds is also a relatively cheap place to live in, so I knew I’d be able to lead an affordable social life alongside my studies. The course options at the university also allowed you to combine two completely different languages and spend time abroad in two places. I liked that the year abroad in Japan takes places in second year unlike most universities. 

What course did you study?

I studied French and Japanese because I wanted to pursue my love of languages further and have the chance to live in two countries very different to each other and to my own. It gave me the chance to learn about two completely different societies and their respective histories and their languages. I really liked that I also had the option to study other modules from within the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, such as literature modules. 

Why did you choose Leeds?

Leeds campus is a part of the city, which makes student life more enjoyable. You don’t feel cut off from everything else whilst studying like some other university campuses and everything is so easily accessible. The type of atmosphere in Leeds makes it feel studying isn’t your whole life – it’s just a part of your life that you lead there. The university reputation is also impressive and it shows in the range of expertise within the different departments.

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

My desire to go abroad and to immerse myself in different cultures motivated me to study as much as I could so that I could communicate with locals. It felt very rewarding when I found myself talking to natives and having conversations in a completely different language. 

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

The social aspect of the course was one of the best parts, and aside from language learning I enjoyed the cultural modules on both sides and found the teaching engaging.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds city centre is quite small and whilst university accommodation can be quite far from the centre, the transport system is pretty good. It’s easy to travel to the shops by bus or foot, and there are plenty of cool independent cafes that you can work and socialise in. Leeds is still growing and more and more cafes and restaurants are opening, so there will always be something new and interesting to explore. 

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

There are many libraries at the university and they all have many books on Japanese and French. The language zone was really good for the antidote programme that they have to help with correcting French grammar mistakes

What was your experience with the FYP (Final Year Project)? What did you do your project on and what skills did you gain during the process?

I decided to do the translation project (FYTP) instead of the typical dissertation. Since I already have an interest in literature, I researched Haruki Murakami’s writing style and translation methods used to translate his works accurately. This project enabled me to build research skills and independently carry out in-depth analyses of translation methods and key features in a work. 

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

I spent my second academic year abroad at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. As a part of the course we have to study for a year in a Japanese university. It was an incredible experience, and I met so many new people and learnt so much about Japanese society and culture. As well cultural modules, my university also enabled me to take art classes alongside my language studies during my year abroad. I took many practical classes, such as tea ceremony, calligraphy, and woodblock printing whilst I was there. Since I have always had an interest in Japanese traditional art and its influence on both its own and Western society, I was eager to take these classes and learn more about these traditional aspects of Japanese culture. 

What are your career plans after finishing the course?

I will be going to Sendai, Japan in August to take part in the JET Programme as an Assistant Language Teacher at local schools to teach English. The JET Programme is a good opportunity to share your culture with young Japanese students, and I hope to be able to inspire them to pursue language learning and to explore and take an interest in different societies.