Portrait of Kristina vaitekunaite

Kristina Vaitekunaite

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I moved to England from Lithuania when I was 19. I had never been to England before but I had a huge motivation to study and to experience a new culture. Coming from a relatively small Lithuanian town, I was burning with desire to move to a new country, to live in a bigger city and to make the most of my student years. Leeds fulfilled and exceeded all my expectations!

Why did you choose Leeds?

I have always been interested in languages and literature, and as I was unsure about my career plans after my high school exams, I decided to pursue my passion for French language. I chose the University of Leeds due to its exceptional academic reputation, exciting course program and great location. Leeds offered a variety of different French modules and a flexible approach in regard to module choice which appealed to me the most when I compared various universities. I wanted to study subjects that I was passionate about and Leeds was the perfect place to do so. Moreover, its central location in a vibrant and dynamic city, as well as great academic and student satisfaction ratings contributed to my decision to choose Leeds as my home for three years.

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

Languages is something that I have always found exciting and interesting. I believe that learning a foreign language is the first step in understanding a different culture. This is how my journey started – I had a huge interest in French language which led me to discover my passion for French culture, literature, politics, and history. Most importantly, I strongly believe that learning about different cultures teaches us respect and openness – we may be different in many ways but there are even more things that unite us. In my opinion, learning foreign languages is the easiest way to overcome cultural, political and social differences. I am convinced that language learning will never lose its relevance and that language specialists will always play a significant part in creating the future.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

The possibility to choose freely from a range of modules was definitely the most exciting part throughout my degree. It allowed me to discover and to develop my interests, and gave me an opportunity to gain skills that I will use in my future career. Moreover, intellectually stimulating modules, supportive staff and passionate lecturers never disappointed me and taught me even more than I had expected. 

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is the perfect student city and I would recommend it to anyone. Great nightlife, centrally located campus and cheap living costs compared to other cities make Leeds the place to be. Also, Leeds is great for those interested in finding a part-time job as there are always plenty of opportunities that allow you to manage your studies and job very easily. 

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

The University offers great learning facilities – from newly built or refurbished libraries, clusters and even a student union, it never stops improving. During my time at Leeds, I felt supported by staff, lecturers, student representatives and other services in every step of the way.

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?

My Final Year Project was the most demanding and the most rewarding experience of my time at Leeds. I chose to do my project on French politics, more precisely on Emmanuel Macron and to what extent the reasons behind his success in the 2017 French Presidential election indicated a crisis in French politics. Having chosen a 40-credit module and a relatively complicated question, I had to put many hours of work that nevertheless resulted in a high 2:1. It required great time management skills and involved a lot of research, planning, and writing, but working on a topic in which I was interested made the whole process much easier. I learned a great deal not only about French politics, but also about contemporary French society and culture.  

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

I spent a year in France as part of my language degree and it was the best experience that I could have ever hoped for. Supported by the University staff, I managed to secure a 6-month internship in a Parisian tourism start-up that involved working on Champs-Elysees and making friends from all over the world. It was followed by a semester at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 that allowed me to experience French higher education system and Parisian student life. After finishing my exams in April, I wanted to strengthen my language skills and to gain more work experience, so I did not refuse the opportunity to stay in Paris over the summer and to work as a communications intern in another company. During those 14 months, my French language skills skyrocketed! I also met many incredible people and gained invaluable work experience that allowed me to explore possible future career paths. I strongly believe that the support from the University and the skills that I gained during my studies strongly influenced my success in getting accepted to these jobs. 

What are your career plans after finishing the course?

I have already been accepted to a Marketing Graduate Programme in Paris, starting in September 2018. I still find it hard to believe – I received a phone call with the good news just a few days after my final exam! I am extremely excited to start on a new chapter of my life and I am sure that I would not be where I am without the skills and support that I got from the University of Leeds. Not only was Leeds my home for three years and provided me with an invaluable academic experience, but it also paved the way for a successful future. I am proud to have graduated from the University of Leeds and I am grateful for the countless opportunities of personal, academic and professional development.