- Course: Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I come from a small town in South Cheshire, where I attended a state school until I was sixteen. I moved to a college to study my A-Levels in Spanish, German and Maths, as my school couldn’t accommodate the combination of subjects I wanted to study. I then started here at Leeds studying Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, and spent my time abroad in Granada, Spain and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
I did a lot of research about different courses and went to open days all over the country before I made my decision. I chose to study Spanish and Portuguese, because it was a combination of what I already knew and loved in Spanish, but also learning something new and refreshing in Portuguese. Whilst this course is available at a lot of universities, it was the year abroad provided by Leeds that sold it to me. At Leeds, you are given the opportunity to spend a full year in one country, whilst studying two languages, whereas other universities divide your year abroad between your languages. So, I spent the final term of my second year in Spain before going to Rio de Janeiro for a full year.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
I am passionate about meeting new people and learning about different ways of life, which is what you gain by studying languages at university. You get the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in a different culture and meet people from all over the world on your year abroad. For me, in a world where there is more contact than ever with people from all over the world through the internet, it’s important to not only be able to communicate in their language, but also to be open-minded and aware of different cultures and ways of life.
What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy the choice of modules on my course, and the option to tailor the degree to my interests and how my interests have changed over the course of four years. There’s a range of history, literature, film, language and translation modules to choose from in each year, as well as a variety of Latin American and Iberian content.
What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?
The learning facilities for language students are really superb, for both Spanish and Portuguese you have access to the Instituto Cervantes and the Camões Centre to access materials, and there is also a Language Zone with equipment and materials to improve your skills. The libraries at the University have improved so much over the last four years, and there’s a wide range of space for silent studying and group work. Aside from the physical books in the libraries, by being a student at Leeds you get access to a lot of online resources.
What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?
The Student Union at Leeds has so many different societies that there is something for everyone, from academic societies, traditional sports like football and swimming, and more obscure things like Quidditch! Throughout my degree I have been a member of SLAPsoc (for all things Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American), which arranges themed nights out, meals and the all-important Modern Languages Ball, which became a highlight for me and my friends.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
If you love languages and are fascinated by different cultures, I can’t encourage you to go for it enough. There is always the opportunity to study something new and interesting, and apart from the academic side, it’s been the most fun four years, making the best of friends and getting the chance to explore all over Latin America on my year abroad. I was originally unsure about even going to university, and now I’m planning to stay even longer to complete a Masters.
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’m hoping to stay for another year to do a Masters, to turn the language skills that I’ve learnt over the last four years into my career by studying Translation. Even if I weren’t to use my languages in a direct way in my career, the awareness of different cultures and ways of life that I have gained through my degree have definitely made me a more understanding person. Being at university has made me a much more independent person, both in my attitude to learning through individual projects and research, but also in life in general through the experience of living away from home.