Portrait of Kirsty RIley

Kirsty Riley

I live in Wakefield, which is really close to Leeds, and I aspired to study at university for most of my life. My sister was the first in my family to attend university, and I really wanted to follow in her footsteps.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after sixth form, but I had enjoyed studying French at A-Level and loved learning about other languages and cultures and therefore decided I wanted to carry it on. However, I wanted to keep my options open and felt this degree would enable me to do this. I picked linguistics as I had enjoyed English Language at A-Level and as well as being interested in languages, I was interested in grammar, phonetics and generally about the rules and systems behind languages. The course gave me the flexibility to study two subjects in a fair degree of detail. I chose to study at Leeds as when I came to look around the university it felt like the right place for me to be. Even though I am from the local area, I considered universities across the country however I was drawn to the one close to home. Leeds’ reputation is excellent and I knew I could expect high quality teaching and a warm and welcoming atmosphere on top of this.

I enjoyed most aspects of the course, but particularly the year abroad. It is an amazing experience and really consolidates all that you have learnt in the first two years of the course. I also enjoyed the flexibility of my degree. Not only was I able to study two core subjects, but I studied Discovery Modules as well. In my first year, this allowed me to complete a module in beginners Spanish, and in my final year, when I knew I wanted to complete a PGCE in primary teaching afterwards, it allowed me to study some education modules to prepare me for what I wanted to do next.

During my year abroad I worked as an English Language Assistant at three primary schools in Pau, which is in the South West of France. It is a beautiful city and I felt it suited me perfectly, as it was a medium sized city, not too big and not too small. Working in three different schools meant that I got three different experiences of teaching in France. I had very different roles at each school therefore I felt I acquired a lot of skills because of this.

I have so many fond memories of my residence abroad; I met so many great people and friends who made my experience amazing. However, one particular fond memory is when some friends and I went skiing for the first time. I had always wanted to ski and being so close to the Pyrenees Mountains meant that I was finally able to try it for the first time. It was just as amazing as I had imagined, and thankfully I made it home without a broken leg!  I felt so lucky to have this opportunity, and I would recommend that anyone on their year abroad tries something they have never done before, it’s a great feeling! The residence abroad really was a life changing experience and I felt much more equipped to deal with future jobs, studies and challenges afterwards.

There are so many extra-curricular activities available at Leeds that it is hard to choose which to do!  One opportunity that I would recommend and that I think is really beneficial is volunteering. In my final year, I knew that I was going to apply for a PGCE, and I needed more experience to back up my application. I therefore volunteered in a local primary school, through the Students Into Schools team at the University, and it was an excellent experience. From this, I not only gained the experience that I needed, but I gained a place on a schools direct PGCE programme at the school where I volunteered.

My fondest memories of Leeds are spending time with the amazing friends I met at Leeds. Whether it was having a meal in the city, or helping each other revise for our oral exams, we always managed to keep each other laughing.

I am returning to Leeds in September to complete a PGCE in primary teaching. I am excited to be coming back and working towards what I want to do as a career.