Portrait of Peter Freeth

Peter Freeth

I come from the South Yorkshire town of Doncaster and have interests in the worlds of theatre and live music, both of which I’ve been able to pursue during my time at Leeds.

I visited a lot of University’s during the open day season and went to a lot of talks for lots of different courses. Leeds was actually the last university I visited and I just loved the feel of the campus and the city. The University also has an excellent reputation in many fields, modern languages included, so I was looking forward to coming to such a renowned research oriented university.

The facilities at the University are excellent, especially with the recent addition of Lecture Capture – meaning that you can watch lectures back at any point, which really helps with revision and refreshing things that are a little unclear once you’ve actually left the class. There are also so many spaces on campus to meet, socialise and do work, which has only become better since the completion of the Laidlaw Library. As for language learning, the University has a really wide range of resources and opportunities for students to really get stuck in and develop their language skills outside of the classroom in practical ways, such as internships, the German society and the Language Zone. 

German is a language that is becoming a major player in the European sphere, so demand for German speakers is increasing. It’s a really dynamic language, with a rich history and cultural sphere that you’ll really be able to get your teeth into and Leeds offers a wide range of modules and extra-curricular opportunities, which allow you to really explore where your languages skills can take you.

I am a member of the German Society, which organises social events for anyone with an interest in Germany and the German language, including native speakers, which is a really good way to put everything you learn in the classroom into practise.

During my second year I was an intern for the German department in cooperation with The Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah and Escape Contemporary Youth Theatre during the creation and performance of a short piece of theatre for performance at the Leeds Town Hall on Holocaust Memorial Day. The role included being a historical, academic advisor during the creation of the piece, stage management, rehearsals and supporting the two directors during the performances.

This year I am also part of a German Department theatre workshop, which is being run by two of our resident native German tutors. The project aims to create a piece of theatre in German as a reaction to and reflection of Germany’s actions and approach to the current migrant crisis.

I’m currently looking at postgraduate opportunities for creative writing, as I have a long held passion for theatre, but I’m also looking at graduate opportunities within the creative industries that will allow me to use my language skills.

On my year abroad I went to Tübingen, which is a small university town in the southern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, roughly an hour away from Stuttgart. I was able to go with my girlfriend of over five years, who also studies German at the University of Leeds.

I studied at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, which is one of the oldest University’s in Germany (it was founded in 1477).

Being a student at a German University allows you to buy a ‘Semester Ticket’, which means you can catch any local transport within your district. Being in the south of Germany this meant that I went to lots of beautiful old castles on top of huge hills, explored many medieval towns and walked through lots of beautiful rolling countryside.

I also went to other large German cities such as Berlin, Munich and Heidelberg. The diversity of such cities showed me the sometimes large cultural differences between the various areas of the country and gave me a real appreciation for the regional pride that many Germans feel.

I also managed to travel to a few different countries, namely Switzerland, Austria, France and Hungary – so there are plenty of opportunities for travelling during the year abroad!

Sitting in grammar classes and talking part in debates on German culture is very interesting, but the year abroad was when I really got to put my skills into practise and delve into the language I’ve been learning for so many years. It really is an invaluable experience as a language student because you learn so much about your abilities, your own culture, and yourself as a person in ways that only living in a foreign country and integrating into their culture can really allow.

Advice I would give to others  would be to dive into the language and the culture of the country as much as you can, it’s a really great opportunity to experience everything you’ve learnt about first hand and there’s no point coming back from a year abroad wishing you’d done more, go for it!

My department have been very good in welcoming us all back to the school and helping us get back into the academic swing of things. We all had a debrief with our personal tutors during the first two weeks of the semester which allowed us to reflect on the year abroad and helped me see not only what I’ve gained from the experience, but also what still needs work before I graduate.

I had a really good year and I am very jealous of everyone who still has theirs to come, if you embrace it fully and dive in it’s a great opportunity to learn lots of language skills, but also a little about yourself too. Most importantly though, I very much enjoyed it and I would love to live in Germany again after I’ve graduated – a sentiment that I have heard from many of my classmates too!