Andreea Serban

Tell us about yourself and what you're researching here at Leeds.

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese and French from the University of Leeds in 2019. I am interested in foreign languages, cultures and literatures. I am currently a Master by Research Student and the University of Leeds. My dissertation focuses on Balzac’s vision and construction of China in his works and articles.

I have applied to my undergraduate course because I love languages and Leeds’ School of Languages, Cultures and Societies is one of the UK’s largest departments. The clarity of information existent on the website about the course made me choose Leeds. I found the module catalogue information very useful and I could already think about the modules I would like to take.

I have stayed here for postgraduate studies because I was happy with my university experience here, and also because Leeds is a nice city. 

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of research?

The fact that literature and languages help us better understand the world and think critically. Moreoever, the freedom of being as creative as you’d like is really important and makes me love my area of study. 

While researching, it can be very elating when you make a new discovery or when you realise that you are able to organise the information you have found in various sources in order to design your own argument. Research also gives you freedom to explore any topic you wish and encourages you to read extensively. You definitely learn things you didn’t know before and become an expert in your own field. You may even find yourself reading books and articles outside of your area, but which turn out to be a great source of inspiration and knowledge. 

I am very happy with the library’s "Suggest a purchase” service. It is very important for any student who needs a book that is not in the library and may be too expensive for the student to purchase. Otherwise, I am really satisfied with the amount of resources you can find in the library and this was one of the reasons I chose to stay here for my Masters’ degree. I could have not imagined going to another university and risk having to go to less awesome libraries or places on campus!

What other activities are available for students/researchers to take part in outside of their studies?

I quickly settled here and made new friends. Leeds has become "a home away from home”, as all my family members live abroad.

The Union welcomes researchers just as much as students. I have tried societies and organised a French play with the help of the French department as an undergraduate. I have also been on one of the trips organised for Freshers and at events hosted by the Union such as Fruity. I think there are a lot of activities to choose from and it might be impossible to try the majority of them out while you are studying – there are just too many. There is anything from anyone, from Wellbeing and Mental health activities to academic-oriented ones such as research festivals and competitions. 

What would you say to anyone considering postgraduate study/research at Leeds?

I really think Leeds is a great university and the quality of teaching and facilities/resources in my School have determined me to continue studying at Leeds. There are also funding opportunities for postgraduate research which is extremely helpful for PGRs. The staff in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies are all very nice and understanding and I would not think about studying elsewhere – they really make you feel like you belong here!

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your course?

I will apply for a PhD at Leeds University, of course! The Master by Research degree will help me as it is a sort of mini-PhD itself – that means you will acquire skills and knowledge that are required for doctoral studies but also in any other workplace: critical thinking, time management, resilience, communication skills, working independently and as part of a team (your supervisors!), analysis and problem-solving, research and information management, etc.