Alex Gibbon

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

My name is Alex and I am from just outside of Carlisle. I grew up rurally so moving to a big city for university was very exciting for me. I have had a fantastic four years and will continue to live in Leeds as I have fallen in love with the place so much. While I have been here I have thrown myself into the Leeds music scene with lots of gigs and nights out and I have even been able to start DJing in venues around Leeds. Furthermore, it has been very important to me to delve into the city’s LGBTQ+ scene as there isn’t really one back home and I have made incredible friends because of it. In addition, I have been very much involved with student media such as Leeds Student Radio and, most importantly, The Gryphon and will be the newspaper’s editor-in-chief next year.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

I enjoyed doing Spanish at A Level and really wanted to continue studying it but also learn a new language to challenge myself. I saw many universities offered Arabic from scratch as an option and I have always been interested in the region’s history, culture and politics so I thought I would give it a go. Also, I remember coming to an open day at Leeds when I was in sixth form and the campus, enthusiastic lecturers, and welcoming students made me put it as my first choice.

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

Languages truly are the gateways to worlds different from our own. There is no better way to understand another culture than through learning its language. In a globalised world which is getting metaphorically smaller by the decade it has never been more important to attain a solid level of cross-cultural understanding.

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most? 

I have really enjoyed the varied nature of my degree and the range of optional modules I have been able to pick from. Throughout my time at Leeds my studies have covered so many different areas from Cuban poetry to modern Egyptian politics to Mexican cinema and even medieval Arab conquests. You really do have the capacity to tailor your degree to your own interests at Leeds which I think is invaluable.

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

The libraries are really great places to study as they are a mix of ultra-modern and slick as well as old and beautiful. The sheer amount of resources available both on the bookshelves and online means that you are never short of research material for essays and projects. The Student’s Union is also fantastic with lots of great places to eat and drink and amazing facilities for sport, performing arts and concerts or nights outs.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

As well as accessing the general cultural buzz of Leeds (like its many clubs, galleries, museums and events), Leeds University Union has so much going on. Personally, I have spent a lot of time with Leeds Student Radio making my own shows in a professional-level studio. Also, I found a love of yoga at uni through the very affordable classes put on by Yoga Society of which I am now a member of the committee. However, the biggest part of my extra-curricular life at Leeds has definitely been writing for the university’s student newspaper, The Gryphon. I have risen through the ranks, first as a writer then as a section editor for Arts & Culture and next year, after being elected by the student body, I will be the newspaper’s editor-in-chief.

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed so far at Leeds will help with these plans?

After being elected by the student body, I will be the editor-in-chief of The Gryphon for the next academic year which is basically a one-year graduate job. The skills of communication, leadership, textual analysis and teamwork that I have refined thanks to my degree will all help me greatly in my new job. However, I think the thing that will aid me most in becoming a successful newspaper editor is the broad outlook and deeper knowledge of the world around me that my degree programme has helped me to develop.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

I would that say I have had an amazing time here at Leeds and would 100% recommend the university to any prospective undergraduate. My advice would be to have a thorough look through all the course combinations and read the descriptions of each course page to think about what will suit you best.