Portrait of Mariam wardak

Mariam Wardak

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I was born in Afghanistan and moved to the UK shortly after the war broke out in 2001. I have been brought up here since and have been surrounded by different people belonging to different cultures, which sparked my interest in languages and how they work. I am bilingual and competent in both English and Pashto, which has been particularly enriching in the sense that I have an understanding of two completely different cultures and languages. I have always had an interest in reading from my early childhood to the present, whether it was being read to as a child or reading Jane Eyre. 

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

I had always heard great things about the University of Leeds and I was impressed by the University itself and the facilities it had to offer. Aside from the University being a great choice from an academic perspective, my decision was also influenced by how beautiful the campus looked when I attended open evenings. Leeds is a cosmopolitan city, full of energy and has much to offer, which is quite refreshing as I come from a small town.

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

I was brought up in a multilingual household and was surrounded by different cultures when growing up, so I have always been exposed to different languages my whole life, thus enabling me to be more aware of language and its role in different societies and cultures. My bilingual fluency in both English and Pashto has driven my enthusiasm for understanding the internal structure of the English language at a deeper level. Studying linguistics also allows me to understand my native tongue, Pashto, more thoroughly and compare it to other languages.

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?  

Although I have only been studying at The University of Leeds for a short while, I enjoy many aspects of my course. Most importantly, I liked working in groups and interacting with other members on my course, whereby I was able to share and exchange ideas, as well as presenting a project that we had worked on collectively as a group.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a thriving city with a lot to offer, namely its music, theatre, food and diversity. Coming from Halifax, I was not accustomed to the level of diversity that exists here in Leeds, and so it has made my time at University a lot more interesting, as I have been able to learn about new cultures and meet a variety of new people. My rather unhealthy shopping habits are fulfilled when I’m in Leeds as the Trinity Shopping Centre is one of the most impressive places to visit in the city centre, not forgetting to mention the amazing food places catering for people like myself who have particular dietary needs.

What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?

I was most surprised by the diversity and how I’ve met students from around the world, which I had never really expected! It’s insane to think I’ve made friends with people from different continents.

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

Students have the opportunity to join clubs and societies, which are run by students themselves, in order to gather individuals with shared interests/common purposes. I myself have joined the Islamic Society, where I have engaged in events and through this I have made many new friends across the university. 

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

If you’re interested in how various languages work and studying the English language at a deeper level, then I am sure that enrolling on this course is the right decision to make!