Portrait of Eirinn quinnell

Eirinn Quinnell

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I'm originally from Worcester. I went to the local state school and then the local sixth form. Moving to Leeds was my first experience of living alone. 

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

I always enjoyed German when I took it at school. Unfortunately, I didn't like my teacher at sixth form, but I still loved the language. I thought to myself if I still love the country and language with a bad teacher, learning it from experts in the field would be really interesting. I wasn't wrong. I chose Leeds after looking at a number of universities. My first criteria was location, then I went to the open days to explore the cities and university. Leeds really spoke to me at the open day. I particularly enjoyed the taster lectures and the campus. So I decided to apply. 

What course did you study, what made you apply for that particular one?

I originally applied for German and Italian as I had previously studied Italian at GCSE in my first year of sixth form. However, during my second year I wasn't able to study Italian and lost interest. I decided to focus my efforts on German as it was the language I had originally fallen in love with. I wanted to spend an entire year living in Germany, something that I wouldn't have been able to do if I had done both languages. I thought that studying a single honours degree would allow me to go into greater depth in my studies. 

Why did you choose Leeds?

The size of the German department. As it is small I knew I would know all of my lecturers. The open day within the German department was really fun and engaging. The university as a whole also has a great reputation both academically and for social life. As the campus is close to the city centre I knew I would be able to enjoy living in a big city to the full. 

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

I first became passionate about German when I went on an exchange in high school. It's difficult to fully appreciate a culture and language without going there first. The country's culture made me want to study the langauge more and the more proficient I became in the language the more interested I became in German culture and history. I also learnt a lot about Austria, Switzerland and European culture in general, which is something I didn't expect. 

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed the teaching the most. The lecturers in the German department are really friendly. We are treated as equals and our relationship is more about collaboration than teaching and learning. As the department is small I was able to socialise with all of my peers and sometimes the lecturers even came along. It was like a small family. 

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds has something for everyone. Since it's so big there's lots on. I was never stuck for something to do. There's great shopping and a great night life. Leeds has everything a student could wish for, even for those who don't drink a lot. Although it's a big city, Leeds is quite cheap since it's in the north. So it's easy to get a cheap pint after a long day in the library. 

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

Since I started at Leeds I've seen developments all over campus. It's nice to see where my tuition fees go. The libraries are state of the art, and it's easy to find a computer since there are lots of separate computer rooms. I used the langauge centre quite a lot since it has the equipment to listen to audio files, record audio and it has lots of language textbooks, DVDs, and reading books to help me with my studies. The union upgrade was also really good. There's new facilities and it has a modern feel to it now. 

What was your experience with the FYP (Final Year Project)? What did you do your project on and what skills did you gain during the process?

My project investigated gender, class, and space in the Weimar Era. From quite early on I knew I wanted to write about the Weimar Era because I found that time the most interesting period of Germany history. During my FYP my organisation, project and time management skills greatly improved. It was my first experience of planning, carrying out and writing out my research. Although it was stressful having the experience of controlling my own learning was really helpful. I feel that my FYP is something I will be able to talk about in interviews and applications for future opportunities. 

Did you spend any time abroad and if so how was your experience?

My year abroad was the best year of my university experience. I decided to study at a university. I chose subjects based on what I was interested in and that weren't available at Leeds. I took some really unusual modules. This widened my knowledge of my subject and prepared me well going into final year. The people I met on my year abroad were amazing. I now have friends from all over the world. I was also able to travel around Europe and take advantage of the cheaper modes of travel available on the continent. 

Did you undertake any work experience or worked in a job related to your degree during your time at university?

If so how did the skills gained as Leeds help you? I have worked in tutoring and teaching English as a Foreign Language. This was influenced by the module Linguists into Schools, which I took in second year, in which I was able to teach German in a local secondary school. I discovered a passion for teaching which has influenced my post-graduation plans. 

What are your career plans after finishing the course?

I have accepted a position as an English teacher in China. I decided to take a break from studying after four years of hard work. It is my intention to then study a masters in Germany in the region of intercultural communication. Whatever I decide to do I will want to use my language skills in the future.