Portrait of Stella Gordon

Stella Gordon

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am currently a Leeds University final year student about to graduate with single honours Japanese. Before university I went to school and sixth form in Cambridge. During my time at Leeds, I represented Leeds University in the women's tennis first team as well as being an active member of the Japanese society. 

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

I had always wanted to study Japanese in an academic environment. Self-studying a language so different to other languages I had learnt at school was proving to be quite a challenge. After visiting Leeds on their open day and learning about the Japanese course, I knew that their language department would help me achieve the standard of Japanese proficiency I desired. So much so I had applied to Leeds as my first and back-up choices on UCAS with two different courses.

Why did you choose Leeds?

I studied single honours Japanese and with this course in particular, the focus was not just on language but also cultural, and historical aspects of Japan.
On the open day, Leeds had made the biggest impression compared to other universities I had visited. The city is very atmospheric and is an ideal place for balancing studying and socialising. Furthermore, all the students and staff are knowledgeable and friendly.  

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

Prior to entering university, my drive to study Japanese was mainly that of learning more about their culture and improving my language skills past GCSE level. I had read plenty of famous Japanese literature and had watched anime on a regular basis. Throughout the course however, I became more and more passionate about Japanese food culture and film translation. This new-found passion really helped me develop more fully over the last 4 years.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

Without a doubt, the year abroad in Japan was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I saw my language level sky-rocket and I made many friends and connections all around the world. This now means free accommodation wherever I travel! Moreover, I found a second home in Japan.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a vibrant city, with many places to explore. It is very much a student city, so you never find yourself getting bored. Everything is within walking distance around the university, and although it is a sprawling city, there are still plenty of green spaces where you can relax outside with your friends on sunny days. 

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

In terms of the East Asian Department in Leeds, the facilities are impressive. The Brotherton library holds a large collection of books in Japanese, which were particularly useful in the third year, when we had to write a report on books we had read. The East Asian common room in the Michael Sadler building is a comfortable space which allows societies to hold events and practice your speaking skills with native Japanese. 

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?

I opted to do the FYTP (Final Year Translation Project) that was running for the first time this year. The project involved a 2,000-3,000 word translation and a 9,000 word research project essay. The focus of my research was the Japanese hit animation ‘Your Name’ where I argued that the official translation was lacking in providing an accurate portrayal of the film for native English speakers. This project was perfect for honing in on my translation skills, furthermore, I learnt a lot about audio visual translation, which we had not studied on the course before.

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

I spent my second year abroad in Akita International University, Japan. It was the best experience of my life so far. Not only was my experience of Japan more unique than that of students who did their year abroad in Tokyo, but I got to experience the traditional cuisine of Touhoku, the Northern region of Japan that is not visited by tourists very often. This in turn, sparked my passion for Japanese food culture.

What are your career plans after finishing the course?

I currently have a job as a Business Development Manager lined up with Nihon Shokken based in London. Nihon Shokken is a Japanese food company that have only been in the UK for the last few years. I intend to help develop and advertise their products in the UK, whilst improving my skills alongside the company. The language skills developed at Leeds directly led to my success in securing this position, as much of my interview was conducted in Japanese.