Hello sweet peas,
I am currently in a whirlwind of second semester at university with weekly assignments and presentations alongside lectures, seminars and extra reading. Life for your average language student is unique compared to most subjects because not only do you leave university with a good degree (hopefully) but also the skill of fluency in one, two or more different languages. On the flip side, language students are portrayed as a lazier and easier subject in comparison to science and maths degrees because we have less contact hours and a compulsory year abroad, however this is completely wrong. I am studying Spanish and ab-inito Italian (from scratch) with European Studies which is not only a mouthful but leaves me very busy. It irritates me when people say taking languages is an easy option and this usually comes from students taking non humanities subjects. Has it never occurred to them that learning and studying a whole new language at university level is difficult; never mind time consuming and the expectancy to take a minimum of two languages adding more pressure? To some, probably not because they do not realise the extent of work we have to do. I may sound biased but a language is eternal and if you’re willing to continue to develop your skills, even after university, not only will it enhance your intelligence but also make you more culturally aware. I love the fact that I could get lost in Spain and still hold a good conversation and eventually find my way home. I think nowadays native English speakers rely on the fact English is a global language however ignorance is not pretty.
A common misconception about language students is that we are always at home. Yes, to some extent that is true because we receive less contact hours however this does not mean we are watching Netflix and enjoying lie-ins. In reality we are stuck in the library all day translating, going over seminar notes and revising constantly because the minimal time we have with lecturers is precious and they do not wait for anyone. This year I have picked up Italian from scratch and the first few months were fun learning basics like your eye colour and what you are wearing. Yet eight months down the line, I am now expected to be at GCSE level and by May, A-Level standard. I can string some sentences together but the constant flow of new grammar and tenses means I am not as linguistic as I expected to be. That is entirely my fault because I love going out and having fun but I have done well in my January exams so some more hard work over the Easter holidays will sort out this problem. See, hard work, constant hard work.
To put it plainly, I have grammar, writing and oral seminars as well as listening exercises in the language labs. On top of this I have lectures on Italian and Spanish history, politics and culture. One of the reasons I chose University of Bath is because they have a more modern language programme studying current issues instead of medieval literature. I really enjoy learning the history of a country in it’s native language even though sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. I recently did a presentation on the Madrid Movement in the late 1970s which was very interesting to research covering the music aspect of the crazed cultural explosion in Spain. Along with the compulsory writeup, I also received a 2:1 so am very pleased. Perhaps what I enjoy the most about learning current issues is the fact they are ht hot topics to certain people. I was at a pre-drinks before a big night out and ended up having a conversation in Spanish about the upcoming election in Spain with a guy originally from Barcelona. He was so surprised that I knew so much and we had good debate about politics. Not your average alcohol induced conversation in between games like ring of fire and shot roulette.
Life as a language student is a lot of hard work but also lots of fun. Since I began learning Spanish at the beginning of secondary school, I knew deep down I would take languages at university. Surprisingly that was the only sure thing I ever set my mind on, everything else is a ‘let’s see how that goes’ and waves of panic every now and again a big decision arises. Once I have learnt fluent Spanish and Italian, my aim is to learn Portuguese and then Arabic. Then technically I could take over the whole of South America, but we won’t dwell on that (hehe). Also I believe Arabic is such an important language to learn for both business and politics because the Middle East is a very affluent country nowadays. I am so interested in learning as many languages as possible but I’ll just take it slow and learn them one at a time. Do you speak any other languages or were you brought up learning two with parents of different nationalities? I wish my parents had introduced languages to me at an early age.
Love Poppy x