Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham University – Abigail

Abigail is studying Spanish and Arabic (Modern Languages and Cultures) at Durham. 

Where are you from? What brought you to where you are today?

  • I was born in Bristol but now live near Cardiff in South Wales. I went to a small independent Christian school growing up, so coming to university was a big change.
  • I love Durham because it is the perfect size 'city', not too big but with everything students need during term time.
  • I think that my gap year and my year abroad experiences are a big part of who I am today, as they made me fall in love with studying languages more.
  • Durham accepting my deferred entry application, and then facilitating my study and work abroad programmes was a big part of making that successful.

What is your degree?

  • I am studying a degree in Modern Languages and Cultures – I study Spanish and Arabic; this year I am doing a dissertation and alongside that, I am focussing on linguistic aspects of both languages as opposed to literature.

What inspired you to study this subject?

  • I loved studying Spanish at GCSE and A level and making the choice to do it at uni was a natural one for me.
  • Arabic was more of a surprise, but coming to Durham and being offered the chance to study it ab initio was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
  • We also got excellent funding to study Arabic in the Middle East during our year abroad which was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What qualifications did you have for your course?

  • 3 A levels, Welsh Baccalaureate with Extended Project, and a BTEC National Award.

Why did you choose to study at Durham?

  • I was attracted by the good reputation of the languages department, and was excited about the flexibility and range of options available to me on my year abroad and especially final year modules.
  • I also loved the sound of Durham as a city when I applied.

What do you like about the course and your university?

  • I think that the course challenges us to think in many different ways about other cultures, languages and it is not a restrictive discipline – there are many routes open to us as Language Graduates in the future.
  • I like the provision of linguistics-based modules; the degree isn’t overly literature-heavy, although there are, of course, many literature options.

What learning methods does Durham employ?

  • The university mainly works around lectures and seminars.
  • For languages we are encouraged to spend our holidays abroad and it is compulsory to take a year abroad in our third year.

What aspects of the course are you finding difficult? Does the university support you well?

  • I find it difficult to deal with exam pressure, but the university has an excellent 'stress less campaign' and other initiatives in and around Durham, including local churches, are great at supporting our needs.

How are you funding your studies?

  • I have taken out a student loan, but also had a summer job between first and second year to save up for my holiday and year abroad travels.

What about the social side of things at university?

  • I have been an active member of my college’s Christian Union, and also take part in St John’s Ambulance (LINKS) meetings.
  • I enjoy being involved in college JCR meetings, going to formal dinners and enjoying the events in my college (Castle!)

What do you plan to do once you’ve graduated?

  • I would like to spend a couple of years getting teaching experience and explore this as an option for my long-term career, although I am not 100% sure yet. Most people I know aren’t!
  • I am excited about moving on to new things, but would consider getting a PGCE or Masters qualification in the future if I felt that it would benefit me.

How is your university supporting your career aspirations?

  • There are many careers events and the Careers Office is always available to us.
  • We also get a weekly email with job offers in our uni email inbox; additionally, there is an excellent college mentor system where a member of staff is always available to talk to me about my career aspirations!

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