Katarina Valachova

Katarina Valachova

BA Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies (2014)

Summary: Slovak student Katarina joined the University in 2010 and describes her year abroad in Egypt as an amazing experience.


I am from Slovakia and went to a bilingual Slovak – English grammar school where I studied English which later enabled me to study in England. It was a very common thing at my school to apply for universities abroad, so I decided to give it a go.

At first, I didn’t know what to study because I wasn’t interested in common study programmes such as law, international relations or economics. I had an interest in learning foreign languages I decided to choose something new and for me very exotic language, such as Arabic. I used to do belly dancing and I really liked Arab culture, so I did some research on British universities offering Arabic courses and I found out that Leeds has one of the best Arabic departments in the UK. And that's how I came to studying Arabic in Leeds. 

I learned Arabic from scratch and honestly I enjoyed my first year the most, because everything was like a game for me. Learning to read and write was the easiest part. After that, it only got harder and harder. But it was still fun language to learn.

My year abroad in Egypt was an amazing experience. I studied at ACL in Alexandria, travelled around Egypt, saw all the famous places and made many great Egyptian friends. I took a trip to Dahab, which in my opinion, was the most beautiful place in Egypt. I fell in love with Red Sea and enjoyed every second of my trip. Everybody was super nice, the atmosphere was very chilled out and I felt very safe even though I travelled there on my own.

Outside of studying at Leeds there are plenty of opportunities for students. I took part in the Intercultural Ambassadors Programme. It was an amazing experience, because I met many great people and gained many useful skills. I also joined Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Society, where I worked as a Culture and Academic Sec. We organised many fun events for our members and non-members too.

Leeds is a great student city. It offers everything that all students need. Nightclubs, pubs, shopping centres, parks, gyms, cheap taxis...everything!

Now I have graduated I will be working as a freelance translator in Leeds. I would like to save some money and move to Dahab in the future.