Summary: First year student Olja talks about her time at Leeds so far.
I am a first year student of advanced Russian. I already speak Serbian, which is my mother tongue, and I had previously studied Spanish and Italian.
I applied to Leeds because of the opportunities and the success rate of the University in this area of study. I have also lived in Leeds for 13 years and I love everything about the city. Most importantly, it was the year abroad in the second year which really made me want to study here! As most universities have the year abroad in the final year, I believe it is essential to study abroad as early as possible because it is here that you will develop your language skills the most.
Languages have been an area of study that I have always been passionate about. I was born in Croatia, I also lived in Serbia and Norway and finally when I came to England and found that I had no problem learning English as well it made me even more determined to learn other languages. Russian was particularly interesting for me and unfortunately I never had the chance to study the language at school. When the opportunity to study Russian at university level arose, I took a gap year and taught myself, completing all Russian A-Level exams externally so that I could enter the advanced class at the University of Leeds.
The course itself is perfect. There is an immaculate balance between written work and speaking. We spend at least 2 hours a week engaging in conversations with each other and sharing each other’s ideas and opinions and putting forth our arguments. I believe this to be the most important part of language learning as it allows you to develop the ability to express your view and to be flexible when speaking a foreign language. I was surprised by the range of subjects we are able to choose from when enrolling for our modules. Not only was I able to study Russian, a language that I am greatly passionate about, but I was also given the opportunity to take up Greek and Politics. These are both subjects which I have always been extremely interested in but did not expect to be studying at university level.As a city, Leeds is perfectly suited for student life. It is a fairly quiet and peaceful city during the day with a great nightlife. There are lots of beautiful places to visit and the city centre is a 10 minute walk away from the University!
Outside of studying there are lots of different societies set up in order to create events and bring students with similar interests together. We have a Slavic Society currently organised by students of Russian where they organise regular parties, get-togethers and the ‘u samovara’ which involves tea and lots of little snacks typically eaten in Slavic countries.
From my experiences so far, I would recommend anybody who is dedicated to learning a language and who is passionate about different cultures and traditions to study languages at Leeds. The year abroad which is offered to foreign language students is an extremely exciting opportunity and the fact that it has been placed in the second year and not towards the end of your studies allows you to develop your speaking skills at a much earlier stage!
After I finish University, I plan to start my career in teaching. After that, I would love to work with translation or teaching at a higher level.