Summary: Fourth year student David reflects on his time at Leeds including his role as a co-presenter on Leeds Student Radio and his year abroad in Moscow.
I attended Barnard Castle School until I was 16 and then went to Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington where I studied Spanish, English Language, Theatre Studies and Religious Studies.
One of the main reasons for my choosing Leeds was that I wanted the full university experience. I wanted to try new things, meet as many new people as possible and not miss out on anything. Of course the University of Leeds is first and foremost focused on academics, but it also has so much to offer and the specific care and attention that the students receive here is really very particular to Leeds.
I firmly believe that every language you learn is a new door opened. I began studying Spanish at GCSE and fell in love with the culture and the feel of the language. The look on people’s faces when an English person starts speaking a foreign language is priceless and that alone would make it worth studying languages. It’s also very rewarding because you can actually see yourself progressing day by day and when you manage to put a new word or grammatical structure into use in a practical context, you get a sense of satisfaction which cannot be equalled. I also love immersing myself in other cultures and languages and it’s helped me to become a confident person and now I feel ready to take on anything.
My year abroad in Moscow was a fantastic experience and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that everyone who went grew in maturity and experience. But actually for me the best experience I've has been having the opportunity to learn languages and interact with them on a daily basis.
The most surprising thing about coming to Leeds is that I have actually enjoyed putting myself in situations which are outside of my comfort zone. Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable and at the beginning I was extremely shy when meeting with new people and speaking in a foreign language. However, now that I have several different language partners and I have found that the feeling of “the unknown” is quite addictive and some of my language partners have become some of my best friends. It’s always good to meet new people, especially people from different backgrounds who shed light on other ways of life and attitudes.
The Language Centre at the University is a great resource for any language student as it gives you access to a wide range of facilities for furthering language learning and it also allows you to find language partners extremely easily. The language department also organises events which allows you to further your interest in the subject. The libraries are also an inexhaustible supply of information and contain every book known to man, so even if you’re studying a really obscure subject you’ll have access to a wealth of information.
The Students' Union has an amazing amount of opportunities and societies which range from Ultimate Frisbee to Sewing. You can get involved in sports, culture, politics etc. And if you’re favourite activity doesn’t have a society, you can found one. I have been part of several during my time at Leeds including Badminton, Chess, Volleyball, SlavSoc (Russian society) and Rowing. If you’ve ever wanted to try something new, now’s the time. Nobody judges you either because every society welcomes people of a range of abilities. I really enjoyed getting into rowing, which was something which I had been interested in for a while but had never had the opportunity to do. I also am a co-presenter on a radio show on Leeds Student Radio, which is an opportunity which is available to everyone and has been a really fun and different experience.
Leeds really has everything that a student could want. I can’t think of a better student city. The centre is quite compact which means that you don’t have to walk very far to find what you want. There’s always something going on as well for people with all types of interests. The city is very well connected as well so if you should ever want to explore other parts of England it’s extremely easy. The city is designed around students, which means that you can meet people easily and everyone is friendly.
If you’re an open-minded person ready for some potentially mind blowing adventures, look no further. If you’re a hard-working person who loves grammar and learning languages you’ll have a great time. There is no way to fake progress in learning a language because you get out exactly what you put in, so if you’re prepared to work hard and you’ll reap the rewards.
When I graduate I'm determined to use my languages in a practical context which is why I am currently searching for jobs and internships in Russia and Spain. I am also searching for jobs which will allow me to explore my passion for music. Hopefully I will find something which will help me to unite all my passions.