The seven things I love about you (BA Modern Languages)
In this Miley-inspired post I intend to outline a whole host of reasons for why I am so fond of my degree. My first year at Warwick was the first year in which the BA Modern Languages course was offered at the university so we were all very much guinea pigs for the process (I think there were about 19 of us in total?). With it being the maiden year for the course there were naturally some proverbial creases which needed to be ironed out, for example the clarification among departments for details on the year abroad: where do the students go? In which year will they go? Will they study or work? Etc. Needless to say, with the course now being in its third year these minor hiccups were rather speedily sorted out and, from what I understand, the course has fully integrated itself into the charming department that is the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. So here are some of the reasons why I am still studying BA Modern Languages and am yet to have a nervous breakdown of any sort:
1) The Culture Modules – During my preliminary research for a modern languages degree I often found that you were unable to study a content module in addition to the three core language modules which you would be taking. Yet, in an appropriately Faustian fashion, I wanted more. I take a great interest in literature (a passion which has only been heightened since coming to Warwick) and so you can imagine my delight when I discovered that Warwick made it possible to integrate cultural content into my learning. Since first year I have studied 20 century representations of Italy, the intricacies of European gothic literature and contemporary translation theory. All of these I have found fascinating but choosing them in the first place wasn’t easy; the selection of content modules is vast, especially when you have three language department’s worth from which to choose (not to mention the inter-school modules). Therefore, the wealth of choice as well as simply the fact that the modules exist on the course have allowed ‘Culture Modules’ to make the list.
2) The Intimate Italiano Department – With only a handful of teaching staff, the Italian department at Warwick is one of the smaller departments of the university. Initially, this may seem like a negative to those who suppose that departmental strength is demonstrated by its size but I assure you, this is not the case. For what the ‘dipartmentino’ lacks in size it compensates for in character. The intimacy means that teaching can be made a lot more personal resulting in more effective guided development and the forming of strong and useful relationships with the staff. I am in the Italian department on a daily basis and I’m very rarely not looking forward to it.
3) The Detailed Deutsch Department – Please don’t hasten to judge my stereotyping, for that is exactly what it isn’t. All stereotypes start with a grain of truth and in this case I really cannot deny it. My relationship with the German department, although not as close as that with my home department (Italian) has nevertheless proven to be very pleasing. As a student with four separate classes for each of his three different languages it is to be predicted that timetabling may well grow messy. Yet, thanks to the German department this has never been the case. The structure and allocation of seminars is immaculate and I have never once had to change classes due to a clash – trust me it is way more impressive than it sounds.
4) The Thorough Français Department – My favourite aspect of the French department is the thoroughness of their teaching. My week consists of four separate seminars: writing, translation, grammar and oral class and from week one of term one of year one I was blown away with how wonderfully concise everything was made to be. When studying languages, it is easy to become lost in a torrent of vocabulary, grammar-points and idiomatic phrases yet this is never the case thanks to the brilliantly lucid teaching of the French department. Until 2014 I never knew how much my life needed a booklet that details exactly what work will be set each week as well as what work will be undertaken in class but here I sit in 2017 and I can’t imagine life without it.
5) The Development Opportunities – The SMLC offers so many different opportunities for personal development. There’s writing technique classes, language practice cafes, referencing sessions, employment skills lectures, guest speakers on everything from neo-realism to Donald Trump’s year 5 lexicon and so much more of which you are made aware by the lovely secretaries on a weekly basis (sometimes more frequently). It seems strange to say it but it’s almost as if they…care about you.
6) The Year Abroad – I’m not going to lie, this is probably my favourite item on the list but I will try and keep it brief. Being an Italian student, I went on my year abroad during my second year. At first, I was sceptical but as soon as it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to be able to change things I decided to embrace the challenges that I was going to face and it.was.amazing! I know that I have just rattled off a great deal of year abroad clichés there but I really can’t emphasise this enough: it was amazing! I spent six months in Paris and then spent the subsequent six months in Rome, I won’t elaborate too much (I will save that for another post) but the year abroad offers you so much opportunity to develop your linguistic and social skills, your independence, your CV and it is one of the best times you will ever have, I guarantee it. I do realise that, during this bullet point, this post has gone from what was originally a rather cultivated work to what would best be compared to the sugar-fuelled ramblings of an excitable six-year-old but I suppose I can justify it by saying that it is testament to the influence of a year abroad. Believe the clichés about them, they exist for a reason!
7) The Social Life – I am aware that language students don’t have the most immense reputation as party animals but that’s not to say that we don’t socialise. Every language has its own society and they very frequently host joint and independent events (both including and not including alcohol) open to all members. These range from bar crawls, to film nights, to meals out, to day-trips and they are a great way to get to know people with whom you share interests or who are on your course – trust me, it’s good to have allies. I regularly attend such events and they are always a highlight of the week, they make my degree that much more enjoyable!
Although I’m not strictly writing this as propaganda (maybe I will have to do a “seven things I hate about BA Modern Languages” post to balance it out) I do hope that you have taken something from my loosely-formulated ramblings. Naturally, everybody has different tastes so it is understandable if these elements in particular don’t appeal to you. All I can do is hope that this post has both informed you and aided any sort of decision regarding whether or not Warwick is the place for you.
Thanks for reading.