Maria-Valentina is in the second year of her European Studies (German) degree.
Why did you choose to study at Kent?
I’m half German and half Venezuelan and have always been taught in English at international schools, so wanted to continue my studies in an English-speaking environment. The course offered everything I wanted; also Kent has a high score for student satisfaction – I think the social aspect of student life is important too. I visited the University and loved it. It was so green and spacious, and I liked that it was a campus university.
How is the course going?
I love it. It’s a great mixture of politics, language and literature. I’m particularly enjoying the translation work; I was brought up to be trilingual and in translation work you get to use several languages at once. I like not just being able to translate but also putting the work into colloquial English. I’ve also found studying philosophy very enlightening, and enjoyed classical German literature of the 18th and 19 centuries.
Then this year I took The Politics of the European Union, which has been fascinating – I didn’t realise how complex the situation was. And now, with Brexit, the elections across Europe, it’s a very fluid, dynamic situation and the lecturers are able to bring it all together to illustrate the subject.
What is the teaching like?
It’s great. The language seminars are the best – very small groups so you get individualised teaching. I’m quite outgoing and I like to take part in the debates; study is very important to me. We get good feedback on our work; the lecturers will make a lot of comments on essays and thoroughly discuss them to show you how to improve them.
How would you describe your fellow students?
We are an international group, which reflects the diversity of the University. Even the house I share now is international, with two people from the UK, someone from Ireland, another from New Zealand, and an Italian. You get to learn a lot more when you have such a mix – you hear so many different attitudes and aspects of life.
What will your next step be?
I would like to learn another language next year. Then after I graduate I have decided to do a Masters in European Politics and Governance, but after that I’m not sure – I may see if I can do a PhD. I think a Masters gives you the edge when you’re looking for a job.
What is the accommodation on campus like?
I’m in Becket Court and I love it. The en-suite rooms are a good size and you get breakfast and dinner too. When I was moving in I met a group of people who have become good friends.
What about other facilities on campus?
The library is great – I’m a big fan. It’s very well stocked, with even very obscure German books by niche authors, and everything is easy to find. We often go there to study and you can always find a space, although it does get busy sometimes.
For the social side of things, the gym is very well equipped and well run too, with lots of classes. There’s also a scheme called 'Let’s Play' that lets you try out different activities – I haven’t had time to try it but I know people who have and they say it’s very good. I like the Venue too – you always have a good time when you go there. And I spend a great deal of my time at the Gulbenkian Café, which has a nice atmosphere.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m pretty busy as I’m involved with Kent Union, I’m a student ambassador, and I’ve been vice president of the French Society – yes, French, not German! One of my friends was president and asked if I could help, and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Any advice for students coming to Kent?
Pay attention to the library induction so you can take advantage of this great facility and know how to use its resources. Also get out, try things even if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy them, and join societies – they’re a good place to make friends and if you keep an open mind you’ll meet lots of great people.