Italian is my dad’s first language. He didn’t speak it with us but I’m used to hearing my grandmother speaking Italian – I could usually understand her but I couldn’t respond. So I thought it would be a good idea to come to university to study the language, study the culture and get a better grounding in the subject than I had picked up from my family background.
I went to school in Kent so I saw posters about the University and we had a talk from some student ambassadors. I looked at the links the University has with overseas partners and the opportunities for the year abroad – I wanted to know how international the University is because of my course. The other reason was that I could study Italian from beginner level, which not all universities offer.
We do a language module and some culture modules, where we study the period from the unification of Italy in the mid-19th century to the modern day. We study a lot of film and literature. This term I’m doing an elective module too, on classical literature – although we don’t study Italian culture back into antiquity, there are lots of classical references in the works we do cover so I?thought it would help me to get a deeper understanding. My favourite module is one I took in second year on the Italian short story – it was really, really interesting.
I love my lecturers, I think they’re great! As it’s a small department, I know them all fairly well – they’re really approachable, friendly and knowledgeable.
A lot of us have members of our extended families who are Italian and we want to be able to speak to them. In the first year there was a pretty even mix of beginners, like me, and people who had studied the language for A level.
I did the British Council language assistantship in the Emilio-Romagna region of Italy – it’s the area my dad is from, which was handy. I taught in three different schools, delivering lessons on language and culture in English, and I also taught subject lessons in English – two or three music classes, science, geography and history.
Oh, definitely. One of my colleagues at school had a niece my age, who was home from university every weekend, and she introduced me to her friends. So although it was a small town, I was lucky to have a group of people my own age. Although I’ve struggled with confidence when speaking, I’ve definitely improved. My comprehension is also much, much better.
It was helpful to see in practice a lot of the stuff we talked about in our culture classes as well. For instance, the way women are represented, even on the news, is very different in Italy compared with the UK, so that was interesting.
I’ve been accepted to do an MA in publishing at UCL. I’d love to work on an international journal, where I can use my language skills.
Getting to know your lecturers is important. Do your work for them in class and go to see them during their office hours if you need them. Take part in the peer mentoring scheme, too – I mentor a first year. She comes to me with work she hasn’t quite understood and we go over the language, grammar and things like that