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The University of Southampton

Francesca Gerard BA French with ab initio Spanish

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Hi, I'm Francesca Gerard and I studied BA French with ab initio Spanish within Humanities at the University of Southampton.

For me there are three factors which have contributed to a successful and enjoyable first year at university. These are the flexibility of the course, the great staff and the variety within the degree program.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Chichester on the south coast and grew up there and continued to live there during my first year at university.

What made you decide to study French?

French has always been an integral part of my life, it was not, however, the first subject I sought to study at university; I first intended to pursue a Law degree with a view to a becoming a legal professional. Then I realised that as a degree, Law was not the option for me and so with the help of the University and an unplanned gap year in the retail industry I successfully transferred to a degree in French. This decision allowed me to explore further the cultural, social and linguistic landscape of the Francophone world in which I have always been deeply interested.

Tell us more about the areas that you are now specialising in …

Throughout the first year I have studied a broad range of topics varying from politics to psycholinguistics to social issues. I enjoyed this variety very much so I have decided to opt for a range of second year modules including French Linguistics and issues of Ethnicity in France. In addition to this I will continue to study Spanish in my elective module.

Are you enjoying your studies? What do you like most about your degree programme?

For me there are three factors which have contributed to a successful and enjoyable first year at university. These are the flexibility of the course, the great staff and the variety within the degree program. Possibly the area of my degree which I have enjoyed the most and which has challenged me the most is the study of ab initio Spanish. I actually only decided to study Spanish a month before the start of the course when I selected my module choices which highlights both the flexibly and the variety offered in a language degree at Southampton.

What are your plans for your year abroad? How do you think this year will help you in the future?

I am currently in the process of choosing my year abroad options and aim to spend the year teaching English as a foreign language. I believe this experience will allow me to grow in self-confidence, improve my use of idiomatic language and gain experience teaching so I that I might decide whether I wish to pursue a career in education.

Do you get on well with the academic staff?

Completely; the language faculty staff at Southampton are beyond helpful and really friendly. I have never felt like I cannot ask for help if I needed it and have never had incomplete feedback on work.

What’s the best thing about living and studying in Southampton?

The thing I have enjoyed most about studying at Southampton is being surrounded by like-minded people who have a passion for languages, it is incredibly inspiring to be in an environment where people always want to better their understanding of their chosen language(s).

What has been your favourite moment so far?

I will forever remember going up on stage with a group of friends to perform Fairytale In New York for the Christmas karaoke at the Union pub. This was my first ever karaoke performance, something I had never considered doing before, this really epitomises, in my view, what university is about- new experiences.

How were the first few weeks at Uni? Was it easy to settle into your studies, make friends etc?

Obviously embarking on this new phase of your life was challenging to begin with but the great thing about it was that everyone was in the same boat. On the first day at the moving party I met some of my best friends today, none of whom are doing the same degree as me. When I came to start my study I met a lot more people who I got to know through classes and the society socials.

What are you planning to do after graduating? What steps have you taken towards achieving this?

I am exploring the path of teaching following my degree and plan to spend my year abroad teaching English as a foreign language so that I may gain both experience in this field and also a better understanding of this career path and whether I wish to further pursue it.

Do you have any advice for people considering studying French at Southampton?

Do it! No, seriously if you have decided that you want to read languages at university then there is no better place to come than Southampton. The course is diverse, the staff are wonderful, the life is exciting and fun-filled and the friends are the best you’ll ever have.

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