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Joanna Mills BA English2016

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The variety of modules that are available is brilliant. I have gained skills and knowledge in so many areas of the literary cannon. From translating Old English texts to discussing fashion and riots in British Culture in the 1980s, there is always something new to learn.

What made you choose to come to study at Southampton?

I was always drawn to Southampton throughout the process of searching for universities to apply to. When I came here on a visit day I felt so at home that I knew this was the right university for me.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ or best experiences so far?

Being lectured by some of the leading academics in their fields; being Vice-President of Theatre Group and getting involved in many of their projects (particularly being an actor in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe play); getting involved in societies such as The Edge and Surge Radio and finding work experience in professions I am highly interested in.

What opportunities have you taken up (within your degree programme and extra-curricular), including networking, employment and work experience opportunities? How have they enhanced your undergraduate experience?

I have had experience acting and directing and have had a piece of my original writing performed at the Annex Theatre on campus. I was also elected as Vice-President for this committee for 2014-15 and have now secured a part in a play that we will be taking to the Edinburgh Fringe in the summer. I also had the opportunity to host an interview with Professor Will May to celebrate the life of Dylan Thomas.

Beyond this, I have gained a part on a serial radio drama with Surge and have taken part in poetry readings in the John Hansard Gallery and in SUSU with the Southampton poet laureate.

I have reviewed a new café for the Wessex Scene and written reviews of new cinema releases and archive commentaries for The Edge.

I gained experience in a professional theatre and in my degree I have attended lectures which ranged from discussions of Byron’s Don Juan to My Beautiful Laundrette. I have also attended a lecture from a Professor at Princeton University and have played an 18th century piano in Jane Austen’s house on a day trip to Chawton House Library.

All these experiences have culminated in the most brilliantly enlightening and diverse time I could have dreamed of having. I have learned so many new things and have been able to nurture my loves and interests in professional and fun environments and this has allowed many windows of opportunity to be opened to me.

Have you had any exposure to employer involvement or research led learning during your course? How will this help you achieve your ambition?

My degree is very research focused. You develop research skills of a very high standard in a very short space of time. This allows you to develop skills in analysis and time management, and helps you develop self-confidence as a researcher as you learn how to conduct research into issues that are generations old and become a part of those discussions yourself. This is highly important for any job you choose to do. For me, this is extremely helpful for the creative work I am interested in as it gives me a great insight into literary history, which is very helpful when reading scripts or writing. The time management and analysis skills that I have developed are also very useful in a business, as this is in a constant state of change.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

The variety of modules that are available is brilliant. I have gained skills and knowledge in so many areas of the literary cannon. From translating Old English texts to discussing fashion and riots in British Culture in the 1980s, there is always something new to learn. The degree is so diverse that you are constantly engaging in new material and are always being exposed to new ideas and theories.

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how do you think they are adding to your experience / will affect your future plans?

Yes, I have taken an open Humanities module called ‘How the Arts Work: A Practical Introduction to Cultural Economics’ which gave me an insight into funding in the arts industry and the kinds of jobs that are available to you in the creative sphere. We also had guest speakers from representatives from the John Hansard Gallery, the Turner Simms Concert Hall and The Nuffield Theatre, and were encouraged to attend live events in order to review a variety of shows.

How has your studying at the University of Southampton and the opportunities it has offered helped your personal development?

In terms of my personal development it is amazing how in the space of the last year I feel I have grown as both an academic and a person. This is a crucial part of your life and over the time of your degree you grow as an individual. Studying here has meant that this period has been filled with many amazing, fun, educational experiences, which I will remember for the rest of my life. It has nurtured my desire to work hard and be involved in as much as I possibly can.

Do you have any idea of what you would like to do in the future? Have the opportunities you have taken up while at the University of Southampton helped you have a clearer idea of what you might like to do?

I would definitely like to work in the creative industries. My experience in a professional theatre and in Theatre Group and the module ‘How the Arts Work’ has given me a great insight into the working of the arts industry. I have learnt how productions are brought together, the problems one encounters and how to deal with them, and how wonderful it feels when all the hard work and time you invest pays off in the end. Above all my passion has been made even stronger throughout this learning process and has ensured in me the hope to enter this profession in the future.

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