As I write this I have just finished confirming my module choices for my final year. Yep, time goes that fast. It doesn’t feel like a year and a half since I moved into Donald Barron C Block (my favourite memory is still the person who dropped a load of their luggage, yet only the vodka bottle did not survive unscathed), and this time next year, I will have to be getting ready to move on, and potentially leave York behind.
Anyhow, aside from this slight life panic, I’ve had an easy time this past week. After writing two essays a fortnight ago, one on the origins of Communist power in Eastern Europe and the other on the reputation of the 1970s, I’ve just had seminar reading and two nights out with my history friends to occupy my time.
I didn’t really have a specific idea on what to write this post on. However, these last few weeks have seen a great number of you visit the University on Visit Days. If you have been, you’ve probably had an opportunity, to discover the stunning city in which you will love spending the next three years of your life. You may have met some of the students who will be in your seminars next year (and potentially even forgo the embarrassing ‘what’s your name?’ which you inevitably repeat five minutes later).
If you have, then I hope that you have enjoyed yourself, and escaped our waterfowl version of Animal Farm unscathed (you get used to them). If you haven’t, then don’t worry. I have worked several of them before, and here’s a round up of some of the most common questions I have been asked.
What do you study?
Firstly, even if you haven’t visited on an open day, then you’ve probably seen how broad the choice of modules is in the department. For example, as a modernist who’s very much interested in current affairs, I’ve had so many opportunities to study my interests through exploring their historical dimension.
History students are known for their few contact hours in every university. The running butt of jokes (read: envy) of the science students, you do have very few (around 5-8 a week) in comparison to some other subjects. You’re certainly kept busy, though. You will always have reading to do, and quite often essays to write too, and most days I find myself in the library at some point (open 24/7 362 days a year for the overnighters) . That certainly doesn’t mean you have no time to yourself though. Certainly, I find time for at least a whole day off, at least one night out a week, and two evenings doing other things a week. As I go into my final year, I will have to factor in some time for my dissertation, however, I’m looking forward to being given the chance to study something that I’m genuinely interested in! As a bonus, for those interested in doing dissertations on foreign countries, there are currently several opportunities to gain funding from the University if you need to go abroad to undertake your research!
Why should I study History over ______?
Before I settled on History, I was unsure what subject I wanted to do at university. Personally, I had interests in politics and literature in addition to History, and I was torn over what subject to study. What is great about the course is how it links into other subjects – very few subjects can rival History for its inter-disciplinarity. Personally I fit a lot of my interests around modern political and social history, allowing me to study things that I am interested in related to current affairs, human geography, and modern politics. Though my medievalist historian housemate keeps trying to insist I don’t do ‘real history’, I always shoot him down. For example, two of my modules this year have had sections on related fiction, a connection you will learn about when you study history at York.
One of the most common things that I have been asked on open days relates to the career prospects of History students. As a History student, you will learn to read a lot and formulate your own arguments. You will learn to research, manage your, and you will learn to write and communicate your ideas. These are just some of the skills that you get with studying a History degree. The History department has its own Careers Officer to allow you to talk about potential work, whilst Careers Service at York are excellent in helping you to discover potential career paths, for part time work to earn a little extra on the side, or gain experience. No matter what the urban legends might say, we’re not all aspiring teachers, and we certainly don’t need to be.
Here I don’t just include the standard ‘go out and regret it heavily the next day’. At the end of it all, nobody wants to be lonely at university. Thankfully, with a History degree, you get plenty of chances to meet many new people. On the course, the seminar based nature ensures that you get to meet fellow historians regularly. You will also meet people through York’s college system, which I have outlined previously. Even if you don’t think you’ll fit in with the others, you shouldn’t worry. When you go to university, you will meet so many people from all over. And in any case, you won’t be alone in feeling that won’t you fit in.
As I have outlined already, for a city of its small size, York offers an incredible amount of opportunities to socialise with friends. From days out including the Castle Museum, afternoon tea at Betty’s or any of the fine independent shops, or just wandering around York’s stunning streets, you’re never short of places to visit. York’s good transport connections mean you can always have days out too! Though York is no large city, it does boast an excellent variety of nightlife. For a city with a pub for every day of the year (I still have my favourites) to many cocktail bars if you want to be (or try to be) sophisticated, to several nightclubs, there’s always plenty of opportunities for you to go out and enjoy yourself, and potentially achieve my standard…
These are just a few of the questions that I have been frequently been asked on open days. If you have others please let me know!