I’m a second year French and Linguistics student. The first thing I have to say about this degree is that it really isn’t like many other French degrees out there. At some universities studying French basically means you spend your life with your head in French books. As much as that sounds fun, my degree really isn’t like that at all. As someone who went to painstaking lengths to ensure I was doing a degree with similar focus on French AND linguistics, I am very happy with the vast variety of content I study in a week. So here’s what my week looks like.
In the first half of the week
As a second year, I have at least one French seminar a day, sometimes two. But since the topics are so different (feminism in the 60’s and the history of French colonialism for example), it’s definitely manageable.
In between the French seminars, I’ll pop to the other side of campus to have my lectures for my linguistics modules. That’s the biggest difference between the two ‘sides’ of my degree. Whereas French is taught entirely in seminar groups, linguistics modules have traditional lectures and smaller seminars later in the week.
For me, this works great. Sometimes I’m really in the mood for a rigorous debate about French politics, and sometimes I was up a little too late the night before and I really just want to sit there and write notes, without talking to anyone.
I mentioned that I’ll ‘pop to the other side of campus’ for my lectures, and I really wasn’t kidding. The Language and Linguistic Science building isn’t very big and doesn’t have its own lecture theatre, so we do end up seeing a lot more of campus than some people on other degrees might. I’ve explored everywhere from the biology buildings, to the maths department, to the shiny seminar rooms of Spring Lane. And travelling between all these places has one massive upside: even more opportunities for encounters with the many ducks and geese that live on our lovely green campus!
The second half of the week
After the lectures of Monday to Wednesday, I’ll have my French seminars with linguistics seminars dispersed in between.
This is where the variety comes in again. I love the fact that I can go from talking about the intricacies of French culture to analysing how a sentence is constructed. (Even if it does mean I have to physically stop myself from saying ‘Bonjour’ to my linguistics teacher when I walk in from back-to-back seminars).
That’s also something you should be aware of, in case you weren’t: the French part of this degree is entirely taught in the language. It was a bit daunting at first, but I promise you that you’ll get used to it quickly and soon it’ll feel odd to even imagine not using French.
In fact, I once bumped into my seminar leader in Aldi and had a full French conversation with her in the cheese aisle without even thinking about it, because I’m so used to using French in her presence. That’s just my life now.
But it’s not all work – Wednesday also tends to be the day when many societies meet. I joined Craft Society with my flatmate during reading week in first year. Mostly because we thought it might help with the stress of uni life. And we were right, it does! Getting out of the house and doing something other than my work has definitely saved my sanity over the last year. I can’t recommend joining things enough, and there are so many societies that there’s sure to be something for you.
At the end of the week, when all the mandatory things are done and the lectures and seminars are over, I go home and prepare for the rest of the seminars I have that week. The work I have to do varies – from watching extracts of French news reports, to writing short essays, to doing question sheets in linguistics. But if you keep on top of things there’s always time in your week for fun, whether that’s sports, going to the cinema or sampling York’s busy nightlife.
Studying a language with linguistics means your degree will never be repetitive. There’s a multitude of different sub-topics you can cover, especially with the amount of choice you’re given when it comes to picking your second and final year modules. My advice: get involved in seminars, especially your language ones, as the speaking practice they give you is invaluable. On a less serious note, have fun! And make the most of these years at a great university in a beautiful city.