0 In University & Grad School

Grad School Series: Studying in a Foreign Language

grad school series

Happy Friday! It’s Grad School Day! (that sounded less terrible in my mind…)

After Tuesday’s post about foreign languages, I thought I would keep the ball going and talk about it again today but in regards to college!

* * * *

About half the people I knew in St Andrews were coming from countries where the official language isn’t English and they were all fantastic in English! They were at the postgrad level as well! It’s all very impressive to look at it that way!

I don’t know about other people’s experiences, but I know mine was a long and arduous road.  As you read on Tuesday, I grew up in a household where we spoke French and Spanish. I learned and taught myself English (I thank Harry Potter!) and one crazy day I decided to take a leap of faith and go study English Literature.

I do want to mark the difference with going to study literature in a foreign language. Not only is content important but so is the form. Every elective classes I took in undergrad had much more lenient standards for the level of English used than the English Department. It is to be expected, isn’t it?

Since 2008, the year I took that decision, I have been told time and time again that I’m brave, that what I did is commendable. I personally believe that there is a difference between being brave and being crazy. And this isn’t false modesty people! I am very well aware of what I have accomplished and how great it may look, but it was crazy! Going to study in a foreign language at university level and then in grad school is crazy! I don’t think I can repeat the word ‘crazy’ enough times to convey the message…

Going to study in literature in a foreign language brought me some setbacks, especially at the beginning. I saw a very high GPA dwindling and with that, my self-confidence. I went through a very rough patch in my first semester (which I relived when I moved on to grad school). Going to study in a foreign tongue meant sacrifices. It meant sacrificing my very good academic standing for a lesser one, at least to begin with. It meant sacrificing a part of my social life because I had to work harder than other people to do the same readings and the same work.

I know it probably won’t be that way for everyone, but I found it extremely hard to study outside my native language. I fought hard and persevered and was able to graduate with distinction. I was then accepted to go do a Masters at one of the best School of English in the UK. I think I slipped through the cracks to be honest 😉

It was hard, but worth it. I was doing what I loved, writing and reading. I discovered so many things. My English has also never been this good!

If you want to go study the literature in a foreign language, it will probably be one of the craziest decisions you will ever take in your life, but perhaps also the best!

* * * *

Thanks for reading about my experience on this subject! I would love to hear if other people also had difficulties, similar or different, or if, on the contrary, it was a breeze for you? You’re very welcome to share your experiences here! xx


You Might Also Like