The Linguist

The Linguist 54,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 15 of 35 16 The Linguist Vol/54 No/4 2015 FEATURES British school leavers are increasingly studying overseas. Sam Langton considers the benefits of doing his MA in Utrecht – and whether it lived up to expectations W orking in accounting for two years after graduation, I had come to dread the inevitable question 'so, what do you do?' from new acquaintances. After nearly a year studying a Research Master's in Utrecht, The Netherlands, I have come to revel in the genuine interest that meets my answer. The question that usually follows is 'why Utrecht?'. As a British graduate, the most obvious reason for choosing to further my education in Holland was cost. Continental Europe has internationally acclaimed universities whose tuition fees are rarely more than a tenth of those in the UK. Quite often, there are no tuition fees at all. Even for those with limited language skills, such as myself, there is a wealth of courses to choose from, particularly in The Netherlands. The second reason is the academic experience. My interest is in Social Sciences, and I had been lucky enough to graduate from a university that leads in this area: the London School of Economics (LSE). Having studied a qualitative approach to the subject, and benefitted immeasurably from it, I wanted something new, something challenging. This is where Utrecht University comes into its own. Here, I could be taught by leading statisticians who would push my abilities in a new approach to the study. The personal experience is an inevitable and more overt benefit. University triumphs in developing individuals because it allows you to engage with like-minded people while, at the same time, forcing you to engage with people who are entirely different. This is why my bachelor experience was so fruitful. I realised that going to Utrecht would be as about any topic for an unrelenting period of time. This is immensely encouraging and reassuring in new social surroundings. The conversation was never hindered by language. Instead, I was often met with self- deprecating questions about linguistics, usually from Dutch students. This mainly revolved around a self-consciousness over their accent in English. It was one of many examples of how driven my Dutch colleagues were at self-improvement: rarely satisfied, always pushing to progress their skills set. While the Social Sciences departments of many European universities offer courses in English, the department at Utrecht has wholly subscribed to English when it comes to publications, teaching and research. Reasons to go Dutch fascinating and socially valuable as studying in London, but instead of talking about music, books and beer with James from Guildford, it would be with Jeroen from Groningen. So how did the reality compare? The academic reality was that, for the first few weeks, I was just about keeping my head above water. Only six weeks earlier I had been working 9 till 5 and studying for a professional finance qualification at weekends. My introduction to the culture of Dutch Research Master's degrees was harsh. The personal experience took a smoother course. Nothing can prepare you for the confidence displayed by most young Dutch and German students, who seem able to talk © SHUTTERSTOCK

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