Three years ago I made a last-minute decision to make my planned degree in geography into a joint degree in Japanese and Geography. In the run up to my year abroad in Japan this year, I was feeling apprehensive to say the least.
After two years of study, what if I didn’t like Japan? What about the friends I had made at Newcastle? What if I couldn’t find marmite in Japan? I’ve now been at my exchange university in Japan for nearly a month and although I miss my life in Newcastle, I’m incredibly pleased that I decided to include a language in my degree.
If you do decide to study a language at university, there are a few important points to consider when researching. Firstly, look at resources and opportunities available for language students such as Newcastle’s Language Resource Centre or Anglo-Japanese society.
Secondly, depending on your level, you’ll probably have to take some modules in the culture and history of your chosen country. Check what kind of subjects are on offer and make sure you’re interested in the cultural modules as well as the language itself. Remember to look at other faculties too – I took a School of History module on modern Japan in my second year which I really enjoyed.
Thirdly, look at the options available for your year abroad. Pay attention to which universities abroad your university has exchange agreements with, what you have to do to get into your chosen destination and what opportunities you’ll have while abroad.
Most importantly however, if you choose to study a language you’re also choosing a culture, a way of life and possibly your future home. Don’t just choose a language because you studied it at school, make sure you can see yourself living, studying and working in the country you choose!