Nick Isard (French, Spanish & Russian 2010)
I graduated in Modern Languages and Cultures in 2010 having studied French, Spanish and Russian. When I look back at my time at Durham I realise how lucky I was to have the opportunity to study at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and wouldn’t change my choice of degree for one second. What I most enjoyed about the course was the fact that I was able to tailor it to my interests, particularly Hispanic Linguistics, which I studied in the first and second years and then by means of a dissertation in my fourth year. In my year abroad, I spent time in Russia, France and Spain and I have to say it was definitely one of the highlights of the degree.
Since graduating, I’ve been living in Seville, Spain. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my languages degree after I left Durham, as I’m sure is the case for many graduates. So after I finished I decided to come to Seville to teach English for a year. I began to see working for the EU in foreign policy or international cooperation as an attractive and interesting option, so I ended up doing two MAs here in Seville, which were both definitely great opportunities to improve my Spanish and learn a more academic Spanish, which I wasn’t familiar with. After finishing these I began to translate for local companies and enjoyed it so much that I decided to set up a translation company in Seville with two friends (one Spanish and one French) I’d met on my Erasmus placement in France. It’s been such an enjoyable experience, especially getting interns from Durham! This has subsequently led to setting up another company called Superbritánico, which translates Spanish expressions literally into English, prints them in various ways, and uses this as a basis for learning English (http://www.superbritanico.com). We’ve just published a book called The Lemony Pear with Spain’s largest publishing house (http://www.planetadelibros.com/the-lemony-pear-libro-167732.html), have our products all over Spain, and have even been on Spanish radio and TV, which has been a real experience!
In terms of career routes with a languages degree, I think many people think the only thing they can do is either go into teaching or translation/interpreting, which isn’t at all true. A languages degree is so versatile and flexible and is one of the top subjects for getting a job. The skills you learn in language and cultural modules, as well as on the year abroad, definitely put languages graduates at a real advantage. Amongst the many transferable skills I acquired, I think the most valuable one and the one which has served me best was learning to think critically. Durham plants a kind of inquisitiveness inside you which never really goes away – in fact I’m currently looking into part-time PhD opportunities.
So to current students, don’t forget how lucky you are. And to prospective students, go into languages – I can assure you that you won’t regret it!