Rhiannon recently graduated from the Applied Linguistics department with a 2:1 in English Language. I managed to catch up with her after her exciting day to chat about her academic life at Swansea University and what she was going to do now.
ALB: Tell me a little bit about yourself, for our readers.
RB: Although I was born in England, I moved to Wales when I was 7 and grew up in Swansea, so I already knew the area well, having lived there for 13 years. I had a lot family and friends there.
Originally, I started a joint honours degree BA TESOL with Italian – I was drawn to the TESOL with Italian combination – as this is quite unique. However, I eventually changed single honoursEnglish Language programme. The department were very helpful in facilitating these changes to suit my academic interests as they developed.
ALB: What did you enjoy most about your time at Swansea University and the degree?
RB: When I first started the course, I was quite apprehensive about fitting in. However, I found that meeting people in my modules, as well as through extracurricular activities such as Show Choir and within my role as Student Representative, I was a valued member of the college community. I have made incredible friends, who I hope to remain in contact with, and I’ve built fantastic professional relationships with the departmental staff.
I enjoyed the majority of my modules throughout the entirety of my degree, but a few that stood out to me in particular were: Phonetics and Phonology (year 1), Psycholinguistics (year 2) and Second Language Acquisition (year 3).
As well as this, in my final year I was given the fantastic opportunity to take part in an extra-curricular research project run by Prof Tess Fitzpatrick and Dr Alexia Bowler in conjunction with a local health board. Working alongside my contemporaries and lecturers, I was able to undertake a small-scale research project where I attended Neath Port Talbot Hospital for observation days, and along with other students we compiled a report and presented our findings, which will hopefully have an impact on their communication policies. So this real-life application of our linguistic skills was an invaluable experience.
ALB: Did you take part in other unique opportunities offered by Swansea University?
RB: Yes, I completed the CELTA (Cambridge Certificate for English Language Teaching to Adults) module in my second year as part of my degree. Although it was very challenging, it was a fascinating experience and has provided me with skills and I still use to this day. It taught me a great deal about self-confidence, effective communication and organisation.
I started a year abroad in Siena, Italy in September 2018, but decided it wasn’t for me at this stage. I wanted to focus much more on the English Language side of my degree in Swansea. However, prior to my return, I found the ‘Go Global’ team extremely helpful, attentive and patient. Although I chose not to pursue the year abroad, I would recommend it to everyone, as it is a fantastic cultural experience and I know that my friends who have just finished their years abroad found it incredibly rewarding.
ALB: Ok, so now you’ve finished your degree, what are you doing now?
RB: I am now living in London with my parents and am just about a start a job in the Ministry of Justice. I have also been offered a job working for the National Crime Agency but the vetting period takes up to 18 months, so I am weighing up which job to go for.
ALB: Wow, so currently in high demand!?
RB: [laughs] Hmmnn, I guess!
ALB: Bearing in mind you’re now looking for a career, how do you think the degree prepared you for the world of work ahead? What are your plans?
RB: The degree has given me a great work ethic and much improved organisational skills. I am also more confident in my ability since studying at Swansea, which is due to the opportunities I have had such as CELTA, the research project and the Student Representative role. My time management and attention to detail have also improved!!
So, my immediate future will see me working in an administrative role for a government organisation. However, I plan to apply to study an MSc in Speech and Language Sciences in either UCL or City University, London.
ALB: What will you remember about Swansea University?
RB: I’ll remember that I excelled in my first year and received email congratulations from the department on my success. Following on from this I achieved some high 2:1 marks and Firsts in my second and third year. I’ll remember that the lecturers were not impersonal and archaic in their communication, so I felt like a valued member of the college community. They were also very approachable and helpful when I had queries relating to my studies and my future plans.
ALB: And graduation? How did you feel on the big day?
RB: I felt emotional that this chapter of my life was ending, but excited at the prospect of the next chapter beginning. It was lovely to see old faces together again.
ALB: Agreed! It was a good day for all of us and fantastic to see all of you walk across that stage! Finally, have you got any ‘top tips’ for students going into their final year?
RB: Enjoy it! It will pass you by quicker than you think. Don’t get too bogged down with deadlines that you forget to appreciate that these may be the final months of life as a student. Also, try and set up options for after you graduate, but don’t pressure yourself to get a ‘good job’. You will probably be working for the next 50 years, so don’t stick to something you hate because it ‘looks good’ or someone says you should. And finally, be proud of yourself. You’ve nearly completed a degree and that’s a huge achievement! So well done J