Q&A with Rosie Shimmin

Rosie has recently graduated from University of Cardiff after having studied for a BA Hons German and Politics. Here we talk to Rosie about her time at uni, what modules she enjoyed taking and how diverse it is to study languages at university.

Why did you choose a BA in German and Politics?

I initially went to uni to study just German, but in the first year I had the chance to take modules from different departments and chose some politics ones. Luckily I was able to change my programme and managed to do a joint degree in German and Politics. The reason why I chose German, well, I loved learning German at school and I really learnt a lot and improved my ability to speak German whilst doing my A-levels. I chose to study Politics as well, because when I completed my GCSEs I had the opportunity to go on a trip to the European Parliament as part of a youth scheme and that trip really inspired me and encouraged me to take an interest in politics.

Why did you decide to go to University of Cardiff?

Cardiffwasn’t my first choice university, I actually wanted to go to the University of Bristol but unfortunately I didn’t get in. My second choice was Cardiff. I was a little upset that I hadn’t got in to Bristol but when I rang Cardiff up to sort things out, they were so kind and reassuring: I knew it would be ok going to Cardiff University after all.

What part of your degree did you enjoy studying the most?

The reason why I love German so much is because it is a subject that encompasses a whole variety of other subjects. There is so much amazing literature to have come out of Germany and it is also such a brave country to be so economically strong after such a damaged past. So, really I just loved it all; I loved finding out about the country, the people, the history, the culture as well as the language.

What’s been your favourite content module?

I loved doing a module on German literature in my second year. We not only studied different books and plays, but we also got the chance to look at some really good poems that I had never come across before. It was such a good class as well, as we all participated in the seminars and enjoyed sharing and discussing our different interpretations of the literature.  

What’s been your worst content module and why?

There was this one module that I didn’t really enjoy. It was a module on Bertold Brecht the twentieth-century German poet, playwright and theatre director. In this unit we looked more at his life than we discussed what he wrote. It was fascinating to find out about his life and works, but seeing that he was such a great poet and writer I wish we could have had the chance to actually delve into his work and analyse it.

What’s your favourite form of assessment?

 I love exams! It's so much easier working within a given time limit – I write more concise and analytically when under pressure. If you take good notes, do the wider reading then revising for the exams is relatively easy.

What’s one memorable moment from your time studying at Uni?

Well, just like every other language student, I would have to say the Year Abroad. It was such a brilliant experience, and I can not compare it to anything else that I’ve done. The opportunities to meet new people, to immerse yourself into a new culture, get the chance to speak and hear the language in real situations was just a phenomenal experience. My degree was brought to life.

Where did you go on your Year Abroad?

I went to Mainz in Germany. I was an Erasmus student there. It was just like being back in Cardiff as I was able to do all the things that I normally enjoy doing. I joined the Mainz University choir and I joined an orchestra just outside of the city, which was brilliant for my German as I got to practice speaking to locals and picked up tonnes of new vocab and it was just a really jolly experience. We even played at the Christmas markets. I also managed to get a job in a local cafe making sandwiches, so I managed to get a bit of an income and this really benefited my German to no end.

How have you adapted to independent learning?

I haven’t been able to at all. I prefer to be told exactly what to do, and then I can work towards that point knowing I’m achieving something at the end of it. Everyone has different learning styles and techniques and I need that structure. 

What’s your favourite part of studying languages?

Studying languages is always coupled with the cliché of 'opening doors', but it's entirely true. Being able to speak German has given me the confidence to travel and work abroad without any worries, and to understand that foreign doesn't necessarily mean different.

Outside of uni, what’s been your best language experience?

Having learnt a language it is so easier to work beyond the borders of Britain. I worked at a camp in Switzerland one summer and I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I hadn’t known German.

When was your eureka moment when you realised that you can speak another language?

It was on my year abroad. It really is the realisation that all that you have learnt up until that point is an actual place, where they actually speak the language and you can actually speak it, too.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of studying a language at university?

Think outside the box and beyond the walls of the classroom. With another language you have more than doubled your working possibilities and life experience. ENJOY IT!!!

Sum up language study in one word.