… My linguistics degree

When applying for university 3 years ago, the whole thing was pretty daunting. Applications, personal statements, UCAS and getting the grades, it was all quite draining but it paid off.

My problem was I had no major idea of what I wanted to study, never mind what career I wanted to go into. I was jealous of those people who had already got their career goals in check. But who really knows what career they want at the age of 18 anyway? I just knew it had to be something to do with language, leading me to linguistics.

When I meet new people and they ask, “What do you study?”, I tell them and their faces all look the same. The same blank expression as I watch them puzzle over what on earth linguistics is in their minds. I get it every time.

“So you can speak loads of languages then?” Nope. Just English.

“So, what is it then?”. Good question. Linguistics isn’t like law where you study law, or like maths where you study numbers and formulae. It’s sort of a mix of studies, ranging from language acquisition to phonetics to sociolinguistics. Sounds pretty bland to a lot of people, but each to their own.

But what I’ve learnt at university is that your degree doesn’t entirely determine your future. Of course it helps to have an idea but I found that starting with something broad like linguistics helped me to explore the possibilities, until I decided on something I actually enjoyed and could see myself doing for the rest of my life.

So I’ve set myself on a journalism career path. Not surprisingly, journalism isn’t the easiest industry to crack, but I have a habit of always making things difficult for myself. What’s life without a challenge, anyway?

But now in my final year, I’ve learnt that it’s also the life skills I’ve gained along the way. Nothing can really prepare you for independence like university can. Living away from home, paying your own bills and doing your own food shops. They’re all in many ways just as valuable as the degree itself.

Moral of the story… I still don’t really know what linguistics is.


Photo by Ricky Romero

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