February 14, 2018, by Lucy

Things People Say to English Students

‘I bet you love reading’

I mean, it would be strange if I did do an English degree if I completely hated reading, but try enjoyment of such does not necessarily mean that I love all the books that I’m required to read. Although having a passion for the subject (most of the time) does make it a lot easier to pick up one book after another, I can’t tell you that when I see Ulysses or the Old English version of The Life of Bede on my reading list that I jumped for joy. English isn’t all Harry Potter and Twilight, you know.

‘I don’t understand the old stuff such as Shakespeare’

If you think that Shakespeare constitutes as anything resembling Old English, then clearly you are unacquainted with the history of the English language. Yeah, Shakespeare might be seen as the father of modern language, but what about Chaucer and the manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxons, ay?

*Sidenote, just because I study English it doesn’t mean that I love Shakespeare.

‘You hardly have any contact hours, you must have loads of free time’

So, just because I’m timetabled to be in uni around 10 hours a week, it doesn’t mean that outside of these hours I am lying in bed watching nine consecutive episodes of Dinner Date. Yes, I may not be an Electrical Engineer with 9 billion contact hours a week, but I do have things to be doing believe it or not. For instance, I do three modules a term, each of which has at least one (normally more) pieces of required reading each week. As well as this, we are expected to do a sufficient deal of additional reading, research and preparation in aid of the seminar. On top of this, I have an exam on a weekly basis which requires for revision on a daily basis and in terms of other pieces of assessments, I have 10,500 words worth of essays to write this term, 2 exams to prepare for and a dissertation proposal to plan, write and propose. It’s not all plain sailing in an arts degree, trust me.

‘So, are you going to become an English teacher?’

I understand that English teachers are a crucial part of the education system, but going to university doesn’t equate to me having this career path drilled into my brain. Although a lot of people who do English become teachers, just like most other degrees, there are other career prospects outside of education. My degree means that I have a range of transferable skills: communication, organisation, innovation, to name but a few. I could become a lawyer. I could go into finance. I could become CEO of a worldwide charity if I so wanted. Stop presupposing that I want to be a teacher just because of my degree and open your mind to want possessing an actual degree can do for people.

Posted in Lucy