Hello! I’m Krystyna. I’m a graduate intern at the University
of Manchester and I work in the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation
team. This means that I work in a team which works closely with schools and
colleges in order to show learners what university is all about and what other
options young people have to continue their education and succeed in the
I studied French and Spanish at the University and in my
final year I did an extended research project on the topic of anthropomorphism
– the way that animals (or non-human characters) are treated as if they had
human qualities. Not at all French or Spanish! But what does all this have to
do with what I studied and my current job?
What is the School of
You may have heard people refer to university as ‘The School
of Life’, but what do they mean by this? Arriving at university is an
experience unlike any other. You are likely to be living without your family
for the first time, independently, with a group of other students. You can meet
new people every day if you want to through your course, and though the various
societies (clubs) and activities going on on-campus or in the city. You are
faced with so many new situations that your ability to overcome problems gets
better, and you find yourself getting more confident. More confident and
learning a whole lot of new skills and knowledge. All of these experiences give
you an insight into the world beyond your comfort zone and prepare you for your
future whether you have a career in mind or not.
As you find your feet, and get deeper into your work and settle
into your student life, you also start finding out more about your interests –
what are the things that spark something inside you? What are the things
that get you excited? Where is it that your strengths lie? What do you want to
get better at? These were some of the questions that helped me make the most of
the opportunities at university.
How does this help you
University isn’t only about attending your classes and only
sticking to classes from your course – that’s right! If you’re doing a business
degree you can take up a language and vice versa! I was able to take a course
on animal ethics in my final year which explored the relationship that we,
humans, have with animals. Not only was this fascinating, but it also changed my
world view. This, paired with my growing abilities in the languages I was
learning, made me reconsider my future. I started thinking beyond my subject
and started thinking about how I wanted to impact society in the future.
I became a student ambassador in my first year through to my
final year. This is a role in which you represent the university at events and
get to talk to people visiting campus about your experience there. As an
ambassador, one of the things I enjoyed was the opportunity to work with
schools. I would help university staff run events that encourage secondary
school pupils to take up languages and in my final year, I was able to teach
four beginner French lessons to 12 pupils in year eight at their school. This
is because many, if not all, universities also work with their local
communities in many different ways and I was able to be a part of that.
How does this help shape
As I came closer to finishing my degree, I started to
understand that my degree doesn’t restrict me to finding a job linked directly
to my studies. I started to understand that at university you learn so many
different skills that can be applied to many different jobs. At university,
not only did I gain independence, experience and learn about many things that I
wouldn’t have otherwise learned about (such as studying linguistics, and animal
ethics, and even studying abroad), I was able to reflect on my experiences and
skills, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and find where it is that
I want to go next.
If you decide to come to university, I hope that you will
push yourself to learn and experience new things, get involved in the work that
your university does in its community and discover, from these experiences,
where your passion might lie. I hope you have an excellent experience in the
School of Life!
My name is Nicola and I’m currently in the second year of an
AHRC-funded PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. My A-levels were in
Spanish, French, History and Mathematics and in 2006 I went on to study Modern
and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge in Scotland.
As part of my first
degree, I spent a year living and working as a translator in the city of
Valparaíso in central Chile. After continuing at Cambridge to complete a
Masters degree in Latin American Studies (specialising in Film and Visual
Arts), I then moved to Manchester in 2011 where I trained and worked as a
secondary school Spanish teacher.
In 2013, I began my PhD in the department of Spanish, Portuguese
and Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester. My research
explores how films influence and reflect the relationship between humanity and
nature in the 21st century, with a particular focus on the
representation of natural landscapes in contemporary Chilean cinema.
Just over half of the world’s population now lives in cities and
this figure is expected to increase to around two-thirds by 2050. When so many
people live in urban environments, what does this mean for how we encounter and
experience nature in the 21st century?
For many of us, the film and television screen is an important
point of contact with the natural world. We watch nature documentaries, travel
programmes, adventure films and cartoon animals, through which we encounter
places, habitats and landscapes that we never experience in real life. The
vision of nature that we see on-screen doesn’t simply reflect our relationship
to nature; it also shapes it.
research looks at films produced in Chile, a country with one of the most
diverse and fascinating natural landscapes in the world. From north to south,
Chile is the longest country in the world, stretching from the world’s driest
desert in the north, through fertile agricultural valleys, chains of volcanoes
and ancient forests, to the frozen expanses of Antarctica in the South. This
huge natural diversity and geographical variety is reflected in its
contemporary cinema, which makes it an interesting and important body of films
for those of us interested in cinema and the natural environment.
central argument of my thesis is that analyses of cinematic landscapes can no
longer be confined to the landscape’s role as a symbol of national identity or
an allegory of some aspect of national history. Instead, natural spaces can be
more usefully discussed as “postnational landscapes”, which are marked by personal,
local and global forces as much as by national cultures.
expanding and refining approaches to landscape and nature in contemporary
cinema, my research contributes to a growing academic interest in how culture
influences our attitudes towards nature and how this impacts on the future of
humanity’s relationship with the planet.
updates about my research activities, follow me on Twitter: @nicolarunciman
watch new films by Chilean directors online, visit: http://www.cinepata.com/
English language reviews and articles on South American cinema, music and art: http://www.soundsandcolours.com/
find out what we’re up to in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin
American Studies, visit our blog: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas/
My name is Nicola and
I’m in the third year of a PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. I did
A-levels in Spanish, English Literature and History and went on to study
Spanish at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, spending my year abroad in
the north of Chile. After returning to Chile for another year to teach English,
and then doing a Masters in Latin American Cultural Studies at the University
of Manchester, I began my PhD which looks at how members of the British public
engage with Latin American culture in the city of Manchester.
The first thing to
point out about studying Spanish (or any language) at university level is that
it’s not just about the language! While your language skills are obviously
important and will be developed, you will also spend lots of time studying
foreign cultures and how other people around the world live and express
themselves. This can involve studying literature, film, music, art, history,
religion and indigenous cultures. And, in the case of Spanish, you don’t just
study Spain, but also Latin America!
After doing my
undergraduate degree and Masters, and living in Chile, I found myself
particularly interested in how Latin America is perceived in Britain. Latin
American culture, such as salsa classes, music, food and films have become
popular in this country over the past couple of decades, yet Latin Americans are
a relatively small immigrant population in the UK and not many people travel
there, although both have started to increase in recent years. My research
therefore investigates how Latin American culture is produced in the city of
Manchester and how members of the public consume it.
My research focuses in
particular on the annual ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the
Cornerhouse cinema. I analyse how the film festival is produced, the reasons
why they choose some films over others, why they choose particular images to
publicise the festival. By interviewing members of the audience, I can find out
whether these choices influence the way members of the audience envisage Latin
America, or if there are other factors to be considered, such as how the media
portrays Latin America. My research also investigates what attracts British
people to Latin American culture, especially whether it stems from a
cosmopolitan concern to understand others around the world, something
particular to Latin American culture and/or disenchantment with contemporary
British culture and society.
See what you think of the ¡Viva! film festival at
their website: http://www.cornerhouse.org/viva2014?no-redir
For information on studying Spanish, Portuguese and
Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas
For more information on Latin Americans in the UK,
you might like to read this report on the Latin American community in London: http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/latinamerican/48637.pdf