Sara Gonzalez: Spanish and International Development
Sara Gonzalez is in her second year studying BA Spanish and International Development. This programme provides an interdisciplinary grounding in development, addressing real world issues affecting people and planet, in conjunction with in-depth study of the Spanish language and its diverse cultures.
Sara studied Global Politics as part of her International Baccalaureate but felt that pursuing a degree in either Politics or International Relations would not interest her enough. Instead she was intrigued by the Spanish and International Development programme offered at Reading:
"I wanted to learn how this degree would help me in my future, how it is actively helping people now, and I want to make a difference and help people and thought this course reflected that."
Sara chose Reading because it was one of the few universities to offer this course combination.
The benefits of a combined degree
Sara is enjoying the variety and inter-related course content of Spanish and International Development.
Through this course students will become confident and highly skilled in written and spoken Spanish. We provide accelerated learning in Spanish, meaning that you can start from beginner's level if you have not done Spanish A level.
"The Spanish aspect is really interesting because even though Spanish could be considered my first language, I still learn a lot. It teaches you so much grammar and things that I do not know as a native speaker because I […] learnt my Spanish through my parents."
"Additionally, we learn a lot about the culture and the history through modules like 'Culture and Revolution'. These modules also relate to the International Development side of my degree because it teaches you the history of some underdeveloped countries you are learning about in other modules."
"It is very interesting and we learn a lot of theories and things that are relevant to future work such as research methods which helps a lot with dissertations. Because International Development is so broad it relates to a lot of different subject areas that I also study within my degree, so you feel like both aspects of the joint degree are interconnected."
Example optional modules include:
• International development: global and local issues
• People, power and policy in international development
• Sustainability and prosperity in a globalising world
"Studying International Development gives you a whole different education in comparison to just studying Spanish. Spanish allows you to learn more about Spanish culture and the language itself, such as translation etc. However, International Development is a completely different degree which allows you to gain expertise in world issues and not just a language."
Sara's favourite module is:
"..Modern International Relations because it relates a lot to International Development and I have learnt a lot of really interesting things, especially the week when we learnt about Feminist Theory."
Sara also pays tribute to a staff member who has made a difference:
"Jo Davies has helped a lot because she gives examples of how what we are learning contributes to real life occupations and gives experiences that she has had."
Sara found her placement from the internship scheme on the University website. It is 10-month long internship and Sara works as a Sales Operation Coordinator:
"I currently have a placement with an American Defence Company that deals […] with different countries' defence and relates to the module 'People, Power and Policy in International Development'."
"I am in charge of the forecasting in the company and I am also putting more data integrity in place. I am also looking into my own projects within the company, specifically with Spanish customers and with business in Spain."
An integral part of the course is the opportunity for students in their third year of four to spend up to a year in a Spanish-speaking country, either studying at a partner institution, undertaking a work placement or working as a British Council language teaching assistant. Sara has already managed to organise the year with her future career in mind:
"I am planning on going to Spain because it is close to home and I am planning to do a placement year there with the company I am currently doing an internship with."
"This may lead to a future career within my company as they're interested in having me expand their business in Spain and the support, they give is unlike any other company I have worked for. They constantly want you to undertake your own projects and even during my first week one of my senior managers told me how she wanted me to leave my own stamp on the company and feel like I made a difference and every day I feel like I am doing exactly that."
Life at Reading
"I've met great people and the bubble tea place is great. I've enjoyed my modules and most of my lecturers have been helpful and supportive, Reading also has multiple societies that you can join to help you meet more people which is great. The bubble tea place is a café in RUSU which sells bubble tea, coming from living in the city it reminded me of being in Stockholm from where I am from."
advice to prospective students
"[Reading] provide great resources that help you learn and progress, so make sure you use them."