Harry Le May
Why did you choose Bristol?
I had initially applied for a place to study Spanish and Portuguese but was offered Spanish and Russian.
However, having received my offer from Bristol I did some research and found that Bristol was rated very highly from a Russian perspective. And when I asked people I knew and trusted who had been to Bristol, or were there at the time, no one had a bad word to say about it.
I was particularly struck by the way they said that not only is Bristol a fantastic university from an academic perspective, but equally importantly it's a great place to live.
These are sentiments that have rung true for me during my degree.
What aspect of the course have you found the most useful?
I think the Russian department is structured really well in Bristol.
Beginning a language like Russian at university is a seriously daunting task but the (relatively) small number of Russian students and subsequent increased contact time with teachers has made it a really enjoyable challenge.
The small group of students has also created a very tight knit group which is definitely something I value highly.
While there is probably a slight lean towards Russian literature at Bristol, I think the 20th century history of Russia is a fascinating period and the units taught on the subject have been incredibly engaging and well taught.
How did you spend your year abroad?
I spent four months studying in St Petersburg and two months working in Moscow, although the latter was organised separately from the University.
As new "Russianists", the notion of spending four to six months in Russia is a daunting prospect for both students and their families.
However, I think that the department was very aware of this and gave us significant support, right from the end of first year. This meant that we were very conscious of our options and all the paperwork and deadlines we needed to follow.
I don't think that at any point anyone was left feeling out of their depth.
While we were actually abroad the support continued: we were regularly in touch with the head of Russian and she even made a trip out to Russia during the Easter break to catch up with all of us.
Once again, it just served to reassure us that we weren't forgotten and this was especially important for some as the political situation in the country deteriorated slightly last year.
What plans do you have for when your course has finished?
I've been fortunate enough to have already secured a job offer in financial services for next year.
While I’m hopeful I will be able to continue to use my languages, I’m not expecting to be sent abroad weekly from the word go.
However, there is no doubt in my mind that languages, and Russian especially, significantly improved my odds of getting the job. In the current climate thousands of very qualified students are applying for a limited number of roles. I think that companies are increasingly looking for something that really differentiates candidates.
Being able to say that you are more or less tri-lingual, including one language which is important but underrepresented in the UK, is undoubtedly a fantastic asset on any CV.
Harry Le May, BA Russian (2015).
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