Studying English and American Studies: “I feel like I am part of a huge university family!

Tamara Urach from Wolfsberg is about to complete her teacher education programme in English and History. She is so enthusiastic about the English language and culture that she decided to do an additional Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies. In this interview, she tells us what she likes about the University of Klagenfurt and why freshers should dare to do something.

Why did you decide to study to become a teacher?

The desire to study at all only emerged during my time at the upper secondary school. I had a very good English teacher. She did not only arouse my interest in the language, but also in English culture. That is why I decided to study English to become a teacher in order to get future students fascinated about this subject.

Can you remember any special situation you experienced at AAU?

Yes! Our winter office history! For about two years now, some of the study colleagues and I have had our own “office”. This “office” is our preferred table in the assembly hall where we regularly meet to learn together. It is constantly growing because new “workmates” are joining us. We help each other with different tasks, presentations or exams, but also do a lot of things together in our free time. Once we ordered pizza in winter. We still felt like having a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for dessert. But in winter there is no ice cream on campus. We had to look for something and finally found it at Spar, where we went and got ice cream for our whole “office”. Our endurance paid off and strengthened our community!

What do you like about your studies?

In English, I particularly like the classes on culture and literature, especially if they focus on the British Middle Ages. My enthusiasm for them is great enough that I have already attended more than 5 seminars and lectures on this subject, even though I do not need to anymore.

Has your view of the world changed through your studies?

Yes, a lot! I noticed, that I have become much more cosmopolitan through my studies. I am much more involved with other cultures, especially those in the English-speaking world (such as Maori culture) and I love to explore other countries. My environmental awareness at university has also become stronger. Although I like to travel, I try to live more consciously and do without some things.

How do you explain the contents of your studies to your family or friends?

Many of my friends or acquaintances have expected me to spend day-in, day-out practising grammar and learning vocabulary in this study programme. But of course, that is not the case: one of the first things you learn is how to write essays properly, how to present and generally use the language correctly, these are the basics, so to speak. But from the very beginning there are also courses that build on topics from linguistics, culture and literature. You get to know different cultures, learn about the influence of language on a wide range of topics, and can devote yourself to literature from many different eras – in the process, you will quickly recognise what interests you most. The best thing about it is that you can choose to a certain extent on which focus you want to concentrate, and you can choose the courses accordingly. In addition, you cover many topics that I would not have expected, such as literature from the field of fantasy (Lord of the Rings or The Song of Ice and Fire), various smaller cultural groups, culture in music, film and theatre, mythology or gender studies. There is just an incredible amount to learn and discover and, since my family and friends have known this, they are very enthusiastic about my studies.

Why did you choose Klagenfurt to study?

To be honest, I, like many of my friends, thought about leaving Carinthia before my studies. But I am really happy that I changed my mind, because the University of Klagenfurt is really great. You feel incredibly well looked after and the surroundings are great, because in summer it is only a few minutes walk to the lake.

Why should one study here? What do you like about Klagenfurt?

The university offers a very pleasant environment and I think that, unlike other cities or other universities, we have a lot more nature at our doorstep, which is very important for me as a “rural child”. Personally, I feel like I am part of a huge university family. Many of my friends and acquaintances tell me that, at larger universities they are often just a number – in Klagenfurt, you know each other and even the professors know you by name. If you need help, there is always someone on hand, be it a professor, fellow students or university staff.

What are you looking forward to when you arrive at the university?

I am always happy to see my colleagues and to exchange ideas with them. I also like the feeling after the holidays, when I am getting back to speaking English regularly and having the possibility to get to know new faces.

What would be important advice for AAU freshers?

Dare something! Dare to look for help, because especially in the beginning it can be hard to know what you are doing, if you have never been enrolled at a university before. Take part in events and contact the student union (ÖH) if you have any questions. Everyone at the university has been through this experience and can give you valuable advice.
Dare to attend in a few more courses. You can do incredible things if you want to.
Dare to open your mouth. Of course, in classes where you think that the others already know more than you do it is hard to get involved. But that is rarely the case, and especially in language studies you only get better by talking. Moreover, your performance will automatically improve if you make an effort.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Since I studied to become a teacher, the plan was to work in this field as well. However, I got to know so many new aspects during my studies and let myself drift, because who knows what the future will bring. I would definitely be interested in a job at the university or maybe in writing a book.

Word Rap

  • My first day at UNI was… a little over-stimulating, but incredibly exiting.
  • My greatest lecture experience… was a role play with the characters of the house Plantagenet.
  • My university is… incredibly instructive.
  • My study life does not work without… my colleagues and friends.
  • I am inspired by… the extensive knowledge of some of my professors.
  • My studies in 3 words… informative, exciting, inspiring.