I left Brasenose in 2016 with a BA in German and Russian. Apart from the incredible tuition I got during the time I spent in Oxford itself, the Year Abroad is what makes any degree in Modern Languages stand out. By the end of my year abroad, I’d taken classes in Chinese and International Politics at the University of Bonn on an Erasmus grant, worked as a blogger and street photographer for a Berlin culture magazine and been a news intern at the Moscow Times. I hadn’t really planned any of these experiences; not knowing what I wanted to do with my degree, I applied for a range of opportunities on the brilliant Oxford Modern Languages jobs bulletin and saw where they would take me. They have all undoubtedly shaped what I am doing at the moment, and where I hope to go.
Straight after leaving Brasenose I interned at the Ministry of Defence's think tank and assisted on research for the next edition of Global Strategic Trends, which explores what the world might look like in 2050. I was selected for the internship on the basis of my language skills, in order to increase the number of non-English language sources included in research for the ‘Europe in 2050’ section of the publication.
One of the best experiences since leaving has been working on a tech for good startup, Chatterbox, which trains and employs refugees in the UK as language tutors. The venture has been delivering classes online and in-person to students of Arabic, Persian, Korean and International Development in London, and we’re expanding to other parts of the UK. I’ve been volunteering on the project alongside studying for an MSc in Security Studies at UCL. As someone who had been torn between arts and sciences when choosing a degree (my A Levels were in Physics, Maths, German & Russian), it’s been weirdly fun to use a bit of maths again in my MSc, and even better to use it to try and answer questions that actually seem to matter - like ‘does peacekeeping improve the likelihood of robust peace after civil war?’ (as opposed to ‘what is the probability of Jill extracting a red marble from the bag after she removes a yellow marble?’). Extremely gratifyingly, I’m also getting the chance to use my languages again in research for my Master’s dissertation.
I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing at the moment without my Modern Languages degree, nor without the support I got while I was at Brasenose, both academic as well as with travel grant and job applications. If you study Modern Languages at Brasenose College, you’ll almost certainly end up making wonderful friends at Oxford’s friendliest college, and you’re guaranteed expand your potential friend group by x-million, depending on the number of people who speak the language(s) you decide to study. And I think that’s pretty cool.
By Lena Garrett
Read more about Modern Languages at Brasenose