An interview with this year’s Interpreter Magazine Committee members.
Left to right: Rebekah Dawes – Publicity Coordinator, Kelly Ruscoe – President, Sarah Jack – Vice President.
Why did you choose St Andrews? What do you particularly like/ dislike about the town?
When I was starting my A levels, the high school organised a trip for the six top achievers at GCSE levels. The closest university to my school was Dundee but St Andrews wasn’t much further and I guess it’s a lot nicer, so they brought us here. I spent the day shadowing a 2nd year French and Spanish student. We went to some of her lectures and she also took me to some first year language classes too. It was the first time I’d ever been to university and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never even taken lecture notes before! However, the language teachers were really friendly towards me and the students accepted me into their class in a way people wouldn’t have done in my high school. The girl I shadowed was really nice and I had a great day experiencing uni life with her – I even ended up learning the Spanish imperfect subjunctive! It was a magical experience for me and I absolutely fell in love with the university, although whether it was for the town itself or it just being my first university experience, I’m not sure. When it came to choosing my universities through UCAS I knew in my heart that I wanted to come to St Andrews. I realised that I might not get in so I also applied for a couple of lower achieving unis, although not really wanting to go there. I got unconditionals into all of them and had to wait until March before hearing back from St Andrews. Thankfully, I got an unconditional for that one too and that completes my story.
I both love and hate the size of this town. I find it so interesting that we are all connected through some friend or other but when you’re in a hurry, you are almost guaranteed to bump into someone you know and chat for a while.
Why study languages?
I study languages because I always loved learning them right the way through school. The fact that they allow us to communicate with people living a completely different way of life amazes me.
Languages act as a fascinating insight into the culture of the people who speak it – it’s always a beautiful moment discovering something untranslatable or a phrase we don’t have in english and opens you up to a whole new way of thinking
Which of your target languages is your favourite?
I would have to say that my favourite language is Spanish, not only because it flows a lot easier during conversation, but because I have probably spent more time in Spanish speaking countries than German or Russian speaking countries and therefore feel a lot more confident speaking in Spanish.
you shouldn’t pick favourites! For me each language allows you to express yourself in a different way – Italian is certainly more passionate and exciting whilst I’ve always found french to be more serious and enigmatic.
Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
In a year’s time, I’ll still be studying at St Andrews after having spent a year and a half abroad (I’m spending semester 2 of this academic year in St. Petersburg studying Russian).
I literally have no idea. I’ll have graduated. I’m not sure if my boyfriend wants to do a PhD, so we’ll see what country that takes him to and I guess I’ll follow him there and give private English classes or try and find a job as a translator.
What is your vision for the magazine?
I personally would love to see The Interpreter grow to the stage where most of the student community have at least heard of the magazine.
I just want to be bigger and better than ever before. More publications each week and in more languages.
What is the aim of the magazine?
The aim of the magazine is to reach as many different people as possible by publishing articles (and translations) in as many languages as possible.
We’re pushing to promote our image as a “culture bridge” between the language learners and native speakers of foreign languages in the university community, and it the same time acting as an accessible space to share experiences in and a love for language learning.
How many languages have you published in?
I believe that up until now we have published in 9 different languages, but we are still recruiting writers for all other languages!
Any crazy year abroad stories?
Watching Italians in every household randomly shoot off fireworks in every direction from their balconies to celebrate the new year certainly made me feel like the only sane one around!
Once in France me and my friend missed the bus and were worried that the next one wouldn’t get us to the train station in time, so we stood at the edge of the road with our thumbs out trying to catch a lift. A middle aged guy picked us up. His car was messy and he was smoking out of the window. Not the best person to hitch a lift with. I don’t know whether it was to try and make us two young girls feel more comfortable, or just because he was weird, but the guy played a Celine Dion CD in his car during the journey. I tried to make conversation with him saying I knew some of the songs but he didn’t really reply, so I just sat in the back of the car and sang along.
Another day I went into the Pyrenees with the same friend to go sledging. I didn’t have any sensible shoes, because I was living in the south of France and it was warm there outside the mountains. I didn’t want to buy trainers or boots solely for the occasion, so I naively caught the bus up there wearing pumps (the only shoes I actually had, except a pair of heels) thinking I’d just be careful where I stood. I took a change of socks for in case my feet got wet. Suffice to say, the snow was about a foot deep in the field we selected for sledging, so with every step I sunk in and my feet got pretty cold and wet pretty quickly. After twenty minutes or half an hour we had to call it a day, to my friend’s disappointment, because I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. Not that we missed out on any sledging anyway, because we went pretty unprepared. We didn’t actually have a sledge, but I’d heard from other people you could go on bin bags, so we took a couple up. Turns out I had a pretty small bin in my kitchen though so we could barely fit on the bags, let alone sledge on them. Because of the snow being a foot deep, we just sat down and sank, and could barely move forward even scooting. Turns out you can’t sledge in uncompressed snow. Later on in the day we did find a town selling mini sledges, but I couldn’t face the frozen feet thing again, so we didn’t go back to the field we’d been trying to sledge in (and probably trespassing) earlier on in the day.
What’s your favourite foreign word?
There’s a lovely expression in french – “l’esprit de l’escalier”, literally: the stairs feeling- which refers to all the replies and things you should have said in a conversation that you think of afterwards.
My favourite word has always been “ausgezeichnet”, meaning excellent in German.
I really like the French word “coquelicot”, meaning “poppy”. I just think it sounds pleasing to the ear (ko-ke-li-ko).
Do you have any funny stories from class?
Once in a Junior Honours French oral class one of the boys forgot where he was going next in his presentation and panicked, exclaiming “Putain!” under his breath. Right in the middle of the presentation. In front of the whole class. And the teacher. And the voice recorder.