The charity helping northern state students reach our best universities

Carenza Hughes: 2014 cohort

Third year at Edinburgh reading Scandinavian Studies and English, currently on a year abroad.

January 2018

“I am now in my third year at The University of Edinburgh studying Scandinavian Studies and English Literature. This is my dream degree. I am well aware of how odd it is or may seem to be to any people, and I know many people who have doubts about its value, but anybody who has spoken to me about will know that it fulfills everything I want from a degree.

As a part of my degree, I have been learning Swedish. I could choose between Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, but I have been in love with Swedish ever since I went to Stockholm at the age of 11 and tried to learn some for myself. It was mostly about trains and food (the typical tourist things) and in retrospect my pronunciation was a disgrace, but I loved it all the same. I had studied Spanish at A-Level and I would have been quite happy to carry on with it, but I was also eager to expand my knowledge and learn something completely new. As soon as I found this degree, I knew that I would have been disappointed doing anything else.

I have heard some people presume that the Linacre Institute is purely for those who want to attend Oxford or Cambridge, but I can assuredly confirm that it not the case. Do the Oxbridge applicant tend to have more assistance? Yes, but this is only really because applying to Oxford or Cambridge tends to be quite a bit more complex than applying to any other university, so I in no way begrudge that aspect of it.

What I do have to say on the matter is this: when I told Paul what I wanted to do and why, he was fully supportive. He made the oohs and aahs that I now consider mandatory from any reaction I receive when I tell people what I study, but he was interested and trusted that I believed it was right for me. I will forever be grateful for that, as well as the fact he did everything he could to help me get onto that course.

Now, in my third year, I am working abroad as an English Language Assistant out in the forest. That’s not even an exaggeration. I genuinely live in the forest, out in a remote town called Tingsryd.

While this experience has confirmed for me that teaching is absolutely not my purpose in life, I still love what I do. I teach many different students at several different abilities. I work one-on-one with some students, I have planned and taught some lessons independently, I am teaching English with refugees who are currently or have only just learned Swedish, and I am constantly used as an example of “different English” with my Yorkshire accent in tow (which I am now painfully aware of every time I read a word out such as “enough” or “Monday” as “enuff” and “Mundie”).

Outside of work, I have been adopted into the family of the man I was originally living with with complete openness and generosity. I now have friends of 60+ years of age, friends from all over the world, and a few more ‘siblings’ than I ever expected to have. I’ve been to trips to Uppsala, Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen, and have even ventured outside of Scandinavia to visit my university friends in Warsaw and Dublin. It’s been even more of an adventure than I had expected it to be.

Teaching is hard. Living completely alone is hard. Moving to a new country is exciting but also incredibly hard. All of the challenges I have faced these last three months could have broken me, but with the confidence I have gained in life, and from my experiences with Linacre, I have blossomed here and have been able to face this new life with gusto and have therefore been able to make the absolute most of every single moment and opportunity I have had here so far.”

Carenza Hughes: 2014 cohort: Third year at Edinburgh reading Scandinavian Studies and English, currently on a year abroad.