Way back in October 2011, at the beginning of the Autumn Term, Parts 2 and 3 English students were told about a fantastic opportunity. We were now able to go and seek experience beyond the university and go on a placement as part of any module in our year. This would be an integral part of our degree and the placement report would substitute the end of term assessed essay. I eagerly took up this opportunity. I felt I wanted some experience outside of the university environment, something extra to add onto my CV and a chance not to have to write yet another assessed essay.
I am one of very few students who took up the opportunity; I sent off emails to possible opportunities and, eventually, I was accepted to go onto an academic placement at ‘Shandy Hall’ in Yorkshire. It was the home of the author Laurence Sterne and linked with my Eighteenth Century module perfectly as we were studying Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey. ‘Shandy Hall’ is in the very tiny village of Coxwold: there is one pub, one tea room and one church. I organised a placement at the beginning of my Easter holidays. I arranged accommodation in the only B&B in the village and ran the pub asking if I could have dinner with them every evening.
This was a nerve-wracking time. I did not know what to expect, I had launched myself into the unknown but it was also very exciting. The placement could not have been more successful. Everyone looked after me and I have had the most valuable and varied experience. I spent a day restoring the first editions of Laurence Sterne’s books, another day I identified moths and another I discovered the experience of a digital Opera.
I will look back on my placement as an extremely positive experience as I have made friends and contacts now for the future that may help after my graduation in July. I have discovered another beautiful part of the country and I am currently writing up a report that includes all my combined experiences and reflects my enthusiasm for the academic placement I went on. I would recommend this opportunity to any student: it is not often you get this chance.
The Laurence Sterne Trust
Shandy Hall Coxwold York YO61 4AD: Registered Charity 529593