The Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading is growing! In 2015-16, we’ll begin offering degrees in Spanish in addition to our current offerings in French, German, Italian, and European Studies. Leading the creation and implementation of this new programme is Dr Parvathi Kumaraswami, who has joined the department this year from the University of Manchester. We’ve asked Dr Kumaraswami to let us know how she’s finding the University of Reading. Here’s what she has to say:
If July and August were full of despedidas – goodbyes – (from Manchester, my home town, home of my beloved football club [the ones in blue, by the way] and location of my previous job), September has been a month of bienvenidos – warm welcomes, new names…. and labyrinthine buildings. If you see a trail of breadcrumbs on the 2nd floor of the HumSS building, you’ll know who left them.
I’m here to set up the new BA programme in Spanish, and to build a teaching and research community around Spanish and Latin American Studies at Reading. Some of my time will be taken up, no doubt, by paperwork – module descriptions, programme specifications (stay with me on this), but a lot of time will also be devoted to imagining how Spanish should look at Reading and making as much of that vision come to life as I can. And it’s an exciting prospect! It’ll mean travelling near and far – some trips abroad to set up exchange agreements with universities in Spain and Latin America, but also to some less exotic destinations (down the M4 corridor and up to the Midlands) to visit schools and to do A-Level masterclasses and taster sessions in Spanish and Latin American Studies. It’ll mean meeting a whole bunch of people – colleagues in my department and beyond, administrative staff, community groups and members of the public who have an interest in Spain and Latin America – and seeing how we can work together to organise academic and public events.
The verdict so far? 10/10. Well, maybe 9 – the commute is not always behaving as it should. After a recent 4.5 hour delay on my train to Reading, my request for a fare refund was met by a letter from Crosscountry Trains which arrived yesterday and which said – well, I liked it so much that it’s here in all its glory.
The verdict, actually, is a resounding 10/10. Friendly faces, cooperative colleagues, what’s not to like? It’s what’s known as the ‘ honeymoon period’, I hear you say. So I’ll let you know in a few months. And if you see me, stop and introduce yourself. I’m the one with the big bag of breadcrumbs….