Catherine Yuefang Tang - BA Linguistics
Job Title: Editorial intern
Employer: Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House
Why did you choose to study your programme and what made you choose UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences?
I have been very fascinated with words since little. I wanted to learn more about the essence of language, from sound to lexica to sentence structure and so forth. Also, when I was working on A Level English Language, I was very passionate about child language acquisition. I wanted to know more about what kind of structural learning people would go through when learning their first or second language.
UCL is a world-leading university, first of all. And the ranking of the Linguistics department is also extremely high.
Apart from that, UCL is famous for promoting equality and diversity in all aspects; as a bisexual Asian woman I’m sure this is an environment I want to spend at least three years in. Also, I’ve been very well aware that London provides the widest range of resources in the whole United Kingdom and I embrace all those opportunities in the British Library (which also happens to be close to the Linguistics department!)
What did you enjoy most about your programme?
I really love the people in my department. Chandler House is a very supportive environment and by claiming it to be a “small Linguistics family” I’m not being melodramatic. All staff are extremely helpful and patient (and after talking to my friends from other universities or even other departments I have realised that this should not be taken for granted!).
I want to emphasise that the teaching staff in the whole department, the way they take care of their fields of study makes it very easy to understand why UCL Linguistics is world-famous.
And, apart from the teaching staff, the non-teaching team are nice too! Before I came to UCL I was contacting Stefanie a lot for all sorts of questions and she was extremely helpful (part of the reason why I wanted to come to UCL); during my three years here I have continued to bother Stefanie – and also, our great Alexa, and I have never known any other two admins who handle inquiries and requests in a more efficient manner.
I feel extremely lucky to be part of Chandler House, to be around so many inspiring, dedicated and friendly people. I guess everything you could say about the reputation of research, the atmosphere of a university or department comes back to each single human being after all.
Did you experience any benefits from studying in London? If so, what were they?
London provides many opportunities. There are just so many options for internships, work experience, part-time jobs and so forth. Lots of volunteering can be done. I volunteered with Bookmark Reading Charity and enjoyed my time so much – they only operate in London (at least by the time I left), so I would have missed out so much if I had been in another city.
London is culturally rich and diverse. That allows me to delve deeper into fields beyond linguistics – I have always been passionate about literature, creative writing and history, and the British Library very close to Chandler House has helped a lot with its extraordinary courses, seminars and exhibitions. Also, there are just so many bookshops. I love Waterstones and Foyles as much as I adore the occasional independent gems I bump into on my way to – I mean, on my way everywhere.
London feels very welcome. This is important for me as an international student. Everyone is different here so everyone can easily fit in; thanks Paddington Bear for the quote.
Do you have any tips or helpful advice for incoming students?
1. Learn More about UCL, London and UK
Most of the times fear could come from uncertainty and a lack of knowledge in what we are facing. Read as much as possible - no matter it’s the Student Support and Wellbeing blog on the UCL website, or chunks of prose about the history and culture of London. Explore the campus and the city and you will discover more than miracles in the Refectory, the British Museum and so forth. Befriending someone requires time and patience to learn about them - so does befriending a college, a city, or a country.
2. People from Somewhere Else
Of course most of us want to have a friend or two from home, so that there is always someone who sings in our mother tongue. However, always hiding in a crowd of friends from our own country might delay our pace in settling down in a new environment. Try to reach out to people from somewhere else - the so-called “cultural shock” is seldom horrifying, but rather fun. Friendships with international bonds can be very precious! We have come to the most globalised university in UK and it would be a pity not to make the best use of this opportunity. I know there will be homes to travel to in Romania, Slovenia, Russia, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Germany, France, the US, Pakistan, and Malaysia.
3. Join a Society
A society gathers people with the same hobby. I wrote a lot when in China, and I wrote even more in UCL Writers’ Society; wherever I go and whatever changes around me, I know poetry and prose can be tightly held onto. Keep your passion and let UCL help you go further on your path. Starting university and coming to the UK does not mean you are cutting clean with who you used to be or abandoning whatever happened before - we are supporting you to become who you want to be. We are your story continued.
How did you get to where you are now in your career? Was there anything in particular from your time at UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences that was valuable?
I interned with Oxford University Press in the summer of my second year. For two months I worked in the Home Learning Department as an editorial intern, and then I volunteered to have a week of work experience in the Children’s Fiction Marketing and Publicity Department. This has helped me find the current internship with Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House for the gap year, and has definitely helped me secure my offer for both Cambridge’s MPhil Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature and UCL’s MA Publishing.
How have you applied the learning from your degree in your job?
Apart from applying pragmatics (why not), I have applied the Chandler House attitude of “always seeking the answer” and “never being afraid of expressing your opinion” in my current editorial internship. I think it has been helpful: the former principle allows me to get the most out of the job and the latter maximises my potential contribution to the job.
Is there anything else you would like to say about your time at UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences?
A big “thank you” to the Linguistics Department for caring about our opinions. When we said we would like more opportunities to apply what we learn, they introduced the new “Research Apprenticeship in Linguistics” module; when we said we would like more opportunities to tailor the programmes to our interests, they increased the number of options in the diets and started offering additional option modules. We asked for better individual study space in the library and they increased the number of workspaces and sockets in the Language and Speech Science Library. We asked for an increase in the number of lectures recorded and they rolled out Lecturecast in all modules as long as the equipment allowed. In response to other requests and suggestions of ours, they introduced turnitin rubrics in many modules to give us a clearer understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, and improved the balance between modules available in Term One and Term Two across the year. #shapingLinguisticstogether.