“Like a driving license to start working with languages”
Anna never imagined she would be working with languages. She is a trained nurse and studied Spanish at university while working in healthcare. A study counsellor suggested that she apply for the Master’s in Language and Intercultural Communication programme.
“I had studied Spanish for almost two semesters and wondered what would be required to get a Bachelor’s degree. I also had a lot of credits in Latin American studies from the School of Global Studies and thought that it could perhaps eventually lead to a Bachelor’s degree. My study counsellor suggested that instead I should invest my efforts in a Master’s programme. I have a Bachelor’s degree as a nurse already and was able to get into the programme on the basis of prior learning.”
What does prior learning mean for the Master’s in Language and Intercultural Communication in particular?
“I chose Spanish as my main field of study in the programme and that means you should have at least 60 credits in Spanish. I was missing a few credits and instead had to do both an oral and a written test to assess my prior learning in the language. I have lived in Spain at different times, first for a year in Madrid just after high school, and then a semester in Málaga during my nursing degree, so I am quite fluent in Spanish. The tests went well and I got into the programme!”
What was it like to study a language programme at second-cycle level?
“It was tough in the beginning. I don’t exactly have a linguistics background. But the courses were very inspiring and after a while I found my own niche. The teachers in the programme encouraged us to identify questions that were close to our own hearts and I fixed on the language situation in Ecuador. I have had a great interest in Latin America for a long time, and have travelled around in various Latin American countries. Intercultural communication focuses on the relationship between language and society, and from this perspective Ecuador is extremely interesting. Spanish is spoken there and also a number of minority languages such as Kichwa. My interest in Latin America and Ecuador led me to choose to write my Master’s thesis on Interculturality in Ecuador.”
Anna is now taking a break from her studies and working as an international patient coordinator at Sahlgrenska International Care.
How did that come about?
“Half way through my programme I started looking at job ads to see what jobs might be suitable for me. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find anything because I have a rather odd mix of previous experience in healthcare along with my current studies in Spanish and intercultural communication. But I found a temporary replacement job that was as if made for me! They were looking for someone who had studied political science, international relations or languages, and preferably had experience from working in healthcare. I think it was my background in particular as a nurse, along with my studies in languages and intercultural communication, that clinched the job for me. My language studies were like a kind of driving license to start a job working with languages! I would never have been able to do that with just my nursing degree alone.”
How are your intercultural studies useful in your job?
“As an international patient coordinator, I work with inquiries from foreign patients seeking planned care within the Västra Götaland region, in particular at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. I handle their requests and help them to navigate our healthcare system. Thanks to my studies, I have gained a greater understanding and awareness of languages and intercultural communication. This is useful in my daily work when I am in contact with people from all over the world! One of the things I appreciate and that is a great advantage of the programme is that I have learned about the situation for languages in many parts of the world from the areas of interest of my fellow students and our lecturers.”
Do you have plans to complete the Master’s programme?
“I like my job and hope I can keep working here. If the temporary replacement is not extended, I will definitely finish my studies. I tried to complete as much as I possibly could before I started working, but then when I started my job, it was difficult to continue my studies at the same time. Time will tell what will happen.”
Do you have a Bachelor’s degree and are you interested in studying the same Master’s programme as Anna?
Talk to a study counsellor!
Read more about the Master’s in Language and Intercultural Communication programme
Study here - Department of Languages and Literatures