Celebrating
a centenary
of Learning

  • 92
  • by Berta Torras Vila
  • graduated
  • studied MSc in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • from Spain

The experience at the Graduate School of Education made me realise that individuals have the power to change the things they don't like in their own countries or anywhere in the world.

Before coming to Bristol, I worked as a primary school teacher in Barcelona, where I had already pursued a Master’s degree at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona on ‘The Acquisition of English and Intercultural Communication’. I was interested in delving further into issues related to language and education and found the idea of studying in England very interesting and challenging. I wanted to immerse myself in an English-speaking country for a whole year.

I felt that the experience of pursuing a Master’s abroad would provide me with new and inspiring knowledge and, at the same time, a wider vision of my field: TESOL and Applied Linguistics. Studying this Master’s in Bristol was a big challenge for me and that is precisely why I decided to do it. No matter what your field, studying in an unknown environment – where you meet people from all over the world – makes the whole university experience absolutely amazing and unforgettable.

A friend of mine from Germany had been an Erasmus student at the University of Bristol, and highly recommended the university and atmosphere in Bristol. I thought it would be a perfect place to live and study. Bristol is a medium-sized city, not too big, not too small, which makes it much easier for a student to get to know the university facilities and students from other fields. The whole city is crowded with students! It's just great.

I had a wonderful time at the Graduate School of Education. The most amazing thing, which was quite shocking for me, was the inspiring academic and student environment. It just made me feel like studying and reading all the time!

From the very beginning, I could sense that I had all the resources and facilities I needed. Also, I found myself surrounded by people who come from all over the world, with very different personal and academic backgrounds. These people offered new perspectives, opinions and ideas that I might have never thought of myself. I miss the atmosphere in the library.

I made many friends at Bristol. Some of them were doing the same course as me, whilst others were studying on other Master’s or different courses altogether. We had great moments together, sharing the amazing experience of living and studying abroad. The people I met were unique and very special. I think most of them were people who were not afraid of taking challenges, were passionate about their study and wanted to make the world a better place. This is something you might not find in a university in your hometown. Deciding to study abroad is not something everyone does: this makes it very easy to find interesting people who enjoy learning new things every day.

Since Bristol, I have begun to see things from a very different, and much wider, perspective. The experience at the Graduate School of Education inspired me a lot and made me realise that individuals have the power to change the things they don't like in their own countries or anywhere in the world. Studying at Bristol, and sharing ideas with so many people from other countires, gave me a lot of new ideas and helped me to think of projects I could put into practice in my own country. It also encouraged me to pursue a PhD. But the most important things I learned at Bristol were personal. When you realise that an experience has made you a better person, you feel strong enough to keep looking for experiences that inspire you and help you grow.

I am in Barcelona at the moment and have started a PhD in Education at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, looking at student-teachers’ motivation to learn English. I am collaborating with a project at the University, monitoring students on the degree in Primary Education, which is being offered in English for the first time this year. I am evaluating students’ motivation to learn English, how this motivation evolves and how it is affected by engagement with communities where English plays a key role. I am also working as a part-time English teacher.

I will soon be moving to Porto Alegre in Brasil for 6 months, with an international organization, to work as a primary school teacher in an international school. I will be teaching primary school subjects through English and I'm sure it will be a great adventure. I’ve never been the kind of teacher whose aim was to find a stable job and salary!

Studying at the University of Bristol is something I will never forget. It changed the way I see life and the way I look at things, both professionally and personally. The University of Bristol and, specifically, the Graduate School of Education, truely was a source of inspiration, friendship and knowledge.