How do you know if Language and Area Studies is something for you?
Most of our students will agree that it’s very important to have enough motivation for your studies. Ask yourself if you are interested in (dependent on your choice) Islamic issues, the Japanese Isles, the rule of Poetin, the rise of the superpower China, Tutankhamun & co or the clay tablets that were photographed in the famous dome. Don’t be too anxious if you haven’t been playing Sinologist since you were five; the deep interest can still come, but there has to be a core that’s already there.
Of course it will come in handy to have some linguistic instinct and a good memory, because you will have to memorize strange things. It will also be important to maintain a reasonable level of proficiency in Dutch, English, French and German. Don’t forget: as Belgians we live in a multilingual country and pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge of languages.
As a Language and Area Studies student you will have a lot of work. Because the languages we study are so foreign to our Indo-European brains, you will have to put much time and effort into them. An example: a first-year sinology or japanology student will have to study the language about 15 hours a week. That’s why good discipline is essential. Be realistic: for the modern languages (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Polish and Russian) you are about 18 years behind on the level of a native speaker and 3 (+1/2) year of studying won’t erase that difference all the way, but you get pretty far. Experience shows us that Sinology students and Slavic Studies students reach the basic level first, followed by the Arabic Studies students and Japanology students.
But Language and Area Studies are also very enriching.
Discover yourself, start with the world.
That’s the slogan of the KU Leuven and seems to be applicable on our studies. In learning about foreign cultures, you also start to question your own culture and background.
We recommend an international experience, because only then you will know if you really know the language. Often students experience a culture shock, but who deals with it in a positive way, will learn a lot. Like motivation, attitude plays a big role. You can apply to different kinds of scholarships (recommend!) and in the master of Sinology it’s obligatory to go abroad for a year.
You might be thinking: but what can I do with a degree in Language and Area Studies? Well, like most other courses of the Faculty of Arts, you’re not really studying for one occupation (think: doctor, accountant…), but for a more general degree that widens your views, teaches you scientific techniques and, most importantly, lets you get acquainted with a foreign language and its culture. Most alumni find work within a year. For more information, see our links-page.