Languages at Leicester is the university’s language tuition programme. I know it fairly well, because I do the thing. Anyone taking an Erasmus year abroad is recommended to sign up, unless you’re already fluent in the language of your destination country. Self-improvement isn’t the only incentive — the programme is half-price for Erasmus students. There are four levels of ability to choose from: Beginners, Post-Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced; there is also a choice from the majority of the most popular world languages, including Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian. Of course, you could learn all this from the website. Take a look, I’ll wait.
I’m going to Turin with Erasmus, which is why I spend two hours at twilight on Thursday trying very hard to speak Italian for my Languages at Leicester contribution. English is a bit different to most degrees in that it’s actually taught in English in Italy, so my Italian-learning is more to help me survive alongside the Alps than to allow me to write essays on Alexander Pope in Italian. I was also lucky enough to have started Italian already in my first year: in English at Leicester two of the six modules in the first year are filled by a supplementary subject, to make us all into well-rounded, non-insane individuals. This means that by the end of this term, I should be a bona fide Post-Beginners Italian speaker, and perfectly capable of ordering a pizza, buying a risotto, or even bartering an aperitivo. Plus organising rent, taking public transport, and all that other boring non-food-related stuff.
I always tell people that there’s no better time to go abroad or learn a language than at university, and I rarely lie. This is the only time people will give you money to do these things for no purpose other than the expansion of human knowledge. How could you miss such an opportunity? Culture! Cannelloni! Language! Lasagne! Progress! Pancetta! Challenge! Ciabatta! Scholarship! Salame! Making yourself into a true Renaissance Ma–DELICIOUS FOOD!