Tessa Divendal, Exchange student talks about her experience visiting York St John In 2018

Tessa Divendal visited York St John in 2018. In this blog post, Tessa talks about her experience of the city and the University.


My name is Tessa and I was a Dutch exchange student at York St. John’s for the first semester in 2018. Before this, I was already stoked to go, since I had visited York with some friends during summer vacation and couldn’t believe my eyes at how beautiful this city was. I highly recommend taking a day or an afternoon to just walk around the city centre and doing one of the ghost tours. Especially with people you know are afraid of ghosts, it’s hilarious. One of my fondest memories is walking down towards the city centre to get to the university from Limes Court, where I was staying, and watch the early morning mist around the cathedral in the distance. I consider this a personal surprise, since I’m a night owl.

Since I studied English Literature and Society at my home, I chose three subjects that both coincided with that, as well as my own interests and career aspirations. At first, I figured there wouldn’t be too much of a difference in teaching between my host university and my home university, but instead, there were still quite a number of surprises. The teachers and discussions held in my classes in the Netherlands tend to have a very direct nature and , sometimes even making some students quite uncomfortable. In contrast, the classes in my host university, always tried to make sure everyone felt included and the teachers went out of their way to create a friendly, open environment. This attitude can also be attributed to York St. John University as a whole. Within the introduction days, it was made clear to us where to go if we had a problem of any kind and that there would always be someone willing to listen to what we had to say. It created the feeling of a very safe environment.

Like I said before, I resided in Limes Court for the duration of my semester. This is one of the established courts where students of the university can be accommodated. It looks very cosy, with brick houses and patches of green, and has its own resident cat. The cat passed the houses every once in a while and would sit by the window until you gave him food before moving onto the next one. It seemed to have taken a liking to the house I was staying in, or the people, because he would often sit on the fence by the kitchen window and call out when I walked by. It made my day. My room was also on the ground floor, so I could often see squirrels jump around on the grass patch behind the house. However, the best thing was probably the people I ended up living with. They were wonderful, sweet people and we grew extremely close. The four of them even have their own place now I believe, so they could continue living together, and I was pretty mournful when I had to leave them.

All in all, it was a great experience and hope I can soon return to both the city and the people I left there!

Beyond Graduation 4: Top 5 Tips for Working at YSJU

As part of his ‘Literature at Work’ placement, current student Carl Shepherd has been catching up with some of the recent Literature graduates we fortunately didn’t need to say goodbye to… Because they’re still here and now working for the University!

In our for installment, Carl reflects on the top 5 lessons to learn from all the graduates we have heard from.

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Beyond Graduation 1: Catching up with Nicoletta Peddis

As part of his ‘Literature at Work’ placement, current student Carl Shepherd has been catching up with some of the recent Literature graduates we fortunately didn’t need to say goodbye to… Because they’re still here and now working for the University!

In our first installment, we hear from former Words Matter Co-Editor, Nicoletta Peddis.

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Where are they now? YSJ alumni Philip Price on Literature at Work: Publishing

In order to begin explaining my life after the three years studying at York St. John University (2015-18), I first need to highlight some events which occurred over my three years as a YSJ undergraduate.

I chose English Literature as my BA subject at YSJ for only one reason: my passion for books. I knew from a young age a University degree was going to be almost mandatory for future success. I chose to study at YSJ for one simple reason: it felt like home. I travelled from my hometown a few miles outside of Norwich up to York and instantly fell in love with the campus. Besides the stunning architecture, I instantly believed that the tutors at YSJ cared for me as an individual rather than merely a student on the course.

In the second semester of my final year, the University offered a module, ‘Literature at Work,’ which allowed students to explore the many avenues of employment after taking an English Literature degree. Within this module, most weeks consisted of a lecture and Q&A from people working in employment from journalism to publishing. Prior to my final year at YSJ, I had very little idea as to where my academic career was leading me. Again, I knew I wanted to work with books; however, my in-depth knowledge of specific book-related sectors was almost non-existent.

David Barker, who worked with Continuum publishing, later to be purchased by publishing behemoth Bloomsbury, offered an extremely insightful lecture on life in the publishing world. I instantly fell in love with every element of the industry and truly believed I had finally worked out the next step of my academic career.

I spoke to David after the lecture and discovered he was a lecturer at the University of Derby, offering a Publishing MA. After visiting an open day at Derby, I was offered an unconditional offer on the course.  All of the events, from my initial conversation with David to the offer on the Publishing MA happened within a few months over early to late Spring 2018.

September 2018 saw the beginning of my MA at Derby. Throughout the first semester, I came to understand that without choosing YSJ, this opportunity may have never been offered to me. I have fallen in love with academia once again and now wish to pursue a career in Publishing after this semester. The MA offers students to create and engage with a ‘Major Project’ of their choice, where you must find and publish work of your choice (specifically written for the project). I decided to work with YSJ and their alumni in order to create a short anthology of work which can then be distributed to current and future YSJ students.

This piece has touched mostly on my academic life during and after my time at YSJ, but it would be unfair to leave without acknowledging the friendship and community which I have become a part of.  I have made friends with students who I now see as friends for life, alongside creating bonds with tutors who I know are always willing to help with anything I need, even after my transition from student to alumni.

Why Literature? Why YSJ? Recent graduate Becky Lowe explains why you should choose us!

Becky Lowe graduated with a degree in Literature in November, and has been working at York St John University as a Special Events Intern. The following interview was originally published on our Alumni blog, where you can also find out what many of our former students have been up to since graduation! 

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Gone But Not Forgotten! Keeping up with our YSJ graduates!

YSJ Literature students graduate at York Minster

As we continue with our review of the past year in Literature at YSJ, let’s not forget those wonderful graduates who have flown the nest. Some come back of course to study on our post-graduate programmes and some, like our very own Fraser Mann,  love us so much that they even come back to lecture! Once part of the YSJ Literature Family, always part of the YSJ Literature Family. Here are some posts from our undergraduate students of yesteryear to inspire you.

Recent Literature Graduate Writes Open Letter to York St John University, With Love.

“best years of my life”: recent literature graduate rhiannon young tells her YSJ story

“it was empowering”: recent literature graduate bethan jarvis tells her YSJ story

If you would like to share your experiences of studying literature at York St John or updating us on what you are doing since graduating, please get in touch with the Blog Team.