Khan Nguyen, Contemporary Literature 2018

Applying for postgraduate study was for me like working on a puzzle: Essentially it was about putting different pieces from our academic history together to form a meaningful, coherent and appealing picture of what we did. The admission committee will look at that picture, and if it meets their requirements, hopefully they will let us in.

In my application to the Master’s programme in English Studies at Aarhus University (Denmark), where I am now enrolled as a student, SUISS stood out as a very important piece of the puzzle (or in a punny way of speaking, you can call it the “master piece” of my application). I studied Contemporary Literature at SUISS in the summer of 2018, just after I finished by BA. And I always thought it strange how those short two weeks in Edinburgh could help me so much in working towards where I am now.

But it all makes sense. SUISS was the most intensive learning experience I ever participated in. To prepare, we had to read six whole books and a bunch of excerpts from short story and poetry collections. Every weekday we had a thematic lecture by literary scholars from different universities in the U.K, followed by a seminar with our tutor where got to look more intimately at different aspects of the text under study. So two weeks wasn’t long, yes, but at the end of the programme our minds were all bubbling with exciting names, concepts and ideas. SUISS actually inspired a classmate of mine to write her Master’s thesis on one of the authors that we studied in the course. Isn’t that amazing?

You also have the option of doing a written assessment if you want to receive academic credits from the course. This might be useful for those who want to further their studies into English literature but otherwise come from an academic background where literature isn’t a focus (Since some universities might require applicants to possess a specific number of credits in the subject that they are applying for). So I wrote a 2000-word essay, which came back some two weeks after its submission with a grade and very detail comments by my tutor. I later used that essay as a “writing sample” in my application for Master’s study. Plus I got a fancy academic transcript, which I also included in the application pack.

Before SUISS, I had been shuffling around in different subfields of English studies – linguistics, cultural studies, translation studies, etc. – not really knowing which area to focus on. After SUISS, however, I knew firmly that I want to be a literature student. Everything was so inspiring: the lectures, the coffee talks, the readings by guest authors, and most of all the extensive discussions with my classmates and tutor, who, like me, love to indulge ourselves in the pleasure that language and the imagination have to offer.

Many of the friendships that I made at Edinburgh remain with me even now. SUISS has become for us like a tradition, or an “imagined community” if you will, which we feel ourselves attached to, to which we look back with longing and nostalgia every summer. I hope what I write here has given you a perspective of what is in store for you at SUISS, and motivates you to take a bold step towards this incredible opportunity.

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