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Mary Tapissier

MA European Cultures

'I had worked happily in publishing for 40 years and retired at 60, so I wanted to spend some time focusing on various things in my life that I had never had time to examine properly and I knew I would get more out of that by doing it in a structured university environment. Birkbeck was top of my list and the MA in European Cultures appealed to me enormously as something that would marry the interests I had in various countries with things that I had never looked at, for example the Spanish film industry and literature.

'For me it was a pure pleasure to do this degree. One of the most interesting parts of my course was the makeup of my MA group. I was the only English person, which I really enjoyed. Seminars and group work was incredibly varied and vocal, especially because it was an international group with mixed ages. It made me more confident about floating ideas that might seem slightly off the wall. I liked and admired all my fellow students and the staff, which was a large part of the pleasure of doing the course. Staff were very involved, very engaged, very helpful - it was great.

'I wrote my final dissertation on the art of self portraiture in two contrasting French authors, Simone de Beavouir and Annie Ernaux, and I enjoyed it a lot. The course allowed me to pick up on interests that I hadn’t explored fully. It also introduced me to a lot of new cultural areas and those are now things I will seek out, share and enjoy. Studying an MA gives you a skills base and a structure in which you can move forward with all sorts of things. I can’t imagine that I will ever be bored going forwards.

'I’m certainly more confident now, it’s also made me question more, and look at things in more depth. If I don’t know something I now know how to research and find out. Research skills were new for me, to an extent, and definitely something that will continue to be useful.

'I’m 65 now, and some of my family assumed that I would continue with academia with either an MPhil or PhD so that’s what I’m thinking about at the moment. I chair a couple of Arts Charities, and having an MA is very useful because a lot of government arts money has been taken away, so we have to do a lot of fundraising, and I do feel I have a broader conversational base. I also chair the Poetry Book Society and feel I am much better able to have a discussion about a poet, for example, with a potential investor.

'I would and I do recommend Birkbeck to others.

'Seminars and group work was incredibly varied and vocal, especially because it was an international group with mixed ages.'

Learn more about our European Culture and Languages course.

'Seminars and group work was incredibly varied and vocal.'