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Jessica Mortimer

BA German

Jessica Mortimer began studying German at Birkbeck in 2007 because she wanted to learn the language to a high level. She didn’t intend to study for an entire degree, but quickly found that the inspiring teaching had her hooked. She says: ‘The quality of the teaching was exceptional and I found many of the teachers inspired in me an enthusiasm not just for the German language but for the country, its culture and its history.’

When she decided to enrol on the first year of the degree programme, Jessica didn’t believe that she would get beyond the first year. She says: ‘A lot of worries about my academic abilities rose to the surface and I didn’t think I’d be able to cope. However, very quickly I realised that this wasn’t the case. The tutors were incredibly supportive. They always made time to answer questions after class or over email. I was also worried about fitting in time for study as I didn’t want to give up other activities that I was involved with, but in the end I didn’t find it too hard to fit it in, and I was still working full-time and doing the other things that were important to me as well.’

‘The course gave me not just knowledge but enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity and confidence. It taught me just how much modern German culture bears the imprint of a very turbulent recent history; it taught me about feminist theory; about the way women’s writing has been silenced. The enthusiasm, supportiveness and professionalism of the teaching staff in the German department helped me rediscover the benefits of studying and gave me the confidence to make major changes in my life.’

‘Last year I took voluntary redundancy from my job as a financial journalist and am now about to start a PGCE in secondary languages teaching. Because of the high standard of teaching I gained a first class degree and as a result I’m eligible for a substantial bursary.’

‘Studying is not just good for your career - it’s about broadening your intellectual horizons. But I strongly believe it helped my career in general too. It helped develop skills for work, but also a broader way of looking at things.’

‘I definitely would recommend the course to people and I have done on a number of occasions. It’s an opportunity to be able to study and work at the same time and nowadays that looks like a really good option for people who have just left school as well. If you’re working at the same time it makes a huge difference financially and it makes a huge difference because you can gain valuable work experience.’

‘Studying at Birkbeck gave me a lot of confidence. I’ve decided to leave my job, change career, spent a month in Berlin. It gave me the opportunity to look into something new, reassess my life and believe there were other opportunities out there. It stopped me getting stale in life.’

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'The course gave me not just knowledge but enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity and confidence.'