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Student Profiles

See what some of our current students have to say about the course.

Susannah Pearce, Emmanuel College
BA Hebrew Studies, fourth year (2013)

“Originally intending to study Theology and Religious Studies, I became increasingly interested in the languages of the Middle East - particularly Hebrew - through my own reading around the subject, and eventually decided to apply to the Hebrew studies track at Cambridge. In the first year, this involved the intensive study of both the Biblical and the Modern language as well as courses which contextualised this within the wider cultural, historical and anthropological background of the Middle East. 

One thing that I am always grateful for at the Faculty is the flexibility that is shown, coupled - thanks to the excellent staff-student ratio - with high levels of investment and support for the individual interests and talents of the student. Within Hebrew studies, it is possible - even encouraged - to explore a wide range of complementary fields, which help to add depth to the core language and cultural courses taught within the Hebrew department. This can both take the form of inner-departmental courses on broader Middle Eastern topics, and external papers borrowed from other faculties.

Jerusalem in the snow
In my second year, keen to expand my horizons, I decided to borrow courses from the Theology and Linguistics departments, as well as to pick up Arabic within the faculty by sitting the first year Arabic language paper. Whilst the main outcome of taking the theology course was to confirm that I had made the right choice deciding against a theology degree, I was inspired by the chance to delve into Linguistics, which only served to deepen further my passion for languages (and my geeky love for grammar!).

I also enjoyed the strong focus on literature during my time at AMES, which for me offers an inspiring lens through which to look at the social, political and historical elements that shaped the contours of Israeli society, as well as providing a more tangible grasp on the language in all its historical and formal depth.        

My year abroad was spent in Jerusalem, an exciting, terrifying, and in many ways life-changing experience. I divided the year between studying at the Hebrew University and working for a charity, an organisation dedicated to teaching mentally-handicapped adults simple skills and providing a supportive environment in which they could work and realise their independence. The half-Hebrew, half-Arabic speaking workplace was often a challenge, but ultimately I found it a rewarding experience working with these incredibly generous and kind-hearted people.

Now returning for my fourth year, I am looking towards pursuing my interest in linguistics through postgraduate study.  In the meantime, however, I’m taking courses in Hebrew literature, Zionism and Culture, and Comparative Semitic Linguistics, as well as writing a dissertation on the creation of the Hebrew folk song.”