Anatasia Bowes

Anatasia Bowes

BA Arabic & Islamic Studies 2016

What did you enjoy about your degree programme?

When it came to deciding what to study at university, I realised I wasn't very good at any of my A Levels. Oops. My Dad suggested that I studied Arabic, as I had always loved the beautiful script and had started learning it in Cairo. Originally, I thought this was a ridiculous decision, but 4 years down the line it has been the best decision I ever made - and one I would make over and over again.

I won't lie, Arabic has been an uphill struggle but it has been a worthwhile challenge. The Arabic department becomes your second home. Your lecturers become your friends, who are genuinely interested to hear about your night out, and are going out of their way to help you. I particularly enjoyed studying Arabic literature.

Another aspect of my Arabic degree was the year abroad in Jordan. Theres no better way to learn about a culture and a language than to be there and experience it. It was amazing going to classes in 48-degree heat and being able to go to Petra or the Dead Sea at the weekend. I enjoyed my year abroad so much, that I returned to Amman for the entirety of my 3rd year summer there, trying to recreate all the experiences I had (and trying to learn all the Arabic that I didn't the first time round!)

Tell us about the award you have received. What does this award mean to you?

I am so honoured and genuinely very surprised to have won the Batten-Pattar Essay Prize for History and Politics. The essay that won the award was written about the Egyptian Revolution, which is a topic particularly close to my heart as I used to live in Cairo. It discusses how "The Yacoubian Building", written by Alaa Al Aswany foreshadowed the Egyptian Revolution in 2011.

What has been the highlight of your time at Exeter?

Exeter has a particularly sporty stereotype and as somebody who was never considered sporty, or good at running, the University and its inclusiveness really encouraged me. In my 4th year I was on the founding committee of Cool Runnings Society and was elected as acting President for a period of time.

The society inspired me to take on the Bath Half in March of this year and I am really proud to say that I completed it in 2.5 hours. This really marks a milestone in my life, as I have undergone 3 foot operations, which previously hindered me from attempting anything like this before. This for me is testament to the way in which Exeter motivates and moulds all its students to try new things and become better people.

What will you miss most about the University?

Not the hills! I'll miss the sense of community that there is here at Exeter. I'll miss my friends in Arabic and the Arabic building, where I spent a LOT of my time. I'm even going to miss the loud singing of rugby boys returning from Timepiece on a Wednesday night, right outside my window. I'm honestly just going to miss it all! I enjoyed my time here so much.

What advice would you give to current and future students?

I would say, don't study something that you believe will lead you into a job. Study something you love. Whether it be history, politics or a language, you'll be racking up an awful lot of debt - make it worth it. I would also encourage you to join as many societies as you can. There are so many options available to you - from music, to baking, to Quidditch society, there is something for everyone. Make sure you make the most of this. People will tell you this a lot, but university really will be the best years of your life!

What are your plans now that you have graduated?

During my year abroad, I undertook an internship with the Intercontinental Hotel in Amman and from this, I knew I wanted a career in hotels, with my main aim being to own and manage my own one day. Currently, I am waiting to hear back about a graduate scheme in a hotel near Exeter (I can't stay away!). If that falls through, then I have a place to do a Masters here (told you!).