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This week, we meet Dr Helen Vassallo, who came to Modern Languages and Cultures from Taunton, Somerset, to read for a BA in French and Hispanic Studies, and who is now a Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Exeter. On graduating from Liverpool in 1999, she undertook a MA in Literary Translation at the University of Exeter, and subsequently wrote her PhD there too.

Dr Helen Vassallo, now Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Exeter

Dr Helen Vassallo, now Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Exeter

After a couple of years in Paris teaching English and completing her doctorate, she went back to Exeter in 2004 to take up a post in the Department of Modern Languages.

I always loved languages, and I still work with them every day. Learning a language, and integrating another culture, are not just good student experiences but great life experiences. You never reach the end of your learning

Her happiest memories of her BA at Liverpool are of final-year Spanish interpreting classes and French Romantic Literature classes, and her past experiences as a student of Modern Languages have always informed her approach as a teacher of them. Helen particularly enjoyed her year abroad in 1997-98, when she was an Erasmus student at the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares near Madrid, and the Université Paris XIII. It was a year when Jarabe de Palo’s ‘La Flaca’ was playing in every bar in Madrid, and when Paris was preparing to host the Coupe du Monde, and almost twenty years on it still feels like yesterday. The year abroad offered Helen her first experience of Paris, and she has not stopped going back since, for both work and pleasure. Helen has only returned to Liverpool once since she graduated, but remembers her years here fondly.

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