An insiders view: Meet Boukje Emma!

The M&M bachelor’s programme is filled with interesting and diverste students, as you may have seen in the stories of Jente and Aileen. This week, Boukje Emma will share her experiences with the programme with you! Find out who the M&M students are and what studying M&M is really like.

I am Boukje Emma Smith, a second-year Minorities and Multilingualism student at the RUG. I moved to Groningen in September 2018 when I started studying at the University. I am half English, half Frisian, and grew up in England, in the county of Buckinghamshire. I had lived in England my whole life, so I was keen to move over here to experience something new, and to feel more connected to my Frisian roots. Although this was a huge step, it was the best decision I ever made, and I have enjoyed the past year immensely. I love being closer to my family in Fryslân, and living in this amazing, unique student city. I have so many amazing memories in Groningen, and in the M&M programme and I am looking forward to making more in the years ahead!

Why did you choose to study M&M?

I actually came across the course almost by accident. I was flicking through a University of Groningen information booklet that I picked up on an open day back in 2018, and I found the ‘Minorities and Multilingualism’ programme – and I am so glad did! I had never expected that a course that had all the components I loved existed: History, Geography, Sociology, Human Rights and Language. When I first came here to the open day I was planning on studying History at the RUG. I have always loved history but I felt that was not the only subject I wanted to study for 3 years – I wanted a course with more range and variation. What I love most about the M&M course is how broad it is, it does not just focus on one specific thing.

What path did you choose within M&M?

I’m in my second year this year. Last year I chose the Eurolab elective which I found really interesting. It was the study of European Migration and the refugee crisis, and it covered representations in the media and political aspects. The second part of Eurolab focused on the effects of migration on language. This part I really enjoyed. This year I have not chosen any electives, as I have a study delayal. I’m focusing on the compulsory courses at the moment and I’m also looking to do my minor abroad.

Did you do any extracurricular activities within M&M?

Within the M&M programme, I am a member of Study Association Multi, where I attend various activities including going to the first ever Introduction Camp in Leer this year! My most memorable moment of M&M was Multi’s Introduction Camp in September of this year. It was such a fun and enjoyable weekend in Leer, Germany filled with fun activities… Friday night’s dinner was interesting though (Thanks Lucas for overcooking the pasta).

Last year I focused mainly on attending the activities instead of putting in the effort of organising them. This year, I joined the committee which consists of various members of the Arts Faculty that organises the Mix Feest at the end of the year. I am really excited about this committee and I’m curious to see what it involves.

How do you look back on your experiences in M&M?

I have absolutely loved my first year of M&M. I have learnt so much from the courses, and I surprised myself at what I am capable of and what I can achieve. When I started out, I felt I was more drawn to the cultural side of the study and never really found the study of language very interesting. However, the courses last year have made me realise the importance of studying language, and particularly minority languages, in today’s society and how interesting it actually is.

What do you expect of the years of M&M that are yet to come?

I expect good things, and I am sure I will not be disappointed! For the first time in my life I actually enjoy what I’m studying and look forward to every class. We are always learning new things and different perspectives. I am always expanding my knowledge and there is never a dull moment in our course.

What is the most interesting or useful thing that you learned in the programme?

The one part I have learnt is there are so many different perspectives in one small classroom and the discussions we share as a group I find so interesting. I’m hearing different opinions with new ways of looking at things and learning to understand and listen to others and what they have to say, instead of assuming I am always right about everything… I’m a bit stubborn like that. I also learned that Dutch people have very strong opinions about the Frisians…

What are your plans for the future?

Where it stands now, I do not have a clear plan of what I want to do in the future. I do have a rough idea. When I first started the M&M programme I was interested in going into helping Asylum Seekers, refugees and migrants settle in their new countries and help with language, feeling welcome etc. However, what is so amazing about the M&M course is that I found there are so many options and paths to go down in the programme. One topic I found particularly interesting was family language planning and multilingualism in education. Concretely, this means helping young children who speak more than one language/dialect and their families to navigate these skills and to improve their lives at school.

Why should anyone study M&M?

For so many reasons. The fact that our bachelor course is so broad, there are so many different routes to go down, you can navigate and choose which direction you want to go into. On top of that, there is a lot of flexibility in our courses from our teachers. We often have a rough guide of what we need to do for assignments, research or papers, but there is always room to put your own spin on things and make your work your own – you don’t always have to follow the guidelines to the detail. Another unique thing about this course is the class numbers. In each year there are only enough students to fill one classroom. This means we have a close relationship as a group as well as with our teachers, we are a like a small family. All teachers know us by name.

In general, I absolutely love what I’m studying and I am loving the city I live in. Moving here was the best decision I have made and I am looking forward to the future here at the RUG and in Groningen!