We met with Jovana Lara Radusin. Lara is from the UK and she is a PG Arabic alumni studying for MSc Advanced Arabic at the University of Edinburgh. In an interview with Lara, we asked her the following questions:
Tell us about yourself
My name is Lara Radusin, I was born in Salford and grew up in Essex. Although my family is originally from the Balkans, I am a British national. In 2019, I graduated with a degree in Arabic and French from the University of Exeter. Following this, I started studying on the MSc Advanced Arabic course at the University of Edinburgh.
How long have you been studying Arabic? What is your current level?
I have been studying Arabic for nearly five years. I spent my second year abroad, studying and working in Amman (Jordan), and have since spent time studying in Rabat, Morocco (2018) and Beirut, Lebanon (2019) during the third and fourth years of my course thanks to the University of Exeter’s Al Waleed Scholarship. However, due to the innumerable dialects, I think learning Arabic will prove to be a lifelong challenge.
What made you decide to study the Arabic language and culture? What & who inspired you? What were your motivations?
I first became interested in the Arabic language and the MENA region after reading a lot of translated modern Arabic literature (Elias Khoury, Emile Habiby, etc.). I particularly enjoyed reading Women at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi, and became motivated to read her novels in their native tongue, and, eventually, to translate them into English. Over the summer of 2018, I completed a translation internship for the Arab-West Report, and discovered that one of the articles I had translated about Egyptian Family Law had been written by El Saadawi. This was an immensely satisfying experience and also serves as an example of how languages have enabled me to explore my interest in Middle Eastern culture and politics more generally. Although my undergraduate degree gave me a solid foundation in MSA and Levantine dialect, I wanted to improve specific skills in translation and interpretation, hence my decision to come to Edinburgh. The MSc’s specialisation in teaching Egyptian dialect was an added bonus! Additionally, the university’s strong ties with the Syrian community in Edinburgh helped to keep me motivated with my studies.
Have you had any ups and downs while learning Arabic?
Most definitely! Learning Arabic has involved many ups and downs; however, the hard work is worth it.
What careers are you planning to pursue (or have embarked on) using your Arabic language skills?
I am currently conducting research for my final media project and working part-time for a non-profit organisation that focuses on human rights advocacy. After graduating, I would like to find work in the NGO sector.