Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Wed 14 Jul 21
Gatha Jayamohan was drawn to Essex by its multicultural community and relished the opportunity to explore how languages work but her most memorable experience will be how the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted her year abroad.
“I’ve always had a strong interest in languages and other cultures,” said Gatha, who is graduating with a BA Modern Languages and Linguistics.
“Essex was one of the best options to explore multiple languages. Also, having such an international student body allowed me to experience new cultures and make friends from around the world.”
Growing up in a bilingual family, Gatha is used to trying to translate idioms from Malayalam into English. It was this experience that led her to explore whether bilingual speakers of other languages have the same problem, for a study that’s been praised by her lecturers.
After finding volunteers who were fluent in both English and Spanish, she asked them to rate the acceptability of modified English idioms. She found that bilingual speakers have learnt to make the same judgements on the figurative language as native speakers do.
"Essex was one of the best options to explore multiple languages. Also, having such an international student body allowed me to experience new cultures and make friends from around the world."
The study proved a hit with her lecturers but it was her year abroad that is Gatha’s proudest achievement. She spent a year in Zaragoza, teaching, but the experience didn’t go quite as planned.
When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in Europe, Gatha found herself stuck in Spain for four months.
“I’ve always been interested in teaching and love travelling. The opportunity to do both was a dream come true. I was really enjoying my work and it helped me realise what I wanted from a career.”
When lockdown first hit Gatha was confined to her flat for six weeks with police patrolling the streets outside but it’s her memories of restrictions lifting that are most memorable.
“The excitement of going outside for a walk for the first time in six weeks was bizarre, and seeing groups of people outside was overwhelming in the best way.”
She says the experience taught her a lot about herself: “I found I am much more independent and adaptable than I realised, and my year abroad definitely gave me a massive boost in confidence.”
Gatha, who has been working in the child health department of a Hertfordshire NHS provider throughout her studies, is currently completing a work experience placement with a speech and language team. She hopes to pursue a career in speech and language therapy.