Member Mumbles

Member mubles were bite-sized insightful essays that Albioneers wrote to allow members and fellow ELC students alike to ponderate or find clarity regarding different aspects of student life or life in general. Now this tradition has been lost… but fear not, if you find yourself wanting to gain some knowledge or find a silver lining within literature, don’t miss out on the Phoenix Issues! They talk about all topics under the sun, so you are bound to find something that will resonate :).

Member Mumble: Isabella Commu

Here it is, our first member mumble of the year! Isabella Commu, now a third-year student, tells us all about the struggle of the question “do you want to become a teacher?” when talking about your studies. So go ahead and give it a read, whatever could you possibly do with your BA in English Language and Culture?


Defying the Traditional Conception of Studying English.

By Isabella Commu

It is inevitable when you are at a Dutch birthday party or holiday and are sitting in the famous “kringetje” – basically eating all the food that is in front of you – that someone is bound to ask you at some point: “So, I heard from your parents you are studying English? Do you want to become a teacher?” Your skin starts itching, that is, unless you actually want to become a teacher. Don’t worry about what you’re going to read next. I love teachers and I have the utmost respect for them because it would be a real challenge for me to stand in front of a class and make sure my pupils learn something and improve over the school year. What I am trying to convey here is that most English students do not even know yet what they want to be or become, and I am here to assure you that that’s okay. I also want to give students of English a better conception of career paths that they have at their disposal. 

One of them is quite obvious, and that is becoming a teacher. A wonderful job, and a really important job that comes with great responsibility and discretion. However, I understand if you just don’t know what in the world you want to do with your life, because honestly, I have been lost pretty much my entire life up until this year. And I hope by providing you with some information you will know that English students are not simply bound to become teachers because frankly, we would have hundreds of English teachers if that were the case. But maybe I am also writing this because I want the world to know that studying English Language and Culture is much more than teaching and is not just “reading literature.” 

During my first two years here at English Language & Culture and Albion, I have made friends with people that have offered me a wide palette of MA and career options. One wants to become a teacher, the other wants to work at a publishing house, another one wants to become an editor, then there is also someone following an MA at Tilburg University in Children’s Literature, and me? I want to pursue a career in Translation and Adaptation. Studying English showed me the many different types of translation (and trust me, there is a lot). Translation is not just translating books or translating legal and medical documents. Translation is also subtitling (my personal favourite), dubbing, closed captions, mediating and much more. I am not lying when I tell you the sky’s the limit. You’d be surprised by the possibilities English has to offer. You can even become a journalist, work for the government, work for cultural festivals or maybe even become a correspondent. And I am well aware that I have mainly listed careers for literature students, but those who study linguistics also have a wide range of job prospects, such as speech therapist, a job in human resources (HR), consultancy, PR, sales and marketing, communication, etc. As I said, the sky’s the limit, and next time when an uncle or aunt asks you about your studies, you are prepared! You don’t even need to know which direction you want to go right now, but at least when you tell them that you don’t know what you want yet, you can wow them with the endless possibilities I have given you. For now, just have fun and hang out with one another.

Member Mumble: Leanne van Kampen

17 October 2018

Perfectly timed is our first member mumble of the year: Leanne van Kampen tells us all about Halloween and its origin. What is the connection between Samhain and Halloween and why do children go about collecting candy and dressing up as scary ghosts? Leanne recounts the Celtic traditions and how they turned into the Halloween celebrations that we know and enjoy today.

It’s October and you know what that means: cosy sweaters, falling leaves and, of course, Halloween. The word Halloween itself is a contraction which started out as ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, meaning All Saints’ Evening.

Halloween originated from a Celtic harvest festival called Samhain (/ˈsaʊ.wɛn/). Meaning ‘summer’s end’, Samhain was celebrated on October 31, marking the end of summer and harvest, and the beginning of cold, dark, death-foreboding winter. For the Celts, it was the beginning of the new year, and they believed that the veil between the material (earthly) world and the Otherworld would thin on Samhain, letting spirits through. So, on October 31, they celebrated the return of the ghosts of the dead to earth. Some people might have wanted to hide their presence from the spirits, and those people would wear costumes to disguise their identities. Ironically, those Halloween costumes were later used to reflect the spirits themselves. The spirits, or ghosts, were both respected and feared and that’s why people would leave offerings of food and drink outside for them. Sometimes, bonfires were also lit during Samhain, originally lit to protect people from the cold of the winter or to aid the dead on their journey, and later serving to keep ‘away the devil’. Families would also partake in certain festivities that were especially intended to tell one’s future. These festivities went from apple bopping to dream interpretation.

Rituals involving apples possibly originated from the Romans. After the Romans conquered Celtic territory (43 A.D.), two Roman festivals were combined with Samhain: Feralia, a day to commemorate the passing of the dead, and one to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, especially apples.

During the 8th century, the Christian Church absorbed, or adopted, Samhain as a Christian celebration, making it the day before All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day. The name Samhain rapidly got overshadowed by early variations of ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ to distance the Christian Church from pagan celebrations. Only in Gaelic and Welsh speaking regions the name ‘Samhain’ kept on existing. Some scholars believe the Christian Church absorbed Celtic festivities such as Samhain to make the Celts’ conversion to Christianity a bit easier.

From the 16th century, the festival included (at least in Ireland, Scotland and Wales) going door-to-door in costume/disguise and reciting verses in exchange for food, a.k.a. trick-or-treating. Christianity had a tradition called ‘souling’, which was comparable, but children would collect soul cakes (raisin bread) in exchange for prayers while going door-to-door. The children would carry lanterns made from of hollowed-out turnips that possibly represented the souls of the dead.

It was only after the mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century that Halloween became widely celebrated in North America. It started out as a celebration for children, getting bigger and bigger, and gaining more popularity among adults during the late 20th century.

Nowadays, lots of countries (mostly wealthy Western countries) celebrate Halloween with creative costumes, horror movies and lots of candy. So whether you want to protect yourself from winter and evil spirits or just celebrate a new season with family and other loved ones, Halloween is the way to go.