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Amanda Attfield, Exploration Geologist

photo of Amanda AttfieldMy name is Amanda, I graduated last year with a degree in BSc Geology and have since been travelling between Finland and Scotland as part of my job as an exploration and mine geologist.

I completed an internship with Schlumberger in the autumn at a mine in the Scottish Highlands after a summer of gold exploration in Eastern Finland. My next role will be in exploration, this time in central Spain, back in the nation in which I lived during my dissertation project in the Pyrenees.

I was born in England, but have spent up to a couple of months each year in Finland since birth, visiting and staying with family. This was a blueprint for my love of learning foreign languages, which came a little easier as a bilingual child.

What languages have you studied?

I am bilingual in English/Finnish, and knowing Finnish has aided me and been a foundation on which to learn other languages. However, I have found the grammar is not something that easily flows: one word may have tens of meanings, likewise another word may have up to 50 different tenses/agreements. I am currently learning Russian.

At school from the age of 12 I studied German as a compulsory language, which I enjoyed until I was 17 and then dropped as a result of beginning Spanish lessons when I was 15. I found Spanish more interesting as I connected with the cultural aspects and thimage depicting Spanish culturee Latino style of media, food and society.

I continued Spanish to A-Level and by this point had been able to use the language conversationally quite often as my Finnish grandparents lived in Spain. There, I attended Spanish lessons for a month in the south when I became (rather fortunately) stranded when flights were grounded in 2010 due to the Icelandic volcano eruption. My love of the language grew stronger as I started to immerse myself in Spanish news channels, music and film from the age of 18. I then began to travel Europe and would meet many South Americans and Spaniards with whom I'd chat for hours on end, into the early hours about their wonderful culture and language.

What influenced your choice of language?

Other than Finnish, and perhaps Russian due to work commitments, I had a choice when I was 15 as to whether I would continue with German, or commit my linguistic time to Spanish. Due to the high percentage of the global population who have Spanish as their first language, I followed by intuition and growing passion for the Latin culture and stuck to Spanish.

What has been the impact of languages on your career and personal life?

In this way, choosing to study the language from a school age has blessed me with so many opportunities toimage depicting global outlook meet foreigners in confidence; if I overhear the language I'm immediately uplifted and it's often these opportunities which are the most exciting, always leaving with wonderful, engaging friends. Spaniards and Latin Americans are known for their positive outlook on life and its adventures, which automatically makes them a magnetic force to people like myself who have a love for the many languages of the world which we can experience! Whenever I travel, I am drawn to.

My working life began in Finland, as I was fortunate enough to get a work placement with themap of Finland Finnish Geological Survey. Speaking Finnish naturally aided this move, though English was the main working language which is uniform across large companies anywhere in the world. Having a skill set including languages immediately makes you more employable and gives your career a broader, and largely international outlook.

My next job, after graduation, was also in Finland, this time with a UK based mineral exploration company who were searching for a bilingual employee to act as both a geologist and as a translator. Finding a job more specific to my skills has opened many doors, namely my next work endeavour to Spain with the same company, as a Spanish translator.

Which languages do you find useful in your role?

Do you speak Russian? imageThe exploration company I currently work with use Russian as their primary language, so I have now also started to learn Russian which is rather interesting! I would recommend trying a language like this as it is so different to other European languages- the Russian alphabet is quite something! The way that I have been learning this language is very different to previously learned languages as it requires a different approach. Though all languages should be learned on a basis of first conquering grammar (tenses and verbs), this approach is more one-word&sentence-at-a-time for an English-speaker!TV, chat, music image

The key to conquering a language is to spend as long as you physically can immersing yourself in the culture and with its people!

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