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Interview: Religious Studies Minor

Written by Julia Megret and Emily de Boer

Hi guys! Welcome back to another interview post! Today we have Geerte, a third-year Bachelor’s student who did a minor in Religious Studies. Religious Studies is a Dutch-taught minor program offered at UvA that spans two semesters.

Is this minor relevant to linguistics?

Geerte: Mostly no, partially yes. I chose to minor in Religious Studies because I wanted a break from linguistics so I chose something completely different. However, when studying the 5 major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism), there are many terms in other languages that I am familiar with because of my linguistic background. For example, I took Arabic as my language X in the first year of the BA Linguistics, which came in handy when studying Islam. My linguistic knowledge of Italian and Latin was useful for Christianity, and now that I am taking the course Hinduism, I know how to pronounce Sanskrit words because I studied phonetics and phonology. It also helped me to decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words and terms.

How is the minor structured?

Geerte: The minor focuses on the 5 major religions of the world, both on theological aspects as well as historical context. Apart from learning about the 5 major religions, I have a course on the analysis of religious texts. This is where you read parts from the Bible and the Quran, as well as sacred texts in Hinduism and Buddhism. You do an analysis of the meaning and structure (which is also where my knowledge of linguistics was super useful), as well as several presentations throughout the entire minor.

The minor is almost a year long. Was it difficult to balance it with the linguistics courses in the first semester and writing your thesis in the second semester?

Geerte: As for the first semester it was very much doable. I had one course for my minor and one for linguistics, so it was not too hard to get by. For the second semester, I actually delayed my thesis two weeks ago to next year due to personal circumstances, so I am not sure how the combination would be in the long run. I was working on my thesis at the same time as my minor for two weeks only, and I found it doable. I did follow the specialization course completely and passed with good grades alongside my minor. I think it's definitely possible if you are great at planning and you have a clear plan for your thesis!

What is the application process like?

Geerte: The application process was very easy. It is not a selective minor, so I was quickly accepted. The minor in Religious Studies is in the same faculty as Linguistics, so it did not take a lot of planning and scheduling.

What did you like the most about this minor?

Geerte: I honestly have not had any experience that I did not enjoy. The contents are interesting for me especially because it focuses on history as well as lived religion in practice. It's a small-scale study, so you get to know your classmates and professors quickly, and therefore it's a close group of people you see multiple times a week. The study association of Religious Studies (ARS Notoria) makes studying it a super valuable and inclusive experience. They plan many excursions and activities ranging from borrels to museum visits and even an overnight stay in a monastery.

How would you rate this minor out of 10? Any last comments as well?

Geerte: I would genuinely rate it 10/10. I have enjoyed it so much that I am actually continuing Religious Studies as a full bachelor's program next year! If you are interested in religion, as well as history and culture, I would definitely recommend it.

Thank you Geerte for accepting our interview and good luck with your next bachelor’s!

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