Graduate Student, Profile, Study Abroad

A 'linguistics summer camp' in California

September 12, 2019

When Sander Nederveen signed up for the Linguistic Institute, he thought his biggest challenges would be homesickness or the course load. Instead, it was the sweltering hot California weather. But despite having to wake up at 5:30 am for his morning run, he couldn't be happier.

Over the summer, Nederveen participated in the 2019 Linguistic Society of America (LSA) Linguistic Institute held at University of California, Davis.

Held every two years at different educational institutions, the Linguistic Institute is a gathering of young minds eager to learn more about the field of linguistics—attracting the best and brightest undergraduate and graduate students from around the world. It is typically held for 4-6 weeks during the summer months, and students are kept busy with courses, workshops, lectures, and social events (with free drinks!). 

"I enjoyed the evening lectures where professors from different linguistics fields talked about their experiences or their research," says Nederveen. "Most lectures would be on topics that are somewhat foreign if you’re not specializing in that same field, and those are particularly fascinating. It gave me perspective on how linguistics can be brought back into society and how it can make a difference in everyday people’s lives."

On top of the many activities at the Linguistic Institute, Nederveen also enrolled in the recommended course load of four courses. While he enjoyed the classes, the Experimental Pragmatics course stood out for him, and has sparked a pet project with a student from the US which Nederveen plans to pursue further. 

Although the Linguistic Institute provided Nederveen a valuable learning experience, one of the unexpected benefits was the opportunity to expand his professional network. 

"It was really fun to get to know so many linguists on a personal level," says Nederveen. "Talking to other linguists from around the world, I learned that it’s okay to be bold and dream big. You can make it anywhere you like, but you do need some connections and work to get a solid background in your field of interest."

Nederveen has had such a positive experience with the Linguistic Institute that he plans to attend the next one in 2021 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and he encourages others to do so as well.

"The Linguistic Institute is mostly just fun, and even though there might be small things from home that you miss, it’s just an unforgettable experience that I recommend it to everyone studying linguistics." 

Tips & Advice

Funding and Finances

Attending the Linguistic Institute can be a significant expense but there are ways to manage it. I presented my research at the Linguistic Institute poster session so this made me eligible to apply for funding.

It’s very important to make a financial plan and figure out exactly what you need to do to make it work. Stick to your plan and you can do it. 

Transfer Credit

You might be able to transfer your credits pending approval from the SFU Department of Linguistics. It is also important to complete the forms early and get the signatures ready. 

If you are eligible to take courses for credit and have received your LSA transcript, send the LSA tuition receipt to the graduate studies office and they will refund you SFU’s tuition for the summer term you attended the Linguistic Institute.


The host university has dorms available so when you register for the Linguistic Institute, you can also register for a room. Mine came with a meal plan so that was all set in a matter of seconds. Super easy!