Spanish Personal Statement
Submitted by Caitlin
Growing up in Hackney, East London, a diverse, multicultural area, I have seen the important role language plays in the development of communities. This has influenced my interest in other cultures and their respective languages - particularly Spanish. I wish to access the very heart of the Spanish language and culture and believe that it is impossible to do so until I have mastered the language.
I was introduced to the work of Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz at a Modern Languages study at the University of Oxford. When reading ¿En perseguirme, mundo, qué interesas? I was struck by how ardently Sor Juana challenges conventional ideas of women in the 1600s by stating her want for knowledge as being far stronger than her want for riches or beauty. I found the same challenge of convention in Lorca’s play, Yerma, when reading and seeing the play at the National Theatre. However, instead of Yerma - the protagonist - challenging the traditional role of a woman, it is those around her who try to suppress her ferocious lust for motherhood. I found this ironic, considering that Yerma is the more contemporary work, being written in 1934 because despite Sor Juana’s work being written in the 1600s it seems far more progressive.
I have travelled extensively in Spain, and last February I took part in an exchange programme in Madrid. This was a great chance to improve my Spanish through living with a family who spoke minimal English and immersing myself in the Spanish community. The powerful reminders Madrid holds of Spain’s traumatic history over the last century were evident, in landmarks such as ‘El Palacio Real’ and ‘El Palacio de Las Cortes’. Through my visits to Spain I have been exposed to a range of Spanish art. I recently enjoyed a visit to ‘El Prado’ finding the historical and religious context of the art fascinating. A work of art that resonated with me was ‘El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid’ by Goya. Which gave me the opportunity to see how events like the French Revolution - which I had studied for my A Level History - affected other countries, including Spain.
As a result of studying Politics I have established my own current affairs club within my sixth form; we not only explore domestic issues but also those of other European countries. I am currently following the Catalonian debate for independence with great interest. On a recent visit to Catalonia I noticed the campaign for independence, from the display of Catalan flags hanging from balconies and painted onto walls. The existence of the Catalan language really set the region apart from the rest of Spain and gives it an autonomous fervor. I also developed an interest for the Catalan language which I would love to further. From reading ‘La familia de Pascual Duarte’ and from my recent study of ideologies as part of my Politics A level, I have noticed the way in which José Cela encompasses the conservative and fascist ideologies into the everyday lives of his characters. It is likely that José Cela’s views came from his time serving in Franco’s army during the civil war.
Theatre has played a massive part in my life and I have performed in numerous productions. For years I have taken classes at the Young Actors Theatre and regularly teach drama classes to young children. I was also awarded the Jack Petchey Award for my leadership skills and accomplishments in theatre. Additionally, I have taken part in the Jack Petchey ‘Speak Out’ competition and got through to a regional level. My chosen topic was the importance of language and how necessary it was for countries to unite and discover each other's cultures. I plan to travel to Malaga in October, where I am looking forward to exploring Arab-Hispanic relations and also comparing the differences between Northern and Southern Spain. I know that by studying GCSE and A level Spanish I have barely broken the surface of hispanic culture and would delight in having the opportunity to study Spanish at degree level for the next 4 years.