University of Exeter, Modern Languages (French and Spanish) Personal Statement
I have been fortunate enough to spend over 1,000 days of my life in France; the country has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. The ability to communicate is a key skill in today’s world and studying an additional language is a perfect opportunity to enhance my knowledge of France and explore the new culture of Spain. I find having long conversations with friends in French particularly satisfying and fulfilling and for later business ventures I see fluency as the most vital ingredient. Having spent many holidays in both France and Spain I have found it intriguing to see how two countries that are so close have such different cultures, and I am very much looking forward to extending my knowledge of the two countries’ way of life.
My deeper understanding of the French language was honed during my term spent at Sauveterrre boarding school in South West France. There was a low tolerance for speaking English, so I discovered my passion for language while learning French history, science, maths, literature and culture. I also performed in a production of Jules Verne’s ‘Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours’. As well as learning the value of independence, my French speaking and cultural knowledge improved dramatically and it was the best ten weeks of my life. I am excited to continue learning about these aspects at university. The year abroad is what I am particularly looking forward to, as I have found that immersing myself in the language has been the most productive learning tool for me. To support this I enjoy the French Literature club. Having studied Camus’ ‘L’étranger’, I was intrigued to read some of his other work. His idea of punishment being a part of the human condition in ‘Le Mythe de Sisyphe’ is a concept exemplified in Mersault’s being condemned to death. The link I drew between the two is that Mersault is like Sisyphus, the absurd hero, in the way that he looks at life in permanent indifference, wanting no more or less from his surroundings. The theme of existentialism reminded me of Bertrand Russell, whom I have studied in Philosophy, who said “I should say that the universe is just there and that is all”.
I take part in French debating club, in which one of our debates discussed the national motto, ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’, and whether instances such as Charlie Hebdo, where freedom of speech was disrespected, beg to question if these ideologies really underly in French society. Moreover, French laws on Islamic headdress undermines the principle of equality. Watching ‘La Haine’ proved to me further that there is segregation between the French people, undermining the aspect of fraternity. Our team take part in a debating contest next year. I have also had opportunities in a playwriting course, in which I titled my first play ‘Chateau Terrible’, inspired by my french neighbour.
I have always placed a very strong emphasis on sport, both competitively and as a way to unwind. I have taken part in the school’s 1st hockey team, I like to ski and play tennis, squash and real tennis (Jeu de Paume), but my overall love is wakeboarding. I also volunteer at a local nursery school which has taught me patience that is necessary when taking on new challenges like languages. I organised a quiz night which raised 250 pounds for a Ugandan children’s charity and additionally took part in a sponsored bike ride. I hope to visit Uganda at a later date to meet the people I have been in contact with at an orphanage there, enhancing my connection with different cultures around the world. South America has many interesting places to see like the Galápagos Islands and Machu Picchu, which have always hoped to visit.
Life is a series of interactions with people and by studying languages I hope to use these facilities in my future career, so that the business and personal opportunities I encounter can be exchanged on an equal footing and the fact that I am English does not impede my progress.
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