English / Comparative Literature and French and German Personal Statement 1

With English being my second language, it was books, mainly fantasy novels, that guided me through the strange English-speaking world I had entered at five years old, and taught me English. Like many others, I had progressed from the children’s classics of Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ and Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’, to my more mature readings of Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and Thomas Mann's 'Doktor Faustus'.

Languages, like with literature, gave me a foundation. They are my strength and of great interest to me. Since my childhood, my ears have been open to many languages due to having lived in India for the first part of my life. I would hear stories told to me in Hindi and Bengali from my mother and grandmother, and India, having over 300 regional languages, made sure that I was hearing languages beyond what I had at home. Studying French and German enables me to focus on the intricacies of society within a different country; I am able to see and learn about political landscapes in countries such as Morocco. I have particularly enjoyed studying about social and racial problems within society in the film 'La Haine'. Despite having been released in the 1990s, the film covers issues which are still relevant and current in today's world, issues such as the societal barrier between races and education.

I had visited Morocco in 2018 as a volunteer in a project with the company AMESIP, and there, I was able to ask locals about current affairs, such as the perception of the LGBT community in a heavily Islamic country, as well as the views young people have towards living under Islamic laws and how much religion actually plays a part in their daily lives. In my travels, as well as being able to improve my French in conversation with native speakers, I had found out that Western media projection about Islamic countries can be exaggerated, and at times, completely incorrect.

The biggest joy in studying languages for me, is being able to immerse myself into a diverse collection of media and literature. From modern TV shows like SKAM France and Druck, which tackle issues that young people face during their school days to dealing with the recent immigration crisis, to enjoying the prose of Albert Camus’ 'L'Étranger', and Hermann Hesse in 'Demian'. After having discovered the joy of reading 'Siddhartha' by Hesse, I knew I had to also read 'Demian', and now, it stands as one of my favourite novels. From the spiritual journey between the duality of the real world and the "safe" world created by Emil's parents, to the semi-autobiographical nature of the novel, stemming from some of Hesse's own experiences from the time of the First World War, the novel proved to be an immensely provocative and poignant journey in self-realisation and history. Moreover, the exploration of Nietzsche's 'Superman' philosophy in Demian's character and the Jungian influence from his relationship with Carl Jung used to show Emil's journey through self-awareness to actualisation created an extremely captivating narrative.

In school, I play an active part in Debate Society, and have taken part in competitions such as the Eton Open. This enables me to improve on my rationalisation skills, as well as my argumentation skills, which proves to be incredibly helpful when writing essays and analysing literature. Over the course of eight months, I had also taken part in the Young Reporters Scheme. This allowed me to improve my writing skills, as I had to learn to stay concise, yet specific, in my writing. I also act as a French Mentor, which helps me to not only consolidate my own knowledge, but also develop my communication skills. Outside of school, I am also interested in learning languages beyond what is offered, and have begun to learn Korean and Spanish. Due to the skills I have acquired, as well as my own enthusiasm and dedication, I believe that I can only expand my knowledge through further study in literature and modern languages.

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