French and Politics Personal Statement

What really attracts me to studying French at university is the opportunity to become a fluent French speaker, whilst gaining a more developed understanding of French society, culture and history. I have always enjoyed language study, but studying A Level French has confirmed to me that it is both stimulating and exciting; French was also my strongest AS Grade (181/200 UMS). I have enjoyed expanding my knowledge of France through listening to a series of BBC programmes, which discussed three influential figures in the development of French identity: Joan of Arc, Robespierre and Napoleon III. An interest in French politics led me to listen to a lecture from LSE, given by Dr S Hazareesingh: 'Whither France? The Pessimistic Turn in Modern French Thought'. This explored France's tradition of progressive politics, and the reasons for its decline in favour of a more conservative attitude. I also enjoy French radio and films, a recent favourite being 'Le Gamin au Vélo', on the subject of a young boy's life in the French care system.
In June, I participated in a languages day at the University of Warwick, which gave me a taster of university-style language study. We studied Marie de France's 'Bisclavret', comparing the original text with a modern French translation. We used this as a gateway to an interesting discussion of the treatment of women in medieval French society, noting how this was reflected in the text.

With Britain in such a state of flux, following the EU Referendum, there has never been a more interesting time to study Politics. As an active member of the Labour Party, I have been considering the recent turmoil within the party, which seems to come down to a debate over whether pragmatic politics should take priority over traditional Labour policies. I have attended local party meetings, in which we discussed the reasons for Labour's electoral failure and effective campaigning methods for the future, whilst at Labour Party campaign events, I have heard speakers such as Gordon Brown, on the progressive case for staying in the EU, and Owen Smith.

Although studying A Level Politics was not an option at my school, I have read broadly around the subject to gain a better understanding of the political world: I regularly listen to the Today Programme; read 'The Conversation', and subscribe to 'New Statesman'. I recently attended a lecture at Birmingham University about the consequences of Brexit for the remaining EU nations. After studying the Russian Revolution, I read 'The Communist Manifesto' and could see why Marx's message appealed to the Russian proletariat, and, thus how abstract political theory can result in real-life consequences. By contrast, in my History coursework, I have chosen to explore Thatcherism's influence on New Labour policies.

Beyond academic study, I was elected as Co-Chair of my school's Character Committee, which focused on developing good character within the student body. This improved my public speaking and team work skills. Through my school enrichment programme, I volunteered to provide weekly literacy support at a primary school in a deprived area of the city. This, and my previous attendance at a school in special measures, caused me to reflect on the effect of current government education policy. I spend much of my time outside school playing in three high-level youth ensembles, having achieved Grade 8 Trumpet with Distinction at the age of fifteen. I have developed discipline, determination, and good time management skills, as I balance musical commitments with academic study.
In studying my two passions, French and Politics, I hope to become a fluent French speaker who is an active, informed member of European society, and develop a fuller understanding of how power operates in the French and English-speaking worlds. With the skills gained from this degree, my aim is to work in an NGO, seeking to improve life for individuals and societies in Europe and further afield.

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I applied to The University of Warwick, University of Bristol, University of Leeds, University of Sheffield and University of Manchester, and received an offer from all 5 of them.

Now studying at Warwick.

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