French Personal Statement
When I speak French I find a new energy and rhythm to my speech. When I read literature I revel in being transported to another world. My confidence in speaking comes from time spent in Provence and Burgundy, and through French exchanges. Currently I am attending a Modern Languages course as part of Access to Bristol. My interest in French literature has grown from a delight in reading English literature and studying French history. Recently I have become engrossed in Voltaire’s philosophical novel ‘Candide’, and his questioning of religious morals. I was struck by Voltaire’s forthright exposition of the bestialities of humankind. These experiences continue to stimulate my desire to study French at University and pursue a career in languages.
Since a young age I have been involved in theatre, attending Bristol Old Vic Youth sessions and taking lead roles in plays from The Spanish Golden Age and Shakespeare. Molière’s work fascinates me: inspired by Laurent Tirard’s film ‘Molière’, I saw a vivacious Commedia Dell'arte style production of ‘Le Médecin Malgré Lui’ in Paris this year. My enjoyment of European theatre and world cinema has directed me to the bizarre films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the raw style of Cédric Klapisch. I soon became absorbed by the intimate nature of Klapisch’s film ‘Les Poupées Russes’. The attraction of European films for me is their sincere and realistic portrayal of daily life. Reading Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ revealed the close links between French and Middle English and introduced me to the French Medieval ‘Fabliau’ genre.
Poetry uses emotive language with a power like no other form of literature. When studying Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter, which mimics the rhythm of English speech, I noticed the very different, more regular rhythm in French poetry. I began to wonder how French poems compare with those in other languages and whether poetry is in fact translatable. For me, writing in French is more pleasurable than writing in my own tongue; exploring the gorgeously delicate sounds of French and the eccentricity of the grammar system. Singing in Bristol Schools’ Chamber Choir I have discovered exquisite music, including Fauré’s ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’, and enjoyed the beautiful phonetics of the French language. A poet who is similarly driven by emotion and who continues to influence me is Charles Baudelaire. At Oxford Summer School this year I studied in depth his poem ‘À Une Passante’. I found Baudelaire’s Industrial Paris rather busy next to Zola’s almost desolate depiction of the city in ‘Thérèse Raquin’. I discovered Zola and his impassioned protagonist, Thérèse, through attending fortnightly A2 French classes during my AS year.
As a result of reading about current affairs in Le Monde, I researched Marriage Equality in France for my French AS Oral exam. I have recently become more politically driven, becoming a member of the Labour Party and of Labour LGBT since July 2012. Always striving to be at the top of my field in whatever I do, I am a hockey goalkeeper for a women’s team, and was selected for Junior Regional hockey. I am willing to throw myself into whatever University has to offer, balancing commitment to studying alongside other activities.
I regularly contribute to the French department in school, helping out in GCSE lessons and leading activities at language events. Through my instigation of a weekly French workshop for students who excel in French, I feel that I am able to inspire others. Correspondingly, possessing the ability to speak French and Spanish confidently enables me to explore foreign culture. My flair for language was demonstrated having come top of the class in AS French and English Literature. I believe that languages are key in this modern world, shaping culture, and it is through language that we are able to grasp a greater sense of the world. I would cherish the opportunity at University to study with others who are equally passionate.
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I wrote this personal statement with the fact that Oxford's course is very literature-based in mind. Looking back on it now, after two years at Oxford, there isn't much I would change.
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