As a Modern Foreign Languages student, my degree involves an Erasmus year abroad study or work placement in this, my third year. I have just arrived in Paris and quite frankly, that’s both so very exciting and absolutely terrifying all at the same time. Until very recently my year abroad has seemed like a distant, abstract idea. It has done for years.
But now it’s here and let’s face it, shit got real.
When I started the application process from Cardiff earlier this year, I felt a shift in my apprehension surrounding the move. I had been utterly petrified for months, but it started to seem a bit silly fearing something that I’d not only signed myself up for but something that is ultimately, by all accounts, set to be the best year of my life. However, in all honesty this positivity didn’t last for long and I dreaded it again all summer long.
Over the course of last Autumn semester we had several presentations on the subject of our year abroad from financing to destination choices and I subsequently sent in my preference form for approval and consideration. My first choice had been Lyon, my second was Paris and my third, Belgium. I had chosen to study. After all, the rest of my life is for proper work, eh? After a meeting regarding my choices, I was placed in Paris for the Autumn semester (September – December 2017) and Lyon for the Spring semester (January – May 2018). Although I only study one language and should therefore only have one placement, I am super happy that I get to switch it up a bit post Christmas like all my dual-honours, two language buddies.
Anyway, I thought I’d touch base in hopes of sharing the whole process from conception, and ultimately throughout its fruition. Let’s leave it for now with the motto used by the city of Paris for centuries; FLUCTUAT NEC MERGITUR which relates to the idea that she has been “tossed by the waves but does not sink”. And hell, as Paris is surrounded by cliché let’s also hope that whatever kind of waves Paris has got in store for me that I don’t bloody sink either.
P.S. I can see the Eiffel Tower from my bed!
The day after opting to take a beginners German language module and the accompanying module entitled ‘German History & Culture’, I happened upon this book in Waterstones and was instantly struck by the super funky cover (judge me at your will). Of course, the title is striking too. Especially as I was about to begin studying the fall of the Berlin Wall and the events surrounding, leading up to, and following this historical turning point which saw two states reunited as one country.
MacLean captivates the reader with a combination of short bibliographical narratives so interesting that they could at times, quite easily be mistaking for fiction, and cultural German tales, and historical events. A factual, history book that is capable of allowing one to read with relative ease, without straining to focus, in my opinion, can only be a good one. 23 portraits are given a chapter each, from Frederick the Great right up to David Bowie, MacLean glides through the history of a capital city with a hugely turbulent past elegantly, somehow.
The following Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/20/berlin-imagine-city-rory-maclean-review hails the book as “A compelling series of portraits captures the intangible something that turns visitors into Berlinophiles” and it’s true, ‘Berlin : Imagine a City’ creates an interest that could almost definitely lead to city break plans…
As announced in my last blog post, I secured a place at Cardiff University to study French and I am now 6 weeks into my first year and the infamous ‘Uni Life’ that everybody seems to equally fantasise about, and fear. This post is somewhat of a non-post in that it’s merely an update and an apology for being so absent recently. I hope this is something that I can change and I am currently considering making Wednesday afternoons into blogging time in order to post at least weekly.
So, as for university, we’re in week 7 and I’ve just returned from 9 wonderful days at home for reading week. All the essay questions have been released for the January deadlines and language assessments are coming in thick and fast. I feel I should explain what it is that I am studying here exactly, as even my friends from back home tend to get quite confused on the matter. I am studying for a French BA, however the French modules available to first years only add up to 40 credits and 120 are needed, so most single honours BA first years are required to take extra modules in other humanities subjects. I have chosen to take beginners German and Translation Studies modules and am therefore studying the following 6 modules across these 3 subjects: Contemporary French Language, Modern France, Beginners German Language, German History & Culture, Translation Methods, and Translation Theory. I realise this is slightly confusing, judging only my the reaction of some of my friends, but I hope I’ve cleared it up somewhat here!
Personally, I think that the additional subject modules are great and I love how varied my course has turned out to be, because of them, this year. I think that they work particularly well for those who, like me, have started university with very little idea about what they intend to use their eventual degree for. Having chosen a degree purely based on interest and my ability at school, I feel that the Translation modules in particular have really opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming a translator. More specifically, I have been giving the idea of translating novels, articles or other written works into English much thought as a direct result of the last 6 weeks. Fortunately, I have 3 and half years until my graduation in the summer of 2019 so, even if I sway from this idea at all, I have plenty of time to decide.
Thank you for taking the time to read this somewhat chatty update and I hope that you can now look forward to more frequent, and potentially varied, posts.
Yes, this is indeed where my life changes quite significantly. The period of time between the end of my exams and results day on the 13th August 2015, was a time of great anxiety and much uncertainty about the future. I was completely in the dark about how the next year was going to go, whether I would be re-sitting exams, working or even travelling. Thankfully however, after the singularly most stressful morning of my life, I received a change of offer from Cardiff University, my insurance choice, for which I am so very grateful.
Initially, I applied for Law and French and had accepted University of Exeter and Cardiff University as my firm and insurance choices respectively. Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve my predicted grades which resulted in an awful results day morning, full of slight disappointment, the anticipation of waiting on a decision from Cardiff, and hundreds of calls to clearing hotlines. In the weeks leading up to results day, I had been considering more and more the idea of clearing and studying straight French and it was becoming ever more appealing. For this reason, the phone call offering me the chance to study French at Cardiff University was quite possibly the best thing that could have happened.
The whole A-Level and UCAS application process has gone by so quickly and it seems absurd that I will be starting university in less than month. It’s all so very exciting and daunting at once, but I am certain that this is the right decision and that I will learn so much and benefit so greatly from the entire 4 year experience that I am embarking on.
So, what happens to the blog from here? I plan to continue to share with you the books that I have bought and my thoughts on the books that I have read. However, from now on, some of these may be course related and posts regarding my university life may begin to appear.
I hope you decide to tag along for the ride. If you’re even a fragment as excited about it as I am, it’ll surely be worth it.
Disclaimer: Featured image is not my own, it was found on a Google search for Cardiff University’s Modern Language Department.