Learning languages has always seemed very natural to me. My maternal grandmother is French and my mother speaks fluent French, giving me a long-standing interest in the French language and culture. My decision to combine French with Russian at degree level stems from an experience I had during Year 10 at school, when I went to Russia on a history trip. Going to St. Petersburg and Moscow and experiencing Russian culture first hand was so inspiring. I started to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and began with some basic phrases. On my return, one of the teachers in the modern languages department set up lunchtime Russian classes and I passed by Russian GCSE, done as an extra qualification, with a Grade A.
At college it was a natural choice to study French, Russian and History, even though it meant attending the college with the longest travel time from my home to do so. I have used the travelling time for reading and listening to plays and music that reflect Russian culture; reading the translated Chekhov plays really captivated me.
In the future, beyond my degree, I have an ambition to help others learn languages and feel that I may move into teaching. In Year 11 at school I was in the mentoring team for students in Years 7-9 who were struggling with French and I was able to act as a team leader on two school trips, one to Paris and the other to the south of France on a water sports trip. This was a fantastic experience as I learned kayaking and wind surfing and enjoyed working as part of a large team effort with the younger pupils, my teachers and the instructors on the course.
As part of my Duke of Edinburgh (Silver and now Gold Award) I have spent regular time volunteering at a local special school, which offers help and support and respite care for families with children with cerebral palsy. I worked with two children in particular, encouraging them in their reading and communication. One of the greatest challenges of the Award has been the expeditions in the Lake District, which have involved long walking weekends, one of them in driving rain, but it was very satisfying to have completed it.
My interest in Chekov has also opened up a relatively new passion – the theatre. I am currently helping to put on a college performance of The Seagull, an adaptation of the Chekov play by the contemporary playwright Tom Stoppard. I have been involved in all aspects, including set design, coaching the actors in dialogue and direction.
My choice of university has been led by the course content and the reputation of the modern languages faculty. Your institution offers modules that I can’t wait to start studying. I feel that my mature attitude, broad experience and ability to immerse myself in a language will enable me to enjoy three years of intense study. Additionally, I intend to pursue my interest in working with younger people and within the theatre by participating fully in extra-curricular activities.