Modern and Medieval Languages

Applied in: Winter 2013

University Offers: Cambridge, King's College, UCL, Royal Holloway

When I recall my first trip to Germany, I see the Christmas Market in Munich. It struck me as a child that this Holiday was celebrated differently within European countries, and so, my interest in cultures was triggered. I grew up in Paris with a French-Mexican mother and a French-American father, I moved to London at the age of twelve and lived there since.

My Spanish teacher once said, "During this hour, we are in Spain and speak only Spanish." Ever since, I have genuinely enjoyed studying languages and literature, whether I was translating Clytemnestra's murder from Greek to French, reading between the lines of Of Mice And Men, studying the comical forms in Moliere's theatre galaxy or learning about Las Casas in Spanish. It is an opportunity to discover another culture and its history, understand how it rises and falls. My appetite to explore the world grew with time, listening to my father talk about his travels in Asia and Australia, learning about the European Union and Europe's history, travelling around the USA and Mexico to visit family. The country that fascinates me most, along with France, is Germany. The histories of the French and the Germans are intertwined through their conflicts, and recently, the EU. I learnt aspects of Germany's history and realised how much it interests me while studying totalitarianism. I then decided to study Germany, its literature, its culture, its history, and the German language itself. I am currently taking German lessons at the Goethe Institut. Despite being the youngest there, they allow me to share my interest with others and overcome fears such as speaking in front of others in a language I do not yet master. During a conference in Epsom, last March, I met Dr Ruehl, Professor at the Cambridge Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty, who explained that part of his course covers German nationalism from 1806 to the Third Reich. I learnt this past year about Hitler's rise to power and the consequences of the Second World War on Europe, which, for me, raised the question as to how nationalism, an ideology that ruined countries in the early 20th Century, could once be perceived as a virtue.

I have been learning about France's History and Literature for as long as I can remember. I feel History and Literature go hand in hand as the former strongly influences the latter: after the discovery of America, French (and European) authors expressed their thoughts in writing, like Montaigne reflecting on the culture shock between the Conquistadores and the people they invaded in Essais, "Des cannibales". European history, cultures, languages fascinate me, and studying them allows me to compare thought currents in different countries and understand why Europe is as it is today. It has a common History and is a place where different traditions and people blend together forming a cosmopolitan entity. I can hardly explain what draws me to it so much, whether it is the desire to know all about the past in order to understand the present, or curiosity for countries other than my own, allowing me to develop an open mind.

Studying German philosophers and psychoanalysts such as Freud is of great interest to me: the complexity of the conscious and subconscious mind intrigues me. That is why I chose my work experience in a related field. I spent two weeks working with a Psychomotricionist, Karine Renart, an activity recognised in the French medical domain that combines elements of psychotherapy and occupational therapy, for children. During that time, I met several professionals and had the opportunity to work with a few children. I observed and took notes, later analysed what I had seen and discussed it with Dr Renart. This sharpened my analytical skills and taught me to look at simple things differently; a child's drawing may reveal much more than one may think. Similarly, a Christmas celebration (or other festivity) may reveal more about a culture than one may think.

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