Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What I Wish I'd Known: French at the University of Warwick

University is an almost-certain choice for most. Degrees are the minimum requirement for jobs in an increasingly competitive working world. With rising tuition fees, (unwelcome) changes courtesy of Brexit & uncertainty about the future, plenty of people still make the decision that university is the next step in life. The difficult decision? What to study & where.

Bonjour, je m’appelle Faz! I studied French at the University of Warwick! How times have changed from telling Monsieur Moore I played football with my brother & went to the cinema to writing on my CV that I am a French Studies graduate. How did I get there? In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what degree I wanted to do in the first place. I toyed with the idea of studying English, but there was an obvious first choice for the title of ‘I studied English at Oxford’. Hint: it wasn’t me. I had dreams of travelling, & I felt that a French degree would open so many doors for me. Another hint: it did.

I hate grammar. It seems like such a silly thing to say seeing as I studied a language for my degree. But, I suppose it gives me even more of a right to say that proudly. Having said that, I signed up for extra grammar seminars on top of the ones I was obligated to attend. Perhaps I’m a sadomasochist, or perhaps I wanted to make the most out of the tuition fees. The way I saw it, if I was going to pay my university nine thousand pounds a year to make me fluent in French, I may as well take on as many contact hours as I could. Even if it did make me hate Mondays that little bit more. Pay attention, as this is the most valuable lesson you will learn as a student. There are parts of your course that you will love until the cows come home. And then there are parts of your course you would sell your soul to the devil for if it meant you never had to do them again. But that’s okay. It’s all part of student life. I’m sure no medical student enjoys practicing a prostate examination, but remember the bigger picture. You’re putting yourself through this because you have an endgame.

I’m independent & I like it. Learning how to take care yourself is one of university’s biggest lessons. Cooking isn’t just something for the ladies; it’s something we should all know how to do. It’s survival. Don’t leave the task of nourishing yourself in the hands of other people. Even perfecting that pasta dish is better than running to mummy every weekend to stock up your freezer. Remember to change your bedsheets & make sure you’ve separated your whites from your colours; because when you need that white shirt for an important presentation & it’s stained pink, you’ll have no-one to blame but yourself. It can be scary, the onset of enormous responsibility. Don’t run from it. You’ll be a grown-up in no-time.

Am I rambling? I apologise if I am. It’s an occupational hazard of being a French student, you see. A word of advice- when you are taught how to reference essays in your first year, make sure you do not sleep through lectures because this is one skill that you will need for every single one of those essays you write. Learning it properly in first year will save you so much trouble when you get to second year & those grades start to count towards your degree. Oh, & for the love of God, do not put an all-nighter. But, spending all night in the library is what students do! I hear you, & I call you out on this rubbish. Sometimes desperation settles in, but don’t make a habit of it. Make a routine where you sleep at a reasonable hour & wake up early instead. Your body will thank you for it.

Decisions, decisions... There are so many modules to choose from. But that’s a blessing itself; I never felt the need to stick to just the one theme. My department was happy for me to be as varied as I wanted to be. In fact, I even went as far as to spend a year with the European Law department and study French… in French. That was one rollercoaster of a ride where my friend & I would stay up until the small hours of the morning debating who was responsible for the handicapped gentleman who set a forest on fire. Of course, I quickly sussed out that I performed better at history & literature even if I enjoyed watching French film noir-esque films as part of my studies. It’s a perk of French at Warwick.

Vive La France! This is the President of the Warwick French Society here. I led an academic society & of course, there were French films clubs, as well as sessions where you could practice your oral (this joke will never get old, at least not for me). But hey, in the spirit of revolutions & uprisings, this bunch of Arts students know how to party. We went to Paris every year & we dressed up for fancy balls where we had jazz bands & three course meals. We sat around a table to share a Christmas meal & then we made friends in cosy local pubs. We went on bar crawls & had challenges to see who could finish a baguette first. Didn’t you know? French students are the most fun.

Bon voyage! I would be lying if I said the Year Abroad wasn’t one of the main selling points of a language degree. It is & for a very good reason. This is a once in a lifetime experience. One that unfortunately I didn’t get to live, but I saw my friends through theirs & spent a week Living Like a Parisienne (see what I did there?). Fair warning- the French are notoriously slow at processing paperwork. You will need a guarantor, a proof of address, your ID, the hair of a unicorn, the blood of a witch & a muffin basket to bribe the bank clerk with before you can open an account. You may feel homesick & jump at every chance to come back home. But you will have countless photo opportunities. You will make friends & see sights. You will live a whole new life you didn’t think you could. Embrace it. And remember that Paris is a very expensive city before you decide to put it as your first choice. Speak to the final year students if you want the lowdown.

I don’t know what to say. Which is a little ironic as I feel like I’ve written a small essay on the subject. Of course, I think we could all do with a little guidance when it comes to university. But, I also think university is what you make of it. For me, Warwick was the obvious choice. It was far enough to be away from home, but not so far that I felt isolated. I made good memories & I worked hard. I enjoyed my degree & the friends I made are now my family. I worked my butt off at one of the top universities in the country & now I have a job in Fashion where I get to use my French. You will make mistakes. You’ll get a grade on an essay you’re not so happy with. You’ll eat dodgy chips after a night out. You’ll kiss the wrong guy. But hey, hopefully you’ll make all those mistakes as a Warwick student.

Faz's Blog- Living Like a Parisienne
Faz's Twitter- @likeaparisienne
Faz's Instagram- @livinglikeaparisienne
Faz's Pinterest- @fazparisienne
Bloglovin- Living Like a Parisienne


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