I looked at a number of universities and Kent was definitely the best for French. It really is a European university – geographically it’s close to the rest of Europe and there are lots of European students here.
It’s going really well. I had expected the first year to be a big jump up from studying at A level, but it was actually quite a smooth transition. You get a lot of help and support from the lecturers. The biggest difference was getting used to university life and the system here. But the teaching is fantastic – the lecturers are knowledgeable and you can approach them about almost anything and they’re happy to assist you. And now I’m working on my dissertation they’re really helpful – they’re always ready to talk about it, and they even lend me books.
I’ve particularly enjoyed the literature modules – a couple of them have definitely sparked my interest in gender in French writing, and I’ve enjoyed looking at different cultures from a French perspective. For instance, we studied how Japan influenced French writing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – not just literature, in fact, but painting too.
I can’t say a bad word about anyone! They’re all so nice and we all get on well. There’s a good chemistry in lectures and seminars and we have fantastic discussions – our debates are open and friendly.
Definitely – you can always talk to other students and there’s the Erasmus and Francophone Societies you can go to; people are really approachable. That’s a great thing about Kent – everyone gets along. Then there’s a tandem system where you’re paired up with someone who speaks French.
It was quite an experience. I was studying in Lyon and found the university and teaching styles very different in France. Lecture and seminar groups were much larger and you had to listen to the lectures, take it in, learn and repeat, whereas here you’re encouraged to be independent and explore your own ideas – it’s less rigid. But it was a fantastic year, being immersed in a different culture. And my French-speaking skills improved in leaps and bounds. Before going there I could understand basic French, but when you’re in the country you have to deal with colloquialisms and regional accents, and I really noticed the difference in my abilities when I came back for my final year.
I’ve been going back and forth over this, but I’m pretty sure I’d like to go into interpreting and translating, possibly even in the army, as a language analyst. I think it would be so sad to leave university and not use your language skills. I’d also hope to pick up a second language. I did wild modules in Russian in my second year and really enjoyed it.
It’s very nice. I was surprised because when you think of student accommodation you imagine something pretty basic. But I was in Park Wood and it felt homely, there were good facilities, it was easy to meet people and everyone was very friendly. It was a great student community. In fact, it felt like living at Center Parcs!
Even in my final year, I’m still finding new places to go on campus, and things are always being revamped or updated. There’s such a range of activities, too. In my first year I played a lot of music – I play the flute, piano and guitar; now I’ve had a complete change and joined the Rowing Club – we row on the River Stour at Plucks Gutter.
Do as much as you can, meet as many people as you can; it’s such a hectic and crazy time but you should embrace every new experience. Have fun and really enjoy your time.