L’ANNÉE PARISIENNE When I left HGS to go and study Law & French Law at Oxford I was so incredibly nervous that I would not fit in with my peers and would not be able to meet my tutors’ academic expectations. Coming from a very working-class family, I didn’t know anybody who had been to university, let alone to one of the best universities in the world. However, during sixth form, my incredible teachers encouraged me to consider the idea of applying to Oxford seriously and helped me to put together an application to the UNIQ Summer School. This week spent studying law and learning more about the application process, as well as life at Oxford more generally, changed my perspective and dispelled the myths about Oxford that I had previously held. Three years later, I’ve completed two years of my degree at Oxford, have spent an Erasmus year in Paris and am preparing to return for my final year at Oxford. My year in Paris has been absolument incroyable! I have been on an Erasmus exchange year studying French and European Law at l’Université Pathéon- Assas, one of the most prestigious universities in France. In my last contribution to the Bridge, I said that I was absolutely terrified of moving to a new country and rebuilding my social networks: whilst it wasn’t easy (largely due to the stereotypical inefficiency of French administration!) it has been incredibly rewarding and I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering a new city and making new friends. Studying in Paris has been challenging because it has meant adapting to a completely new academic system with a vastly different approach to essay writing and exams; however, whilst this was difficult, it has been ultimately rewarding because it has allowed me to think about the law from a slightly different perspective than I’m used to. I have also been grateful for the greater degree of control given to students in France over their choice of subjects and I have benefited from this choice to explore areas of public law and the philosophy of law that I would like to study at postgraduate level. Aside from my studies, I have enjoyed partaking in all of the incredible culture that Paris has to offer. When not in lectures, I can be found wandering around the city’s many museums and galleries, reading at a café terrace or picnicking on the banks of the Seine. I also volunteer with a student association that works to form social links with homeless people around Paris; our work involves sitting and chatting over coffee around anything and everything! Like so many people, I have dreamed of living in this city and adopting the Parisian way of life ever since I started learning French in Year 7 and I can say, with all honesty, that it has met and exceeded every expectation that I had, not to mention the exponential improvement to my Instagram aesthetic! To everyone currently studying languages at HGS, I would recommend sticking with it. Whilst it may not always be easy, the opportunities that a new language offers in unlocking new cultures are endless. Erasmus offers incredible opportunities for students of all disciplines to study and work all around Europe; when considering your university options, I would recommend researching Erasmus and other exchange opportunities. My time at HGS and all the experiences that it entailed helped to prepare me well to make the most of the opportunities presented to me. As this year draws to a close, I am preparing to spend two months interning with a child human rights NGO in Budapest. During my time at university, I have been involved with Access and Outreach work. Last year, I was elected Access, Equal Opportunities and Minorities Representative at New College: my role involved coming up with strategies to widen access and participation for historically underrepresented groups at Oxford. My personal highlight has been our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/newoverthewall), where New College students share their honest and candid experiences of life at Oxford in an attempt to dispel all the myths that surround Oxbridge. If you have the academic profile to apply to Oxford but are worried that you’re not the Oxford type, I would strongly encourage you to apply – there’s no such thing as “the Oxford type” and there’s a place here for everyone. If you have any questions about Law, about Oxford, or about applying to university in general, Mr Conway has my contact details, so please feel free to get in touch! 47