Work Experience at the University of Exeter

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News - Mar 8

For Year 12 work experience week, two of our students, Kitty F and Cassie P and currently studying French for A Level, had the privilege of going to the University of Exeter to spend a week with the Modern Languages department. This was organised with the help of Professor Fiona Cox, Head of Modern Languages and Cultures, and Professor Ulrike Zitzlsperger, Schools Coordinator for Modern Languages and Cultures. Both of whom, I would like to thank for their brilliant support as usual.  

Both our students had the pleasure to take part in a variety of activities during their week: ranging from cultural lectures and seminars to writing an article for their undergraduate magazine and helping set up the schools competition for the next academic year. A great way to discover what studying languages at university level is like. They were both pleasantly surprised in feeding back that it is quite similar to the A level course in some ways.  

Mr K. Giraudon, Head of MFL

Here is Kitty’s account of her week so you can find out more from her perspective. This is an article which will be published in the undergraduate magazine:

A Flâneur on campus 

The original understanding of a ‘flâneur was an upperclass 19th century Parisian man who sought to wander the streets of Haussmann’s new Paris relishing in its rhythms.  

Being a 17-year old work experience student I am neither male, upperclass or even Parisian, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still relish. As, to my understanding, to ‘flâner is to people watch, basically. earwig 

I’m visiting Exeter University French Department for the week. I had never been to that university before, didn’t know the history, didn’t know the geography, didn’t know anybody. Or anything. I was clueless.  

But, boy did I learn! In one lecture I was taught about Francois Mauriac’s novel Thérèse Desqueyroux which follows the smothering married life of a woman in the 1920’s. A wife trapped by the bars of rain, bars of pine and bars of stubborn traditional etiquette.  

In many ways, for this week, I was that wife. Similarly grappling with the bars of stubborn university etiquette. I, the visitor. The newcomer. 

The complex language of student etiquette is more foreign to me than the degree level French in which I was to be taught. 

My first lecture ‘experience’ was by Fiona Cox. I learnt about the way in which Patrick Modiano is haunted by the spectral atmosphere of Paris in his novel ‘Dora Bruder’. This biography is an enigmatic blend of the past and the present, a confrontation of trauma - defined by two isolated concepts; one related to place, the other, observation. Nobel laureate, Modiano suggests that some places, some streets are imbued with the legacy of those who had been there before. In his words, « On se dit qu’au moins les lieux gardent une légère empreinte des personnes qui les ont habités ».  

These words resonate most on analysing the ‘Reflected Vision’ art installation on the Streatham campus. It’s a multidimensional sculpture that reflects the rich multicultural past, and present of Exeter University. 

Which got me thinking about its future. It’s a profound notion that no matter how transient a student’s life may be at Exeter, somehow somewhere, someplace, they leave a legacy or even just merely a mark. A shadow of themselves here. 

But then what does that mean for me? I am after all just, what Virginia Woolf described as, the ‘street haunter’, a ‘flâneuse, an outside observer, desperate to know more. Without a shadow of a doubt I can see the enjoyment, the education, and the pleasure that can be gained from within these hallowed Exeter walls. It’s opened my mind to how learning should be done. Inspired.