My Account

Languages, travel and performing with Coldplay!

A letter from Giulia:

"I have now returned to Jordan, after the Christmas break and have resumed my language course in Amman: the arabic is tough but i'm enjoying it!

I thought I would update you on a few experiences I've had so far on my year abroad:

I first attended a 4-week intensive language course at the Alliance Française, Bordeaux which was a perfect start to my year abroad. I attended the advanced language level course, where we would also debate a range of topics: from current affairs to technological advancements and even to discussing the existence of a universal language. This particular course attracts many individuals from different age groups and cultures, resulting in very lively and engaging debates. 


Throughout my time in Bordeaux, I stayed with a French family allowing for a complete immersion of the French language and culture, including the argot (slang) which is not necessarily taught in the classroom. Furthermore, during this time I attended many events of the Liberté festival, a programme of cultural events that took place throughout the city. This included a retrospective of the photographer Harry Gruyaert, at La Base sous-marine, a converted WW2 Axis submarine base; several exhibitions in the principal art institutions of Bordeaux and even attending dance classes on the banks of the river Garonne.


A particular highlight of my stay in Bordeaux was seeing Montaigne’s cenotaph, whose Essais I had studied for my preliminary exams at Oxford. Moreover, one of the original manuscripts of the Essais are located in Bordeaux’s Municipal Library and it was interesting to visit important sites that related to Montaigne’s impact on this city, especially during his time as Mayor of Bordeaux. 


Currently, I am in Amman where I have spent the last 4 months attending full-time Arabic language classes, which is mandatory for the Arabic component of my degree. As music has been a huge part of my life, thanks to the Guild, I was able to bring my cello with me to continue to play and also to engage with the local music scene. The grant I was awarded enabled me to do this, in a way I could not have imagined.


As you know, I was invited to join the Etihad Chamber Orchestra and to date I have performed in three concerts with repertoire ranging from Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak to new Arabic music commissions. It has been an amazing privilege to be able to join and be part of this community in so little time as this has allowed me to meet and interact with Jordanian society. In fact, joining this orchestra has enabled me to meet musicians, not only from Jordan but other Arab countries such as Lebanon and Egypt. It has been a privilege to play with them and also talk and engage with them and their culture, inside and outside of the rehearsal space. As a result, this experience has also enhanced my Arabic learning, as I can practice this foreign language in a familiar setting.


Aside from the orchestral commitments, I was also asked to play in a small string ensemble with the British band, Coldplay. To celebrate their album release, we performed in a live stream youtube concert in the LP, ‘Sunset’ and the next day, in their live concert which took place on the Citadel, the ancient heart of Amman. This was an unexpected and truly extraordinary experience: not only playing with and getting to know the band but also discovering a new side of the music industry.


Below is the Coldplay music video: (I'm wearing a bright red headband!)"

Giulia da Cruz, Guild Apprentice, January 2020

A few photos from Giulia da Cruz, Guild Apprentice, with her cello during her year in Jordan as part of her Oxford degree in Arabic and French.