Tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Claire Chelsea Bondzanga, I live just outside of London and I turned 22 at the beginning of November. Reading, writing and acting are among the things I love to do, and have loved to do since I was young. These days I’ve taken up fangirling over BTS and watching the evening glow just before the Sun sets as newfound hobbies. I found out about the University of London Institute in Paris through my own research when I was looking for a course to study; this was before I’d even made my UCAS application. In the end I enrolled in ULIP through clearing and chose the BA French with History as my course.
Career wise did you have a vision of what direction you wanted to take before/during your time at ULIP?
Though I have always been slightly unsure of the specifics of what I wanted to do in life, I was, in fact, determined that it would have to do, somewhat, with freelance writing. Whether that would be a journalist, an author, a copywriter or a translator. Preferring to major in a general degree, I wanted to ensure that I was still free to follow whatever path I wanted whilst gaining essential writing skills.
Since graduation has this vision changed?
My vision changed, not even a year into my degree at ULIP. My passion for acting intensified when I was no longer partaking in anything theatrical or drama based. To be quite fair, I wanted to be an actress since I was a child, but I grew into this sort of cynical character during my preteens and figured that it was most likely that I would become an actress in a fever dream as opposed to in real life. I grew up, realised that it was best I live without regrets and started auditioning for Drama school from 2017. I have been unsuccessful so far (still, I was lucky enough to consistently pass onto second rounds) but since graduating I have now dubbed myself as an aspiring actress anyways. Although, to call it a drastic change would be an exaggeration, I’m still an enthusiastic writer and right now I’m starting to personally delve into the world of critiquing and theatre.
What memories stand out for you from your time in Paris and at ULIP?
There are so many memories I made during my time as a student in Paris, it all kind of melts together into one big ball. In retrospect… it felt like flying. To be part of a close-knit University like ULIP; intimate, simple and tucked away on some big street in the 7th, there’s this warmth you feel. You feel it in the classrooms, in the library, in the staff, as you enter or leave the building- it feels homely. But then you only have to look out the window during class, see Mr Eiffel’s creation and remember you’re in one of the greatest cities in the world. How can your feet possibly stay firmly on the ground? Rather than skim through half-remembered memories, I tend to reminisce about my uni years through how I felt. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I’m not sure how else to describe it.
What advice you would you give your younger self/current students at ULIP?
It’s so easy to feel lost when you enter something foreign like University, especially somewhere far away from family. At times, it can be quite isolating. Communication. That’s one thing that I would tell my undergraduate self to work on more. I think I would’ve been surprised to know that I wasn’t as alone as I thought. I would advise new students to communicate, trust me when I say sharing isn’t only caring for others, but also for yourself. And remain positive. Hope can seem stupid sometimes because society doesn’t classify it as logical or realistic, so in turn we call things “hopeless”. But I think having hope is therapeutic. When you have hope and you start to work towards it, you feel good. We all need a little light to guide us when it’s dark.