Long-time Graduate Ambassador Alex Paulin-Booth is currently working on her History DPhil from Paris and will be sending us termly updates! Here is her update for Michaelmas term:
As a DPhil student in the History Faculty, I am required to undertake a significant amount of primary research in libraries and archives, examining newspapers, pamphlets, letters, and diaries and searching for information or ideas relevant to my thesis. For me, this means spending a year in Paris, as my work focuses on late nineteenth and early twentieth century France (intellectual and political history in particular). Having moved here in late August, I am still in the relatively early stages of my research, most of September having been taken up with flat hunting and other bits and pieces of organisation attendant to moving countries (French bureaucracy can be very complicated!). Thus far I have been working primarily in the (relatively) recently built Bibliothèque nationale de la France, a striking construction in the thirteenth arrondissement of the city, complete with four imposing towers to house books, and a ‘forest-garden’ evocative of Jurassic Park enclosed within the courtyard of the library.
This year I am lucky enough to benefit from a Charterhouse European Bursary and an Erasmus grant in addition to my AHRC Scholarship. These awards have been enormously helpful to me, particularly when it came to finding an apartment: accommodation in Paris is notoriously expensive and the search can be very competitive, with upwards of fifty prospective tenants viewing each apartment, so having these grants to supplement my ordinary scholarship was essential for finding a nice flat. After a slightly hair-raising search (I was offered several studios of just nine or 10m2, and another in which the bathroom and the kitchen were ‘in the same room’…eeewww!) I managed to find somewhere I was happy with.