Month: March 2016

From Saint-Pierre et Miquelon to Global Quebec Cinema

2016 Bill NYU Poster

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the return of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, the only French territory in North America, to France, French at Stirling’s Professor Bill Marshall has been invited to give a talk on ‘Islands and Archipelagos: The Spaces of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon’at NYU on 5 April. Bill will be speaking alongside NYU Professor Eugène Nicole who will be reading from his most recent publication Le Silence des cartes.

During his visit, Bill will also be chairing a panel on ‘Perspectives on Quebec Global Cinema’ at the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Atlanta. An interview with Bill on recent shifts in Quebec Global Cinema was published in the Canadian Film Studies journal Synoptique and can be accessed here

Language Show Live

Building on the popularity and success of the annual London Language Live Show, Language Live Scotland took place in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago and included a whole range of language-related exhibits and activities. One of our current final year students, Luisa McLaughlin, went along and sent us the following report:

“I attended Language Show Live on March 11 at the SECC in Glasgow. The 2-day event is held twice a year, in London and in Glasgow.  It allows individuals such as translators, teachers, job seekers and learners, such as myself, to celebrate languages and learn more about specific aspects of these.

Each person received a lanyard on entry, along with a booklet containing a layout of the stalls, language classes and various workshops. The stalls covered a range of languages, along with free taster sessions lasting around 30 minutes each with more intensive 2 hour language classes for those at an intermediate level, at a cost of £18 per session.

2016 McLaughlin Language Show lanyard
I enjoyed a German taster class where they taught the basics of the language and I would have attended the Norwegian class had it not been on a different day.  Other taster sessions on offer included British Sign Language, Russian, Mandarin, Gaelic and Arabic. As a learner and also as a 4th year with the daunting prospect of post-University decisions, I focused on attending a CV seminar and also visited several stalls that were aimed at graduates and possible future careers in language.  The CV seminar gave a step-by-step breakdown of dos and don’ts for language CVs.  Whilst I was already aware of a lot of the information provided, it was still a beneficial session to attend.

2016 McLaughlin Language Show guide Mar

Of particular interest was PGL, providers of residential activity holidays and educational study courses for young people.  I, like many others, attended PGL when I was in primary school as they have a Perthshire location. I was given specific advice on their graduate scheme which enables graduates to work as a group leader in France or Spain, for 4-10 months. They have 7 locations in France including one in Paris. There are a range of roles available, often including taking groups of children sightseeing.

I was also intrigued by the Interpreting for the European Union stall. I was advised that if translating was something I would like to pursue, I should look for an internship with a translating company and then apply for a 1 year Master’s degree in Translation. Additionally, I studied Spanish for 6 years and I plan to resume my studies at some point, so I found the event helpful as the majority of stalls were either French or Spanish related.

The next events are scheduled for London from 14-16 October 2016 and Glasgow 10-11 March 2017. I would recommend attending if you are open to different ways of utilising your language and are keen to be given some direction on opportunities for the future.”

Many thanks to Luisa for attending the event and for sending the report.

From Languages to Law Enforcement…

Another chance to catch up with news from a recent Stirling Languages graduate: Amy Wylie graduated with a BA Hons in French and Spanish last year and is about to embark on a career in the police…

“I feel extremely privileged to have spent four fantastic years at Stirling studying French and Spanish and I would do it all over again in a minute! I first became interested in the idea of going to the University of Stirling as most of my friends at school were planning to stay at home and commute to the University of Glasgow or Strathclyde University, whereas I felt I would like to move away and gain some independence. I liked the fact that Stirling gave students the possibility to alter their degree combination further down the line, if for some reason they decided to change direction, something I know that the other universities don’t usually offer. First year at Stirling was definitely one of the best years of my life so far. I met wonderful people, had great times and I loved learning to balance my social life, studies and menial tasks.

As for my course, I can confidently say that the tutors of both French and Spanish were all incredible. They put so much time and effort into their classes and I personally loved the oral classes. We always had interesting topics to discuss and if you were lucky enough to get a good group it was also a lot of fun. It was a shame that we only managed to fit in one hour per week.

2016 Wylie Cordoba

I was fortunate enough to spend time in both France and Spain as part of my degree programme. I took part in the British Council Assistantship before commencing my third year and then I took part in the Erasmus programme in my sixth semester. I could spend all day talking about my time spent abroad as I had an amazing time but I will let you trust me on that one. Since graduating quite a lot has happened in terms of my plans for the future. I actually went back to France to work as an English Language Assistant again, but I ended up coming home in November due to personal reasons. I’m actually not so sure that teaching is for me anyway and so I don’t feel that I missed out on too much.

2016 Wylie Saumur

Since coming home I have applied to become a Police Officer. I have always been interested in law enforcement and I love the prospect of an exciting and challenging career. After the probationary period I hope to specialize and maybe become a dog handler. It would be ideal if I could use my language skills but I will have to wait and see if that will be possible. Even if I don’t manage to use my languages in the Police I am confident I will continue to speak them. I have made a lot of friends abroad whom I keep in contact with and I am working in a Spanish Tapas Bar/Restaurant where I am constantly speaking Spanish with my colleagues. Overall, I had an excellent experience at Stirling and I look forward to seeing what the next few years have to offer. If I decide in the future that I would like to study for a Masters, Stirling would definitely be one of my choices!”

Thanks to Amy for sending us news and best of luck for the years ahead.

2016 Wylie Graduation

Erasmus Sun and Snow

Following on from Julian’s account of life at Sciences Po last Spring, another Erasmus-related post here, this time from Rebecca, currently in her final semester studying French and Spanish, and who spent Spring 2015 on Study Abroad in Perpignan:

‘During my third year at Stirling I was fortunate enough to undertake a semester abroad as part of my studies. I was sent to Perpignan, a small city in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France. With Perpignan being only two hours away from the ski resorts and a mere fifteen minute bus ride away from the beach I couldn’t wait to get to Perpignan and I was even slightly excited about trying to speak French and study at the University of Perpignan via Domitia.

2016 Wilson Perpignan Ski March

On arrival in Perpignan, I was immersed immediately into the language and to be honest I was shocked at how the majority of people there didn’t speak or understand English. To say the first few weeks of life in Perpignan were hard would be an understatement, aside from getting lost in a city which on arrival I had thought humongous but in reality was rather small, to sitting in classes surrounded by French students who neither understood me nor I them, this was the definition of a learning experience! Every day after university both me and my flatmate would return home feeling rather sorry for ourselves faced with the difficulty of being constantly surrounded by French. However, it did get easier and about six weeks in, we began to enjoy this experience of studying in France. Although the university we were at was very different to the University of Stirling, it was good in different respects. For example, we had more classes which might sound daunting but for someone wanting to learn another language, having more face time with speakers of said language is actually really useful. The campus itself obviously was nothing like our campus here in Stirling, the buildings were very run down and there was no student union. It only had one café, however in comparison to Stirling you could get coffee for 50 cents which is still something I miss about the university.

Aside from the university, Perpignan itself is a different kind of city. It’s pretty small, and there really isn’t any shopping on offer aside from a Galerie Lafayette and a small shopping centre outside the city which we would visit every week for the sole purpose of getting a McDonalds. However, what Perpignan lacks in shops it makes up for in its cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. The nightlife in Perpignan is pretty interesting, there are so many bars and the clubs are a lot better than the clubs here, especially in the lead up to the summer months when Canet Plage reopens as it is full of open air clubs and beach bars.

2016 Wilson Perpignan March

Living in Perpignan I met a good mix of people, of course like every other ERASMUS student I quickly fell into a group with all the other foreign students in Perpignan and we would all hang out together before nights out or at weekends, though we did have a few French students in the group too which helped mix things up as we would have the option to speak both French and English! During the winter months I spent my weekends in the mountains, in the ski resorts of Les Angles and Font Romeu. The proximity of Perpignan to the Pyrenees was my main reason I chose it and it only cost 1€ to get a bus from Perpignan to the ski resort! When I think back to Perpignan this is basically what I miss, yes you can ski in Scotland but it’s not skiing in the sun in the Pyrenees. Closer to the summer, my friends and I would spend our weekends at the beach or on weekends away in other cities such as Montpellier or Barcelona.

To say I miss this experience would be an understatement, I’m not saying it was all smooth sailing, it was certainly an experience and a lot happened which I was not prepared for. However, if I was given the option to go back and do it all again, I would. I miss seeing the peak of Canigou every day and having all that freedom to just travel and explore. I learnt just as much in university in France as I did on my adventures, given the amount of times we would get lost. Living in France taught me so much and it is thanks to Perpignan and ERASMUS I got to have this fantastic experience living and studying abroad.’

Thanks to Rebecca for sending this article and for the pictures!



Stirling, Vancouver, Paris…

French at Stirling has Study Abroad partnership agreements with a wide range of Universities and Business Schools across France but also in Switzerland, Quebec and Morocco. On the vast majority of our programmes, students spend a compulsory semester on Study Abroad (Semester 6) at one of these partners, attending classes covering a range of topics – French language, of course, but many of our students also choose to use the semester to try out new subject areas or to take courses related to another subject they might study at Stirling. Semester 6 Abroad is also a chance to travel, to meet new people (whether other exchange students or locals), to build networks for future career plans…

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be posting a few accounts of recent Study Abroad experiences, both from students who were away this time last year and from some currently off in foreign climes. We’re kicking off this series with Julian Osei-Bonsu who is in his final semester, studying French and Law, and who managed to combine a semester on one of the University-wide exchange programmes in Semester 5 with his Semester 6 component in at Sciences Po in Paris:

‘One of the reasons why I chose to study French at Stirling (along with my love for the language) was the fact that Stirling French students are required to study in a French speaking country for a semester in their third year. Stirling gives students a lot of opportunities when it comes to studying abroad, so I also decided to apply for an exchange in Canada for my fifth semester. I got into the program and soon enough I was in third year and living in Vancouver.

Having only just settled in Canada, I had to start applying for my compulsory Erasmus semester. Needing to fill out Erasmus documents and finding accommodation, all while trying to make most of my limited time in Canada – doing assignments, making new friends and trying to see as much of Canada as possible – seemed like a daunting prospect at first. However, the entire process was pretty straightforward, and I always received helpful feedback from my tutors in Stirling whenever I encountered difficulties.

My time in Canada ended too soon, and two weeks after leaving I landed in Paris. I found myself in my new flat that I had just managed to find two weeks earlier and that I hadn’t even been sure actually existed, and said hello to my new flatmate who had just arrived for his exchange and who seemed just as baffled as I was. Having been in a similar situation just five months earlier didn’t make anything less scary.

2016 Osei-Bonsu Left Bank

Although I felt extremely privileged to have the opportunity to study abroad twice in a row, I thought that moving to a different country after such a short period of time, starting studying at a new university and having to make new friends all over again would be a little exhausting. Also I thought my time in Canada couldn’t be topped. However, I don’t think I have ever been more wrong. I fell in love with Paris within a week of getting there. When you’re studying abroad, you’re bound to meet other exchange students who, like you, are desperate to make friends. It is incredible how many like-minded people I met, who shared my interests and my love for the city. To me, Paris is the place to have the ultimate study abroad experience. It is an incredibly beautiful city, you are constantly surrounded by places and landmarks that already seem familiar to you because you saw them in a film or read about them in a book. Soaking up the spring sun on the banks of the Canal St Martin, having to walk down the Boulevard St Germain to school every day, or frantically racing through the streets in order to see the midnight lightshow of the Eiffel Tower in time for your flatmate’s birthday is just the beginning. Studying there for a semester, I felt like I became a part of the city and its people – I now know the stops of my metro line by heart and I could show anyone the least touristy hide outs.

2016 Osei-Bonsu eiffel tower

I also loved my classes. I wasn’t required by Stirling to take any specific modules so I decided to take courses in sociology, politics and international relations, which I feel gave me a basic understanding in fields I would never have been able to venture into had I not studied there. The fact that my grades were not transferred back to Stirling was also very refreshing. I appreciated being part of the Sciences Po student body for a semester. Sciences Po is a highly esteemed school in France and it is located in the heart of Paris. During my time there, world leaders such as Kofi Annan, Al Gore and Ban Ki Moon stopped by to give talks.

I can only recommend studying abroad in Paris. I had the best time of my life there; I made incredible friends, most of whom I am still in contact with; and I feel honoured to have been able to study at one of France’s best institutions. The only regret of studying in Paris would be that now, literally nothing can top my Paris experiences.’

Thanks to Julian for this blog post and for the pictures!

2016 Osei-Bonsu Montmartre-18th arrondissement

Languages Open Doors…

Very pleased to be able to round off the week with another update from a recent graduate. Ruth Mahlstedt graduated from Stirling in 2013 with a BA Hons in French and Spanish and is now working in Canberra, enjoying slightly warmer weather than up in this hemisphere…

2016 Mahlstedt pic Mar

“Thinking back to my three years in Scotland, I have a lot of fond memories. I transferred to the University of Stirling after completing my first year of university at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Before my move, I did a lot of research in order to find the right university and course for me; amongst other places, I considered schools in England, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands and Sweden. Yet, Stirling stood out to me as the course description for the BA Hons in French and Spanish sounded incredibly exciting and exactly what I was looking for. The variety of subjects and themes covered in the different modules available was what helped me made my final decision. And the very prospect of spending a compulsory semester abroad was, of course, very tempting as well.

Having come from a similar course at a different university, I was excited by the quality of teaching and level of knowledge of both my fellow students and my lecturers and tutors. I did not know what to expect, whether the teaching style and level of difficulty would be anything like what I was used to from Australia. It was challenging because even though the Bachelor I started in Canberra was similar, the content we covered in Stirling focussed more on politics, culture, history – all subjects I thoroughly enjoy. Even after my first semester, my knowledge and understanding of French and Francophone culture grew tremendously, and I would never have thought I’d be reading a novel written by Simone de Beauvoir in its original language in second year French.

If someone asked me to name my favourite part of my degree, spending a semester abroad at the École de Traduction et Interprétation at the Université de Genève is definitely very high up there. However, I think that the course itself was overall very well organised and structured. Grammar, conversational skills and culture were all considered as important as each other, and though taught separately, skills gained and themes covered in one merged into the others and it all came together in the end.

As mentioned above, what struck me most in the course outline was the big range of subjects covered in the different modules that were on offer. Ranging from Colonialism to the Vichy Regime, to Francophone Detective Stories, to discussing very recent matters like parental leave or marriage equality in our conversation classes, I ended up with a very good understanding of what makes France, France, and felt more informed about what was happening and was important to one of the strongest economies in Europe and our next-door neighbour. If I had to pick the class I enjoyed the most, Screening the City would be the one I’d recommend to anyone taking French as the works covered in that course are all wonderfully intertwined with past and present aspects of French culture.

Now, two and a half years after graduating and living in Canberra again, I still engage with French culture and politics, continue to converse in the language whenever I can, and have visited France on several occasions. I was accepted to study a Master Program at both the University of Amsterdam and the Queen’s University in Belfast in two very different areas: Master of Comparative Literature and Master of Translation. My Bachelor degree at Stirling did not limit me to only being able to pursue one area of study or another, but opened many doors. Even though French is not a part of my daily working life at an international technology firm, I strongly believe that having a degree in French and Spanish is what made me stand out amongst all the other candidates and will give me the competitive edge needed to take my career with the company to the next level and travel internationally.”

Thanks to Ruth for this update and best wishes for the future!

Erasmus Impressions of Stirling

As well as an international group of Stirling-based students, we also have a wide range of Study Abroad partnerships which mean, firstly, that the vast majority of our students spend their Semester 6 on Study Abroad and, secondly, that we also welcome students from many of our partner institutions to Stirling, either for a semester or, in many cases, for a full academic year. These partnerships are with a wide range of institutions across France (from Aix-Marseille to Tours via Sciences-Po, Perpignan, EMS in Strasbourg, ESSEC in Cergy, Nancy, Limoges, Clermont-Ferrand and Caen), Switzerland (Geneva), Quebec (Laval) and Morocco (Rabat) and we add new partnerships to our network as often as possible.

Not all students visiting from our partner institutions necessarily end up taking classes within French at Stirling – they often take advantage of modules in areas specifically related to aspects of Scottish life, culture and history – but this semester, we happen to have a relatively large group of Erasmus students taking our final semester core language module. We thought it’d be good to get their perspective on life at Stirling so thanks to Audrey Aliphat for the following:

“My name is Audrey, I’m French and come from Limoges. I study English back home at the Université de Limoges and, thanks to my university, I’ve been able to take part in the Erasmus programme. A year ago, I chose to study abroad for a semester so I looked at all the destinations on offer. I wanted to discover a new country in the UK so I chose to go to Scotland. I went to Stirling’s website to learn more about it and I was fascinated by the environment around the university and all the courses that were available. My choice was approved and I started to plan my travel to Stirling.

2016 Aliphat campus loch Mar

When I left France it was hard because it was the first time that I was leaving for so long and so far away from home. But when I arrived in Scotland I had a (pleasant) surprise: the people were smiling, kind and welcoming. The landscape around is magnificent with those mountains around. When I arrived in Stirling it was snowing and it was really beautiful.

2016 Aliphat snowy Scotland Mar

Classes in this big university started in January and I discovered a brand new way to study. Fewer hours than back home but many resources to work with, a library and tutors and even online resources via the University website. There is a lot of work to do but teachers and tutors are always here to help, and especially for international students which is really comforting. In the university itself, we can also find everything we need, from groceries to books. A lot of associations and a big sports complex are available on campus too.

I’m staying off campus in the Union Street residence and at first I thought it could be annoying to not be on campus. But ultimately I’m five minutes from the city centre and close to shops and the train station. In my flat we are all international students and I’m lucky to have them because I learn about their countries but also as a non-native English speaker I learn new things like vocabulary or traditions.

I’ve been here since January and I haven’t done half of what the university offers. But I really think that this is a perfect place to study abroad for foreign students.”

We hope Audrey continues to enjoy her semester with us and we look forward to welcoming more students from our partner institutions over the years ahead.