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!