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.
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.
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!