Month: September 2016

Africa in Motion 2016 Programme Launch

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It’s that time of year again! Founded by our former PhD student, Lizelle Bisschoff, and now into its 11th year, the annual Africa in Motion film festival has just launched its 2016 programme. Details here and, as ever, a fantastic array of films from every genre imaginable, as well as Q&A sessions with leading figures from African cinema, workshops, exhibitions and much more! Events in Glasgow and Edinburgh from 28 October to 6 November.

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“Languages live through the people who speak them”

Kathrin Opielka graduated from our Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies – in partnership with the University of Passau – in 2015. Originally from Germany, she is now living and working in Scotland and has sent us the following post about her experiences in Stirling and beyond.

2016-opielka-photo“I have always enjoyed discovering the unknown, adapting to new, unfamiliar situations and questioning my perspective on what I have taken for granted.

I think many language and culture students will agree with me that the fascination of this subject lies in its ever-changing, dynamic nature. Languages live through the people who speak them, through literature, art, and conversations. And is there any better way to learn and experience a language than through being surrounded by it every day?

During my studies, I have focused on English, Spanish, Polish and French as foreign languages. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months in both Spain and Poland during my B.A. and was eager to live in an English-speaking country for a while. When I heard about the International Management and Intercultural Studies programme between the universities of Passau and Stirling, I knew immediately that it would be perfect for me.

Not only did the University of Stirling offer excellent academic courses such as Spanish language, translation, politics, and management; it also meant that I would be able to discover this exciting country and vividly experience the Scottish culture! My expectations of the programme were not only met, but highly exceeded. The level of care and guidance by the university staff and professors were exceptional, and I loved every single class I took during these two semesters. Also outside university, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Scottish country and hospitality of its people.

I started to understand the Scottish saying “visitors of Scotland cry twice – once when they arrive, and once when they leave”. Albeit I heroically managed the first incident of crying (the weather really wasn’t exactly in my favour when I arrived), it soon became clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to face good-bye yet. I fell in love with and in Scotland, and after I graduated in May 2015, I decided to move to Edinburgh.

I started working in bars and cafés and was grateful for the translation classes I took in Stirling as I was freelancing as a linguist for Global Voices on my days off. I thoroughly enjoyed translation work but was concerned by the volatile nature of freelancing – I had hoped that the times of all-nighters would have been history after the point of me graduating.

After a couple of months, I found a great graduate position in a small, multilingual marketing agency in Edinburgh. Even though I only stayed there for three months due to the office being re-located to Barcelona (yes, I love Scotland THAT much), it was an amazing stepping stone into the industry and enabled me to gain some experience in various sides of digital marketing. I soon realised that I wanted to specialise in content marketing as it would allow me to combine my interests in creative writing, marketing, psychology and language.

I am now working as an Inbound Marketing Campaign Executive at Storm ID, a digital transformation consultancy in Edinburgh. My job is extremely diverse and creative; I am involved in both strategic campaign planning and operational, day-to-day activities such as blogging, social media marketing, and SEO. Most importantly, I am learning something new every day. Writing in English has helped improve my language skills significantly (although I still drink the occasional “litter of water”) and I am additionally enrolled at Google Squared through my company, an amazing part-time online course focusing on digital marketing and leadership.

As language graduates, there are many opportunities to apply our skills and knowledge in the professional world. I have discovered a niche in marketing which allows me to make use of my creativity and passion for writing but there are many other industries which require intercultural communication skills.

I definitely have found my place for now, although I haven’t given up on my plan to do a PhD in the field of Indigenous Cultures in South America – a topic I discovered in a seminar held by Dr Sabine Dedenbach Salazar-Sáenz in Stirling. I am sure that the experiences I gathered both at the University of Stirling and in my current job will help me pursue this dream sometime in the future and am excited about those yet to come.”

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Many thanks to Kathrin for sending us this blog post and we hope life in Scotland continues to treat you well!

Thinking about Masters programmes?

Katja Spanz graduated with our BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society in June of this year and is about to embark on postgraduate studies at Durham University. As she gets ready to start on that course, she’s sent us the following post with advice on anyone thinking about applying for Masters programmes.

2016-spanz-photo“Starting a postgraduate degree has always been in the back of my head, but I never thought I would actually do it. Now, four years down the line, having finished my undergraduate degree from Stirling, I am about to start my postgraduate course in 2 weeks time and it still does not feel real to me. My educational story started out a bit unusually compared to that of some of my peers. After I graduated high school I took two years out, travelled to different countries and lived abroad to work and learn new languages. Only after this experience I decided to go to university and pursue a degree in business and modern languages. After researching for a while, Stirling University seemed to be the right choice for me.

Starting my fourth and final year at Stirling was different compared to the three years before. It would be the last time to sit in an introduction lecture for my business course and start speaking classes for my language modules after having studied abroad for a year. However, at the same time everything was familiar and felt like home. During my final two semesters my academic life took a clearer and more structured direction. I had to start thinking about where I want to be and what I really want to do. By discussing possible options, talking over CVs and applications as well as writing letters of recommendation for postgraduate courses, the teaching staff were of great help to me during this time, especially within the languages department.

If I can give any advice to anyone thinking of doing a postgraduate, I would say that it is essential to give yourself enough time to research the various institutions and programs thoroughly. Plan ahead when it comes to your applications, especially concerning the personal statement. Every university is looking for something specific, something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Take your time and determine what it is that you truly and really want to do. The most important thing is to be sure of what you want to do and to give yourself enough time to plan the application process. I personally started applying to universities right at the start of fourth year, but I have friends who waited until the following January. Due to my early applications, the first replies came in around mid-semester break amongst which was an offer to study Politics and International Relations at Durham University, which I accepted. After focusing on business and modern languages at Stirling I think this course is the right addition for me in order to prepare me for my future career.

Studying languages not only introduced me to new cultures and ways of life, it also encouraged me and gave me the final push in deciding to do a postgraduate degree. In my opinion studying a language introduces you to so many different, unexpected aspects of society and life in general that are of advantage for every single career path.”

Thanks to Katja for this article and best of luck for the course that lies ahead. We look forward to hearing how things go and where the Masters leads you next.

What languages do our students speak?

Following on from the earlier Happy European Day of Languages post, I was curious to find out how many different languages are spoken by French at Stirling students so, earlier this afternoon, I sent out an email asking just that question. I’ll update the list as the day goes on but, so far, as well as English and French, we have: Spanish, German, Swedish, Afrikaans, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Arabic, Danish, Croatian, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean plus other students currently learning combinations of all those languages… I look forward to expanding the list over the rest of the day! Thanks to all those who have already replied (merci, gracias, Danke, tack, dankie, kösz, mersi, grazie, tak, shukran/شكر, hvala, dzięki, благодаря, ありがとう, cảm ơn, 감사…).

[Just a quick follow-up to the multilingual picture that emerged through the responses from students to add this link to an article about the top languages for the highest-paid jobs in the UK. Thanks to Aedín for passing it on!]

Happy European Day of Languages!

Lots of things happening already in this new semester: meetings with local Modern Languages teachers, buddying schemes being set up, French Film Festival screenings coming to the MacRobert, more tales of the experiences of our current students and recent graduates… More on all of this and much more to come over the next day or two but, in the meantime, a very Happy European Day of Languages to you all!

New book by David Murphy

Congratulations to French at Stirling’s David Murphy on the publication of his new book, The First World Festival of Negro Arts Dakar 1966 which came out  last week! The book is the first sustained attempt to provide not only an overview of the festival itself but also of its multiple legacies, which will help us better to understand the ‘festivalization’ of Africa that has occurred in recent decades with most African countries now hosting a number of festivals as part of a national tourism and cultural development strategy.

David is also involved in a number of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the festival over the coming months, including talks at this year’s Africa in Motion festival, documentary film screenings in Liverpool at the International Slavery Museum and a speech at a conference in Dakar in November. More to follow on all of these in due course.

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