Very pleased to be able to announce details of two new articles by French at Stirling’s Bill Marshall. ‘Linguistic Zones of the French Atlantic’ has been published in Sherry Simon’s edited collection Speaking Memory: How Translation Shapes City Life and, continuing Bill’s long-standing interest in the French Atlantic, ‘New Orleans and the French Atlantic’ is now available in Ottmar Ette and Gesine Mueller’s New Orleans and the Global South.
Month: January 2017
Following on from Meghann’s post yesterday, another account of life after French at Stirling. Iida Friman graduated with a BA Hons in French and Human Resource Management last year and is currently halfway through a Masters programme in the Netherlands:
“After graduating from Stirling last June, I wanted to continue my studies somewhere in central Europe. I chose to apply and got accepted to do my masters in Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands and the birthplace of the European Union. I fell in love with the lively city of Maastricht the minute I got here.
With an urban population of over 120 000, Maastricht is a “small big city”. It is full of art and wherever you go, it’s beautiful. There’s old, there’s new, there’s water, parks and nature. You’ll find animals and historic sights, brand new business quarters and older, crowded shopping streets. There are shops from Hermes to Hema and restaurants from French to Indonesian cuisine, and every second corner there’s a bar or a pub with a terrace on the cobble stoned street. Not to forget the markets, the caves, and the borders, the numerous cultural exhibitions and the academic events.
Maastricht is a truly multicultural hub, of which a good example is my class; there are 22 students from 10 different countries. One third of them are Belgians, and since Maastricht borders Belgium, I hear and speak French every day -not just with my classmates but also in town and at work. Especially on weekends and on public holidays, the city is filled with Belgians who cross the border and come to Maastricht for its vast repertory of shops and restaurants. It often feels like I’m in Belgium or France instead of the Netherlands, because I hear more French than Dutch in the streets, boutiques and cafés. And that is why I managed to get a part time job as a waitress without any knowledge in Dutch! Thanks to my proficiency in French, supplemented with my German skills, I was hired to an Italian restaurant and after learning the basics of Dutch, I found myself serving customers in four different languages! Using French at work has strengthened my confidence in regard to my language skills and made me realise that I can use it in surprisingly peculiar conversations that most of the time come out of the blue. This has not only reduced my timidity but also helped me get rid of the overly modest viewpoint I’ve had over my language competency. I have even started to consider new career paths that require and would involve daily French at work (yikes)!
In addition to the apparent benefits from the language I learned during my bachelor, studying at Stirling has influenced my postgraduate life in other, less obvious ways as well. First, having already spent two semesters on exchange in different countries, I wasn’t scared or even nervous to move into yet another new country. On the contrary, I was excited to pick and move into a new country, looking forward to all the adventures a new city would bring with it. Second, the international vibes of Stirling were something I wanted to have in my new study place as well. I guess after having lived in several countries myself, multiculturalism is something that brings together all of the different experiences I have lived and is ultimately what makes me feel at home.”
Many thanks to Iida for this great post – best wishes for the rest of the Masters and we look forward to future tales of life in Maastricht and beyond in the months and years ahead!
As our 3rd week of the new semester gets underway, it’s time to post another profile of one of our recent graduates, Meghann Richardson, who has some great advice here for current (and future!) languages students:
“I was at the University of Stirling from 2009-2014 where I studied Psychology and French. Out of all the Universities in Scotland, it was Stirling’s beautiful, wild campus and great on-site facilities that made me choose it.
My time at Uni was great. One of the biggest highlights was definitely the fact that working abroad for 7 months was a course component for French. I so enjoyed being abroad teaching English and would recommend it to anyone who is able to take a year out during their degree to go and do it. I particularly liked that it was between my 2nd and 3rd years of Uni as when I returned to start my 3rd year, I felt like my batteries had totally been recharged. I was really motivated to start studying hard again, plus, my French language skills had improved a lot making the transition into 3rd year much easier.
To anyone who is studying French and feeling a bit discouraged by the challenges of speaking and understanding the language, it will get easier! When I arrived in France for the start of my year abroad I felt like I could hardly string together a decent sentence, but after a while of just listening to people speak French and myself, trying to ask questions and contribute to conversations, the rhythm of the language, words and expressions just began to sink in without me even noticing. Sometimes words or phrases that I didn’t even know the meaning of would just be stuck in my head – proof that the language was starting to stick to me.
To help immerse yourself in the language and have the sensation of unknown words buzzing around your head while studying in Stirling, I would recommend any of the following:
- Read a book that you enjoyed in English in French. For myself, it was any of the Harry Potter books. The more familiar you are with the sounds and appearances of words in French, the easier it will be for you to learn and acquire the language.
- Listen to the radio. You can download French radio Apps to your smart phone or computer. Good stations are FM radio, NRJ, France Inter, or rfi. FM radio is fun to listen to because it is dedicated to playing French music only.
- And, finally, practise your vocabulary. To help you do this in a more hands-on interactive kind of way, you could record yourself reciting vocabulary in French and English onto your computer or smart-phone, save the recordings as sound files, and upload them to any device you use to listen to music. Listen to them whenever you have a spare moment. This has always been one of the most helpful ways for me to learn and memorise vocabulary.
It is important to be patient with yourself and with the speed at which your life is progressing. It may take you a while to sort out what you want to be doing and where you want to be. Sometimes the only way to figure out what you do want is by trial and error, and more often than not, by figuring out what you don’t want. Keep trying different and new things and try not to become complacent. All the people you meet and experiences you have along the way will teach you more about yourself and eventually lead you to where you want to be and, ultimately, to the career you want to be doing. And if you find you want to change your direction again after that, go for it! That’s my philosophy anyway.
Before I close, I would like to leave you with a few revelations I have had since graduating:
- This month it’s 2.5 years since I graduated. In these 2.5 years I have worked in a nightclub, a call centre, and as a healthcare assistant in a hospital, which is where I am now. At this point in time, I am trying to pursue the Psychology part of my degree and hope to be hired as an Assistant Psychologist within the next year. I would, however, like to highlight that it has taken me nearly 2 years after completing Uni to finally make a solid decision about the direction I would like to go in. For a long time I was just unsure about what I wanted to do and at the back of my mind kept thinking if I don’t figure out what I want to do soon I’ll just go to France and find a job on a campsite or something – And it remains at the back of my mind even now! So, I’m pretty sure I will end up back in France at some point, I just want to get some endeavours in Psychology out of the way first.
- Also, be selfish about your learning. Don’t be scared to ask your tutors for help, advice or feedback. Get as much information out of them as you can.
- French aside, in more general terms, while you are at Uni make sure you get to know some of your tutors well. This will stand you in good stead should you ever need any kind of advice, academic reference, or help finding work experience during or after your degree. The most challenging part of the degree journey can be the moment you complete it. At this point contacts will come in handy!
Thanks for reading and I hope you have found some of the above information useful and encouraging. I wish you all the very best of luck, fun, adventure, success and happiness throughout your degree.”
And thanks to Meghann for having taken the time to reflect on having studied with us and for such great advice for other students. And best of luck for the future – we hope France and French makes its way back into your plans at some point.
We’re at the end of our first week of teaching of the new semester here and, as those entering their final semester as undergrads start to think much more about what lies ahead, this seems a good point to post another account of life after Stirling from one of our recent graduates. Stewart graduated in French and Spanish in 2015 and has plans for a career in translation with key world institutions:
‘It has been just over eighteen months since I graduated from the University of Stirling with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in French and Spanish. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago, yet sometimes, I wonder where the time has gone.
I have a lot of fond memories of my time at Stirling. I come from the Isle of Bute in the West of Scotland which has a population of just under 7,000 people. At the time, I was not accustomed to life in the city and living and working in such a multicultural environment, so in that respect, Stirling felt like a good fit for me. It was neither too large nor too small. It must have one of the most spectacular campuses in the world. It sounds silly, but having grown up surrounded by water on Bute, I took comfort in the fact that I could walk to my classes and look down upon the Airthrey loch or see the Ochil hills in the distance. It was a home away from home.
I would never be so presumptuous to think that I have mastered the art of speaking French and Spanish, but it is undeniable that I feel a lot more confident in my ability to express myself for having sat through (most of the) classes and been encouraged to develop my communication skills by an EXTREMELY patient staff. Even now I miss the awkward silences that filled the air at the start of Bernadette’s Langage Parlé hour when everyone was either too nervous to start the conversation or looking at each other with bated breath hoping that they wouldn’t be asked first. It’s the little things.
My undergraduate degree also afforded me the opportunity to spend a semester abroad at the Université de Genève in Switzerland where I studied French in the Faculté de traduction et d’interprétation. After overcoming the initial homesickness and litany of basic linguistic errors, I settled down and began to appreciate just how good I actually had it. Aside from studying in a top-class institution, I also managed to fit in a fair bit of sight-seeing and even got to see Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka limbering up for a Davis Cup tie. I would often go down and sit by Lac Leman with a “poulet curry” baguette in hand looking over at the Jet d’Eau. Ah, those were the days!
So, what have I been doing since? After graduating, I applied to do a Master’s degree in Translating at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I enjoyed my undergraduate degree at Stirling, but felt I should attempt to specialise in a specific discipline and given the fact I somehow bagged an award for French translation in my Honours year, I thought that area might as well be Translating.
The course at Heriot-Watt was very much geared towards preparing students for life in the workplace with modules in a range of areas such as Interpreting (the less said about my performance in that subject, the better), Translation Technologies and Business Communication. The campus was strikingly similar to Stirling and also featured a loch running through it. The easy access to large expanses of water is not a pre-condition of whether or not I decide to attend a particular university by the way. Trust me!
It has been a strange feeling since leaving Heriot-Watt. It is the first time since I was a toddler where I have had no school or university looming on the horizon to keep me busy, although I am not complaining about having some much needed time off. I have two interesting options to pursue in the near future. I have applied for a Translation Traineeship at the Directorate-General for Translation at the EU in Brussels. While the Brexit vote may limit job opportunities in the future, the UK has not left yet and as long as you are from a member state, you can still apply for such initiatives. You also get a bursary for each month which is pretty handy. I have been fortunate enough to be pre-selected for the block starting in March and ending in July. I think it would be an interesting and unique experience to be able to work in such a large institution albeit for a brief period. I am also in the process of applying to sit the English translator’s exam for the United Nations. In order to be eligible to apply for jobs within the UN, you must have sat the Language Competitive Examination (LCE) and know at least two of the UN’s official languages which are Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French, Spanish and English. While it will undoubtedly be an arduous process, I feel much more confident in my abilities for having studied at Stirling and learned from some of the best in the business. It would also be nice to secure a return to Geneva in a professional capacity as there happens to be a UN office based there. Applications are open until February 8th and I would encourage anyone interested to have a look at the UN careers website, although not at the expense of your studies. I know for a fact you will have plenty to be getting on with.’
Many thanks to Stewart for this article and for the good advice for students interested in translation as a career, and best of luck with the traineeship. We look forward to hearing about your progress over the months and years ahead!
Taking advantage of the calm before the (relative) storm of the start of teaching next week, we’re delighted to have the chance to post another profile of a current French at Stirling student. Alex Janes is entering the 4th semester of his BA Hons in French and Maths and has sent us this account of his time at Stirling so far:
“When I was sixth form and in the process of researching courses and universities, I was certain that I wanted study Maths further. But the certainty of my decision soon faded as I progressed through college, my interest in French grew ever stronger, leaving me undecided. It wasn’t until I started researching courses that I discovered some universities offered the two subjects together as a Joint Honours. That was when I knew that I wanted to do a French and Maths degree.
So the search began for the right university for me. From Swansea to Nottingham Trent and Heriot-Watt to Hertfordshire, I visited a total of 8 universities across the UK. As a result of national declines in maths and languages students in further education, I could see why the universities were eagerly persuading me to become one of their students. Each university had a different approach to both subjects, throughout the whole of the degree. Therefore, the decision came down to the aspects of the programme, but most importantly for me, “where could I see myself living and not just studying?”. In the end, nothing could compete against Stirling. The flexibility on the degree programme, the spectacular surroundings, getting as far away from home as possible (only kidding!), it just seemed ideal for me.
Now that I have been at Stirling for 18 months, writing this post has given me great time to reflect on my experience so far. I don’t think I’ve ever learnt so much content for two subjects in this period of time. From contemporary culture to the French revolution, this was my first in depth experience of learning about French culture and history. It has most definitely stimulated my interest further in the subject. The programme is cleverly set out to provide you with as much information as possible, whilst at the same time developing linguistic skills essential for the language. With regards to Maths, it has really changed the way I think about everything mathematical in our lives. Theories, algorithms, formulae, just to name a fewlt, all appear in our lives at some point. I always treat Maths as the same as learning a language; you start with the basics, and then gradually as you learn more and more content, you expand your wealth of knowledge. It has very much been a positive experience not just from a studying sense, but in a social sense. I have made some incredible friends, who originate from across the world. I have also been lucky to explore some wonderful locations in Scotland, on my first time to the country besides university open days, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and nearby Callander.
Another great thing about this degree programme is the opportunity to go on a semester abroad to study in a partner institution of the university. I will be starting this experience this time next year, and will inevitably be writing another blog post just to share my time wherever I decide to go! I can safely say that I have no clue as to what occupation I wish to go into after university. But the beauty of this degree is that there are so many options available; translation, accounting, banking, international business, teaching, etc. This degree has definitely opened up a window of choice for my future. So thanks to my degree programme at the University of Stirling, I will have taken a huge step in the right direction towards a prosperous future!”
Many thanks to Alex for taking the time to send us this – and for the promise of more blog posts next year… – and best wishes for the semester ahead.
First and foremost, “Happy New Year! Bonne Année!” to you all! 2017 marks Stirling’s 50th anniversary so we’re looking forward to a great year of events and celebrations, and to more profiles of students who have studied French with us for the past half-century. We’re also going to continue our series of profiles of current French at Stirling students and that seems an ideal place to pick up this blog after the festive season so, without further ado, a great new article by one of our current Year 2 students, Stefano Intropido:
“Bonjour! My name is Stefano and I am a Second year undergraduate (BA) in International Politics and Modern Languages (French) here at the University of Stirling. I come from Milan, a huge city in the North of Italy, so this is also my second year living abroad in such a wonderful country as Scotland. I have been asked several times why I decided to move so far from home and to study French right here and not elsewhere, and it is not always the easiest thing to explain, I guess. When I was also asked by the French Department to write a post for this blog, I was really pleased and I thought it would be nice and useful, especially for new students, to say a bit more about what brought me here and why I enjoy studying French at Stirling so much.
First and foremost, I have always been really keen on the English language and Anglophone culture, since I was in primary school when I first started learning it. Therefore, since I was a child I had been telling myself that one day I would study in the UK and especially in Scotland, too beautiful a country not to live in one day. I was also generally interested in languages as in Italy I started studying French too when I was 11 in Middle School; after that, I decided to go on with both languages and I thus attended a bilingual course at a scientific High School in Milan for 5 years. That was a hard time as the school was extremely demanding, but definitely rewarding. For French alone, we had classes to learn grammar, oral skills and the history and literature of France from the origins until modern times.
When it came to decide which University to apply to, I really had no idea where to go. I was – and still am – deeply interested in international and diplomatic studies, but at the same time I did not want to lose my linguistic abilities. In fact, I wanted to put them into practice in a way I had not tried before. Therefore, I spoke to my English High School teacher and she recommended I should have a look at Stirling since she thought that it could be the right place for me. And she couldn’t have been more right! I looked carefully at the courses offered by the University of Stirling and I was extremely glad to find the possibility to combine so many of my passions: going abroad to live in Scotland, international studies and languages all together! The University really does offer a great level of flexibility in its courses and a highly valuable combinations of subjects; I therefore decided to apply for a BA in International Politics and Modern Languages, with French, and I am really enjoying it so far!!!
Mais on parlait du français… When I came to the Applicant Day and had the opportunity to talk to members of the staff in the French Department, I immediately had the feeling of a great environment where I could really enhance my abilities as a student and, most importantly, as a person. Both lecturers and tutors are all truly keen on helping when students reach them out to seek support and guidance. At the beginning I was a bit worried I might “re-study” what I had already learnt in High School about France, but I was soon pleased and surprised to see that all the materials and topics covered in the culture stream are totally new and highly related to the wider spectrum of French culture rather than just to France’s literature in itself; this makes every single class a new discovery and a challenge. To conclude, my time here at Stirling has really strengthened my abilities in French and I do look forward to what is coming next! I would undoubtedly recommend studying French at the University of Stirling: best choice ever!”
Many thanks to Stefano for starting the New Year with this post and we hope you enjoy the semester ahead!