Month: May 2017

French at Stirling student’s China trip

As you may recall, this year has seen the first cohort of students from our partners at Hebei Normal University in China here in Stirling for the final year of our new double degree programme in Translation and Interpreting. To help the incoming students adapt to life in Stirling and in Scotland, we set up an informal buddying scheme involving students from across the campus. As the year progressed, the Stirling buddies were invited to apply for the opportunity to travel to China to meet with the next cohort of HNU students and, following a very competitive selection process, French at Stirling student Elliot Knight was selected. He travelled to China at the end of March and, now that teaching and exams are over, we’ve finally had a chance to catch up with him to get tales from his trip:

2017 HNU Elliot Photo May“If I have learned anything from my trip to China as a student ambassador, it’s that walking around a Chinese university campus clad in a kilt attracts a fair amount of attention. Students and lecturers alike would come up to me and ask me where I was from and what I was doing there, and I told them that I was there as a student ambassador from the University of Stirling. It made me proud to represent my university, and indeed Scotland in China.

From the moment that the plane landed in Beijing, everything about my environment felt different to anything that I had experienced before. The constant noise of car horns, the smog, the architecture, the food, the colours, the language and most of all the sheer number of people. From Beijing, I took a high-speed train to Shijiazhuang, where Hebei Normal University is located.

Whilst I was there, I was tasked with making a presentation to future generations of Hebei Normal University students that will be spending the final year of their degree at the University of Stirling. I told them, of course, about the buddying programme for HNU students in Stirling, and how a buddy can help to enhance their experience whilst they are at Stirling. I explained that a buddy can help them with some basic aspects of adjusting to living here, from restaurant etiquette to the benefits of creating a Facebook profile. However, the focus of my presentation was how the buddying system could help them to better experience all that Stirling and Scotland have to offer. That, whilst their academic studies at Stirling would be important, that experiencing the culture and seeing a different part of the world were also of great value. Furthermore, I emphasised to them that, not only are there many fantastic cultural opportunities for them in Stirling and in Scotland, there are many aspects of Chinese culture that they are able to contribute to university life as well.

In addition to presentations, I was also given the opportunity to meet and have a formal dinner with senior members of the languages faculty at Hebei Normal University, where I was able to explain to them how the buddy programme has been working for the students currently studying in Stirling. In addition to this, I was able to spend some time with HNU students in an informal capacity, going out for dinner with them, and then going to a games arcade; quite an unusual experience as they are rarely seen in Scotland now.

Throughout my trip, I was struck by the level of friendliness and courtesy that was shown to me by my Chinese hosts. I was truly made to feel welcome. What struck me most of all, however, was the openness of the students with whom I spoke. They asked many questions about life in Scotland and in Europe, and were delighted to answer any questions that I had about their lives in China.

It is through seeing the differences in culture and environment between Scotland and China that I can truly appreciate the challenges faced by Chinese students coming to study in Scotland for the first time; it is truly a daunting prospect. The buddying scheme has been great for widening my own perspective. It has allowed me to see the environment around me from the perspective of someone to whom everything that I find familiar is unfamiliar, and in turn I have been able to have the same experience and see things from their perspective. What my role as student ambassador has demonstrated to me is the value of forging international links between universities: being able to interact with people with different perspectives and from different backgrounds truly enriches one’s experience as a student. So, in the same way that interacting with Chinese students at Stirling and visiting their home university has broadened my perspective, I hope that I have been able to encourage Chinese students at Hebei Normal University to broaden theirs.”

Thanks, first and foremost, to Elliot for sending this blog post but also to our Faculty of Arts and Humanities for supporting his visit to HNU, and to our partners at HNU for extending their welcome to him for what sounds like it was a great visit. And we’re looking forward to welcoming next year’s HNU students in the Autumn and to seeing the buddying scheme running again from September.

French at Stirling Event for Secondary Pupils and Teachers

There’ll be much more to follow about this very soon but we’re excited to be organising two day-long events for Secondary 5 and 6 Higher and Advanced Higher school pupils on campus at Stirling on 13 and 14 June, with financial support from our Division of Literature and Languages and from the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France.

The whole French at Stirling team will be involved, along with current postgraduate students, students who are about to graduate in June, and recent graduates who studied French with us. We’re going to be welcoming over 230 pupils and 20 teachers from 16 schools over the two days, and we’ll be giving them a taster of what it’s like to study languages at University and at Stirling. They’ll get the chance to listen to a lecture, as well as attending specially organised classes covering written and spoken language and culture, before meeting with students and graduates who will talk to them about their experiences studying languages and the employability opportunities this has opened up for them. And alongside the activities for pupils, we’ll also be running CPD sessions for the teachers to develop their expertise in key areas of teaching practice.

Much more to follow on this over the weeks ahead.

British Academy-funded workshop coming up at Stirling

French at Stirling’s Bill Marshall is organizing a day-long British Academy-funded workshop on the ‘Uses of Prehistory’ at Stirling on Saturday 3 June. This bilingual workshop will examine the ways in which prehistory, notably the Upper Palaeolithic period including its cave art, has entered debates in modern and contemporary France concerning aesthetics, fiction, politics and philosophy. The event is free, including a sandwich lunch, but registration is essential by Tuesday 30 May. Please contact Bill Marshall: w.j.marshall@stir.ac.uk if you wish to attend. The programme for the day is as follows:

 

10.30 TEA & COFFEE

10.45 Welcome remarks; Bill Marshall (University of Stirling): ‘Prehistory and Transnational French Studies’

11.30 Marc Azéma (Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail) : ‘La Préhistoire du cinéma’

12.15 Jo Malt (King’s College London): ‘La Main négative, limit-case and primal scene of art’

13.00 LUNCH

14.00 Douglas Smith (University College Dublin): ‘The Great Prehistoric Art Scandal: André Breton and Raymond Queneau on Cave Painting’

14.45 Mary Orr (University of St Andrews): ‘Questions of Adaptation: Rethinking Intermedial Uses of Prehistory in Nineteenth-Century France’

15.30 TEA & COFFEE

16.00 Michèle Richman (University of Pennsylvania): ‘Georges Bataille’s Prehistoric Modernism: A Universal History for the 21st century’

16.45 Conversation with Margaret Elphinstone, whose novel The Gathering Night (2009) is set in mesolithic Scotland.

17.30 Workshop ends

Looking forward to an account of the workshop in due course!

2017 Bill Touma First Biped May
Touma, the first biped; Musée national de la Préhistoire, Les Eyzies de Tayac

French at Stirling Stevenson Successes

2017 Stevenson winners in Strasbourg Stefano Nicolas AnnikaFélicitations to Annika, Nicolas and Stefano – three French at Stirling students who have just finished their 2nd year and who have each been awarded a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship to help them undertake a project of research during their Semester Abroad next Spring. This is a great achievement for all three and we’ll post updates on their progress while they’re away on Study Abroad but we wanted to share their success.

The Stevenson Exchange Scholarships are awarded competitively each year with applicants from across all the Scottish Universities who have to submit an application including a research project outline and then attend an interview at Glasgow University. The range of topics Annika, Nicolas and Stefano will be exploring thanks to their scholarships gives a really good sense of the variety of research interests across undergraduate Languages students.

Annika is interested in the development of French social structures with particular focus on the relationship with the EU and the scholarship will help her, among other things, travel to Marseille to visit the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée and to Roubaix to spend time researching in the Archives nationales du monde du travail.

Nicolas’s project aims to build on time he has already spent working in the fashion industry near Milan in order to further pursue his interest in fashion and the development of the fashion industry in France. As well as attending events around Paris Fashion Week, he intends to visit the Musée de la Mode in Albi and the Musée de Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon.

As for Stefano, he wants to use the scholarship to enhance his knowledge of Human Rights, with a particular focus on those of refugees in France. The key components of his research project include planned trips to Mechel (Belgium) and to Geneva (Switzerland), to visit, respectively, the Kazerne Dossin–Mémorial, Musée et Centre de Documentation sur l’Holocauste et les Droits de l’Homme and the Musée International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge.

This year’s trio will be following previous Stirling Stevenson successes, including Jeanne who is currently in Granada for her Semester Abroad, having been awarded a Scholarship through Spanish at Stirling. Having already undertaken a good deal of research into the question of the teaching of ‘untold’ histories through discussions with teachers at school and University-level about their experiences teaching on aspects of Franco’s Spain, Jeanne is now planning to focus to expand her research to include visits to historical monuments. “I will visit the Centro Federico García Lorca, where there is a library, to see if the War and the dictatorship are depicted and if so, how. I will also visit the rest of the Provincial Prison of Granada, almost fully destroyed, and the Campana prison for political opponents during Francoism, and the Cartel de las Palmas (where torture used to be carried out). She’s also planning a trip to Madrid, to see Guernica, and to Toledo, to visit the Museum of War.

Félicitations once again, to both the new Stevenson Scholars and those currently completing their projects from this past year!

“Languages Open Doors”: From Stirling to a Traineeship in Brussels

A little flurry of blog posts will appear over the next couple of days as various plans and projects involving staff and students in French at Stirling take shape and I’m very pleased to be able to start the ball rolling with another blog post by one of our graduates from last year. Henry Caffarena finished his BA Hons in French and Spanish this time last year and has very kindly taken the time to send us this update on where life and languages have taken him since then:

2017 Henry Caffarena photo“I have nothing but good things to say about my time studying French at Stirling. I would say that the course is both diverse and challenging as it offers an ample approach to the language itself and its cultural spread across the globe. Furthermore, I also found the course very welcoming to students with different levels. Overall, it helped me improve my French and has definitely contributed to my success in landing a traineeship at the European Commission in Brussels, Europe’s political capital where speaking French is essential.

So far, these past 2 months at Commission have been a time of learning and networking. I am working in a multicultural and multilingual environment and everyday is different and challenging. Unfortunately, I can’t go into much detail about what I do because of confidentiality clauses and boring blabla, but all in all, I am happy. Speaking languages is a massive +1 when you are applying for jobs. Recruiters know they can train people to do the job in a few weeks/months, but teaching you a language that is vital to their business? That’s a different story.

At present, I am halfway through my Traineeship and have recently been interviewing with Gartner, the information technology research and advisory company. I know what you must be thinking – take a chill pill. To be honest, it was my intention to take a little break from work after my traineeship but they were looking for graduates who spoke French and I couldn’t resist. Hopefully I will get a call with good news soon. I guess what I’m trying to say is that languages open doors and there are doors all over the world! French is a very important language spoken in many different places and there are plenty of organisations in the private and public sector in need of your skills.”

Best of luck to Henry for the Gartner interview – keep us posted! – and thanks again for taking the time to send this post.

 

One Year On!

Last week, as I was in the process of (gently…) reminding this year’s French finalists to think about sending various bits and pieces for this blog, I was really pleased to get an email from Julian Osei-Bonsu who graduated in French and Law last year and who was emailing with an update on how things are going one year on which he has (very kindly!) turned into this blog piece:

“About a week ago, it suddenly came to me that it’s exactly a year since I completed all of my university tests and assignments. With the relief I felt, there was of course the sadness of having to part with places and people I’d grown to cherish over the course of my four years at university. And then there was of course the uncertainty that I felt about the future, I wasn’t entirely sure what would come next.

Shortly after graduation, and after having sent off several job applications, I happened upon an announcement while staying with my family in Germany. It was a casting call for flight attendants for a German airline. I went to the casting on impulse, underwent the interview and the exam with the airline psychologist and after a few uncertain hours received news that I had been given a training place.

My flight attendant training began in October and turned out to be the eight most intense weeks I’d ever experienced. We learned everything we needed to know for our jobs in the skies, starting with the particularities of each aircraft type, emergency procedures like evacuating a plane on land and water, first aid, how to handle unruly passengers and, of course, how to make the trip as comfortable as possible for our guests with the incorporation of excellent service. This was a highly stressful time but also an incredibly fun one mostly because I was in a class of eighteen hopeful flight attendants. We all endured the fears of not being able to memorise the exact words of the evacuation commands upon ditching on water. or forgetting which wines to recommend for each the various courses on a business class menu. And we celebrated together upon successful completion of each stage of training.

2017 Julian Osei-Bonsu cockpit view of oslo
Oslo Cockpit View

I became an official flight attendant in January this year and I do think it’s the perfect job for me right now. I get to see an incredible number of places within a short period of time and I’ve have met so many interesting people! I have also been lucky enough to meet with friends from Stirling who are scattered across the world and whom I wouldn’t have had the chance to see so soon after graduation. I have also had the opportunity of using the French I learned at Stirling, having flown to France a few times and having French-speaking passengers on most flights.

 

It’s interesting and exciting to see how much can happen in a year. Last year around this time, I had no idea what I’d be doing now, and I can say the same for a lot of friends who I graduated with.”

Many thanks to Julian for sending us this blog post and we look forward to following your travels and career over the years to come.