Author: cristinajohnston

French at Stirling: What happened next…

And following on from Evelyn’s post about Semester Abroad in Aix, another great article by Claudia who graduated in 2012 with a BA Hons in French (the same programme as Evelyn is doing, coincidentally…):

‘I think it must be a couple of years since I was last asked to contribute and let you all know about what happens when you graduate!

I have now taken a bit of a side step from French and I am a trainee legal executive at a law firm in sunny Dorset. My days are now filled with compliance, mortgages and completions instead of language, translation and reading but the skill set I learned at Stirling is transferred daily. For example, learning to translate French literature means I can now read leases and find the key passages with ease. Whilst I did not naturally find presentations and talking in front of the class easy, I can now confidently give advice to clients and speak up in meetings and at networking events.

With the rise of social media, Facebook kindly reminded me recently that it has been 10 years since I started my degree (September 2008) and 8 years since my student placement at Limoges University (January to May 2011). Whilst it may be a while since I graduated, it sure has gone by quickly and the University prepares you well for the world of work. I can’t believe I used to whinge at a 9am start- now that feels like a lie in!

Whilst I may not use French on a day-to-day basis the skills you learn are invaluable and you won’t even realise you are doing it. Legal work is challenging and long-distance learning is tough but the studying I did at Stirling has made me focused in my future career and when I feel I can’t do something I remind myself of all those nights that I wanted to give up and go home. I’m so glad I didn’t and there is no doubt in my mind that Cristina and Aedin kept me at university.

I’m hoping to go back to France soon and explore more of the beautiful cities that France has to offer; the world is bigger than the Pathfoot building, though it may feel as thought that is your world for 4 years. Hopefully the next time I get to write a post I might be a little closer to qualification. Keep an open mind- you never know where French will take you!’

Many, many thanks to Claudia for sending us this fantastic update and we look forward to following your progress in your legal career over the years ahead! And particular thanks from Cristina and Aedin – we’re delighted you stayed!!

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Semester Abroad: ‘Aix has begun to feel like home!’

The last day of our mid-semester break and it’s time to post a few updates, starting with this great post from Evelyn who is in the 3rd year of a BA Hons in French with us and is currently enjoying her integral Semester Abroad:

2019 McLennan Aix Pic II Feb19‘It’s now been a month and a half since I set off for Aix-en-Provence for my semester abroad at Aix-Marseille Université. The time has flown by and Aix has begun to feel like home which I didn’t think would happen in such a short space of time!

Whilst I had applied for and been granted a room in student accommodation, I wasn’t able to move in until the Tuesday of the first week. This meant that I had to stay in a hotel for the first few nights which, whilst annoying, did mean that I spent a bit of time in the centre of town and so got to know my way around quite quickly. When I was finally able to move into the halls, I was pleased to see how close they are to the university campus and it reminded me happily of my first year at Stirling when I could roll out of bed and make it to class in half an hour! Although basic, the halls are actually really nice, as long as you like aeroplane bathrooms and not socialising with your neighbours. There are thirty rooms to one kitchen, Geddes almost sounds like a dream in comparison, and people seem to enter, cook and leave with nothing more than a simple “bonne soirée”.

2019 McLennan Aix Pic IV Feb19The main university building is almost as much of a maze as Stirling’s Cottrell Building, but thankfully there are maps at the end of each colour-coded corridor to help you find your way. My first class was French to English translation where I quickly learnt that translating into your native language isn’t as easy as you might think! I had a few false starts with my timetable, ending up in one class where I hadn’t completed the first semester of the course and another that I was informed I didn’t have the right to be in; I was promptly asked to leave! It’s all worked out in the end though and I have a timetable of classes that are interesting and definitely developing my French!

I am very lucky to be travelling with my Stirling friend Charlotte who has family nearby in Marseille. Her family has been so kind in helping me to get settled and discover the area. This experience has brought us so much closer as friends as well as introducing us to other great people! We have a small but fun group of friends comprising other Erasmus students with whom we have explored a lot to discover the town and its culture.

2019 McLennan Aix Pic III Feb19There is a fair bit to do in Aix with a choice of three cinemas, lots of shops, several museums as well as multiple restaurants and bars. There are weekly parties organised by the Erasmus Student Network which give us the excuse to discover new bars and meet new people; although I have to say Aix’s IPN Club makes Fubar back in Stirling look pretty impressive! The ESN also organise cultural tours and events around Aix and Marseille which help to discover the local culture.

All in all, I am loving my time here in Aix-en-Provence and I can already tell that leaving in May will be very difficult!’

Many, many thanks to Evelyn for this great post and we hope you continue to enjoy all that Aix has to offer over the months ahead!

SGSAH Doctoral Internship for Fraser McQueen: ‘I can’t wait to get started!’

2019 McQueen SGSAH Internship PhotoCongratulations from all of French at Stirling to our PhD student Fraser McQueen who has just found out that his application for a SGSAH Internship has been successful:

‘Doctoral internships are organised through the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities, who work with partner host organisations to give PhD students the chance to enhance their CVs by using their skills outside of academia for a fixed period of time. The programme is open to Arts and Humanities PhD students at any Scottish university.

After going through the application process, I’ve been fortunate enough to be chosen by the Scottish Parliament to work on an internship relating to this year’s Festival of Politics. The Festival, which will take place in October and of which this will be the fifteenth annual instalment, aims to stimulate and engage with public interest in politics, interpreted broadly; in recent years, it has included panel events, art exhibitions, film screenings, live music, and interventions from prominent keynote speakers including politicians, journalists, academics, and political commentators. My role will include researching panel topics and speakers, liaising with panellists and external partners, and general planning and administration of the event. Additionally, I’ll be carrying out research for various events associated with the Scottish Parliament’s twentieth anniversary celebrations. 

I’m really pleased to have been given this opportunity. Not only will the experience of working on a large-scale public engagement event be beneficial to my future career prospects, but I honestly believe that projects like this are hugely important in ensuring that people feel involved and included in national politics. As such, I’m keen to get involved and to help ensure that the Festival is as big a success as possible. I’ll be working part-time on the project, for three or four days a week over a period of several months, which will also mean that I won’t have to entirely put my research to one side during that time. This is a really exciting opportunity for me, and I can’t wait to get started!’

Thanks, of course, to Fraser for sending the post and all the best for the internship – we look forward to updates over the months ahead. And we should also add that Fraser will be giving a paper on ‘The ‘Ex-Musulman’ and the ‘Musulman Laic’ in Contemporary French Literature and Film at the IMLR’s conference on ‘Disaffiliation, Disidentification, Disavowal’ in April.

‘The difference we can make to the world through translation’

Time for another catch-up with one of our recent graduates… Alex graduated with a BA Hons in French in 2017 and the past 18 months or so have seen him return to campus in a role that he hadn’t entirely anticipated at the time:

‘It’s been a little over a year since I wrote my first post for the Stirling Uni French blog and slowly but surely I’m adjusting to life outside of university; the initial fear of beginning the “rest of my life” has gone, and working Monday to Friday is becoming the norm – it’s really not that bad!

At the time of writing my last post I was about to embark on a Graduate Scheme with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Since then, I have finished my time there and moved on to a new role as an Account Manager at Global Voices, a translation company based in Stirling – specifically at the Innovation Park on the university campus This means a number of my lunch breaks are still being spent at the Atrium, which I’m sure will be all-too-familiar for students past and present.

Working at a translation company has so far proven to be a fantastic experience. I’ve learnt so much about translation and interpretation; when I first started, I didn’t think there was anything to it – to me, translation was translation. In reality, there are so many factors to consider that I would never have thought of before I started, and no two language projects, let alone days, are the same. The variety is amazing – I find myself dealing with everything from translations of a couple of lines in length, to interpretation at technical events with thousands of people and numerous language combinations. I also never truly realised the extent to which translation work is required for business around the world – companies large and small will spend thousands of pounds a year out of necessity getting translation work done and companies in almost every discipline – from law to life science – have at the very least some kind of requirement.

What has struck me most, however, is the difference we can actually make to the world through translation work. When I went for my interview at the company, I asked my interviewer what the most satisfying part of his job was. He told me that whilst it was a great feeling helping the clients themselves, it’s about more than just the person you talk to about their requirements – you could be helping to translate something that could save thousands of lives through medical work, or could be stopping an innocent person from going to prison. This really stayed with me as it’s very easy to forget that when you get caught up trying to get the job.

If you are considering going down a translation career path, or want to learn more about the world of translation, the University does a fantastic Translation Studies post-graduate programme and I believe French at Stirling sometimes runs taster sessions for 4th year students who may be considering it as a future option (Cristina will confirm I’m sure!). It’s something I’d highly recommend. Of course, if you’re already confident about wanting to do translation or work in that sector then I would, of course, say that Global Voices is a fantastic place to gain experience and always looking for talented linguists and graduates. If you would like to consider this, speak to Cristina who can put you in touch with me and I’ll be happy to help.’

Many, many thanks to Alex for the great post and we’re delighted to hear that life in the world of translation is going so well!

Stirling, Kaohsiung, Aix-en-Provence…

And, following on from the update from Charlotte, another blog post from one of our 2017 graduates, Lysiane, who completed her BA Hons in French and Spanish just over 18 months ago:

‘After graduating I decided to go back to where I grew up in Taiwan. I went to Kaohsiung from January to August and studied Chinese at the University of Wen Zao and I started to teach at cram schools. It was really a self-discovery journey, to explore the real world as an independent woman and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

2019 Dixte Lang School kid-area1I am now living in Aix-en-Provence and I have opened a language centre with my sister. We offer English, French, Spanish and Chinese classes to everyone from the age of 3 to 100. We have conversation groups on Mondays and Tuesdays where we just chat together over biscuits and coffee. At this time of year, we have a lot of high school students who are looking for help to prepare them for the Baccalaureate. I also do private tutoring on the side so I’m teaching all the time.

Recently with my parents, we decided it might be worthwhile I actually do a Master’s degree in teaching since, if I wanted to work elsewhere in France or abroad, in the future, I would have a recognized qualification to do so but also mainly to study the methodology of teaching. I can speak the languages but teaching them is another thing. I have learnt this through experience and whilst doing my TEFL certificate online. So, this September the plan is for me to try the ‘Professeur des Ecoles’ post-grad in Toulouse and I am going to be sitting the CAPES (fingers crossed!).

2019 Dixte Photo Feb19Afterward, I am a little uncertain exactly what I’ll do, maybe I’ll go abroad to teach or I was even thinking of working in the world of diplomacy as the Master’s I’ll be doing opens doors to this field and to translation, too. I also think I would really like to work as a Special Needs Teacher but in order to do so, one must first be a qualified teacher so we’ll see if afterward, I can try to specialize in that. I guess we’ll find out what life has in store for me. As always, I stay optimistic and I chase all the possible opportunities presented to me while keeping a passionate and determined mindset to succeed.’

Many, many thanks to Lysiane for taking the time to send us this post and we hope all continues to go well with the language centre, and wish you all the best with the CAPES in due course, too!

Life as a Languages Graduate: Catch-up

About 18 months ago, we posted an update from Charlotte who had – at that point – fairly recently graduated in French and Journalism and had just landed a job that was about to take her to work in London. A year and a half on, we’ve been back in touch with Charlotte to see how things have evolved since then:

‘Since graduating from the University of Stirling in 2017, I have moved to London and I now work as a Project Manager for TransPerfect, an American translation company with a London-based office, and have been working there for roughly a year and a half.

When I graduated, I did not even know that project management in translation was even a career path that I could go down! As someone who has a great interest in languages, this was an interesting environment to be working in. I have discovered that there is a lot more to learn about this industry besides paper translation. I have learned about transcreation, typesetting, subtitling and so much more! Furthermore, not only have I made friends with colleagues from all over the world, I work with linguists and fellow Project Managers in places such as New York, Hong Kong and Hawaii (just to name a few)!

Project management in the translation industry can be extremely fast-paced and a great stepping stone into either Project Management or the translation industry. I hope this provides you with food for thought regarding job prospects. There are definitely opportunities to work with languages apart from teaching or being a translator, which are good options for some people, but not for everyone J.

Thanks once again to the languages department at Stirling for all the support they gave me during my studies!’

Many thanks to Charlotte for taking the time to send us this post and we hope things continue to go well with the translation project management. We look forward to more updates over the years ahead!

Staff news: conferences and new colleagues

Many of our recent blog posts have centred on the fantastic achievements and activities of our students (past and present) but it occurs to us that it’s a while since we’ve posted an update on what French at Stirling staff are up to so here goes…

Firstly, as regular blog followers will know, we’ve made some new appointments in French at Stirling over the past few months. That has meant saying goodbye to valued colleagues (Bill Marshall at the end of August last year, David Murphy at the end of December) but it has also meant welcoming and getting to know new colleagues. Beatrice Ivey has settled well into her Research Assistantship, working with Fiona Barclay on the AHRC-funded project ‘Narratives and Representations of the French Settlers of Algeria’ (if you haven’t seen it yet, their exhibition is still on in Pathfoot); Emeline Morin is already a semester into her 2-year post with us and doing a brilliant job; Aedín ní Loingsigh joined us halfway through the Autumn semester on a permanent lectureship across French and Translation and is also doing brilliantly; and Hannah Grayson has now also joined us – as of 1 January – on a permanent lectureship and is, of course, settling in really well. Lots of changes – all for the good!

Secondly, many of us will be popping up at a range of conferences and invited talks over the months ahead, starting with Hannah Grayson who will be co-convening a seminar stream on responding to violence in postcolonial African literature at the American Comparative Literature Association at Georgetown University in March. Hannah will then be presenting on Véronique Tadjo (an author whose work she teaches on as part of our Cultures of Travel modules this semester) at the 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium in Oklahoma City. And, when she’s back in the UK, on 3 April, Hannah will be speaking at an evening of remembrance in St Andrews, to commemorate 25 years since the genocide in Rwanda.

Cristina Johnston will be giving a paper on the 20th anniversary of the PaCS legislation at the annual Society for French Studies conference at Royal Holloway in early July, and then a paper on the representation (or lack thereof) of lesbian characters in contemporary French cinema at the MLA International Symposium in Lisbon at the end of July.

2019 Tours Conference EE PosterElizabeth Ezra will be giving an invited talk at the University of Tours at the start of April at a conference called ‘On the Ruins and Margins of European Identity in Cinema.’ Her talk is titled ‘Out of Bounds: The Spatial Politics of Civility in The Square (Östlund, 2017) and Happy End (Haneke, 2017).’ Elizabeth also has an article on ethics and social relations coming out in May in the journal Children’s Literature called ‘Becoming Familiar: Witches and Companion Animals in Harry Potter and His Dark Materials.’

Elizabeth also travelled to France in December to examine the PhD thesis of Literature and Language’s PhD student Fanny Lacôte, who has taught on various modules in French at Stirling. The viva was a public event, which attracted a significant audience composed of friends, family, and members of the public and Fanny passed with flying colours so many congratulations to her!

And, finally for the moment, following on from Aedín ní Loingsigh’s successful Erasmus+ teaching exchange at Limoges late last year, we’re currently finalising arrangements to welcome our colleague Joëlle Popineau from our partners at the University of Tours who will spend a week on an Erasmus+ staff mobility with us in early March. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming Joëlle to Stirling in a few weeks.

More to follow shortly, I’ve no doubt!