Tag: Business

Strasbourg Summer School Tales

Back in June, a small group of our students were lucky enough to be able to attend the annual Summer School organised by our partners at the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg, an opportunity that gave them a chance to spend time in a beautiful city but also to benefit from fantastic classes and visits to European institutions and much else besides. Nick, Paloma and Stefano are now all back in Stirling and they’ve each sent their own take on the experiences in Strasbourg.

2017 Oct Strasbourg Stefano Pic IFor Stefano, ‘one of the most thrilling aspects of our Summer School was the possibility to go on business trips to the European Institutions that are located in Strasbourg. Within our first ten days there, our group was invited to visit the Council of Europe, the continent’s oldest political organisation, founded in 1949. It was exciting to experience such an institutional and international atmosphere! Once we got there through the beautiful surroundings of Strasbourg’s diplomatic area, we managed to explore the building with its famous Hemicycle and we also got the chance to attend a conference on “The role of the Council of Europe in the European Political Architecture”. It is perhaps worth mentioning some key facts about this vital institution in Europe. The Council itself groups together 47 countries, including 21 countries from Central Eastern Europe and it currently has one more application from Monaco. Moreover, the Council has granted “observer status” to 5 external countries (US, Canada, the Holy See, Mexico and Japan). Broadly speaking, the Council is distinct from the European Union, but no member state has ever been part of the Union without joining the Council of Europe in the first place.’

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Stefano, Paloma and another Stirling student, Annika, visiting from her internship in Germany

 

Stefano also points out that the EU’s motto (United in diversity) fits very well with their entire programme of classes and visits: ‘ As a group of 30 students from, almost literally, all over the world, we had first-hand experience of how so many different countries can work within European Institutions. For instance, just one week after our visit to the Council of Europe we got the chance to explore the European Parliament, the only directed body of the EU. Most importantly, we were lucky enough to attend real sessions and debates of the Parliament over the following week; throughout these experiences we got a strong sense of how the Parliament elaborates community laws and how strongly its relations are intertwined with those of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers.’

2017 Sept Strasbourg Paloma Pic IFrom Paloma’s perspective, the cultural, geographical and linguistic aspects of the month in France were as important as the access to elements of the structures of the EU. ‘Strasbourg is a mixture of two cultures, French and German, perfectly balanced. Generally, the French were friendly and easy to talk to (as long as you were trying to speak in French…), however body language and gestures were required if our French wasn’t enough. Also, a large proportion of the older generations spoke German (or the alsacien dialect).

It is an adorable city, the perfect size, not too big, not too small. Sightseeing in Strasbourg was hence relatively easy: from the cathedral and la Petite France to the Parc de l’Orangerie (a mini zoo) a few blocks away from the school and the Place Kléber with the main shopping area. The first Sunday of the month gives you free access to some cultural spots, so we took advantage and visited a few museums, the cathedral tower and its astronomical clock.

As Strasbourg is located very centrally, we could easily travel around to Nancy, Colmar, Obernai, and even Zurich and Karlsruhe. However, its central location and its position as the seat of many EU institutions means that living expenses are quite high, so we took the tram line to Kehl in Germany to do our weekly groceries.

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Stefano, Paloma and Nick

 

Local cuisine included tarte flambée (dough bread covered with cheese, crème fraiche, onion and bacon), baeckeoffe (casserole with vegetables, pork, beef and lamb cooked slowly in white wine), kouglof (bread-cake that is displayed in the window of every bakery in Strasbourg) and lots of white wine. Local farmers’ markets in the street parallel to our accommodation every Saturday had everything from yogurt, fruit and vegetables, bread, flowers, to second-hand clothes and pots and pans. The boulangerie was a few blocks away from the school; in the morning you could see the French queueing for the bread of the day.

On the 21st of June, we experienced La Fête de la Musique. Once a year, the city transforms into an “open concert” with music for all tastes. A different band plays in every corner downtown Strasbourg. For us (as Paloma is of Mexican origin), some of the highlights of the night were an Ecuadorian duo and a Brazilian party.’

And finally, from Nick’s point of view, it was the mix of classroom-based learning and extra-curricular activities that really stands out: ‘During my month in Strasbourg all students had a significant number of classes alongside the social activities most of us took part in outside of the curriculum. The classes were divided into several different subjects: European Integration, French Language and Business, which included Marketing, HRM and other topics.

Most classes were quite intense and well-structured. They were also very interesting and engaging (for the most part) with the only downside being the teaching rooms which did not have air conditioning or any real ventilation. It can get very hot in France during summer…

Some of the courses included some very cool field trips, such as a visit to the Europa Park, which was supposedly related to the business part of the course. It wasn’t really, as we spent most of the day on awesome rides (or queueing for them), but unsurprisingly nobody complained about that.

I feel it is maybe important to let future participants of summer school know that the amount of class in hours per week is significantly more than most of us will be used to from UK universities. This, however, is no issue at all, as self-study time is kept at a minimum and most classes are very informative and highly enjoyable, with lecturers from all over the world (Ireland, the US, Poland, France, etc.).

I can personally say that I genuinely learned a lot about the EU, European culture and French language during my stay in Strasbourg. I loved the outside activities and the group we were in was amazing and very international. The lecturers were entertaining, clever and left us all with an unexpectedly large amount of knowledge. I would recommend Strasbourg summer school to anyone at any educational level and from any background based on my experience this past summer.’

Many thanks, indeed, to Nick, Paloma and Stefano for sharing their experiences and their photos from the Summer School. Having also had the pleasure of visiting colleagues at EMS in September, it’s particularly nice to be able to confirm that it really is a great place to send time so thanks to the students and to colleagues at EMS for having made us all feel welcome!

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From Erasmus and Assistantships to Project Management: Languages and Opportunities

Clare Condy graduated with a BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society in 2015 and we’re delighted to get a chance to post this article on both her memories of studying Languages at Stirling and where life after graduation has taken her:

2016-clare-condy-graduation“I graduated from Stirling just over a year and a half ago now, with a degree in International Management with French and Spanish. That day feels like just yesterday, it’s only now that I have been asked to write about what I have done since that I have taken some time to think back and suddenly Stirling actually feels like it was a long time ago.

So, what do you do after graduating? This is the question that starts to become that little bit more daunting as the years at university progress. Suddenly you must start to put together a plan, a plan of how to step out of the comforts and familiarity of student life and into an unknown ‘adult’ world.

Today I am living in Liverpool, working as a Project Manager with Amey as part of their Management Graduate Programme. Here is what happened between university and now. So, let’s rewind…

Studying two languages with business provided me with what I can only explain as a well-rounded degree. I loved the language components of my course; this part of my degree was what I really felt passionate about. Ever since I was in primary school, from the moment French was first introduced to me, the thought of learning a new language excited me, and it still does. So, choosing to study French and Spanish at university was an easy decision. The business part of my degree allowed me to put concepts we had discussed in French or Spanish classes into real business examples. Due to this, I was really able to get a valuable insight into each of my courses, no matter how different they were from each other.

Due to studying two languages, I had the opportunity to live in both France and Spain. I chose to do the British Council Language Assistant programme in France, and subsequently carried out my Erasmus in Spain. Both of these were fantastic experiences that, as cheesy as it may sound, really changed me as a person: I gained more confidence, improved my language skills and became more aware of other cultures, to name a few! After spending a total of 18 months abroad during my degree, I knew for sure that the country hopping life was soon becoming my aspiration for when university finished. I returned each time with a new bout of the want to travel and I soon started to picture myself more and more living in France or Spain or any other European country. So, I returned after my Erasmus to complete my final year with a feeling of satisfaction that I now had an idea of what I wanted after graduating.

During 4th year we were made aware that applying for the British Council Language Assistant Programme was an option. I didn’t have to think twice, my way back to France was here. A relatively easy application was all it would take to potentially have another go at being a Language Assistant. I found out further into the year that I had been accepted, and been offered my first choice of Strasbourg. I was so relieved, relieved to have a plan, and to be able to fully focus on final year rather than looking for jobs. I just had to wait until after the summer!

When I arrived in Strasbourg I was overwhelmed with its beauty. The half-timbered houses, the little beer taverns, the canals and its bridges were like nowhere I had ever lived before. As I lived in Paris last time round, I really was looking forward to seeing a whole other side of France. And that is exactly what I saw! I found it to be a really interesting place, with its German influence and the Alsatian culture and language; at times it didn’t feel relatable to France at all! I actually lived in one of the traditional houses in the centre of town which added to the experience of understanding the culture and the way of life in this town.

2016-clare-condy-strasbourgI worked between two high schools, in the north of Strasbourg in a town called Haguenau. The teaching side of things honestly did not go how I planned it would. I always saw teaching as a way to travel and to live in other countries, and maybe I didn’t actually consider the job for what it really was and wanted the lifestyle that came with teaching rather than actually the job itself. I realised only a few weeks into my new role that I no longer saw myself as being a teacher in the long term. But it being so early on, I hoped that feeling would pass.

Christmas in Strasbourg was amazing, I have never seen so much effort put into lights, markets, food stalls, everything revolved around it. The city lit up and the crowds filled the streets.

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Later on in the year, around February/March time I started to question whether I wanted to continue living away from home or not. As this was the third time trying to set up a life in a foreign country, the thought of home was, for the first time, seeming to be more and more attractive. I was tired of not really having any close friends around me or family, and the feeling of not being settled was now, ironically, giving me itchy feet. Maybe it was due to the fact that I had moved around for the last few years, or because the other times had always been for short periods of time, and this time was more of a potential permanent move away from Scotland, or maybe because I was not enjoying being a teacher any more. I missed the feeling of being challenged. Going from an intense final year at university, to a job that was no longer satisfying me made me realise that I missed that feeling. Whatever it was, it was unsettling, and I decided in the end that I wanted to be closer to home and to look for a job in the UK.

2016-clare-condy-liverpoolOnly a couple of months passed at home before I was offered my position that I am in now with Amey. It is a two year programme which is rotational throughout the UK. My first placement, which I am on now, is in Liverpool as a Project Manager. I am honestly so pleased with my new job and with my decision to come back home. I was looking for a challenge and I definitely have found that in this role!

Having that time in France after graduating gave me the time I needed to realise what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I can now understand that even though you may feel like you know yourself and know what you want from life, you never know when those feelings will change as experiences will always change us and make us learn more about ourselves.

I have to say a final word to Stirling. My time at university was everything I could have ever wished it to be. From the friends I have met there, the beautiful campus and the inspiring teachers; it will always be a home for me.”

Many thanks to Clare for this blog post and all good wishes for the future. We look forward to more updates in due course!

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