Tag: Detective Fiction

“Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me”

Just before the blog takes a little break for a couple of weeks, two great articles for you. The first one here is by Alex Hill who just graduated with his BA Hons in French in June and has gone straight from graduation to internship, with career plans beyond that. The second article is by Jeanne Nozahic who has been away in Spain for her Semester Abroad and who has been reflecting on the experience generally but also in particular about what her success at obtaining a Stevenson Scholarship meant for her. Alex first…:

“A few days ago, I was lucky enough to receive an email from Cristina asking if I’d like to share a few thoughts on my time doing French at Stirling and my plans for the future, which I then realised I had accidently ignored for more than a week due to being so busy! This got me thinking to myself about how time has flown by since finishing my degree; as I write this it’s 28 days since my graduation (2.1, get in!) and 103 since the end of a coffee-fuelled, sleep-deprived few months spent balancing writing a dissertation on French politics whilst also trying to get my head round the art of translation.

2017 Alex Hill Dissertation Picture
Dissertation Hand-in


Since then it’s been all go, having started an internship with Oxford-based triathlon events company IRONMAN UK in the Operations team in early May; a job which saw me head over to France a few days in to get a taste of what to expect on the job. As I should have expected, I was designated the role of interpreter (read: food order-er), and, after ordering a few sandwiches and coffees for lunch, I was greeted with high fives and comments regarding how awesome it was that I was able to speak French. That’s one of the perks of being able to speak a foreign language – it’s a skill not many people have so it gives you the chance to show off and feel smug every once in a while!

Joking aside, studying a French degree really is one of the most useful and coolest things I have ever done. When I first decided to study French at university, it was a case of “it’ll be cool to say I’m fluent, plus I can probably get a job as a teacher or translator afterwards”. What I have discovered in the last four years is that it is worth so much more than that; you develop oral and written communication skills to an incredibly high standard, something highly regarded by employers and essential not only from a working perspective but also in life in general. As well as this, you strengthen your critical, analytical and research skills from studying French literature and get to put this to the test in engaging and interesting class discussions. These skills are crucial in almost every job market, which explains why French graduates not only get jobs as translators and teachers, but in business, journalism and diplomacy amongst other domains. Furthermore, French gives you an understanding of (political, social and economic) culture in a range of francophone countries. It’s not only francophone countries this will prove useful in; if you can learn French you can learn any language! This makes you employable not only in Great Britain, but across the world, which it doesn’t take a genius to work out significantly increases your chances of finding a job.

I really believe I made the right choice coming to Stirling to study French. The campus has to be one of the most beautiful in the world, which makes looking out the library on a sunny day that little bit easier. The people are all friendly, and at the end of the day it’s good fun and everything you need is nearby. The French course itself is run by a dedicated team of lecturers, who put in a great deal of time to make every last module exciting and appealing, resulting in a varied course that not once did I find boring. As well as this, the lecturers are always more than willing to help and provide useful answers to queries and feedback. If you are thinking of, or about to start, studying French at Stirling, I would recommend the Quebec cinema module, run by Bill Marshall, or the Francophone Detective fiction module, run by Cristina (hopefully these will still be around!).

2017 Alex Hill Perpignan Skiing

Without doubt, however, the highlight of my time at Stirling was going on my semester abroad; it’s just such a different academic experience and results in your language skills coming on more than you thought possible. It improves your ability to adapt and improves your confidence, both as a French speaker and in general. You make lifelong friends and at the end of your time away, you feel a genuine sense of pride in yourself for coping with what at one point felt like a goliath-sized task.

2017 Alex Hill USAP rugby

As for me, once I finish my internship, I will be moving back up to Stirling to start a job on the Enterprise Rent a Car Graduate Scheme as a Management Trainee. After finishing that I plan to return to Stirling to do a Master’s, followed by hopefully finding work in the investment industry. Having said that, there are a number of jobs in a variety of industries I find interesting and would like to do, and I wouldn’t mind running my own business one day. Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me and I’m very excited about what the future holds. In the words of my favourite film La Haine, “Le monde est à nous” (the world is ours). Just in case you were worried that I’m not getting much chance to celebrate graduating by entering the big bad world of work straight away, I get two weeks between my internship and full-time job, during which I plan to escape somewhere sunny!

Finally, one final big thank you to everyone at the French department at Stirling and all the other staff who work so tirelessly to provide every one of us with a fantastic student experience.”

Many, many thanks to Alex for this great post, all the best for the rest of the summer (internship and holidays!) and good luck with the next steps! And yes, the Detective Fiction option is back in the Autumn…

Languages Open Doors…

Very pleased to be able to round off the week with another update from a recent graduate. Ruth Mahlstedt graduated from Stirling in 2013 with a BA Hons in French and Spanish and is now working in Canberra, enjoying slightly warmer weather than up in this hemisphere…

2016 Mahlstedt pic Mar

“Thinking back to my three years in Scotland, I have a lot of fond memories. I transferred to the University of Stirling after completing my first year of university at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Before my move, I did a lot of research in order to find the right university and course for me; amongst other places, I considered schools in England, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands and Sweden. Yet, Stirling stood out to me as the course description for the BA Hons in French and Spanish sounded incredibly exciting and exactly what I was looking for. The variety of subjects and themes covered in the different modules available was what helped me made my final decision. And the very prospect of spending a compulsory semester abroad was, of course, very tempting as well.

Having come from a similar course at a different university, I was excited by the quality of teaching and level of knowledge of both my fellow students and my lecturers and tutors. I did not know what to expect, whether the teaching style and level of difficulty would be anything like what I was used to from Australia. It was challenging because even though the Bachelor I started in Canberra was similar, the content we covered in Stirling focussed more on politics, culture, history – all subjects I thoroughly enjoy. Even after my first semester, my knowledge and understanding of French and Francophone culture grew tremendously, and I would never have thought I’d be reading a novel written by Simone de Beauvoir in its original language in second year French.

If someone asked me to name my favourite part of my degree, spending a semester abroad at the École de Traduction et Interprétation at the Université de Genève is definitely very high up there. However, I think that the course itself was overall very well organised and structured. Grammar, conversational skills and culture were all considered as important as each other, and though taught separately, skills gained and themes covered in one merged into the others and it all came together in the end.

As mentioned above, what struck me most in the course outline was the big range of subjects covered in the different modules that were on offer. Ranging from Colonialism to the Vichy Regime, to Francophone Detective Stories, to discussing very recent matters like parental leave or marriage equality in our conversation classes, I ended up with a very good understanding of what makes France, France, and felt more informed about what was happening and was important to one of the strongest economies in Europe and our next-door neighbour. If I had to pick the class I enjoyed the most, Screening the City would be the one I’d recommend to anyone taking French as the works covered in that course are all wonderfully intertwined with past and present aspects of French culture.

Now, two and a half years after graduating and living in Canberra again, I still engage with French culture and politics, continue to converse in the language whenever I can, and have visited France on several occasions. I was accepted to study a Master Program at both the University of Amsterdam and the Queen’s University in Belfast in two very different areas: Master of Comparative Literature and Master of Translation. My Bachelor degree at Stirling did not limit me to only being able to pursue one area of study or another, but opened many doors. Even though French is not a part of my daily working life at an international technology firm, I strongly believe that having a degree in French and Spanish is what made me stand out amongst all the other candidates and will give me the competitive edge needed to take my career with the company to the next level and travel internationally.”

Thanks to Ruth for this update and best wishes for the future!