Not all the French and Francophone exchange students who come to Stirling from our network of partners take modules run by the French at Stirling team but we’re always really pleased to welcome them to Stirling and will be inviting them along to a range of events over the course of the semester.
This year, at last count, we have 24 exchange students coming from 11 different French Universities, business schools and grandes écoles with whom we have long-standing partnerships: the Universités de Limoges, Aix-Marseille, Clermont Auvergne, Lorraine and Perpignan, the IUT de Sceaux (Paris Sud), Sciences Po, the Ecoles de Management of Strasbourg and Normandie, ESSEC in the outskirts of Paris and the Université Catholique de l’Ouest. We’re looking forward to getting to know these students over the course of their time at Stirling and, this year, we’re particularly pleased to be giving some of them a chance to led informal conversation sessions with our Stirling-based students.
Christopher Ball completed his Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies in 2011 and, following his year in Strasbourg, returned to Stirling where he has recently finished his PhD in our School of Management. He is now embarking on a post-doc and a career in academia and has written us the following post about his time studying French at Stirling.
“Since finishing my degree, I have taken a path that I would have not imagined during my undergraduate days. However, one thing that is certain is that my knowledge of French and France has remained very useful to me both professionally and personally.
Following the Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies with the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg, I have been doing a PhD looking at energy policies and entrepreneurship in Britain, France and Germany. My language skills and cultural awareness were key in enabling me to do this challenging project which included field work in the three countries on the back of which I am trying to build a good academic career. Being able to work and do research in other EU countries is really valuable and opens up greater employment opportunities.
Following the completion of my PhD, I have been working in Germany in a large public research centre near to Cologne as a post-doc. There, I look at the future of the German energy system and compare Germany with other countries. I would say that my experience in language learning at Stirling and spending time abroad during my degree has really set me up for working internationally. French at Stirling’s innovative approach with the Integrated Masters programme with Strasbourg has been especially positive for me.
I am really excited about spending the next three years in Germany and building a research career in the Institute in which I am based. I am very keen to deepen my knowledge of energy and sustainability during my time here. Over the past few years, I have become really interested in emerging markets and would like to have greater involvement here in the future. The Francophone parts of Africa and Brazil are particularly interesting to me – recently, I spent some time travelling in Brazil.
I believe that throughout my life, French will continue to be an asset. I believe that, especially in the energy field, I will continue to use French extensively (France is a big player in energy). I also have great friends in Antibes whom I met whilst studying at Stirling and whom I see regularly, so I still get a lot of personal fulfilment from my French also.”
Thanks to Chris for this article and we wish him all the best for what is sure to be a long and successful academic career.
“It wasn’t until my third year of my undergraduate studies at Stirling when I realised the importance of having internship experience.
It’s true that it’s always more appealing to depart on ‘grands voyages’ all over the world during the long summer university break as opposed to confining yourself to an office environment. Honestly, that’s what I thought, and on top of that, I was terrified of the concept of applying my ‘education’ to the real business world. What if I didn’t meet the employer’s expectations? What if I then suddenly realised that all of those years spent studying were irrelevant? And worse still, what if they rejected me? Well Claire, obviously you’ll never know until you try! Besides, everybody who makes it to university has a certain level of intelligence. Sometimes you can be savvier than employees who have been in the organisation for decades, minus the experience – yet another reason why you should grab any opportunity to complete an internship.
I must admit that during my undergraduate degree I did not try hard (enough) to find internships, instead, I mostly worked part time at different points throughout the semester, travelled during the summer and did odd voluntary/ seasonal work. The truth is that I was too easily offended by the generic rejections from companies when I was applying for internship posts, which now seems stupid because it’s normal – obviously there will be healthy competition when applying for this kind of thing. A telephone interview I had in my final year of undergrad really made me realise exactly that. Why be put off? I should be even more motivated to succeed. My attitude was exactly that. I didn’t get the internship, I believe it was down to my lack of experience, but it was the furthest I had ever reached in the various interview stages. That was enough to motivate me.
When I moved to France last September, I learned that in order to graduate with my Master Grande Ecole, it was obligatory to complete an internship. The fact it was obligatory gave me the fear, but it pushed me to seriously start looking. Given I had no real ‘professional’ experience, it was particularly difficult to find one, besides, many posts were exclusively for 1st-3rd year students, which I wasn’t. Not only that, but I was looking for post abroad, where the talent pool is significantly bigger than at home, and of course, required a fluency in the language. With the pressure mounting, I started to panic. I already knew I was extremely lucky to be in the position I was in, completing a double degree with a fully funded master’s component, but I was still kicking myself for not having grabbed opportunities at the beginning of my studies.
As I mentioned, I was privileged to attend the prestigious French management school, EM Strasbourg, and even more so to be able to take advantage of their partnerships with local and global organisations. Following a trip to France’s biggest wine producer and exporter, Les Grands Chais de France, my class was asked to work in groups to create presentations which focused on various business areas. My group was given the topic ‘strategy to penetrate the Chinese market’. As an individual, I always like to be prepared, and to source background information whenever possible, so naturally I put a lot of work into the task. Little did I know, when we were presenting, the HR team were there to observe. A few weeks later I received a call inviting me for an interview, which I got. Obviously I was thrilled to find an internship position, but to find one in my chosen industry was just amazing. I guess my motivation shone through that day, I really had had a kick up the backside.
To all my fellow students, you should take this piece of advice and just try harder. It is not a question of whether you have contacts in high positions, it’s down to you. Put yourself out there and grab opportunities. If you work hard, it will be recognised and you’ll be rewarded for it. In this way, you will never tire of opportunities and options. After being offered my current position, it seemed that all of the offers came at once. That just proves that your attitude matters.”
Thanks to Claire for this article. Best of luck for the rest of your time with Les Grands Chais de France and we look forward to seeing you back in Stirling in November for graduation!
Halfway between Exam Boards and Graduation seems a good point to post congratulations to the students whose excellent performances this past academic year have brought them success with our various French prizes.
Congratulations, first, to Alasdair MacDonald who will be graduating in a couple of weeks in Psychology with a European Language and who has scooped our annual Simone de Beauvoir Prize for the best performance by a final year student in French. Alasdair was also the recipient of our annual Arts and Humanities Research Prize for French for his dissertation, supervised by French at Stirling’s Elizabeth Ezra, on ‘French Cinematic Representations of les années noires.’
The 2016 translation prize was jointly awarded to Alasdair and to his fellow Year 4 student, Jana Mladková, who will be spending 2016-17 at the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg to complete her integrated Master’s in International Management and Intercultural Studies. The translation prize is awarded to the student who achieves the highest combined grade across translation assessments in Semesters 7 and 8, and both Alasdair and Jana completed some exceptional work. Congratulations to both.
Congratulations, too, to Stefano Intropido who has just completed the first year of his BA Hons in International Politics and Languages at Stirling and who was the very worthy recipient of our prize for the Best Overall Performance by a Year 1 Student. And yet more congratulations to Jeanne Nozahic who has just completed Year 2 of our Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies and who is the very deserving recipient of the Best Overall Performance by a Year 2 Student this year.
We’re also delighted to congratulate Charlene Hoag who has won the prize for Best Performance by a Year 1 Student in our Beginners’ stream at the end of the first year of her degree in French and History. Congratulations!
Many congratulations to all our prize-winners and we look forward to following their success over the years to come.
As well as an international group of Stirling-based students, we also have a wide range of Study Abroad partnerships which mean, firstly, that the vast majority of our students spend their Semester 6 on Study Abroad and, secondly, that we also welcome students from many of our partner institutions to Stirling, either for a semester or, in many cases, for a full academic year. These partnerships are with a wide range of institutions across France (from Aix-Marseille to Tours via Sciences-Po, Perpignan, EMS in Strasbourg, ESSEC in Cergy, Nancy, Limoges, Clermont-Ferrand and Caen), Switzerland (Geneva), Quebec (Laval) and Morocco (Rabat) and we add new partnerships to our network as often as possible.
Not all students visiting from our partner institutions necessarily end up taking classes within French at Stirling – they often take advantage of modules in areas specifically related to aspects of Scottish life, culture and history – but this semester, we happen to have a relatively large group of Erasmus students taking our final semester core language module. We thought it’d be good to get their perspective on life at Stirling so thanks to Audrey Aliphat for the following:
“My name is Audrey, I’m French and come from Limoges. I study English back home at the Université de Limoges and, thanks to my university, I’ve been able to take part in the Erasmus programme. A year ago, I chose to study abroad for a semester so I looked at all the destinations on offer. I wanted to discover a new country in the UK so I chose to go to Scotland. I went to Stirling’s website to learn more about it and I was fascinated by the environment around the university and all the courses that were available. My choice was approved and I started to plan my travel to Stirling.
When I left France it was hard because it was the first time that I was leaving for so long and so far away from home. But when I arrived in Scotland I had a (pleasant) surprise: the people were smiling, kind and welcoming. The landscape around is magnificent with those mountains around. When I arrived in Stirling it was snowing and it was really beautiful.
Classes in this big university started in January and I discovered a brand new way to study. Fewer hours than back home but many resources to work with, a library and tutors and even online resources via the University website. There is a lot of work to do but teachers and tutors are always here to help, and especially for international students which is really comforting. In the university itself, we can also find everything we need, from groceries to books. A lot of associations and a big sports complex are available on campus too.
I’m staying off campus in the Union Street residence and at first I thought it could be annoying to not be on campus. But ultimately I’m five minutes from the city centre and close to shops and the train station. In my flat we are all international students and I’m lucky to have them because I learn about their countries but also as a non-native English speaker I learn new things like vocabulary or traditions.
I’ve been here since January and I haven’t done half of what the university offers. But I really think that this is a perfect place to study abroad for foreign students.”
We hope Audrey continues to enjoy her semester with us and we look forward to welcoming more students from our partner institutions over the years ahead.
‘My name is Kristina Auxtova and I come from Slovakia. I came to Stirling in 2007 as a first year student of a double degree entitled BA (Hons) International Management and Intercultural Studies which is combined with a Master’s degree from Ecole de Management Strasbourg. I graduated in 2013. Although with a slightly complicated name and structure and only very few people taking the same combination, this degree allowed me to study French, Spanish and Marketing at the same time. Being a language enthusiast but also wanting a field to use the languages in, this was a great fit. And now, a few years after my graduation, I cannot say otherwise! I’m very happy with all my choices and with all the opportunities I was given along the way. We have a saying at home which I’ll have a shot at translating here with hope it conveys the message: “The more languages you know, the more of a person you are”. And it’s a saying I truly believe. When thinking in another language, you really changes the way you think, partly due to the way the language works and partly grasping the culture. According to this saying, I could say I’m at least 5 distinct people now – 3 of which are thanks to Stirling University – the Scottish, the French and the Chilean/Spanish (the other two being Slovak and Czech).
After 2 great years in Stirling, I went abroad as a Comenius Assistant for a year. I was placed in Marseille, one of the largest cities in France. Teaching at a vocational high school was challenging but certainly a great and rewarding experience. One of my classes did a 4-week long internship in Dublin at the end of the year allowing them to experience Irish culture in person. I could watch the progress of my students on a daily basis as their excitement for the trip grew, but when this class returned from Dublin, their improvement was simply stunning. Outside of school, I integrated a group of fellow language assistants from all over the globe – Mexico, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Spain, Italy and USA to name a few. Friends are one of the most amazing parts of travelling and living abroad. Yet, the hardest thing about moving from one country to another is having to say goodbye to your friends. However, the world is small and there’s always a way to reunite. We created such strong bonds that many of us have already met since and we even had a little reunion in Mexico couple years ago!
When I returned from Marseille, it was only for a short time of one semester before I was already making plans for my next adventure – a semester in Chile. This was a compulsory study abroad part of the degree to improve our language skills. I could have chosen from about 7 Spanish universities, but being the adventurous type, I asked myself – when will I have the opportunity to live in South America for 6 months again? So I packed my bags and hopped on the plane. I wouldn’t have changed this time for anything in the world. Living in such a different and interesting culture was an incredible experience full of new people, new tastes and strange accents one must learn (and I mean that, Chilean Spanish is nothing like what you learn in class!). Really getting into it, at the university, I signed up for Español de América where we learned to recognise the dialects from different regions of all South and Central American countries. I also took a class of the Quechua language and culture which was very interesting. Despite being the only foreigner in the class, it was my favourite – the language is like no other that I’ve ever studied. And when I travelled north to Peru and Bolivia at the end of the semester, I could even read and understand some of the names of the villages and places that still bear old Quechua names.
And believe it or not, that was not the last time I went abroad thanks to Stirling. After completing my 4th year and therefore the whole Stirling component of the degree, I went back to France for 13 months, this time to Strasbourg. Compared to the southern laid back style of Marseille, the life in Alsace had a very significant influence from Germany, cutting down the amount of strikes, public transport being on time and, not to forget, a good beer. At the university, I chose a specialisation of International and European Business – this part of my degree was really focused on business – in the end, this was a business school. Even though we had to endure lectures in 4 hour blocks (yes that means listening to an accounting lecturer for 4 hours straight not understanding much of it – I’ve never done accounting and it was not a beginners’ class (!)), the classes were varied to suit everyone – marketing, HR, finance, supply chain – and everything was looked at from the international or intercultural perspective. Some of us even took a minor in wine marketing, a part of which was dedicated to the knowledge of grapes and wines, allowing us to get to know Alsace through its very traditional art of wine-making – I strongly recommend both the class and the wine. In April, when the classes were over, I started a 6-month internship at a local start-up company called. I could finally apply what I had learnt over the 5 years of studies to my work, and I was happy to find all the effort was worth it.
It was a challenging, yet exciting journey and I found myself with two degrees in my hands. The doors were open, so you might ask what did I go on to do next? Well, I have to admit, I took some time off to relax back at home where I haven’t spent much time over the past 6 years. I visited friends in Milan and in Mexico and travelled to both my graduations – the Stirling one as well as the Strasbourg one.
But my mind didn’t let me relax for long, and so I started planning my next big step – PhD studies. I really enjoyed my Master’s dissertation topic – how different cultures respond to shock appeals in charity advertising – and so I decided to build on it and started to write a research proposal and PhD applications. Took some time to get everything ready, find the right supervisors and secure funding, but it all came together and I am now in my 2nd year of the PhD programme at the University of Edinburgh. I might have said the journey up until here was challenging, but PhD life is much more so. Challenging and tiring it may be, it is also fascinating, thought-provoking, inspirational and full of learning and discovery. I am grateful to be here and thankful to the University of Stirling where I received excellent training and numerous international opportunities. And even despite all the rain, I am happy to be back in Scotland, reunited with those friends that remained here and with many new ones, making new memories.
I haven’t forgotten Stirling or my language studies either. Before starting the PhD I spent some time teaching English as a foreign language, in France and in England to international groups, and once I moved back to Scotland, I even tutored French in Stirling – on some of the courses I had once taken. It was a lovely experience to be back on the beautiful campus and also on the other side of the classroom – this time, in front of the students rather than being one of them.
All these experiences have helped me become who I am now. I never thought I would be an academic but now I am on the path towards a career in teaching and research and I am determined and enthusiastic. And I look forward to all my next challenges and adventures, because without them, life would be boring.’
And, of course, we look forward to being able to post updates on Kristina’s progress over the years ahead.
As well as a broad range of Combined Honours programmes involving French over the standard 4-year course of a degree (5, if you undertake an English Language Assistantship), French at Stirling also happens to be home to an integrated Masters programme in International Management and Intercultural Studies with our partner institution, the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg. This is a 5-year programme and, for students starting in Stirling, involves a semester of Study Abroad in 3rd year and then a full year in Strasbourg to complete the Master Grande Ecole in Year 5.
Claire Wright is one of our students who is currently in Strasbourg for the year, taking full advantage of all the opportunities available through a partnership with one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools:
‘I cannot emphasise enough the return on investment you will receive from studying abroad. In the increasingly globalised world that we live in, young people, like myself, are constantly reminded about the pace of change and the dynamics of cross-cultural collaboration. We live in exciting times as this change brings enormous opportunities to grow and develop as young global talent. By immersing ourselves in other cultures, we become aware of other people, aware of alternative views and more aware of ourselves.
Stirling University’s unique integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies is perfectly fitting to today’s environment. Having the opportunity to study abroad in Mexico in third year, as well as further pursue a 5th year at EM Strasbourg France, to obtain a Master Grande Ecole degree, does not compare to staying local. At least for me, anyway, as I am always looking for a new challenge.
To cut to the chase, if you put the work in, you will reap the benefits of the course that Sitrling Uni offers. For me, this hard work has paid off. Particularly, having the opportunity to live and breathe the eclectic mix of French and German cultures in the heart of Europe has exposed me to the richness and multicultural diversity that the EU boasts.
From visits to the parliament to participate in mock debates to listening to the perspectives of guest speakers from the WTO, my horizons have been widened. I now think in ways that I never could have imagined and I always look beyond the immediate situation. You cannot learn this stuff, you just need to be exposed to it. Even if it is in the form of organised wine tasting sessions at France’s biggest wine exporter’s HQ.
To my surprise, my biggest challenge of all was not actually working in international teams at university, but was, in fact everyday interactions with French people. During my first few weeks, I found it a real struggle to get along with French people on a daily basis. But, I was determined to crack them. I even bought a book. It was ironic as in contrast to my experience in Mexico, where the culture is obviously different, French culture just seemed so much more difficult to master. Over time, however, I have learned to love the peculiarities, and, of course the rich culture of cheese and wine.
Overall, this experience has not only equipped me for a career in international business, but it has enriched me as a culturally sensitive individual. Gaining insight from industry experts has opened my eyes to the reality of the business world, preparing me to cultivate my future and become a global talent. This is complemented by my exposure to all things francophone, and my daily cooperation with the 12 different nationalities that are on my course. Not only that, but I have gained an ever growing international network and have made life long international friends. Speaking languages are just a bi-product of these soft skills that you will acquire through studying such a dynamic course and putting yourself out there.
We’re looking forward to hearing where life will take Claire after she graduates later this year.