Tag: Francophone Studies

‘A couple of paragraphs about Paris, Parisians and how to (not) be like them’

In a month and a half or so, our new academic year starts and among those coming (back) to Stirling will be the 20-odd students returning after their compulsory Semester Abroad in France or another French-speaking country. We have a very wide range of partners across France, as well as in Morocco, Switzerland and Quebec, and we’re always very pleased to be able to post reports on the Semester Abroad from those about to embark on their final year with us. From the Spring 2018 French Semester Abroad group, we’re starting things off with this post from Nicolas who spent his semester at Sciences Po in Paris, as part of his degree in International Management and Intercultural Studies: 

My semester abroad in Paris was amazing. It is a beautiful, vibrant and unique city. I don’t know another place like it.

2018 Nicolas Masdorp Pic IBeing in Paris for four full months gave me the opportunity to not just run through the standard tourist programme, but to dive in head first and learn to appreciate one of the original big cities. To me, Paris has become special. Wherever you go, the city feels alive and it will to you, too. It is a mix of past glory, current main stage French cultural and political theatre and future opportunities and struggles. When you take your time, and go to visit the historically-relevant sights, you gain an understanding of the grandeur and the heavy historical significance, and not only because every second building seems to have solid gold ornaments on it. For better or for worse, Paris is the centre of most of the francophone world’s current affairs: Government, parliament, media, high-society, low(-er) society, music and much more besides. It is a city that has seen much change in the past and, in my opinion, will see even more in the future. Paris is so much deeper than what you can see on the surface. Dig a bit and even those of you with the highest of expectations will never be disappointed.

2018 Nicolas Masdorp Pic V

Having been to Paris several times before on holiday, I felt like I had seen most of what the city had to offer. I was mistaken. Badly. My tip: there is nothing like going for a two-hour walk through a city, even if it is because you forgot to take change for your metro ticket back home. And get lost. Walk, sit and take your time. On holiday, you do the sightseeing. You sit in a ‘Parisian’ café and drink a cappuccino to feel more ‘Parisian’ while you look at (and possibly offer your kind thoughts on) passers-by. Maybe you try to become more like the locals yourself. I don’t feel any more ‘Parisian’ now than I did when I got there in January, despite trying, a little. I saw Paris for four months like the outsider I am now and always will be.

It’s a bit like when you feel like you’ve found your new all-time favourite song while, in the same moment, you realise you’ll probably never be able to sing it like the artist does yourself (at least not in front of other people). I learnt to enjoy and appreciate Paris despite not feeling like I’d ever be a Parisian myself.

I was trying to find an analogy for this feeling for ages and yes, this is the best I could come up with. Sorry.

2018 Nicolas Masdorp Pic III

I’m really not sure you can go to Paris and become a local. Maybe by living there for twenty years. Maybe not. To a certain degree, I believe the citizens of France’s capital are born, not made. I had four months to become totally French and city-slicker cool, but didn’t. The latter part was maybe more down to me than to the city. What I have learnt, in retrospect, was that I will not be like the people of Paris. I feel like I understand them and their home now, though. And both of them are exceedingly special and close to my heart. Weird and wonderful. In a good way, probably.

One thing I also learnt, though, was to not be one of the infamously obnoxious, selfie-posing, in-your-face tourists. I will try to take that with me, wherever I go next. And here’s an insider tip for my fellow German tourists: Please do not continue to actively reinforce the sandals with socks stereotype. You are not doing yourself and, crucially, the rest of us any favours.

2018 Nicolas Masdorp Pic IVOverall I would recommend spending time in Paris to everybody, if they have the opportunity. In my mind, there is nothing like it. Paris can be incredibly rewarding, if you put in the time, energy and patience to understand it. It is the centre of most things French and will most likely remain to be so for the foreseeable future. Like I said before, I don’t think becoming a local, if that is what you want, will be your choice. My last tip: Don’t try. Be curious, inquisitive and energetic when you explore this great city. And don’t forget the sandals with socks thing, either.’

Many thanks to Nicolas for the great blog post and pictures. We hope you enjoy the rest of the Summer and look forward to seeing you back in Stirling in September.

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Harry Potter, Spotify and Language Learning

This time last year, we posted an article by Emily who was just reaching the end of her 1st year studying French and History so, as we catch up with the authors of some of those posts to see how things have gone this year, here is Emily’s update:

‘Bonjour à tous! In my last post for the French at Stirling blog I talked about my first year studying for a BA Hons degree in French and History, and what a great start it had been to my university career at Stirling. The structure of classes in first year has been the same this year, with weekly seminars on written language, francophone culture and French speaking classes. This year we have also had a new class added to our timetable; half-hour conversation sessions. These new speaking classes have been a great way to get practice in our French conversation skills, as it’s a very relaxed environment and the conversations are usually spontaneous and on recent topics.

Another exciting opportunity available to us in second year is the chance to work abroad as an English language assistant (ELA) through the British Council’s scheme, spending a whole year in a French-speaking country. Although the time spent abroad doesn’t contribute credits towards my actual degree I feel it is an invaluable opportunity to learn about contemporary French culture and improve my language skills. Having recently received the good news that my application has been shortlisted I can’t wait to find out whereabouts in France I will be placed!

However, until I move to France towards the end of this year, I have to try and maintain my current level of French, which I have been doing through various different methods. A great way one of my teachers suggested to keep French fresh in my mind is to listen to French music. Spotify is a lifesaver here, as there are loads of French music playlists already created, so if you’re like me and have no clue who any popular French musicians are, you can easily discover different solo artists and bands that suit your music tastes.

Reading French regularly is another great way to maintain language skills, but I find it can be quite daunting at times, so to make things easier for myself I decided to revisit one of my childhood favourites; Harry Potter. I have found that reading stories in French that you have already read in English is much easier as you don’t have to focus so much on the plot and instead can concentrate on grammar and new vocabulary. Hopefully by using these methods to try and incorporate french into my everyday life I won’t forget everything that the French department at Stirling taught me this year!

To sum things up, my first two years studying French at Stirling have been fantastic, my teachers have been more than helpful in preparing me for life as an English language assistant in France, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store!’

Many, many thanks to Emily for this update. We look forward to finding out where you’re posted next year and wish you all the best for the assistantship!

‘The French department is simply fantastic’: French and History at Stirling

Time, once again, for one of our profiles of current students, this time from Emily Ronald who will be starting her second year with us in the Autumn and has taken the time to look back over the past year and the shift from school to University:

“Salut! My name’s Emily Ronald and I’ve just completed my first year at Stirling University studying for my BA Hons degree in French and History. My first year studying French at Stirling has been amazing. I come from a very small rural area and so was a little nervous at first about moving away from home and beginning my studies at a university level. However, all my worries and doubts disappeared on the first day of term. The French department is simply fantastic, the tutors are all friendly and approachable, and put my mind at ease about the transition from secondary school to university straight away.

The materials that we have covered in our first-year classes have been really interesting and challenging (in a good way!), and have opened my eyes to wider Francophone cultures that I had previously been oblivious of. French is taught in three different classes; writing and grammar, speaking, and culture, in addition to a weekly lecture. I’ve enjoyed all the classes this year, but in particular the weekly parlé class, as it gave me the opportunity to improve my speaking in a friendly atmosphere.

Stirling was my first-choice university alongside another Scottish university, so I had to make the tough decision between the two of them. However, after attending one of the open days at Stirling, I fell in love with the campus and my mind was set. It’s safe to say that I made the right decision, as Stirling now feels like a home away from home to me. I’m looking forward to continuing my studies in September and I’m hoping for another excellent year!”

Many thanks to Emily for this great post and we hope that second year (and beyond!) lives up to expectations.

French and English at Stirling: ‘I’m so excited for next year!’

2017 Paige Hepburn Student Profile PicWhat better way to start the new week than with another student profile? Paige Hepburn has just finished the first year of her BA Hons in French and English and has sent us this post with her thoughts on the past year and the semesters ahead:

“My name is Paige Hepburn and I have just finished my first year at Stirling University. I had my heart set on Stirling since high school because of the option to do a combined degree. I want to become a high school English teacher so the idea of doing Education alongside my English degree really appealed to me.

In first and second year at Stirling University you have the opportunity to choose three subjects, which is the perfect chance to explore your options and pursue your interests. I chose French as my optional module because I thoroughly enjoyed studying it at school and because of my personal ambitions to be fluent in French, but I had never thought about doing a French degree.

I chose the Beginners’ module because I had been out of education for a few years before attending University and was worried I’d forgotten everything. I’m so glad I did! The Beginners’ modules are designed to bring a complete beginner up to the appropriate level. For me, the course was a fast-paced refresher and consolidation of everything I had learned so far. My seminar tutor, Brigitte Depret, was fantastic. She was so enthusiastic and really brought the French to life, and the fact that she was a Native French speaker was a bonus!

By the end of my first year I realised I had enjoyed French so much that couldn’t imagine not studying it in the future so I changed my degree to a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in French and English Studies. French has opened my eyes to the option of teaching English as a foreign language, in France of course! At the end of next year, I will have the opportunity to spend a year in France, working as an English Language Assistant through the British Council which, as a future teacher, would provide invaluable classroom experience as well as the perfect setting to immerse myself in the French language. Studying French at Stirling also gives you the opportunity to study abroad in France or a French-speaking country as part of your course. I can’t wait to embrace these opportunities. I’m so excited for next year!”

Many thanks to Paige for sending this post and we’re looking forward to seeing where the next few years will take you, both in terms of time abroad and on the modules that lie ahead!

Happy New Year: “Every Class is a New Discovery”

First and foremost, “Happy New Year! Bonne Année!” to you all! 2017 marks Stirling’s 50th anniversary so we’re looking forward to a great year of events and celebrations, and to more profiles of students who have studied French with us for the past half-century. We’re also going to continue our series of profiles of current French at Stirling students and that seems an ideal place to pick up this blog after the festive season so, without further ado, a great new article by one of our current Year 2 students, Stefano Intropido:

2017-intropido-picture“Bonjour! My name is Stefano and I am a Second year undergraduate (BA) in International Politics and Modern Languages (French) here at the University of Stirling. I come from Milan, a huge city in the North of Italy, so this is also my second year living abroad in such a wonderful country as Scotland. I have been asked several times why I decided to move so far from home and to study French right here and not elsewhere, and it is not always the easiest thing to explain, I guess. When I was also asked by the French Department to write a post for this blog, I was really pleased and I thought it would be nice and useful, especially for new students, to say a bit more about what brought me here and why I enjoy studying French at Stirling so much.

First and foremost, I have always been really keen on the English language and Anglophone culture, since I was in primary school when I first started learning it. Therefore, since I was a child I had been telling myself that one day I would study in the UK and especially in Scotland, too beautiful a country not to live in one day. I was also generally interested in languages as in Italy I started studying French too when I was 11 in Middle School; after that, I decided to go on with both languages and I thus attended a bilingual course at a scientific High School in Milan for 5 years. That was a hard time as the school was extremely demanding, but definitely rewarding. For French alone, we had classes to learn grammar, oral skills and the history and literature of France from the origins until modern times.

When it came to decide which University to apply to, I really had no idea where to go. I was – and still am – deeply interested in international and diplomatic studies, but at the same time I did not want to lose my linguistic abilities. In fact, I wanted to put them into practice in a way I had not tried before. Therefore, I spoke to my English High School teacher and she recommended I should have a look at Stirling since she thought that it could be the right place for me. And she couldn’t have been more right! I looked carefully at the courses offered by the University of Stirling and I was extremely glad to find the possibility to combine so many of my passions: going abroad to live in Scotland, international studies and languages all together! The University really does offer a great level of flexibility in its courses and a highly valuable combinations of subjects; I therefore decided to apply for a BA in International Politics and Modern Languages, with French, and I am really enjoying it so far!!!

Mais on parlait du français… When I came to the Applicant Day and had the opportunity to talk to members of the staff in the French Department, I immediately had the feeling of a great environment where I could really enhance my abilities as a student and, most importantly, as a person. Both lecturers and tutors are all truly keen on helping when students reach them out to seek support and guidance. At the beginning I was a bit worried I might “re-study” what I had already learnt in High School about France, but I was soon pleased and surprised to see that all the materials and topics covered in the culture stream are totally new and highly related to the wider spectrum of French culture rather than just to France’s literature in itself; this makes every single class a new discovery and a challenge. To conclude, my time here at Stirling has really strengthened my abilities in French and I do look forward to what is coming next! I would undoubtedly recommend studying French at the University of Stirling: best choice ever!”

Many thanks to Stefano for starting the New Year with this post and we hope you enjoy the semester ahead!

Stirling Postgrad Journal CFP

The editors of Stirling’s postgraduate journal Stryvling are currently looking for articles for an issue dedicated to the topic of ‘Quality of Life’.  The CFP closes in May 2016 and follows here:

‘The Stirling International Journal of Postgraduate Research is a peer-reviewed research journal published by postgraduate students at the University of Stirling. Its objective is to attract high quality, original, multidisciplinary research articles and book reviews for publication in theme-driven issues. The theme of our upcoming, third issue is ‘quality of life’. The journal is aimed at an international audience and will be published online in open access mode.

‘To read some analyses, you would think that [the protests in France of May] 1968 took place in the heads of a few Parisian intellectuals. We must therefore remember that it is the product of a long chain of world events, and a series of currents of international thought, that already linked the emergence of new forms of struggle to the production of a new subjectivity, if only in its critique of centralism and its qualitative claims concerning the quality of life’. – Gilles Deleuze

The Stirling International Journal of Postgraduate Research seeks articles on the subject of the continual political and technological mechanisms exerted upon the quality of life, and the varied human responses to these mechanisms. How have the sciences of politics, education, law, and the arts shaped quality of life and our very notions of it? We are looking for articles of between 5000 and 7000 words on the topic relating but not limited to the following fields: aquaculture, film studies, history, law, literature, nursing, philosophy, politics, physiotherapy, psychology, sociology and software engineering. The deadline for submission of abstracts of roughly 400 words is May 2016. Please email your abstracts to one of the following email addresses: maurodilullo@stir.ac.uk, sbatrawy@yahoo.com, or s.l.lindsay@stir.ac.uk.’

Submissions relating to France and the wider Francophone world are very welcome!