Tag: International Office

Welcome to Tourzzz! (pronunciation Ryanair-style)

Among all these updates on students past and present, time for a couple of staff-related blog posts, the first of which comes from our Language Coordinator and Study Abroad Advisor, Jean-Michel DesJacques:

2018 JMD la Loire‘I am very grateful to the International Office to have funded my trip to Tours in order to pay a long overdue visit to one of our partners in the Loire Valley. I was lucky enough to be able to meet with Solène Loiseau from their Bureau International, and then with the Co-Director of the LEA programme, Joëlle Popineau. I would like to thank them both for having taken the time to speak to me as Study Abroad Advisor here at the University of Stirling.

It is self-evident but somewhat understated that meeting people de visu and spending some time with them is what helps create a strong and lasting bond between institutions. We don’t have many opportunities for spontaneous exchanges and it was very refreshing to be able to go beyond the usual email niceties and urgent queries.

Inevitably, in spite of all the positive things we had to say about our exchange of students (and hopefully staff soon), the conversation had to revolve around Brexit. I was surprised to hear that there seems to be a lot more anxiety on the French side that there was on ours. I was also very sorry to hear that some programmes had their compulsory semester abroad component in the UK cancelled due to the financial uncertainties that Brexit has created: Erasmus grants are vital to students and the risk, a financial one, was deemed too big to take a leap of faith into the unknown. Interestingly enough, new English-speaking destinations were being sought, rather successfully it seems: the Netherlands in particular and Scandinavia to a lesser extent.

2018 JMD Place PlumereauAs for Tours itself, well, I am not sure where to start: if you are a bit of a gourmet, you are more likely to find happiness wandering on the old Place Plumereau rather than the Pathfoot building. Without necessarily going for a Gargantuan feast (yes, François Rabelais is from nearby Chinon), you could find yourself in a nice bistro for a delightful plat du jour.

There is certainly plenty to do and see and it would be best to let you discover it for yourselves.’

Thanks to Jean-Michel for making the visit and finding time to send us the blog post (and for the great pics!). And we look forward to continuing our exchange with Tours over the years ahead.

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French Film Festival comes to the MacRobert

French at Stirling is delighted to announce that a series of films from the annual French Film Festival will be screening at the MacRobert on various dates over the course of November. Building on the success of last year’s festival screenings, the MacRobert’s Film Programmer Grahame Reid explains: ‘For the second year in a row, we are delighted to partner with French at University of Stirling and be part of the UK-wide French Film Festival to bring more screenings from the crème de la crème of French-speaking cinema than ever before!’

Screenings start this Thursday (2 November) at 7.30 with La Fille de Brest, followed by Patients on Thursday 9 November at 7.30. On Monday 20 November, there’s a screening of Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge and then, on Thursday 23 November, the screening of Mercenaire will be preceded by a public lecture by Professor Bill Marshall at 5.30 and a reception sponsored by Erasmus@30 and Stirling’s International Office. The season of French Film Festival films will come to a close with L’Amant Double on Thursday 30 November.

Full details of all the films and screenings can be found on the MacRobert Cinema webpages. All screenings are open to the general public.

Venez nombreux!

30 years of Erasmus: Scottish Parliament celebrations

2017 Erasmus Plus LogoThere’s no teaching this week at Stirling but that doesn’t mean everything stops and our Language Coordinator, Jean-Michel DesJacques, along with his Spanish counter-part Jose Ferreira-Cayuela, Fiona Buckland from our International Office and a few of our students have been at Holyrood to represent the University at a celebration of 30 years of the Erasmus programme. Dozens of our students – across French and Spanish – benefit from our involvement in the Erasmus programme every year, spending a semester at one of our extensive range of Erasmus partners that stretches from Caen in Northern France to Granada in Southern Spain.

As Fiona Buckland explains, ‘the Higher Education Institutes of Scotland held a joint celebration at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 24 October to celebrate 30 years of the Erasmus Programme. Students from the University of Stirling were invited to attend and contribute an article to a brochure for the event and be filmed for a video explaining what Erasmus means to them.

2017 Erasmus at 30 Group Photo Oct17

Erin Cawley who is doing a BA in International Management with European Languages and Society (and spent a semester at the Universidad de Santander), Suzanne Buiter, who is in the final year of her BA in International Management with European Languages and Society (and spent her Semester Abroad at the Universidad de Navarra) and Alex Sorlei, who has just started the final year of a BA International Politics and Languages (with a Semester Abroad at Sciences Po, Paris) attended the event with Jean-Michel DesJacques and Jose Ferreira-Cayuela. Speakers included the Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Alan Smith Director (Erasmus Bureau of the European Commission [1987-92]) and student participants.’

2017 Erasmus at 30 JM and JFC Oct17For Jose and Jean-Michel, the event was an important way to mark the role that Erasmus plays within languages degrees both for staff and students. As Jose puts it, ‘the event was a reflection of what Erasmus+ is all about: meeting people from all over Europe, exchanging ideas and experiences and a great opportunity to taste food/drink from different places. The setting was also great and the presence of very important figures of the Scottish Government proved that exchanges with Europe are a priority for Scotland in the future. Whether we still call it Erasmus+ or something else, is a different issue.’ Similarly, for Jean-Michel, the sense of community that Erasmus creates is crucial: ‘It was great to be amongst friends for the 30-year anniversary of the launch of the Erasmus programme. I felt a bit jealous at the wealth of opportunities young students – in fact young people in general – have to go abroad. For a short while, we managed to forget the uncertainty of it all and decided to celebrate one of the greatest schemes to come out of the European institutions.’

Thanks to Fiona, Jean-Michel and Jose for their contributions (and photos!) and to Erasmus+ for helping our students over the years. Many, many tales of Erasmus+ experiences to be found among the pages of this blog!

2017 Erasmus at 30 Cake Oct17

Erasmus Sun and Snow

Following on from Julian’s account of life at Sciences Po last Spring, another Erasmus-related post here, this time from Rebecca Wilson, currently in her final semester studying French and Spanish, and who spent Spring 2015 on Study Abroad in Perpignan:

‘During my third year at Stirling I was fortunate enough to undertake a semester abroad as part of my studies. I was sent to Perpignan, a small city in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France. With Perpignan being only two hours away from the ski resorts and a mere fifteen minute bus ride away from the beach I couldn’t wait to get to Perpignan and I was even slightly excited about trying to speak French and study at the University of Perpignan via Domitia.

2016 Wilson Perpignan Ski March

On arrival in Perpignan, I was immersed immediately into the language and to be honest I was shocked at how the majority of people there didn’t speak or understand English. To say the first few weeks of life in Perpignan were hard would be an understatement, aside from getting lost in a city which on arrival I had thought humongous but in reality was rather small, to sitting in classes surrounded by French students who neither understood me nor I them, this was the definition of a learning experience! Every day after university both me and my flatmate Megan would return home feeling rather sorry for ourselves faced with the difficulty of being constantly surrounded by French. However, it did get easier and about six weeks in, we began to enjoy this experience of studying in France. Although the university we were at was very different to the University of Stirling, it was good in different respects. For example, we had more classes which might sound daunting but for someone wanting to learn another language, having more face time with speakers of said language is actually really useful. The campus itself obviously was nothing like our campus here in Stirling, the buildings were very run down and there was no student union. It only had one café, however in comparison to Stirling you could get coffee for 50 cents which is still something I miss about the university.

Aside from the university, Perpignan itself is a different kind of city. It’s pretty small, and there really isn’t any shopping on offer aside from a Galerie Lafayette and a small shopping centre outside the city which we would visit every week for the sole purpose of getting a McDonalds. However, what Perpignan lacks in shops it makes up for in its cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. The nightlife in Perpignan is pretty interesting, there are so many bars and the clubs are a lot better than the clubs here, especially in the lead up to the summer months when Canet Plage reopens as it is full of open air clubs and beach bars.

2016 Wilson Perpignan March

Living in Perpignan I met a good mix of people, of course like every other ERASMUS student I quickly fell into a group with all the other foreign students in Perpignan and we would all hang out together before nights out or at weekends, though we did have a few French students in the group too which helped mix things up as we would have the option to speak both French and English! During the winter months I spent my weekends in the mountains, in the ski resorts of Les Angles and Font Romeu. The proximity of Perpignan to the Pyrenees was my main reason I chose it and it only cost 1€ to get a bus from Perpignan to the ski resort! When I think back to Perpignan this is basically what I miss, yes you can ski in Scotland but it’s not skiing in the sun in the Pyrenees. Closer to the summer, my friends and I would spend our weekends at the beach or on weekends away in other cities such as Montpellier or Barcelona.

To say I miss this experience would be an understatement, I’m not saying it was all smooth sailing, it was certainly an experience and a lot happened which I was not prepared for. However, if I was given the option to go back and do it all again, I would. I miss seeing the peak of Canigou every day and having all that freedom to just travel and explore. I learnt just as much in university in France as I did on my adventures, given the amount of times we would get lost. Living in France taught me so much and it is thanks to Perpignan and ERASMUS I got to have this fantastic experience living and studying abroad.’

Thanks to Rebecca for sending this article and for the pictures!

 

 

Stirling, Vancouver, Paris…

French at Stirling has Study Abroad partnership agreements with a wide range of Universities and Business Schools across France but also in Switzerland, Quebec and Morocco. On the vast majority of our programmes, students spend a compulsory semester on Study Abroad (Semester 6) at one of these partners, attending classes covering a range of topics – French language, of course, but many of our students also choose to use the semester to try out new subject areas or to take courses related to another subject they might study at Stirling. Semester 6 Abroad is also a chance to travel, to meet new people (whether other exchange students or locals), to build networks for future career plans…

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be posting a few accounts of recent Study Abroad experiences, both from students who were away this time last year and from some currently off in foreign climes. We’re kicking off this series with Julian Osei-Bonsu who is in his final semester, studying French and Law, and who managed to combine a semester on one of the University-wide exchange programmes in Semester 5 with his Semester 6 component in at Sciences Po in Paris:

‘One of the reasons why I chose to study French at Stirling (along with my love for the language) was the fact that Stirling French students are required to study in a French speaking country for a semester in their third year. Stirling gives students a lot of opportunities when it comes to studying abroad, so I also decided to apply for an exchange in Canada for my fifth semester. I got into the program and soon enough I was in third year and living in Vancouver.

Having only just settled in Canada, I had to start applying for my compulsory Erasmus semester. Needing to fill out Erasmus documents and finding accommodation, all while trying to make most of my limited time in Canada – doing assignments, making new friends and trying to see as much of Canada as possible – seemed like a daunting prospect at first. However, the entire process was pretty straightforward, and I always received helpful feedback from my tutors in Stirling whenever I encountered difficulties.

My time in Canada ended too soon, and two weeks after leaving I landed in Paris. I found myself in my new flat that I had just managed to find two weeks earlier and that I hadn’t even been sure actually existed, and said hello to my new flatmate who had just arrived for his exchange and who seemed just as baffled as I was. Having been in a similar situation just five months earlier didn’t make anything less scary.

2016 Osei-Bonsu Left Bank

Although I felt extremely privileged to have the opportunity to study abroad twice in a row, I thought that moving to a different country after such a short period of time, starting studying at a new university and having to make new friends all over again would be a little exhausting. Also I thought my time in Canada couldn’t be topped. However, I don’t think I have ever been more wrong. I fell in love with Paris within a week of getting there. When you’re studying abroad, you’re bound to meet other exchange students who, like you, are desperate to make friends. It is incredible how many like-minded people I met, who shared my interests and my love for the city. To me, Paris is the place to have the ultimate study abroad experience. It is an incredibly beautiful city, you are constantly surrounded by places and landmarks that already seem familiar to you because you saw them in a film or read about them in a book. Soaking up the spring sun on the banks of the Canal St Martin, having to walk down the Boulevard St Germain to school every day, or frantically racing through the streets in order to see the midnight lightshow of the Eiffel Tower in time for your flatmate’s birthday is just the beginning. Studying there for a semester, I felt like I became a part of the city and its people – I now know the stops of my metro line by heart and I could show anyone the least touristy hide outs.

2016 Osei-Bonsu eiffel tower

I also loved my classes. I wasn’t required by Stirling to take any specific modules so I decided to take courses in sociology, politics and international relations, which I feel gave me a basic understanding in fields I would never have been able to venture into had I not studied there. The fact that my grades were not transferred back to Stirling was also very refreshing. I appreciated being part of the Sciences Po student body for a semester. Sciences Po is a highly esteemed school in France and it is located in the heart of Paris. During my time there, world leaders such as Kofi Annan, Al Gore and Ban Ki Moon stopped by to give talks.

I can only recommend studying abroad in Paris. I had the best time of my life there; I made incredible friends, most of whom I am still in contact with; and I feel honoured to have been able to study at one of France’s best institutions. The only regret of studying in Paris would be that now, literally nothing can top my Paris experiences.’

Thanks to Julian for this blog post and for the pictures!

2016 Osei-Bonsu Montmartre-18th arrondissement