Tag: Language learning

Semester Abroad: ‘Aix has begun to feel like home!’

The last day of our mid-semester break and it’s time to post a few updates, starting with this great post from Evelyn who is in the 3rd year of a BA Hons in French with us and is currently enjoying her integral Semester Abroad:

2019 McLennan Aix Pic II Feb19‘It’s now been a month and a half since I set off for Aix-en-Provence for my semester abroad at Aix-Marseille Université. The time has flown by and Aix has begun to feel like home which I didn’t think would happen in such a short space of time!

Whilst I had applied for and been granted a room in student accommodation, I wasn’t able to move in until the Tuesday of the first week. This meant that I had to stay in a hotel for the first few nights which, whilst annoying, did mean that I spent a bit of time in the centre of town and so got to know my way around quite quickly. When I was finally able to move into the halls, I was pleased to see how close they are to the university campus and it reminded me happily of my first year at Stirling when I could roll out of bed and make it to class in half an hour! Although basic, the halls are actually really nice, as long as you like aeroplane bathrooms and not socialising with your neighbours. There are thirty rooms to one kitchen, Geddes almost sounds like a dream in comparison, and people seem to enter, cook and leave with nothing more than a simple “bonne soirée”.

2019 McLennan Aix Pic IV Feb19The main university building is almost as much of a maze as Stirling’s Cottrell Building, but thankfully there are maps at the end of each colour-coded corridor to help you find your way. My first class was French to English translation where I quickly learnt that translating into your native language isn’t as easy as you might think! I had a few false starts with my timetable, ending up in one class where I hadn’t completed the first semester of the course and another that I was informed I didn’t have the right to be in; I was promptly asked to leave! It’s all worked out in the end though and I have a timetable of classes that are interesting and definitely developing my French!

I am very lucky to be travelling with my Stirling friend Charlotte who has family nearby in Marseille. Her family has been so kind in helping me to get settled and discover the area. This experience has brought us so much closer as friends as well as introducing us to other great people! We have a small but fun group of friends comprising other Erasmus students with whom we have explored a lot to discover the town and its culture.

2019 McLennan Aix Pic III Feb19There is a fair bit to do in Aix with a choice of three cinemas, lots of shops, several museums as well as multiple restaurants and bars. There are weekly parties organised by the Erasmus Student Network which give us the excuse to discover new bars and meet new people; although I have to say Aix’s IPN Club makes Fubar back in Stirling look pretty impressive! The ESN also organise cultural tours and events around Aix and Marseille which help to discover the local culture.

All in all, I am loving my time here in Aix-en-Provence and I can already tell that leaving in May will be very difficult!’

Many, many thanks to Evelyn for this great post and we hope you continue to enjoy all that Aix has to offer over the months ahead!

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Stirling, Kaohsiung, Aix-en-Provence…

And, following on from the update from Charlotte, another blog post from one of our 2017 graduates, Lysiane, who completed her BA Hons in French and Spanish just over 18 months ago:

‘After graduating I decided to go back to where I grew up in Taiwan. I went to Kaohsiung from January to August and studied Chinese at the University of Wen Zao and I started to teach at cram schools. It was really a self-discovery journey, to explore the real world as an independent woman and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

2019 Dixte Lang School kid-area1I am now living in Aix-en-Provence and I have opened a language centre with my sister. We offer English, French, Spanish and Chinese classes to everyone from the age of 3 to 100. We have conversation groups on Mondays and Tuesdays where we just chat together over biscuits and coffee. At this time of year, we have a lot of high school students who are looking for help to prepare them for the Baccalaureate. I also do private tutoring on the side so I’m teaching all the time.

Recently with my parents, we decided it might be worthwhile I actually do a Master’s degree in teaching since, if I wanted to work elsewhere in France or abroad, in the future, I would have a recognized qualification to do so but also mainly to study the methodology of teaching. I can speak the languages but teaching them is another thing. I have learnt this through experience and whilst doing my TEFL certificate online. So, this September the plan is for me to try the ‘Professeur des Ecoles’ post-grad in Toulouse and I am going to be sitting the CAPES (fingers crossed!).

2019 Dixte Photo Feb19Afterward, I am a little uncertain exactly what I’ll do, maybe I’ll go abroad to teach or I was even thinking of working in the world of diplomacy as the Master’s I’ll be doing opens doors to this field and to translation, too. I also think I would really like to work as a Special Needs Teacher but in order to do so, one must first be a qualified teacher so we’ll see if afterward, I can try to specialize in that. I guess we’ll find out what life has in store for me. As always, I stay optimistic and I chase all the possible opportunities presented to me while keeping a passionate and determined mindset to succeed.’

Many, many thanks to Lysiane for taking the time to send us this post and we hope all continues to go well with the language centre, and wish you all the best with the CAPES in due course, too!

Life as a Languages Graduate: Catch-up

About 18 months ago, we posted an update from Charlotte who had – at that point – fairly recently graduated in French and Journalism and had just landed a job that was about to take her to work in London. A year and a half on, we’ve been back in touch with Charlotte to see how things have evolved since then:

‘Since graduating from the University of Stirling in 2017, I have moved to London and I now work as a Project Manager for TransPerfect, an American translation company with a London-based office, and have been working there for roughly a year and a half.

When I graduated, I did not even know that project management in translation was even a career path that I could go down! As someone who has a great interest in languages, this was an interesting environment to be working in. I have discovered that there is a lot more to learn about this industry besides paper translation. I have learned about transcreation, typesetting, subtitling and so much more! Furthermore, not only have I made friends with colleagues from all over the world, I work with linguists and fellow Project Managers in places such as New York, Hong Kong and Hawaii (just to name a few)!

Project management in the translation industry can be extremely fast-paced and a great stepping stone into either Project Management or the translation industry. I hope this provides you with food for thought regarding job prospects. There are definitely opportunities to work with languages apart from teaching or being a translator, which are good options for some people, but not for everyone J.

Thanks once again to the languages department at Stirling for all the support they gave me during my studies!’

Many thanks to Charlotte for taking the time to send us this post and we hope things continue to go well with the translation project management. We look forward to more updates over the years ahead!

From Stirling to Sicily: ‘Why Italy?… Why not?!’

There’s a bit of a theme emerging across recent posts in the shape of travel and the opportunities for travel that come with the study of languages, from current students on Study Abroad to those who’ve come back from Semesters Abroad singing their praises to school pupils or colleagues on teaching exchanges… And, for many of our graduates, the travelling continues. Last time we caught up with David, he was working as an English Language Assistant at a University in Colombia so we wanted to see how (and where!) we is now:

“Hello again! I was off to Scotland again last week for a good ceilidh and some Irn Bru and thought I would give you a little update. In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts, my name is David and I graduated from the University of Stirling with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish in 2017.

I was in Colombia last year working for the British Council as an English Language Assistant at the Universidad Catolica de Pereira (in the coffee region). It was an amazing experience which enabled me to improve my language skills and gain professional experience. For instance, preparing and teaching my own classes gave me the chance to gain independence as well as build my self-confidence. I was also able to collaborate with other university departments, such as Industrial Design, Comparative Literature, International Relations, etc.

Before working with the British Council, I never imagined I would go from planning speaking activities, to translating psychology and economics theses or that I would end up having a regular podcast on the university radio station on intercultural dynamics between countries. I found out how useful languages really are…! Working 18 hours a week left me plenty of time to travel around a beautiful country and discover a fascinating culture I had not really thought about before. In fact, it is thanks to the programme at Stirling, which focuses as much on Latin American cultures as on Spain, that I was so keen to experience life in Latin America.

When I left Colombia in May last year, I was quite sad to leave a community of friends and colleagues with whom I had spent so much time. However, I didn’t want to miss the chance to travel around Latin America. I saw places, and met people, that I will never forget! As I wasn’t quite ready to go back to Scotland yet and wasn’t sure as to what I wanted to do professionally, I decided to apply for another year as a language assistant, but this time in Italy!

Why Italy, you may ask… Why not? Having worked in Colombia and lived and studied in Spain during my year abroad, I wanted to learn a new language in order to set myself a personal challenge and widen my professional opportunities. I was appointed to a state secondary school in Sicily and I am loving it! It is sunny, the food is delicious and the people are very welcoming. From a professional point of view, I have gained invaluable experience in organising cross-cultural talks and have also added a new language to my CV!

At the end of this academic year, I will go to Glasgow to study for a PGDE in French and Spanish, do my probationary year somewhere in Scotland and then see what happens! Whatever you may be studying, as long as you enjoy it and believe in what you are doing, then you will be able to find a way in which to use what you’ve learned to your advantage. Everything you learn while at university, whether it be how to cook or how to write an essay, will come in handy one way or another!

So, to anyone who is struggling with exams and essays in their final year of uni, don’t worry, you are almost done! And to those of you who are just starting out, remember that Stirling is exceptionally flexible when it comes to your degree, so take your time deciding what you really want to study!”

Many thanks to David for another fantastic post and we hope you continue to enjoy your time in Sicily, and look forward to further updates over the months ahead!

 

A Semester in Nancy: ‘I’m looking forward to spending a few more months here!’

As Stirling enjoys a day of mist and snow, it seems a good moment to post another little article from one of this semester’s Study Abroad students, Margareta, who is at the beginning of her time in Nancy, in the East of France:

‘Salut à toutes et à tous!

Unfortunately, I don’t feel confident enough to write this post in French (yet). Recently, despite not having a singing voice, I accidentally joined the choir here (I zoned out in the middle of a meeting and said ‘oui’)…  However, I can tell you a bit about my Erasmus experience so far and maybe give some advice!

I’m currently doing my semester abroad in Nancy at the Université de Lorraine. I would describe Nancy as a smaller version of Paris with a lot of picturesque hilly streets and pâtisseries, only a bit cleaner. The location of the town itself is pretty great since you are about a 2-hour train ride away from Paris, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and many other places worth visiting.

2019roncevicnancypicijan19

The biggest problem I encountered before coming here was finding the accommodation as I tried to apply through CROUS, an organisation that operates uni accommodation on a national level in France. I found them to be quite ineffective and unresponsive. After a month and a half of trying to apply for the accommodation and them not giving me any feedback on my application, I decided just to look for a private room. [Side note: our Erasmus coordinator in France told me that CROUS called her sometime in mid-January and they were confused by me not coming. They didn’t e-mail me or communicate in any other way that they had received my application or anything else.]

2019roncevicnancypicivjan19This turned out to be great because I found a brilliant room in a house with garden and next to the river canal. There’s also a wee cat. Another advantage is that all 3 of my flatmates are French and refuse to speak English with me. They have also invited me to make salted crêpes and cheese fondue. The point is, find French flatmates if you can! They are great, friendly and it’s an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and make new friends!

For example, I knew French had great wine, but beer? Turns out the house that I live in, in Maxeville, was a part of a brewery. Lorraine has a brilliant tradition of beers and pretty much wherever you go, you’ll find mini-breweries. Local beer or wine, cheese from farmers’ markets and some fresh bread – delicious!

2019roncevicnancypiciiijan19So far, this is my 5th year living away from home, so I’m not feeling extremely homesick or anything like that. It is very nice to have Jennifer here with me, especially when going to classes for the first time and trying to figure out our schedules. Lectures and seminars are very similar, almost identical to Stirling and there’s a big list of modules to choose from. We’re also taking an intensive French course with other Erasmus students and I’m very happy with it so far. It’s much easier to enjoy French when your professor laughs at his own jokes and explains everything 3 times – until we definitely understand it.

All in all, Nancy has been welcoming and a pleasant surprise. I would recommend everyone to consider it for their semester abroad. All the bureaucracy in the first semester was well worth it and I’m looking forward to spending a few more months in this place!’

Many thanks to Margareta for taking the time to send us this post and we hope you continue to enjoy your time in Nancy!

2019roncevicnancypiciijan19

‘Parlez-vous franglais?’: Starting a Semester Abroad in Tours

Much sooner than I anticipated, following on from the promise last week that we’d be posting some articles by students embarking on their semester of Study Abroad, I’m delighted to be able to start that particular series with this great post from Mairi:

‘I have been in Tours for almost a week now and it has been a very overwhelming and exhausting week. I arrived on Thursday evening, 12 hours after leaving my home in Scotland. I travelled with my friend and course mate Rhiannon who is also studying in Tours with me this semester. Both of us were tired, exhausted and nervous to start our new life in France. We checked in to our hotel and went to McDonalds which is somewhat ironic when you are in one of the best places for food in the world and you choose to go to a fast food chain, but we were starving and it was just around the corner from our hotel.

2019 edwards tours pic ii jan19

The next day we went to collect our keys for our accommodation in student halls of residence which required using buses, trams and taxis. Not an easy task when you’ve never visited Tours before, and you’ve overestimated your level of French. Nevertheless, after numerous conversations in franglais (a made-up combination of French and English) we moved in and unpacked our suitcases that we had spent so long packing. After that we explored the city and tried to get our bearings, again not simple but we’re slowly getting there.

2019 edwards tours cathedral pic jan19On Saturday we did some more exploring and visited Tours Cathedral, one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever seen – similar to Notre Dame with its gothic architecture, high ceilings and stained-glass windows. It was simply breath-taking and provided myself and Rhiannon with a few moments of welcome peace after what had been a very stressful and emotional few days. Later in the evening we went to meet with some students from the International Society, we got chatting with a few girls (Sam, Emily and Marie) and then went for pizza with them afterwards. Emily and Marie were here last semester so they knew their way around the city very well and were able to recommend places to eat as well as directing us on our way home.

In the last few days I’ve done lots of exploring, shopping and tasting delicious French cuisine (there is a reason France is known for its bread and cakes). It has not been easy, what with adapting to a new culture, trying to understand and speak French, as well as becoming familiar with an unfamiliar city. It takes time but as the days go on it gets easier to understand the city around me. Next week I start classes which will be a welcome routine to get into and I’m looking forward to all the trips and travelling that I have lined up. More coming soon.  A bientôt.’

2019 edwards tours pic i jan19

Many thanks to Mairi for this great article! We hope the semester continues to go well and look forward to updates over the weeks ahead.

Language Assistantships and Semesters Abroad

At the moment, we have 8 French at Stirling students off on British Council English Language Assistantships, mainly dotted across metropolitan France but with one student in Quebec for the year and another in Belgium. Paige is one of those in France for the year and she is also participating in the ‘Language Linking Global Thinking’ programme, organised through SCILT, so we’re very happy to be able to post a link here to her latest blog post for LLGT all about festive traditions in France. Quite literally ‘food for thought’ for our Year 2 and final year students currently applying for ELAs for next year…

And while we’re on the topic of time abroad, best wishes to the 18 students embarking on their Semester Abroad at the moment at our partner institutions at the UCO in Angers, at the EGE in Rabat, at Aix-Marseille, at the Université de Lorraine in Nancy, and at the Universities of Tours, Limoges, Geneva and Clermont. We’re looking forward to being able to post some articles and pictures from them as they settle into their new Universities and towns for the semester… and hopefully some articles by students from our partner institutions spending their semester with us in Stirling, too.