Tag: Postcolonial France

Untold stories, untold history

It’s really great to be getting a chance to alternate between articles by students who are reaching the end of their undergrad studies with us in French at Stirling and those who’re at various different stages of the process so, following Alexia’s post, this time we have an article by Jeanne who will be graduating next month:

2018 Jeanne Nozahic Picture 2 May18‘Studying International Management and Intercultural Studies at the University of Stirling has led me to choose the right path for my future studies and work orientation. Indeed, I initially thought I would opt for a career in international business, although I wanted to keep all my options open (a career in translation perhaps) as I wasn’t sure just yet.

Throughout this degree, I have had the chance to study topics such as colonial history, collaboration and feminism in France. As a French citizen with slave ancestors (from Martinique) and a woman, being able to study these subjects (which are still taboo in my home country) and being granted greater access to a part of my identity has been an amazing experience.

In a sense, I had found the answers to many of my pending questions. So, I chose to change my degree to International Management with European Languages and Societies (without the final year in the management school in Strasbourg) as I still had many questions which remained unanswered and my curiosity was as high as it could be regarding taboos in French as well as Spanish history.

2018 Jeanne Nozahic Picture 8 May18As I also study Spanish, during my third year, I had the chance to go to Spain, at the University of Granada for my Compulsory Semester Abroad with the Erasmus programme. I also successfully applied for a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship for my Semester Abroad. These are Scottish research grants for students from Scottish Universities going to study in EU countries or for foreign EU students coming to Scotland to promote Scottish culture and enhance mutual EU belongingness through research and mine enabled me to examine whether Spaniards encountered the same difficulty as the French to teach some of their ‘dark history’: the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, something I had studied in depth in Scotland and France.

2018 Jeanne Nozahic Picture 3 May18Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to visit various “lieux de mémoire” such as Garcia Lorca’s home in Granada or Franco’s tomb near Madrid. I also visited museums (Museum of War in Toledo, Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid–where you can see Guernica) and bought many books. The project pushed me to talk to many people: librarians, high school teachers, random people in the street, lecturers, guides, friends… allowing me to collect many varied and enriching opinions on the subject, while enhancing my language skills, grasping the culture and understanding my host country a lot better.

During our semester abroad, we also had to conduct a Research Project, for Stirling this time, and I chose to do it on “Modernisation in Spain: through the study of religion”. Actually, from abroad, I had the impression that Spaniards were practicing, rigorous Catholics, and I wanted to understand why, if that is true, they voted in favour of same sex marriage in 2005 (having in mind that a fiercely secular country like France only voted in favour in 2013). I loved doing field research for this project, confirming once more my decision to do research in the future. As with the Stevenson scholarship, it was another great opportunity to meet locals, make friends and learn from others such as during the impressive street processions of “Semana Santa” where families and friends gather each year.2018 Jeanne Nozahic Picture 6 May18

In this past year, I applied to an MLitt by Research in Transnational Cultures at the University of Aberdeen, focused on post-colonialism and I can’t wait to start. I would like to continue with a PhD and hopefully become a university researcher, to study the impact of the “untold history” on our identity.’

2018 Jeanne Nozahic Picture 4 May18

Many thanks to Jeanne for finding the time to send us this post and best of luck for the MLitt in the Granite City – we look forward to hearing how things are going over the months and years ahead. And we can promise posts by French at Stirling’s 2018 Stevenson Scholars over the weeks ahead…

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Off to Quebec…

About a year ago, the blog ran a series of articles by students who were just reaching the end of their first year studying French at Stirling. One year on, we thought it’d be good to see how things were going so here’s the first of the follow-up articles by Stuart Close who has just finished the 2nd year of his BA Hons in French and Spanish:

2018 Stuart Close Year 2 profile follow-up pic2.docx‘Salut encore! Now that another year of French at Stirling has come to an end, I’d like to share my experiences of the 2nd year of the course. Overall, the format of the module is the same as last year: Culture, written language and oral. The difference this year, in my opinion, is the complexity of written language and oral. I enjoyed discussing topics that could well come up in conversation with francophones, and complex grammatical structures that although difficult, have had a significant effect on my confidence in speaking French. The culture topics this year have been a good variety – from the experience of French Jewish people in World War 2, colonial atrocities and conflicts; to Quebec cinema and the representation of French Muslims.

2018 Stuart Close Year 2 profile follow-up pic 1.docxI like to monitor my progress in French in real life settings each year. This year I was able to practice in two instances. Firstly, during reading week I travelled through Switzerland to parts of France near the border such as Evian-les-Bains and St Louis. And secondly, during the semester I had French cousins of my girlfriend round at my flat for what was meant to be just a night. However, owing to the ‘beast from the east’, they ended up staying for the better part of a week, which was an excellent opportunity to practice my French during visits to the pub or even a game of ‘cards against humanity’ which needed to be interpreted.

I feel that the course materials and assessments this year have given me a great foundation for my British council placement in Quebec later this year, and I hope to come back to third year with a solid level of French (and hopefully not too strong an accent!). Au revoir!’

Many thanks to Stuart for taking the time to send us this update and we look forward to tales of life in Quebec over the year ahead – good luck with the ELA!

More follow-ups and other articles to follow soon…

 

“I wish I could go back and do it all again”

Claudia Legg graduated with a BA Hons in French in 2012 and is now working in the legal sector. Her memories of her time studying French at Stirling highlight the opportunities for study abroad and the range of topics studied over the course of 4 years:

“I went to look at Stirling University after friends in Scotland said I should. I didn’t really know what to expect and having visited Newcastle and Edinburgh Universities, both of which are city campuses, I never thought too much about a campus university. However, Stirling absolutely took my breath away (it was 20 degrees and sunny which always helps!), especially after only 2 hours sleep for the flight to Scotland.

I had always done a language at school and French was an easy decision for me. The course description and the variety of modules really sold Stirling to me. The fact that you could study subjects as opposite as politics and cinema and then combine it into your language modules was an incredible chance. So the course, coupled with the campus and the social opportunities made Stirling the ideal choice even if my parents were horrified during the 900 mile round trip they had to make!

My favourite modules were the postcolonial France modules, “Introduction to African Literature and Cinema” and the cinema module “Screening the City”. One film (5th Element) even came up in a pub quiz… the fact I got the answer wrong is no reflection on the course! My modules choices then formed my dissertation title and research, a major benefit of the Stirling course.

2016 Legg End of dissertation
End of my dissertation!

 

However the best part of studying at Stirling was the fact I could visit abroad- not once but twice. I spent my semester abroad at Limoges where I was able to easily get to Bordeaux, Oradour and other historical places. The Limousin is steeped in history and due to familial connections I was able to visit places that were not easily accessible to tourists otherwise. I was lucky enough to also go to Paris on a day trip to research my dissertation at the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration. If I had studied a different subject, other than French, I would never had the confidence to go abroad and do all these wonderful things.

2016 Legg Limoges Exchange Students in Bordeaux
Limoges Exchange Students in Bordeaux

 

Since I graduated in 2012, I worked for two years in retail where we had a few French customers and I was asked to help translate where there were problems with customer care. Since 2014 I have been working in two law firms where French documents have periodically come in and I have been asked to help translate. Already at my new firm my boss has said there are more French clients coming through and that I will need to brush up on my conveyancing French (not that was on the course… I’m not sure how often “drainage search” would come up in conversational French). I think, though, other than French, the skills the course teaches you are invaluable. Presentations, written skills, discussions and debates all occur in day to day life. Stirling not only prepares you for your degree subject but also for the working world. I wish I could go back and do it all again.”

Many thanks to Claudia for this blog post and best wishes for the future!