Tag: Postgraduate Studies

“Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me”

Just before the blog takes a little break for a couple of weeks, two great articles for you. The first one here is by Alex Hill who just graduated with his BA Hons in French in June and has gone straight from graduation to internship, with career plans beyond that. The second article is by Jeanne Nozahic who has been away in Spain for her Semester Abroad and who has been reflecting on the experience generally but also in particular about what her success at obtaining a Stevenson Scholarship meant for her. Alex first…:

“A few days ago, I was lucky enough to receive an email from Cristina asking if I’d like to share a few thoughts on my time doing French at Stirling and my plans for the future, which I then realised I had accidently ignored for more than a week due to being so busy! This got me thinking to myself about how time has flown by since finishing my degree; as I write this it’s 28 days since my graduation (2.1, get in!) and 103 since the end of a coffee-fuelled, sleep-deprived few months spent balancing writing a dissertation on French politics whilst also trying to get my head round the art of translation.

2017 Alex Hill Dissertation Picture
Dissertation Hand-in

 

Since then it’s been all go, having started an internship with Oxford-based triathlon events company IRONMAN UK in the Operations team in early May; a job which saw me head over to France a few days in to get a taste of what to expect on the job. As I should have expected, I was designated the role of interpreter (read: food order-er), and, after ordering a few sandwiches and coffees for lunch, I was greeted with high fives and comments regarding how awesome it was that I was able to speak French. That’s one of the perks of being able to speak a foreign language – it’s a skill not many people have so it gives you the chance to show off and feel smug every once in a while!

Joking aside, studying a French degree really is one of the most useful and coolest things I have ever done. When I first decided to study French at university, it was a case of “it’ll be cool to say I’m fluent, plus I can probably get a job as a teacher or translator afterwards”. What I have discovered in the last four years is that it is worth so much more than that; you develop oral and written communication skills to an incredibly high standard, something highly regarded by employers and essential not only from a working perspective but also in life in general. As well as this, you strengthen your critical, analytical and research skills from studying French literature and get to put this to the test in engaging and interesting class discussions. These skills are crucial in almost every job market, which explains why French graduates not only get jobs as translators and teachers, but in business, journalism and diplomacy amongst other domains. Furthermore, French gives you an understanding of (political, social and economic) culture in a range of francophone countries. It’s not only francophone countries this will prove useful in; if you can learn French you can learn any language! This makes you employable not only in Great Britain, but across the world, which it doesn’t take a genius to work out significantly increases your chances of finding a job.

I really believe I made the right choice coming to Stirling to study French. The campus has to be one of the most beautiful in the world, which makes looking out the library on a sunny day that little bit easier. The people are all friendly, and at the end of the day it’s good fun and everything you need is nearby. The French course itself is run by a dedicated team of lecturers, who put in a great deal of time to make every last module exciting and appealing, resulting in a varied course that not once did I find boring. As well as this, the lecturers are always more than willing to help and provide useful answers to queries and feedback. If you are thinking of, or about to start, studying French at Stirling, I would recommend the Quebec cinema module, run by Bill Marshall, or the Francophone Detective fiction module, run by Cristina (hopefully these will still be around!).

2017 Alex Hill Perpignan Skiing

Without doubt, however, the highlight of my time at Stirling was going on my semester abroad; it’s just such a different academic experience and results in your language skills coming on more than you thought possible. It improves your ability to adapt and improves your confidence, both as a French speaker and in general. You make lifelong friends and at the end of your time away, you feel a genuine sense of pride in yourself for coping with what at one point felt like a goliath-sized task.

2017 Alex Hill USAP rugby

As for me, once I finish my internship, I will be moving back up to Stirling to start a job on the Enterprise Rent a Car Graduate Scheme as a Management Trainee. After finishing that I plan to return to Stirling to do a Master’s, followed by hopefully finding work in the investment industry. Having said that, there are a number of jobs in a variety of industries I find interesting and would like to do, and I wouldn’t mind running my own business one day. Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me and I’m very excited about what the future holds. In the words of my favourite film La Haine, “Le monde est à nous” (the world is ours). Just in case you were worried that I’m not getting much chance to celebrate graduating by entering the big bad world of work straight away, I get two weeks between my internship and full-time job, during which I plan to escape somewhere sunny!

Finally, one final big thank you to everyone at the French department at Stirling and all the other staff who work so tirelessly to provide every one of us with a fantastic student experience.”

Many, many thanks to Alex for this great post, all the best for the rest of the summer (internship and holidays!) and good luck with the next steps! And yes, the Detective Fiction option is back in the Autumn…

“How I somehow got accepted to do a Master at Waseda University in Japan…”

As promised, following on from Charlotte’s post about life and work since graduating last month, another of our 2017 graduates, Julie Perruchon who just completed her BA Hons in French and English, has sent us an article about her plans for the next couple of years which will see her embarking on postgraduate studies in Japan:

“Like any other student, my final semester at the University of Stirling consisted mostly of essay writing, university applications and general agonizing about the future. I had decided that I was determined to go to Japan; either to do a Master, or as an English teacher at an ‘Eikawa’ (English Language Schools). I had done a lot of research, looking into the universities that offered Master courses in English, as my Japanese abilities only extend to surviving day–to-day life. To my mum’s chagrin, I stubbornly only applied to Universities and jobs in Japan. She might have been right in saying that it would have been sensible to apply to university in either Denmark or Scotland as well, but I happily ignored all common sense and threw myself into my preparations.

I can’t count the times I went to my tutors to ask them to write references for me (which I can’t thank them for enough), how many books I read about Japanese society and culture for my research plan, and how many excruciating hours I spent filling out an endless stack of forms. After being rejected three times (by the JET-Programme, ICU and the GABA Corporation), I got accepted to Waseda University’s Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies, where I will be studying under the study plan of Culture and Communication. To my (and my mother’s) huge relief! My directed research supervisor hails from a British University (and is in possession of a decidedly British name), so a little piece of the Isles will be waiting for me in the Far East. On the basis of my research plan, it has already been decided that I will write my Master thesis on the topic of ‘The Intellectual and Literary History of Japan’, focusing on how different societal traditional systems have affected the lives of Japanese youths living in urban areas. Quite a mouthful, and I cannot wait to get started.

Japan being seven hours ahead of Denmark, I could go online and check whether I had been accepted to Waseda quite early in the morning. I was almost certain that my application had been rejected, so it came as a huge surprise when I saw the tiny numbers on my laptop screen that represented my application number. And, as one does, I couldn’t sleep for excitement for the rest of the night and started planning my future venture in great detail (or as great detail as a sleep deprived brain can muster).

And then reality hit. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever been to Japan, or lived there, but finding an apartment without a Japanese bank account or phone number is proving to be rather difficult (read: almost impossible). Thankfully, I have the invaluable help of Waseda’s International Office, and I’m sure (fingers crossed) that I’ll be able to find my own tiny 12 square feet apartment squashed away in some corner of Tokyo. In the situations where befuddling paperwork and the promise of earthquakes have me questioning my own sanity, I look back fondly on how easy it was to move between Scotland and Denmark. No visa, no Certificate of Eligibility, no huge language barriers, no earthquakes (yes, I am terrified), and only one hour’s time difference to my native country. Pure heaven.

2017 Julie Perruchon Japan Pic July17My hope is that two years in Japan will help me master the Japanese language, and bring me new challenges both in my personal and University life. Now that it’s sure that I am going over there, it seems quite surreal and I haven’t yet completely wrapped my head around the fact that in less than a month and a half, I will be walking beneath the neon lights of the Shinjuku district in Tokyo. It’s the complete opposite from small and idyllic Stirling, with the most beautiful campus in the world, and nature just around the corner. Japan, and Tokyo, is going to be the next big adventure, and I can’t wait to see where what this decision is going to bring me. It’s terrifying and exciting, and I am overjoyed that I got the chance to go there.

So really, all there is left to say is a huge thank-you to the University of Stirling and everyone there! Mille mercis.”

Many thanks to Julie for taking the time to write this blog post and we’re looking forward to tales of life (and language learning) in Japan over the next few years! Best wishes for the course!

“Studying at Stirling makes me feel like I have come long way”: Erasmus exchange in Stirling

Every year, we get the chance to welcome to Stirling students from our numerous Eramus and other exchange partners across France and the wider Francophone world, either for one semester or for a full academic year, and I’m really pleased to be able to post this article by Quentin Rataud who is here for a Spring semester Erasmus exchange from our partner in Limoges.

2017 Quentin pic March“In 2015 I graduated from the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Limoges in France with a Bachelor of Arts in English Studies. I studied British and North-American civilisation and literature, as well as arts analysis, linguistics, and translation. I have been passionate about English since high school and ever since I have always been eager to learn more about the English-speaking world. After graduating, I decided to take my language studies further and applied to do a Master’s Degree in English Studies at Limoges.

Studying foreign cultures and a foreign language is marvellous, but I felt like something was missing in my university training. I felt the need to study abroad, so I applied to the Erasmus exchange programme to study in the United Kingdom. My home university offered me the opportunity to study at the University of Stirling. I had never been to Scotland before and to me it is the best way to meet the people and the wonders of this great nation.

I have chosen to study linguistics and translation here at Stirling to try to improve my English, besides practicing it every day. It turned out that I was right to do so! Things are different compared to what I was used to in France. There, I was taught about theory so now I have all the tools to improve and study in a more pragmatic way.

More than 2 months have already passed since I arrived in Scotland and I must admit that time flies. I have met many great people here, everything is different from home. I have the chance to live on campus, and I really enjoy it. Studying abroad provides you so many opportunities, it has considerably changed my everyday life and I feel happier about it.

The University of Stirling offers several programmes and services to help students, inter alia the Careers and Employability Service, which is helpful for students who do not exactly know what they would like to do after graduating. Also, the teaching staff is admirably available and never hesitates to help students, providing them information and suggestions for their future careers. I wish more universities would follow their example.

I am honestly glad to be here in Scotland. It makes me feel like I have come such a long way. As most students concerned about the future, studying abroad helped me to find my way. I cannot thank sufficiently all the people who allowed me to study at Stirling.”

Many thanks to Quentin for this article and for the very kind words about Stirling – we’re delighted you’ve enjoyed your semester here and hope you’ll keep in touch once you go back to France. And, who knows, maybe one day a PhD in Stirling will beckon…

New Chapters and New Adventures

 

Following on from Jonny Terrell’s tales of life starting out as a secondary teacher in East Dunbartonshire, another account of life in teaching but this time from Megan Davis who graduated in 2016 with a BA Hons in French and Spanish. Megan applied for a British Council English Language Assistantship in her final year and has been working as a Language Assistant in Tenerife since last Autumn:

 

“While I couldn’t quite believe that my time in Stirling had come to an end, I was itching to start a new chapter and embark on a new adventure. Luckily, the opportunity to apply to be a language assistant with the British Council cropped up while I was in my final year. I was still not entirely sure of what direction I wanted to gear my career towards, so I decided to take it.

 

From my point of view, a year with the British Council was ideal. It meant I could have a go at teaching without committing myself to pursue it as a career. Similarly, it enabled me to take a small break from full time education, and yet still allow me to gain valuable skills, as well as spend a year living in Tenerife. Having now established myself and spent a few months at my school, IES Canarias, I can honestly say I am thrilled with my decision to come here.

 

Admittedly there was a period of adjustment when my new colleagues informed me they would rather I spoke only English in the school, strictly no Spanish was to be spoken to any of the students. I was initially taken aback to begin with, as I had anticipated my knowledge Spanish being a major asset in my time abroad, as opposed to a potential drawback. Nevertheless, I have adjusted to this new role and see the benefits of it on a daily basis. In general, the students all make an effort to speak to me in English, and really try to understand when I am speaking to them. Moreover, their capacity for understanding has vastly improved now that they are used to listening to me on a regular basis.

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On a personal level I am finding this year incredibly gratifying, not only because of the relationships forged between myself and my new students and colleagues, but also because of the amount of free time. It has meant I have been able to pursue activities and hobbies that I had not yet done, such as joining a choir, which has given me to chance to visit various villages on the island when performing shows.

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Ultimately, I have made the decision not to continue with the British Council next year in favour of returning to Scotland next year to continue my higher education. Despite leaving the Canary Islands, I am delighted that I made the decision to come here and I cannot wait to see what the next few months have in store!”

 

Many thanks to Megan for taking the time to send us this blog post – we hope the rest of the ELA year goes well and look forward to catching up when you’re back in Scotland as a postgrad next year!

 

From Stirling to Maastricht: ‘Multiculturalism is what makes me feel at home!’

Following on from Meghann’s post yesterday, another account of life after French at Stirling. Iida Friman graduated with a BA Hons in French and Human Resource Management last year and is currently halfway through a Masters programme in the Netherlands:

“After graduating from Stirling last June, I wanted to continue my studies somewhere in central Europe. I chose to apply and got accepted to do my masters in Maastricht, the oldest city in the Netherlands and the birthplace of the European Union. I fell in love with the lively city of Maastricht the minute I got here.

2017-friman-maastricht

With an urban population of over 120 000, Maastricht is a “small big city”. It is full of art and wherever you go, it’s beautiful. There’s old, there’s new, there’s water, parks and nature. You’ll find animals and historic sights, brand new business quarters and older, crowded shopping streets. There are shops from Hermes to Hema and restaurants from French to Indonesian cuisine, and every second corner there’s a bar or a pub with a terrace on the cobble stoned street. Not to forget the markets, the caves, and the borders, the numerous cultural exhibitions and the academic events.

2017-friman-maastricht-water

Maastricht is a truly multicultural hub, of which a good example is my class; there are 22 students from 10 different countries. One third of them are Belgians, and since Maastricht borders Belgium, I hear and speak French every day -not just with my classmates but also in town and at work. Especially on weekends and on public holidays, the city is filled with Belgians who cross the border and come to Maastricht for its vast repertory of shops and restaurants. It often feels like I’m in Belgium or France instead of the Netherlands, because I hear more French than Dutch in the streets, boutiques and cafés. And that is why I managed to get a part time job as a waitress without any knowledge in Dutch! Thanks to my proficiency in French, supplemented with my German skills, I was hired to an Italian restaurant and after learning the basics of Dutch, I found myself serving customers in four different languages!  Using French at work has strengthened my confidence in regard to my language skills and made me realise that I can use it in surprisingly peculiar conversations that most of the time come out of the blue. This has not only reduced my timidity but also helped me get rid of the overly modest viewpoint I’ve had over my language competency. I have even started to consider new career paths that require and would involve daily French at work (yikes)!

2017-friman-iida-and-friends

In addition to the apparent benefits from the language I learned during my bachelor, studying at Stirling has influenced my postgraduate life in other, less obvious ways as well. First, having already spent two semesters on exchange in different countries, I wasn’t scared or even nervous to move into yet another new country. On the contrary, I was excited to pick and move into a new country, looking forward to all the adventures a new city would bring with it. Second, the international vibes of Stirling were something I wanted to have in my new study place as well. I guess after having lived in several countries myself, multiculturalism is something that brings together all of the different experiences I have lived and is ultimately what makes me feel at home.”

Many thanks to Iida for this great post – best wishes for the rest of the Masters and we look forward to future tales of life in Maastricht and beyond in the months and years ahead!

 

Life as a lectrice in France (Part II!)

It’s four years now since Fiona Mears completed her BA Hons in English and French at Stirling, and two years since she did her MSc in TESOL with us. The intervening period has seen Fiona working at a Language School in Edinburgh and taking up a post as a lectrice (ie an English Language Assistant) at the Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon back in Autumn 2015. Having been asked to stay on for a second year, Fiona is continuing to juggle the University-level teaching with work in a local Language School and has sent us an update on her adventures in France and in language teaching:

2016-fiona-mears-update-photo-nov16“Life continues in Besançon much as I left it in April, but with one major change: my two closest friends from last year have left, so my social life has taken quite a hit! Between seeing friends who are still here, though, and juggling my two jobs, I’m kept pretty busy. The new semester at the university got underway in September without any hitches and work resumed as normal at the language school after my five-month absence. At the university, things have been easier this time around. I’m teaching many of the same classes as last year, meaning that I know what I’m doing, much of the material is already prepared and I knew a lot of my students from last year which, if nothing else, was a blessing as it meant I didn’t have as many new names to learn. After the mild panic of having to teach it last year, phonetics is a breeze this semester. Even ‘transversal’ classes – language classes for non-specialists – are going more smoothly because I know what works well in the brochure and what to adapt. The only disappointment is that I don’t teach my favourite class from last year: 3rd year listening comprehension and oral expression. You win some, you lose some!

At the language school, too, I’m finding that lesson preparation comes more naturally and takes less time. I can reuse material from last year and, with experience, preparing new resources has become much easier. Back in September, I also started to ‘work’ with a lovely family, tutoring two teenagers in English once a week. I say ‘tutoring’: both of them speak almost perfect English having lived in the UK for a few years, so my role is to help them maintain their level. I go to their house, chat to each of them for a while and then stay for dinner. To be honest, I see it more as socialising than working!

2016-fiona-mears-update-maison-blanche-nov16

Teaching at the university finishes at the beginning of December, so I have just a couple of weeks to go. After that, I’ll have some invigilation to do, speaking exams to help with and I’ll be working at the language school right up until I head home for Christmas. I have a friend coming to visit in December, so our plan is to soak up the festive atmosphere by indulging in a spot of Christmas market hopping before flying home together on the 18th for a much-needed break.”

Thanks once again to Fiona for this update and enjoy the well-earned Christmas break when it comes!

“Languages live through the people who speak them”

Kathrin Opielka graduated from our Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies – in partnership with the University of Passau – in 2015. Originally from Germany, she is now living and working in Scotland and has sent us the following post about her experiences in Stirling and beyond.

2016-opielka-photo“I have always enjoyed discovering the unknown, adapting to new, unfamiliar situations and questioning my perspective on what I have taken for granted.

I think many language and culture students will agree with me that the fascination of this subject lies in its ever-changing, dynamic nature. Languages live through the people who speak them, through literature, art, and conversations. And is there any better way to learn and experience a language than through being surrounded by it every day?

During my studies, I have focused on English, Spanish, Polish and French as foreign languages. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months in both Spain and Poland during my B.A. and was eager to live in an English-speaking country for a while. When I heard about the International Management and Intercultural Studies programme between the universities of Passau and Stirling, I knew immediately that it would be perfect for me.

Not only did the University of Stirling offer excellent academic courses such as Spanish language, translation, politics, and management; it also meant that I would be able to discover this exciting country and vividly experience the Scottish culture! My expectations of the programme were not only met, but highly exceeded. The level of care and guidance by the university staff and professors were exceptional, and I loved every single class I took during these two semesters. Also outside university, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Scottish country and hospitality of its people.

I started to understand the Scottish saying “visitors of Scotland cry twice – once when they arrive, and once when they leave”. Albeit I heroically managed the first incident of crying (the weather really wasn’t exactly in my favour when I arrived), it soon became clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to face good-bye yet. I fell in love with and in Scotland, and after I graduated in May 2015, I decided to move to Edinburgh.

I started working in bars and cafés and was grateful for the translation classes I took in Stirling as I was freelancing as a linguist for Global Voices on my days off. I thoroughly enjoyed translation work but was concerned by the volatile nature of freelancing – I had hoped that the times of all-nighters would have been history after the point of me graduating.

After a couple of months, I found a great graduate position in a small, multilingual marketing agency in Edinburgh. Even though I only stayed there for three months due to the office being re-located to Barcelona (yes, I love Scotland THAT much), it was an amazing stepping stone into the industry and enabled me to gain some experience in various sides of digital marketing. I soon realised that I wanted to specialise in content marketing as it would allow me to combine my interests in creative writing, marketing, psychology and language.

I am now working as an Inbound Marketing Campaign Executive at Storm ID, a digital transformation consultancy in Edinburgh. My job is extremely diverse and creative; I am involved in both strategic campaign planning and operational, day-to-day activities such as blogging, social media marketing, and SEO. Most importantly, I am learning something new every day. Writing in English has helped improve my language skills significantly (although I still drink the occasional “litter of water”) and I am additionally enrolled at Google Squared through my company, an amazing part-time online course focusing on digital marketing and leadership.

As language graduates, there are many opportunities to apply our skills and knowledge in the professional world. I have discovered a niche in marketing which allows me to make use of my creativity and passion for writing but there are many other industries which require intercultural communication skills.

I definitely have found my place for now, although I haven’t given up on my plan to do a PhD in the field of Indigenous Cultures in South America – a topic I discovered in a seminar held by Dr Sabine Dedenbach Salazar-Sáenz in Stirling. I am sure that the experiences I gathered both at the University of Stirling and in my current job will help me pursue this dream sometime in the future and am excited about those yet to come.”

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Many thanks to Kathrin for sending us this blog post and we hope life in Scotland continues to treat you well!