Tag: Quebec Cinema

“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…

New publications by Bill Marshall

2016 Marshall Cities Interrupted

A nice little trio of new publications to report from French at Stirling’s Bill Marshall. Bill’s chapter on ‘Buildering, Urban Interventions, and Public Sculpture’ has been published in Shirley Jordan and Christoph Lindner‘s great new edited collection Cities Interrupted: Visual Culture and Urban Space (Bloomsbury). Meanwhile, his chapter on ‘Francophone Gothic Melodramas’ is out in Susan Castillo Street and Charles L. Crow’s Handbook of the Southern Gothic, published by Palgrave. And finally, ‘Spaces and Times of Quebec in Two Films by Xavier Dolan’ can be read in vol. 55, no. 2 of Nottingham French Studies.

2016 Marshall Southern Gothic Aug

News to follow soon on Bill’s upcoming keynote address at the World Cinema and Television in French conference in Cincinnati.

From Saint-Pierre et Miquelon to Global Quebec Cinema

2016 Bill NYU Poster

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the return of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, the only French territory in North America, to France, French at Stirling’s Professor Bill Marshall has been invited to give a talk on ‘Islands and Archipelagos: The Spaces of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon’at NYU on 5 April. Bill will be speaking alongside NYU Professor Eugène Nicole who will be reading from his most recent publication Le Silence des cartes.

During his visit, Bill will also be chairing a panel on ‘Perspectives on Quebec Global Cinema’ at the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Atlanta. An interview with Bill on recent shifts in Quebec Global Cinema was published in the Canadian Film Studies journal Synoptique and can be accessed here

More Stirling Research News

2016 Bill RDVCQ

Not content with the freezing temperatures of Stirling, Bill Marshall has headed somewhere even colder and is currently in Montreal for a trip funded by the British Association of Canadian Studies’ Prix du Québec. He’ll be attending the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois to help develop a projected edited book of essays Quebec Film: Texts and Contexts, and conducting research at the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec for a forthcoming article in Yale French Studies on representations of the first French Empire in contemporary bande dessinée.

2016 Bill SCMS Atlanta poster

Next month, Bill will be giving the annual Christianson lecture at Bristol University on ‘French Atlantic Cities in Translation’ and participating in a panel on Quebec cinema at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Atlanta. In April, he’ll be giving a talk on Saint-Pierre et Miquelon at New York University, as well as a seminar at Edinburgh University in their ‘Diasporic Trajectories’ series.

And as though all that weren’t enough, Bill’s latest publication – a chapter entitled ‘Buildering, Urban Interventions and Public Sculpture’ – is now out in Christoph Lindner and Shirley Jordan’s edited collection Cities Interrupted. Visual Culture and Urban Space.

We look forward to some postcards…

2016 Bill Cities Interrupted cover

Language Learning, Teaching and Translating

Since graduating with a BA Hons in French in 2014, Jana Kautska has kept in touch with French at Stirling and we’re really pleased to be able to post this article by her about life as a student of French at Stirling and what can happen next:

“Scotland enchanted me during my first visit in 1996 and I have been in close touch with this country ever since. I wanted to discover more. I wanted to get closer to its inhabitants and I was hoping to be able to experience the real way of life there rather than visiting it only as an accompanying Tour Leader (the non-elegant sort of all-in-one coach guide/interpreter/translator ready to sort every single problem that popped up on the long journey from the Czech Republic to the U.K.). My clients were mostly teachers and students travelling to Scotland in order to enhance their language, cultural, historical and political knowledge. Malheureusement, while crossing several borders before reaching our final destination the chic France stood in our way. Whenever I tried to open up a conversation the response from the French part was one and the same: “Parlez-vous anglais?” Clearly it was either time to quit my attempts at French altogether or “Il fallait recommencer mes études de nouveau.” So I did. This is how une idée to study French in Scotland est née.

Stirling was my preferred choice because I found the university grounds very compact and I liked the fact that even the neighbouring village of Bridge of Allan or the town of Stirling were within walking distance. This connection was very important to me because of the train stations which enabled links with the cities of Glasgow or Edinburgh and their airports so easy to reach. De plus, the beautiful lake in the middle of the campus and the majestic Dumyat hill and its ‘friends’ took my breath away and they still do whenever I revisit the campus. This could be a perfect temporary home for a while I thought. The bonus was that the University Accommodation Services offered a family type of accommodation which I needed to secure for my small family of three and what´s more there was also a Playgroup run by the Department of Psychology on offer. What a bonus! I must admit that the university web and printed brochures contributed to my decision. The place seemed to be modern and dynamic; the library was on the spot, shops, bank, MacRobert cultural centre with cinema and theatre all in one.

What made me accept the offer from the Stirling University? First and foremost it was the possibility to dive into the desired French Studies. I found the combined degrees as well as the variety of modules possible to study quite amazing. I initially opted to study French in combination with Psychology but I ended up studying French only. This allowed me to sign up for linguistics, religion and cinema modules, as well as allowing me to undertake the semester abroad required by the French department which was one of the principal reasons for me to accept the offer. I was fully aware of the importance of study abroad. I knew that my spoken French and understanding of the real spoken language would not progress as desired without an immersion in French language and culture. The semester abroad was absolutely crucial. It was the fastest way to improve my comprehension as well as conversation.

2016 Kautska Paris Feb

I was granted the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in French in 2014 and I thoroughly enjoyed every single module I took. Indeed, there are several modules I will never forget. At the beginning of my studies these were for instance Language and Society together with Foundation of Language presented by Andrew Smith. These were such good fun. Or for example Religion, Ethics and Society totally surprised me with its content as it was so amazingly linked to the current affairs in the world. The topics of Orientalism and Edward Said were so interesting to look into not only in connection with the issue of veil so often discussed in the press all over Europe that time. Post-War European Cinema, Transnational Identities, Québec Cinema and Introduction to African Literature and Cinema all on offer by the French Department are still my number ones though. These brought a completely different dimension into my life friendship-wise as well as on the internal level of thinking. For instance, I can still hear the beautiful soundtrack to a very moving film Mon oncle Antoine to name at least one. Thanks to an essay question related to this film Québec became so close to me although so distant in reality. On personal level these modules brought some very firm friendships into my life with francophone students from Africa and Switzerland who chose Stirling University as their exchange partner university and with whom I have been in contact ever since.

2016 Kautska Enjoy your studies Feb

And so this is how in 2010 I begun to live my dream LIVE thanks to the offer from the University of Stirling. I chose to study French here because I believed that there would be a different approach to studying a foreign language in Great Britain to the one carried out at the universities in the Czech Republic where I originally come from. I was right and I would not change a thing. Studies at Stirling were dynamic, modern, non-rigid and absolutely up-to-date in every sense. Language teaching in Stirling exceeded my expectations. I really liked the approach of having a lot on offer on one hand but having also a choice which helped me to cope with the immense load of work at the exam period or reading weeks. It is entirely up to each individual to explore what one wishes to find out and how deep into the topic s/he wants to go. I find this very democratic. There was no compulsory drill, no repetition, no memorizing as is often the case at the universities on the continent (France included as I learned through my personal experience).

The professionalism of the professors at Stirling is amazing and the flexibility of studies matched my needs perfectly. The expertise the professors possess is absolutely enormous. It is so nice to read a book written by someone who is actually giving lectures or seminars. Everybody is so supportive. For instance such a little thing as the French language café run by the Language Assistant, Bernadette Corbett (now retired). How useful and helpful this was! Thank you Bernadette! Or what an opportunity to get on board of a train and explore an Interpreting Event in Edinburgh Heriot Watt University together with other students and language tutor Jean-Michel Des Jacques. To witness student peers at another university how they sweat while training their conference interpreting skills at real inbuilt booths/cabins the partner university uses for teaching purposes was more than interesting.

And of course joining the Erasmus programme together with my daughter (then just 4) needs no comment. It was the most challenging of all assignments I had to fulfil but the very best and cleverest request the French department had on offer. If only I was a bit younger and British I would have joined my peers and gone for the English Teaching Assistantship programme supported by the University of Stirling and the British Council. All my friends who joined came back linguistically very well equipped to fulfil their final 4th year of their studies. They were also more than ready to face the real life challenges on the current job market.

2016 Lautska Tours le Jardin des Prébendes Feb
Erasmus in Tours

 

And what have I gone on to do with my French since graduating? My decision to accept the offer made by the University of Stirling has changed my life completely. Although I do not use French as a ‘working language’ when interpreting (my free-lance job) I found it extremely useful when working as an ESOL Home Tutor and Classroom Volunteer for Community based ESOL at the Edinburgh College. One woman there, an elementary student from Morocco, arrived in my classroom speaking no English whatsoever. Luckily she knew some French. You can imagine the sparkles in her eyes when I offered French translation to several key English words in order to comfort her and break the ice a bit. We even managed to joke! She says a big “HELLO” to me whenever I meet her in the streets and has no more fear to try her English skills with me. What a success thanks to French! To my amazement last spring time my volunteering work was appreciated by my nomination to Inspiring Volunteering Achievement Awards 2015 by the Edinburgh College. It was such an interesting experience for me to participate at this community event.

I can honestly declare that my language studies at the University of Stirling opened the door to my voluntary English teaching in Britain. This is quite an achievement for me as a non-native English speaker I must admit and teaching refugees and asylum seekers has been the most rewarding job I have ever done. My degree also made it possible for me to join several interpretation agencies and work free-lance. My French degree was fully recognized by one of the leading ones on the market and if I agreed I would be included on the list of the interpreters having French on offer! What a stress! Quelle horreur! I am convinced that I still have a lot to learn so I prefer to be modest for the time being and offer just English/Czech/Slovak and vice versa as my working languages. In my point of view learning any language is a life-long learning process which is one never-ending story I have decided to live LIVE.”

Thanks to Jana and we look forward to following the next stages of her career post-Stirling!