Tag: Semester 6 Abroad

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!

Advertisements

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

Languages at University: Travel, Opportunities, Employability!

As regular blog readers will know, we have a great network of school-based contacts and our students often go out into local schools to act as Language Ambassadors. On occasions, we also welcome groups of students here to Stirling and we were delighted to get a chance for a group of our students to meet with pupils from a local secondary school back in November when they came to campus as part of the MacRobert’s French Film Festival screenings. The visit went really well and we’re grateful to Alex (one of our Year 4 students who met with the pupils) for taking the time to send us this post on what happened:

‘On Tuesday 27 November, a group of 23 pupils from Queen Victoria School in Dunblane visited the University of Stirling for the afternoon. Their day consisted of a French Film Festival screening followed by a discussion session with students currently at the university.

There were 6 of us there to give the pupils an insight into what it was like to study French and Languages in general at university, and in certain areas specific to Stirling. The presenting group of students was made up of 3rd and 4th years, studying a range of different degree programmes including French with Spanish, Mathematics and Business Studies.

Across the board, there were some key reasons we gave as to why you should study languages (including French) at university to the school pupils in question, and more broadly for anyone thinking of studying languages at university:

Firstly, studying a language is hugely important for communication skills regardless of whether you are speaking in your native or in a foreign language. The ability to communicate with all types of people in a variety of ways is a great attribute to put on your CV. It is also a very social subject, meaning you are likely to make more friends studying French than a subject that is much more lecture-based and less interactive.

Secondly, the opportunity to study or live abroad! Arguably languages bring more benefits than any other degree in terms of time abroad, especially when it comes to improving your level of language. All but one of the students presenting had already been on an experience abroad, either to study in a partner institution or to teach English in Francophone countries, as part of their degree. All of us agreed that those experiences had positively contributed towards our degree as well as our future post university. The other student was about to head off on study abroad and was very excited at the prospect of the opportunity.

Finally, studying languages gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture. Despite France being one of our closest neighbours geographically, the cultural experience is quite different to that in the UK. From our perspective as students, getting into a routine of listening to and reading French regularly has such a positive impact when immersing into this new experience. And in particular, when you are abroad, students will find it so much easier to communicate with the locals on their semester away.

On behalf of the 6 presenting students and the Languages department, we’d like to thank Queen Victoria School for coming to the university and wish the best of luck to the pupils with all their exams in the near future. In the next few years, you may even be studying here!’

And I’d just echo Alex’s thanks here, both to the pupils from QVS (and their teacher, Laura Bairner) and to our 6 Stirling students for answering their questions!

‘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.

New Semester: Welcome Back!

First day of teaching for the Spring semester and French at Stirling is back!

So, welcome back, firstly, to the over- 250 students registered across our various French modules, from Year 1 Advanced and Beginners’ streams all the way through to final year Core Language and dissertations. And to those of you reading this as French at Stirling students embarking on your integral Semester Abroad or entering the second half of your year as an English Language Assistant, we hope you have a great time and look forward to tales of your studies, work  and travels as the semester progresses.

On the staffing front, following Bill Marshall’s retirement at the end of last Summer, we were sorry to say goodbye to our colleague David Murphy who left to take up a new role at the University of Strathclyde at the start of January. We wish him all the very best in the new job. As regular blog readers will know, we’ve made a series of great new appointments to French at Stirling and we’re delighted that Hannah Grayson has now joined us as a Lecturer in French and Francophone Studies, working alongside Aedín ní Loingsigh and Emeline Morin who both started last semester, and the rest of the French at Stirling team.

As ever, there’ll be plenty of blog posts over the days and weeks ahead with details of what our students and staff have been up to over the past few months and plans for the months ahead so watch this space but, in the meantime, welcome back to the new semester and welcome back to French at Stirling!