Tag: Study Abroad

Good luck to this year’s Stevenson applicants!

As ever, French and Spanish at Stirling have been busy over the first couple of months of the year working with the students who will be applying for Stevenson Exchange Scholarships for 2019-20, either to supplement the work they’ll be doing as English Language Assistants or to run alongside their integral period of Study Abroad. This year, we have three applicants to the scheme across the two languages: Eszter, Eilidh and Caitlin.  

Eszter’s proposed project would enable her to explore the role and representation of women in Spain’s creative industries. Caitlin would like to make use of a Stevenson Scholarship to explore the legacy of Gothic architecture in France, starting with Montpellier and its surrounding region. And Eilidh is interested in learning more about how smaller towns, museums and locations contribute to the ‘marketing’ of France and its regions to a tourist audience. 

Regular blog readers will know that French and Spanish at Stirling have a great track record of success with the Stevenson scheme and you can read more about previous Stevenson recipients and their projects here and here for starters. All three of this year’s students should learn whether they’re through to the next stage of the selection process over the next month and we wish all three of them the very best of luck with their applications!

 

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A Year in Geneva: Translation, Football and Alpine Road Trips

As regular followers of the blog will know, most French at Stirling students will either spend a year working as an English Language Assistantship at some point over their degree (usually between Year 2 and 3, sometimes immediately after graduation) or a semester on Study Abroad at one of our range of partners across the French-speaking world. Every now and then, though, we have a student who manages to spend a full year on Study Abroad and that’s the situation Tom finds himself in at the moment, in the 3rd year of his BA Hons in French and Spanish:

2019 Lock Geneva Photo 3 Mar19‘This year I have had the opportunity to study French and Spanish in the Translation and Interpretation Faculty at the University of Geneva. Having recently completed a year of teaching in Colombia with the British Council, I headed to Switzerland back in the hot seat as a student again.

Having never previously visited, my initial thoughts of Geneva were a pleasant surprise – everything worked, things ran on time and the locals were kind, welcoming and accepting of my rusty French. I had a week to settle in before university started, giving me time to explore the city and the surrounding areas, as well as to find a regular game of football. After a few meet ups with ESN I met some great people from all over and I went from there.

2019 Lock Geneva Photo 2 Mar19University life here has been great, learning translation in both Spanish and French has given me great opportunities to test out a potential career path and what’s more is that the other modules on offer at the university also help me further my other interests such as history and reading. The best part, however, are the people you meet at the university and around the city – be they other ERASMUS students or students from other walks of life.

Geneva can be difficult for immersive language learning, as individuals come from a variety of countries to study, live and work there, making English the de facto language at times. Nevertheless, I found a variety of local cafés and bars that provided me with opportunities to improve my French and after a couple of weeks it had improved to the point where I could hold conversations.

2019 Lock Geneva Photo 5 Mar19

Geneva is famous for plenty of things but, after a year in a small Colombian town, the most notable for me is the high cost of living. It can be extortionate at times, but this has just encouraged me to explore a wider variety of places. My friends and I often get buses, cheap flights or rent a minibus to do weekend trips, ticking off places such as Milan, Lake Garda, Interlaken, Bern, Paris, and Berlin. That has been one of the best things about Geneva, its central location in Europe has given me the opportunity to get around everywhere. I can highly recommend taking road trips through the Swiss alpine countryside, you can see the whole landscape and get a real feel for the culture of each place.

2019 Lock Geneva Photo 1 Mar19Living in a different country has its positives and negatives, the comforts of home can be sorely missed, I’ve realised however that being proactive, doing activities and exploring your new home is the best antidote.

Overall, my experience has been a great one and my language skills have improved immeasurably (even if I sometimes forget how to speak English!). Although tough at times, these have been the situations where I’ve learned the most and I consider myself very lucky to have had this opportunity to meet new people, live in a new country and experience a different university.’

Many thanks to Tom for the great blog post and pictures – we’re delighted this year has worked out so well and look forward to welcoming you back to Stirling in the Autumn!

‘I’ve had a great and rewarding time learning languages!’

As I’d hoped, thoughts and responses keep coming in from students and colleagues alike about their experiences with language learning so, as promised, as long as they keep coming in, I’ll very happily keep posting them, starting this week with Nick, a final year student on our International Management and Intercultural Studies programme:

2019 Masdorp Pic 2 Mar19‘Not counting English as my second language (because I started learning that alongside German as an infant) my ‘actual’ second language was Latin. I chose to take it in high school when I was 9 because I wanted to be an archaeologist at the time. Despite a change in my career aspirations, I decided to stick with Latin until the end of high school, until I was 17. While I was never too bad at Latin, I wouldn’t consider it as a hugely useful language these days, other than for learning other languages such as French, which I started studying in grade 8 when I was 12. I have stuck with French until now because I have always enjoyed it, despite dropping it for a term in high school due to a teacher with a more challenging personality. Having spent a semester studying in Paris, I have decided that I very much enjoy French language and culture and want to continue engaging with it as much as I can, especially during my upcoming Master’s degree in Strasbourg.

2019 Masdorp Pic 5 Mar19

Apart from Latin and French, I studied Italian in primary school for three years and spent three months living in Italy after high school. I sadly don’t speak much Italian anymore, although I definitely want to pick it up again because I go on holiday to Italy regularly and always enjoyed speaking the language when I was younger.

2019 Masdorp Pic 4 Mar19Overall, I have had a great and very rewarding time learning languages, not at all only for any career considerations but more so because it has enabled me to live in the respective countries for work and study and to speak to the locals and exchange students in Scotland in their own language which always makes them feel more comfortable and is a very rewarding feeling. Additionally, it makes me feel like I could live and work in way more places after Uni than I could have done before!’

Many, many thanks to Nick for this great blog post and we wish you all the best not only for the last few weeks of this semester here but also for the year ahead in Strasbourg.

Study Abroad: ‘So many more places I want to travel to’

There’s a bit of a ‘Tours theme’ emerging in these recent posts, just based on the coincidence of what articles come in and when and what we’re all up to. What is particularly fun about this all is that we’re getting different perspectives on the Erasmus exchange process, from our colleagues going to Tours to Tours colleagues coming to us and now, after Mairi’s recent post about her first impressions, Rhiannon, who is also in Tours for the semester as part of her BA Hons in French, has sent her thoughts and some great photos of her travels:

2019 Quinn Tours Blog Post Cathedral Feb19‘Bonjour,

This semester I am doing my study abroad in a place called Tours in France. It’s in a region that is part of the Loire Valley meaning that it is surrounded by history with many castles and museums which I love because there are so many interesting things about France. For example, I learned more about the French revolution and Joan of Arc when I went to Orléans and actually stood in the very spot where she once stood, which admittedly gave me chills.

Since coming here, I have managed to do a lot of travelling. We had a week’s holiday during February, and I managed to go to Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic (all by bus) which was so surreal. I had the best time seeing places that I’d never thought I would ever get to see, in particular, Lake Bled in Slovenia. The scenery was just breath-taking, and we had an amazing view of the Alps in the background. The weather also seemed to work in our favour and surprisingly it didn’t rain.

2019 Quinn Tours Blog Lake Pic Feb19

Tours itself is very nice, and I have been able to try some amazing food. There are more bakeries than I can count so it is nice to always have a selection of cakes and pastries wherever I go. There is a huge cathedral that I am always in awe of whenever I am nearby as it is simply stunning. One thing that I do love is the transport system and how efficient it is. It is so bizarre to me that a bus can actually be on time.

I am enjoying my classes at the university and have found that all my teachers are lovely and very helpful and welcoming. All of my classes are for exchange students which I do very much enjoy as I am meeting people from all over the world and have made very good friends with people from countries such as the USA, Germany, England etc.

I am now nearing the half-way point of my study abroad and it has gone by so fast. There are so many more places that I want to travel to and I am thankful that this experience has given me the opportunity to do it all.’

Many, many thanks to Rhiannon for having sent this great blog post and we hope you’re able to continue taking full advantage of everything Tours has to offer, as well as travelling well beyond the city, over the remaining months of the Semester Abroad.

 

Erasmus exchange / Mission Erasmus

Next week, we’re looking forward to hosting Joëlle Popineau, a colleague from our Erasmus partner institution the University of Tours, on a staff mobility exchange. More about her to follow in a moment but, coincidentally, our own Language Coordinator, Jean-Michel DesJacques has, in fact, just returned from an Erasmus staff mobility in Tours earlier this month so it seemed the perfect time for his post and some pictures:

IMG-20190226-WA0000‘As you can see from the title, the French version of this scheme seems a bit adventurous and almost secretive. Well, sorry to disappoint you but it was neither of those things. It was in fact well planned by my colleagues from the International Office here at Stirling and colleagues in Tours to whom I am very grateful, with a special mention to Magali Hassen-Orry who organised my timetable to suit the purpose of my visit. Thanks to a previous blog by one of our current exchange students Mairi, you know where Tours is, the Loire Valley and its châteaux.

It should be noted that my exchange occurred under the auspices of the Faculté de droit, the Law School. This is an important detail since the campus is outside the city but easily reached by tram (cheap and reliable integrated transport is a wonderful thing). Furthermore, the students I met and taught were not linguists. In fact English was not part of their degree per se but simply an element of the curriculum. It was fascinating to see how English for non-specialists was taught and how it was perceived by the students themselves. Le Centre de langue, equipped with everything you need to access English materials in any shape or form, plays a central part. Students were asked to work individually and in groups under the helpful supervision of a tutor for a two-hour period. I love the double-period concept, things can move at a slower pace but at the same time I feel that you can be a bit more ambitious with your aims and teaching methods. Time and a place dedicated to teaching languages made me feel rather envious.

It is perhaps self-evident but there is nothing like going somewhere else to see how things are done. I really believe in the virtue of the Erasmus exchange for staff and students. There is always something you can learn from your experience and I can’t help thinking how disastrous it would be if the Erasmus + programme were to suffer from the current political climate. This an ancient tradition from which we can all benefit. It would indeed be shameful for it to disappear from the UK’s academic landscape.

Et les gilets jaunes, alors? Well, I had to wait until my last day in Tours to see any. This was during a visit to le Musée des Beaux-Arts. There were about 15 of them, very active, asking lots of questions, marvelling at the paintings they were looking at. It was the school holidays and these gilets jaunes were about 6-7 years of age and part of a holiday camp which had organised a visit to the museum for Valentine’s day…

IMG-20190226-WA0001One final anecdote: On a visit to St. Gatien cathedral, by chance I approached a group of what my trained eye assumed to be Erasmus students listening to a talk. I was right. Our own students Mairi and Rhiannon were there, enjoying their class of histoire de l’art in the sunshine. I can’t wait to hear from them on their return.’

Many thanks to Jean-Michel for finding time amid the post-mid-semester marking to write and send us this great blog post (including that final picture of the slightly odd juxtaposition of a Tours shop window…) and more Tours-related posts to follow very soon…

French at Stirling: What happened next…

And following on from Evelyn’s post about Semester Abroad in Aix, another great article by Claudia who graduated in 2012 with a BA Hons in French (the same programme as Evelyn is doing, coincidentally…):

‘I think it must be a couple of years since I was last asked to contribute and let you all know about what happens when you graduate!

I have now taken a bit of a side step from French and I am a trainee legal executive at a law firm in sunny Dorset. My days are now filled with compliance, mortgages and completions instead of language, translation and reading but the skill set I learned at Stirling is transferred daily. For example, learning to translate French literature means I can now read leases and find the key passages with ease. Whilst I did not naturally find presentations and talking in front of the class easy, I can now confidently give advice to clients and speak up in meetings and at networking events.

With the rise of social media, Facebook kindly reminded me recently that it has been 10 years since I started my degree (September 2008) and 8 years since my student placement at Limoges University (January to May 2011). Whilst it may be a while since I graduated, it sure has gone by quickly and the University prepares you well for the world of work. I can’t believe I used to whinge at a 9am start- now that feels like a lie in!

Whilst I may not use French on a day-to-day basis the skills you learn are invaluable and you won’t even realise you are doing it. Legal work is challenging and long-distance learning is tough but the studying I did at Stirling has made me focused in my future career and when I feel I can’t do something I remind myself of all those nights that I wanted to give up and go home. I’m so glad I didn’t and there is no doubt in my mind that Cristina and Aedin kept me at university.

I’m hoping to go back to France soon and explore more of the beautiful cities that France has to offer; the world is bigger than the Pathfoot building, though it may feel as thought that is your world for 4 years. Hopefully the next time I get to write a post I might be a little closer to qualification. Keep an open mind- you never know where French will take you!’

Many, many thanks to Claudia for sending us this fantastic update and we look forward to following your progress in your legal career over the years ahead! And particular thanks from Cristina and Aedin – we’re delighted you stayed!!

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!