Tag: Study Abroad

French at Stirling Stevenson Successes

Félicitations to Annika, Nicolas and Stefano – three French at Stirling students who have just finished their 2nd year and who have each been awarded a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship to help them undertake a project of research during their Semester Abroad next Spring. This is a great achievement for all three and we’ll post updates on their progress while they’re away on Study Abroad but we wanted to share their success.

The Stevenson Exchange Scholarships are awarded competitively each year with applicants from across all the Scottish Universities who have to submit an application including a research project outline and then attend an interview at Glasgow University. The range of topics Annika, Nicolas and Stefano will be exploring thanks to their scholarships gives a really good sense of the variety of research interests across undergraduate Languages students.

Annika is interested in the development of French social structures with particular focus on the relationship with the EU and the scholarship will help her, among other things, travel to Marseille to visit the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée and to Roubaix to spend time researching in the Archives nationales du monde du travail.

Nicolas’s project aims to build on time he has already spent working in the fashion industry near Milan in order to further pursue his interest in fashion and the development of the fashion industry in France. As well as attending events around Paris Fashion Week, he intends to visit the Musée de la Mode in Albi and the Musée de Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon.

As for Stefano, he wants to use the scholarship to enhance his knowledge of Human Rights, with a particular focus on those of refugees in France. The key components of his research project include planned trips to Mechel (Belgium) and to Geneva (Switzerland), to visit, respectively, the Kazerne Dossin–Mémorial, Musée et Centre de Documentation sur l’Holocauste et les Droits de l’Homme and the Musée International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge.

This year’s trio will be following previous Stirling Stevenson successes, including Jeanne who is currently in Granada for her Semester Abroad, having been awarded a Scholarship through Spanish at Stirling. Having already undertaken a good deal of research into the question of the teaching of ‘untold’ histories through discussions with teachers at school and University-level about their experiences teaching on aspects of Franco’s Spain, Jeanne is now planning to focus to expand her research to include visits to historical monuments. “I will visit the Centro Federico García Lorca, where there is a library, to see if the War and the dictatorship are depicted and if so, how. I will also visit the rest of the Provincial Prison of Granada, almost fully destroyed, and the Campana prison for political opponents during Francoism, and the Cartel de las Palmas (where torture used to be carried out). She’s also planning a trip to Madrid, to see Guernica, and to Toledo, to visit the Museum of War.

Félicitations once again, to both the new Stevenson Scholars and those currently completing their projects from this past year!

“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…

“French is a global language”: from whisky tasting in Belgium to language teaching in Portugal

And, following on from Beth Young’s article, tales from another of our graduates, John McCallum who completed his BA Hons in International Politics and Languages in 2012 and whose language skills have seen him crisscrossing Europe for work ever since.

“My first role after graduating from the University of Stirling in 2012 in French and International Politics was as a sales and marketing executive with a whisky distillery, Springbank, in my hometown of Campbeltown, Argyll. During that year I had the chance to travel in Europe and work several times in francophone Belgium, visiting French-speaking stockists and taking whisky tastings in French. It was a great experience to be able to talk about your town and a local industry to people in their own mother tongue.

Using French in a professional situation can be different than just practising socially, especially when there is industry-specific vocabulary to learn to help you do the job better, and more time pressure on you to deliver it. On completing my studies I felt at a really strong level, though, and that is testament to the range of material we studied and the opportunity for conversation on various topics while in a classroom setting at Stirling.

Another reason for having the confidence to speak in the language was having spent a semester abroad in Paris, an unforgettable experience. As well as having the opportunity to attend Sciences Po, the popular pathway for some of France’s past and present political elites, I joined a football club and spent my Sunday afternoons in various banlieue towns in the Val de Marne area, learning a different style of football and what can only be described as ‘français des vestiaires’ on a thrice-weekly basis. I would echo another 2012 graduate Jonny Terrell’s post in saying I wish it could’ve been for the whole year!

But at Stirling too I always felt that my degree drew on great expertise in both languages and politics departments. I consistently had the support I needed and met lots of great people when studying there, from not only Scotland but from an international background.

After time spent working in newspaper reporting in Argyll, the odd weekend stint as a purser on a passenger RIB from Campbeltown to Ireland, and working with another distillery on the isle of Islay for a year under a French parent company, I have had lots of opportunities to use my language skills, both in the workplace and when simply wanting to make conversation and practise everyday French.

For the past six months I have been working as an English-language teacher in Braga, in the north of Portugal. I am working on improving my Portuguese, and although it is a complex language itself with tough grammar and pronunciation, I would like to try becoming a lusophone too, even when back living in Scotland. However, French is a popular lingua franca here given the immense movement of people and familial links established between the countries during the past 60 years and has saved me a few times when the other person in the conversation hasn’t had a word of English!

It shows that learning a global language like French can have practical uses much more diverse than you originally imagined. I would thoroughly recommend Stirling as a place to learn the language.”

Many thanks – obrigado! – to John for sending this article and we look forward to finding out where your languages will take you next!

English Language Assistantship and New Adventures

The pace of the past few weeks of the semester means that there’s a bit of a build-up of blog posts in my inbox so, firstly, apologies for that but I’m trying to get them all online today to catch-up. Among other things, we’ve got two new profiles of recent graduates, starting with this article by Beth Young who graduated with a BA Hons in French and Law last year and who has spent the year since her graduation working as an English Language Assistant.

2017 Beth Young pic March“My semester abroad in my third year at Stirling was the highlight of my degree. After returning home from this amazing opportunity, I was especially keen to travel again. At the beginning of last year, upon approaching the end of my four years at Stirling, I decided to apply to the British Council to be an English Language Assistant with the hope of being able to see more of France and improve my language. 

A few months after being accepted, it was finally confirmed that I had been allocated to work in a vocational high school the Académie of Versailles, which not only covers the town of Versailles itself, but also a huge area spanning up to the north of Paris. I had only spent two days in Paris in the past but had loved it, so I was excited at the opportunity to spend time there and really get to know it. 

As well as being delighted about the prospect of spending the year abroad, I was also excited to be able to teach English. I had volunteered in a local primary school at home, which was an amazing opportunity so I felt grateful that I was able to enhance my skills by being able to teach older pupils too. It has been great to experience a school system which is so different to the one that I know back home. Thanks to this role, I have learned to deal with a different set of challenges and to think on my feet when lessons do not quite go to plan. I have gained a lot of confidence from having to teach large groups of pupils and whilst I hope that I have successfully taught the students a bit about my culture, they have definitely taught me a lot about their language and culture too.

There have been many benefits to living so close to Paris. I have had friends come to visit me and I visited Disney for the first time, which was a really fun experience. Another main advantage of living close Paris is that one of my oldest friends and I have been able to visit one another easily. With her living in London, she is only a two hour and a half hour train ride away, which is closer than when at home in Scotland. I enjoy the fact that there is always something to do in this city, whether it be visiting famous landmarks, shopping on the Champs Elysées or discovering which bars have the best happy hours. It has been lovely to get to know the city well. 

As I start to reach the final weeks of my year abroad and I reflect on the time I have already spent here, I can truly say that this has been an excellent experience for improving my French and getting to know a new place. I am looking forward to the weather becoming warmer as spring begins and being able to appreciate the beautiful City of Light in the sunshine as I think ahead and decide where my next adventure will be.”

Many thanks to Beth for taking the time to send us this post and good luck, both for the remaining weeks of your ELA and for the adventures that doubtless lie ahead. We look forward to hearing tales of them!

 

Mid-Semester Catch-Up

Halfway through the mid-semester break seems a good point to catch up on various bits of news from Stirling staff and students. More to follow on some of these in the weeks ahead but, in the meantime…

This year is Stirling University’s 50th birthday and, as part of the year-long celebrations, the University is holding an Open Doors Day on Saturday 18 March. Lots of different activities are planned for the day – and all are welcome! – including a series of talks by academics from the School of Arts and Humanities with a French at Stirling contribution in the shape of a talk by Elizabeth Ezra on ‘Androids and Globalization, or How Cinema Makes Us Human.’ The talks will be chaired by French at Stirling’s Cristina Johnston.

In this anniversary year, we’re also welcoming to Stirling our first cohort of students on our new BA Hons Translation and Interpreting degree, in partnership with HNU in China. As a means of strengthening the ties between existing Stirling students and their HNU counterparts, a buddying scheme has been running since September 2016 with around a dozen Stirling students helping HNU students to get to know the University, the campus and the town, and generally helping them get used to life in Scotland. We thought it would be a great idea for one of the buddies to get a chance to travel to China to meet with next year’s HNU cohort this Spring so, after a very competitive selection process and with Faculty support, we’re pleased to announce that Elliot Knight (currently in the 2nd year of his degree in French) will be travelling to China to represent the University and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in a few weeks. More tales to follow on that front!

Closer to home, we’ve also been able to send another group of Student Language Ambassadors into a local secondary school – McLaren High in Callander – to talk to pupils there about life as a Languages student and the opportunities that opens up in terms of Study Abroad, employability, travel, and so on. Stefano Intropido, David Vescio and Ross Brown took on this role as Language Ambassadors, in a visit jointly organized by Jean-Michel DesJacques, Cristina Johnston and McLaren High teacher Alastair Brown. Alastair was very impressed by our students’ performance, commenting that ‘they spoke very well in all classes, and at the assembly, where they got a spontaneous round of applause from the pupils. They gave very motivating accounts of their language-learning journey and responded very well to the pupils’ questions.’ We hope to continue sending our students out into schools as ambassadors over the weeks and months ahead.

As well as looking forward to receiving our copy of our former PhD student Stefanie van de Peer’s edited collection Animation in the Middle East, we’re also excited to learn that another former French at Stirling PhD student, Lizelle Bisschoff has a new AHRC-funded project on ‘Africa’s Lost Classics in Context’ with David Murphy as co-investigator. The project aims to bring a number of screenings of ‘lost African film classics’ to UK audiences, complemented by public and educational events and activities to contextualise the films for audiences, in collaboration with the five UK African film festivals, including Africa in Motion which was founded by Lizelle while she was doing her PhD. The project started in January 2017 and will run for a year.

Alongside all the usual work, assessments and other commitments our students have for the second half of the semester, we also have a number of teaching and research-related events coming up, involving both staff and students. Our Year 4 French students, for example, will get the opportunity to try out Interpreting Taster Sessions in late-February, early-March, taking full advantage of Stirling’s new interpreting suite. A number of our students will also be attending the Language Show Live at the SECC in Glasgow in a few weeks and 3 of our current Year 2 students will be attending a Summer School run by our partners at the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg in June. Mid-March, we’ll be welcoming Lucie Herbreteau of UCO Angers to Stirling on an Erasmus teaching exchange and she’ll be taking classes involving not only our final year French students but also our postgraduate Translation programme and Years 1 and 2 of our undergraduate French programme. And, finally, at the end of March, Cristina Johnston has been invited to introduce a screening of Claude Chabrol’s Une Affaire de femmes at Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema with Hugh McDonnell of Edinburgh University, as part of Mihaela Mihai’s project on Greyzones.

Busy, busy times and more news to follow, I’ve no doubt, over the coming weeks!

‘My language degree has turned me into a much more confident and ambitious person’

We’re on a bit of a roll with blog posts from recent graduates this week thanks to Emma’s tips on Alpine ski seasons yesterday and, today, tales of life beyond French at Stirling that both involve teaching but in rather different forms and contexts. Tales of Megan Davis’s life as a Language Assistant in the Canary Islands will follow shortly but, first, Jonny Terrell’s first steps in the world of secondary education. Jonny graduated in 2012 with a BA Hons in French and Global Cinema and Culture and is now about halfway through his first year as a French secondary school teacher:

2017-jonny-terrall-pic-metro“Since graduating from Stirling University in French and Global Cinema and Cultures, I have gone on to further use my language skills by training to become a French teacher at a Scottish secondary school. This started in 2015, when after three years working for a fundraising company in Glasgow, I learned about the PGDE programme (post-graduate diploma in education) from a friend. This turned out to be a very intensive and tough year training to become a teacher. However it was incredibly rewarding and I am now a good few months into my probationary year working as a full time French teacher in East Dunbartonshire.

My French degree has helped me get started in what I hope to be a long teaching career, and additionally it has been great fun to reactivate my language skills and get a chance to speak and teach French on a daily basis. To help improve my future job prospects I will be looking to add a second language (most likely German!) and I definitely feel that the grounding in language learning that Stirling University gave me will greatly help in this regard.

Outside of employment, my language degree has turned me into a much more confident and ambitious person than I was at the start of my degree. I especially feel that the six months of Erasmus in Tours had a huge impact on this – if only it could have been a full year! I would certainly not be in the exciting position in life that I’m in today had it not been for my four years studying French at Stirling University.”

Many thanks to Jonny for this blog post. We hope the probationary year continues to go well and wish you all the best for your new career – keep us posted!

 

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!