Tag: Tours

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.

 

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Erasmus Visitor from Tours

As promised in the last post by Jean-Michel DesJacques, more Tours-related news here to give a little more detail about our Tours colleague, Joëlle Popineau, who will be with us in Stirling next week.

Joëlle is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Translation Studies at the University of Tours, France. She also teaches classes in juritraductology in the Faculty of Law, University of Tours. She holds a Doctorate in Linguistics on Computer-aided translation (1992) and a Maîtrise in Specialized Translation (University of Lorraine, France) (1986). Her academic interests include linguistics, translation studies and didactics. She is a fully accredited researcher at the Laboratoire Ligérien de Linguistique (UMR 7270 CNRS) and the head of CerLiCO, a French linguistics society.

Joëlle will be with us for the whole week and our final year students, as well as our Translation postgrads, will be able to benefit directly from her visit. She’ll be teaching Written Language classes on our final year core language module, focusing on translation from French to English, and she’ll be delivering a postgraduate seminar on the translation of commercial contracts to students from our postgraduate programmes in Translation. There’ll doubtless also be time for discussions with colleagues from our International Office, a visit to the Experiences of Exile exhibition that forms part of Fiona Barclay’s AHRC project (including a guided tour courtesy of our colleague, Beatrice Ivey) and plenty of scope for discussions about teaching, research and Erasmus with a wide range of colleagues.

More to follow!

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…

‘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 (and I would add that Mairi has her own blog about her travels! We hope the semester continues to go well and look forward to updates over the weeks ahead.

Welcome to Tourzzz! (pronunciation Ryanair-style)

Among all these updates on students past and present, time for a couple of staff-related blog posts, the first of which comes from our Language Coordinator and Study Abroad Advisor, Jean-Michel DesJacques:

2018 JMD la Loire‘I am very grateful to the International Office to have funded my trip to Tours in order to pay a long overdue visit to one of our partners in the Loire Valley. I was lucky enough to be able to meet with Solène Loiseau from their Bureau International, and then with the Co-Director of the LEA programme, Joëlle Popineau. I would like to thank them both for having taken the time to speak to me as Study Abroad Advisor here at the University of Stirling.

It is self-evident but somewhat understated that meeting people de visu and spending some time with them is what helps create a strong and lasting bond between institutions. We don’t have many opportunities for spontaneous exchanges and it was very refreshing to be able to go beyond the usual email niceties and urgent queries.

Inevitably, in spite of all the positive things we had to say about our exchange of students (and hopefully staff soon), the conversation had to revolve around Brexit. I was surprised to hear that there seems to be a lot more anxiety on the French side that there was on ours. I was also very sorry to hear that some programmes had their compulsory semester abroad component in the UK cancelled due to the financial uncertainties that Brexit has created: Erasmus grants are vital to students and the risk, a financial one, was deemed too big to take a leap of faith into the unknown. Interestingly enough, new English-speaking destinations were being sought, rather successfully it seems: the Netherlands in particular and Scandinavia to a lesser extent.

2018 JMD Place PlumereauAs for Tours itself, well, I am not sure where to start: if you are a bit of a gourmet, you are more likely to find happiness wandering on the old Place Plumereau rather than the Pathfoot building. Without necessarily going for a Gargantuan feast (yes, François Rabelais is from nearby Chinon), you could find yourself in a nice bistro for a delightful plat du jour.

There is certainly plenty to do and see and it would be best to let you discover it for yourselves.’

Thanks to Jean-Michel for making the visit and finding time to send us the blog post (and for the great pics!). And we look forward to continuing our exchange with Tours over the years ahead.

‘After all the hard work, my options are unlimited’

In just a couple of weeks, this year’s French finalists will become this year’s French graduates so, first and foremost, congratulations to all concerned! There are a few more posts to come over the next little while that will give you a sense of the many different directions our soon-to-be graduates are planning on taking over the months ahead, starting with this post by Lucy who is about to graduate in French and Spanish:

‘As I write this, Stirling has just confirmed degree classifications for its graduating students and, while the wait was nerve-wracking, it gave me an opportunity to reflect upon and appreciate where I started this whole journey compared to now, five years later with degree in hand and moving on to the next challenge.

Before starting a B.A. (Hons) in French and Spanish, languages were something I was always good at in school (and more importantly something I really enjoyed) so naturally I drifted down the course of modern languages at uni. I say “drifted” because I never really knew where it would lead me or what to expect, both of the course and of myself.

2018 Lucy ODonnell San Vicente de la Barquera IISoon enough, after two years at Stirling, I was applying for a position as an English Language Assistant via the British Council which took me to a primary school in the north of Spain for ten months. Being absolutely honest here, it was the most difficult thing I have ever done (not least because the average age of my town was 86!). However, it was without a doubt the most rewarding and beneficial experience that I could ever have hoped for and I truly wouldn’t have changed a thing. It toughened me up (kids are apparently brutally honest about pointing out your acne), my self-confidence sky-rocketed, I could converse easily in Spanish and, most importantly, I learned the right way to make a perfect sangria!

In all seriousness, I was mentally and emotionally challenged throughout the whole experience but I know for certain that I would not be at the proficiency and confidence level I am now had I had a different experience. A quick word of advice for future Stirling students undertaking an assistantship in Spain: don’t even try to contend with Spanish bureaucracy – becoming its victim is part and parcel of the experience! Keep calm and have a vino.

2018 Lucy ODonnell Tours IIMy next challenge was Erasmus which I would eventually do in Tours, France. I spent five months at the Université François-Rabelais where I mostly studied translation classes and French language classes. I lived in noisy student halls and exclusively ate pasta and toasties and, speaking as someone who has always lived at home during term-time, I appreciated the opportunity to experience authentic student life!

Tours and its university was a great place for students and I highly recommend it. The teachers were extremely supportive and helpful for Erasmus students and their classes were genuinely very useful and engaging. There was also ample opportunity to meet and socialise with French students, several of whom I still keep in contact with today. They were all so friendly and really interested in us as people and in the Scottish culture (I encourage anyone to explain to a French person why a Highland cow looks the way it does, it really challenges your language skills!).

2018 Lucy ODonnell Tours IAside from discussing our weird and wonderful creatures, I really enjoyed living in France and I truly gained invaluable experience in learning how to improvise and think on your feet linguistically. Studying French/Spanish as a fourth year student at Stirling is challenging and really encourages you to push yourself and your skills (as I’m sure is the case with any uni) so my advice is to get a head start and do as much of this as possible while you’re studying on Erasmus and say yes to every opportunity while you’re surrounded by the language. You’ll really feel the benefit on your return to uni, which leads me to my final nugget of wisdom for all language students that I only really started to understand in fourth year: having confidence and believing in yourself is half the battle to becoming fluent. The rest will come with hard work and perseverance.

As for my next step, I’ll be moving on to the University of Strathclyde to study an MSc in Business Translation and Interpreting. I was impressed by how flexible and broad their course structure is in terms of the areas of translation you can study and I’m looking forward to putting all my skills into practice in something I really enjoy doing. I’d eventually like to be an interpreter for the justice system, whether in Scotland or further afield, but it’s a good feeling to know that after all the hard work, my options are unlimited.

I don’t think it has really sunk in yet that my time here has come to an end. I have been given opportunities like no other by Stirling and I really feel that I personally have completely changed for the better. I’ve learned an incredible amount thanks to the excellent teaching staff in the French and Spanish departments so, finally, I’ll take this as my opportunity to thank them for all their support over the years. Merci/gracias!’

Many, many thanks to Lucy for the great blog post and we wish you all the very best for the MSc and life beyond!