Tag: University Aix Marseille

From Dumyat to the Montagne Saint Victoire

Keeping things ticking over nicely on the blog, another update from one of our current students. This time, it’s the turn of Alex Janes who is coming to the end of his compulsory Semester Abroad which he has spent in Aix-en-Provence (among other places…):

‘I did a blog post over a year ago about my first 18 months at the University of Stirling and I said that I would probably be writing another blog post about my semester abroad. So here it is!

From the beginning of my research, I knew I wanted to go the south of France for my semester abroad. It was an area of France I’d never been to and the partner institutions there had a great selection of modules to choose from. So when I discovered that the French department at Stirling decided to allocate me to Aix-Marseille Université, I was beyond excited. And after a lot of decision making over modules and a stressful application, I made the journey to the small city of Aix-en-Provence in mid-January.

The first full day after arriving was truly extraordinary. After a welcome meeting in the morning at the university, I spent the afternoon taking in the sites and scenery. I was not to be disappointed as with its stunning architecture, narrow shopping streets and bustling market squares, I knew that Aix was going to be a great place for the next few months. I spent most of the first week investigating the cafes and restaurants, so unsurprisingly a lot of wine was consumed in the process.

2018 Alex Janes Cours Mirabeau Aix
Market Day in Aix

Considering that the campus I was on was solely dedicated to Arts, Languages and Humanities subjects, the university had a vast array of modules. One module recommended to the Erasmus students was “Les études comparées des sociétés européennes contemporaines”, which covered modern history in European countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Russia. The most peculiar but interesting module I took was “L’introduction de l’étude des mondes arabe et musulman”, which gave an insight into the Arab and Muslim worlds. This module covered population statistics, languages, the Quran and the Caliphate empires. I had learnt about French culture before but had never taken a module like this before. I was totally fascinated by how much I learnt in the 12 weeks of teaching, even learning a few basic Arab characters and Algerian words.

2018 Alex Janes Tour eiffelTo make the most of my time abroad, I went on several trips to discover other parts of the country. After just a 3-hour journey on the TGV, I went for the first time (ever!) to Paris to reunite with some friends from university. Over the course of the 3 days I was there, I managed to visit a host of landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Arc d’Triomphe, Notre Dame, Le Louvre, Sacré-Cœur and the Pantheon. I reunited with more friends in Bordeaux, which is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. The lively shopping streets, strolling along the river and of course, the beautiful wine, were the highlights of that weekend.

2018 Alex Janes Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon

An organised coach excursion took myself and a group of Erasmus students into the Alps of Provence. Following the winding roads in the mountains, we explored quaint villages with glorious view points and the Gorges du Verdon, which is the largest gorge in the world by distance. And after finishing my exams, I spent a weekend in Nice absorbing the gorgeous sunshine and mid 20-degree heat. Nice has everything you could need for a weekend away with a wonderful beach, intriguing museums and wonderful green spaces. A 20-minute train ride away was Monaco, where my eyes were opened to the world of money, flash cars and business men in suits. As well as these longer trips, I took shorter day trips to Marseille, La Ciotat, Barrage du Bimont and Les Îles de Frioul, all within an hours travel from Aix-en-Provence.

2018 Alex Janes Maja Jack Thomas EJ Montagne Saint VictoireBiggest achievement would have to be climbing Montagne Saint Victoire, the mountain famously depicted in much of Paul Cezanne’s artwork and seen easily from Aix. Standing at around 1000m in altitude (2.5 times higher than the height of Dumyat), it was a challenging climb to say the least but felt so satisfying once you reached the top.

Overall, my semester abroad has most definitely been a positive experience. It was a massive culture change and different way of living, but I soon got used to it. I would urge anyone who is thinking about doing a semester or year abroad or has any opportunity to live abroad, to go for it. I feel very privileged that I have been given this opportunity to enrich my student and life experience as a whole, considering the uncertainty hanging over Brexit and the future of exchanges. If I had any advice, it would to be immerse yourself as much as possible with the natives and locals. They are the people who can have the greatest influence on your time abroad, especially when it comes to enhancing your language skills.

And who knows, maybe there will be a graduation blog post?!’

Many, many thanks to Alex for taking the time to send us this post and for so kindly volunteering to write another!! In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your Summer and we look forward to welcoming you back in September.

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Welcome to our Erasmus Students!

Not all the French and Francophone exchange students who come to Stirling from our network of partners take modules run by the French at Stirling team but we’re always really pleased to welcome them to Stirling and will be inviting them along to a range of events over the course of the semester.

This year, at last count, we have 24 exchange students coming from 11 different French Universities, business schools and grandes écoles with whom we have long-standing partnerships: the Universités de Limoges, Aix-Marseille, Clermont Auvergne, Lorraine and Perpignan, the IUT de Sceaux (Paris Sud), Sciences Po, the Ecoles de Management of Strasbourg and Normandie, ESSEC in the outskirts of Paris and the Université Catholique de l’Ouest. We’re looking forward to getting to know these students over the course of their time at Stirling and, this year, we’re particularly pleased to be giving some of them a chance to led informal conversation sessions with our Stirling-based students.

Who knows? We may even be able to convince a few of them to write blog posts about their time in Scotland…

From Stirling to Amsterdam via Aix-en-Provence

With teaching over, and the oral exams for French already a thing of the past, it’s time to catch up a little bit with blog posting and for another few posts from recent French at Stirling graduates, starting with Saara Sippola who graduated with a BA Hons in French almost two years ago:

‘I came to Stirling University to study Business Studies but eventually decided to change my course and graduated with a degree in French in 2014. The reason why I chose to study at Stirling University was because I wanted to move abroad from Finland, where I’m originally from, and was keen on studying in English. I then decided to visit a few universities in Scotland. As soon as I had seen Stirling, I decided that it was my top choice as the campus was stunning and the modules offered seemed very interesting.

2016 Saara Sippola St Andrews April
Trip to St Andrews

I still receive questions on why I wanted to study French in an English-speaking country but I always tell people that it was one of the best decisions I made. Not only did my English improve but I also made lifelong friends, studied a variety of interesting modules and was taught by excellent tutors and lecturers. Scottish people were warm and welcoming and I never experienced a culture shock, a feeling I have encountered in other countries I have lived in.

2016 Saara Sippola Monaco April
Monaco

My favourite part of the degree was my semester abroad. I chose to study at the Aix-Marseille University in Aix-en-Provence. I was very nervous when I moved there as I didn’t know anyone but I quickly got to know to other Erasmus students and we became a close group who would travel around the French Riviera. The university in itself was very different compared to Stirling. There was less freedom when it came to choosing modules, for example, and in the beginning it was a challenge to follow the courses in French but it did get easier.

What I enjoyed the most in the South of France were the food and the weather. After my Erasmus was over, I decided to stay in France and agreed to work as an au pair in a French family. My language skills improved quickly and I learnt colloquial French – this was very important as I felt that I understood the culture better. As much as I enjoyed my time in France, I was very happy to return to Scotland.

2016 Saara Sippola Aix-en-Provence April
Aix-en-Provence

When I returned, it was time to start writing my dissertation on North African Immigration in France. The reason why I chose this topic was because of my experience in Marseille and in other cities in France that have a high number of immigrants. As much as I would have liked to cover the whole topic, I understood that it was too vast and decided to tie immigration and French rap music together. I was very motivated when writing my dissertation as I noticed it improved all the time. The meetings with my supervisor, David Murphy, were very beneficial as he gave me a lot of support and was always available for my questions. The dissertation inspired me so much that I am hoping to study a Master’s course in Immigration Management soon.

My French degree has helped me to get different positions in international companies and I now work in Booking.com’s Amsterdam office and manage the company’s Freelance Translators. Even if I do not translate myself, I understand the translation industry completely and it has also made me interested in working as a freelance translator in the future.

Overall, I’m very happy I chose to study at Stirling University. The quality of teaching, the approachable tutors and lecturers and the other students interested in the same topics are the key factors why I would choose Stirling again. Even if I enjoy my time in Amsterdam, Stirling is still very special to me and I’m hoping to return very soon.’

Thanks to Saara for this article and best of luck for the future!

Erasmus Impressions of Stirling

As well as an international group of Stirling-based students, we also have a wide range of Study Abroad partnerships which mean, firstly, that the vast majority of our students spend their Semester 6 on Study Abroad and, secondly, that we also welcome students from many of our partner institutions to Stirling, either for a semester or, in many cases, for a full academic year. These partnerships are with a wide range of institutions across France (from Aix-Marseille to Tours via Sciences-Po, Perpignan, EMS in Strasbourg, ESSEC in Cergy, Nancy, Limoges, Clermont-Ferrand and Caen), Switzerland (Geneva), Quebec (Laval) and Morocco (Rabat) and we add new partnerships to our network as often as possible.

Not all students visiting from our partner institutions necessarily end up taking classes within French at Stirling – they often take advantage of modules in areas specifically related to aspects of Scottish life, culture and history – but this semester, we happen to have a relatively large group of Erasmus students taking our final semester core language module. We thought it’d be good to get their perspective on life at Stirling so thanks to Audrey Aliphat for the following:

“My name is Audrey, I’m French and come from Limoges. I study English back home at the Université de Limoges and, thanks to my university, I’ve been able to take part in the Erasmus programme. A year ago, I chose to study abroad for a semester so I looked at all the destinations on offer. I wanted to discover a new country in the UK so I chose to go to Scotland. I went to Stirling’s website to learn more about it and I was fascinated by the environment around the university and all the courses that were available. My choice was approved and I started to plan my travel to Stirling.

2016 Aliphat campus loch Mar

When I left France it was hard because it was the first time that I was leaving for so long and so far away from home. But when I arrived in Scotland I had a (pleasant) surprise: the people were smiling, kind and welcoming. The landscape around is magnificent with those mountains around. When I arrived in Stirling it was snowing and it was really beautiful.

2016 Aliphat snowy Scotland Mar

Classes in this big university started in January and I discovered a brand new way to study. Fewer hours than back home but many resources to work with, a library and tutors and even online resources via the University website. There is a lot of work to do but teachers and tutors are always here to help, and especially for international students which is really comforting. In the university itself, we can also find everything we need, from groceries to books. A lot of associations and a big sports complex are available on campus too.

I’m staying off campus in the Union Street residence and at first I thought it could be annoying to not be on campus. But ultimately I’m five minutes from the city centre and close to shops and the train station. In my flat we are all international students and I’m lucky to have them because I learn about their countries but also as a non-native English speaker I learn new things like vocabulary or traditions.

I’ve been here since January and I haven’t done half of what the university offers. But I really think that this is a perfect place to study abroad for foreign students.”

We hope Audrey continues to enjoy her semester with us and we look forward to welcoming more students from our partner institutions over the years ahead.