Tag: University of Maastricht

Further tales from former students

Having managed to post articles about this year’s finalists and their plans, and to catch up with some of last year’s graduates, I thought I’d try an experiment and see whether I could get updates from students who graduated further back. Thinking that I’d maybe get one or two responses, it’s been fantastic to switch on email over the past little while and to see more and more emails from graduates from 3, 4, 5… years ago landing in my inbox. I’ve pulled together information from all the messages I’ve had so far here in this blog post and some of this will also link up with longer posts, as and when I get them online. As ever, it’s great to see the variety of paths taken by our graduates – not to mention the collective distances covered!! – and it really has been great to get a chance to catch up like this.

Where to start? It’s hard to decide so, in no particular order…

Yasmin, who graduated with a BA(Hons) in French and Spanish in 2014 has, since then, successfully completed two British Council English Language Assistantships in different regions of France and is now living and working in Australia, as well as fitting in a good deal of travel around South-East Asia. There’s more on Yasmin’s experiences and travels here! Katja, who graduated in 2016 on our International Management with European Languages and Society programme, is now working on an EU-internship in Brussels. Iida, who also graduated in 2016 but with a BA(Hons) in French and Human Resource Management, completed a Masters at Maastricht University last year and is now living and working in Helsinki: ‘I first got a job at Fortum, Finland’s biggest energy company and then in April moved companies to Unisport, as I got a permanent position as an administrative coordinator. Though my tasks and responsibilities are diverse, sadly I don’t really use French in my current position. I have, however, benefited from my second major at Stirling, namely HR, as well as some of the minors I took like marketing and business management. Additionally, I have to say, cultural studies obviously give you an edge on understanding and working within a global/multicultural company so in that sense having studied French has been useful for me in work life as well!’

Going a little further back, Dawn graduated in 2011 with a BA(Hons) in French and Spanish and, since then, has spent time teaching English in Spain, working in a local authority education department and, most recently, working for a third sector employer which helps people with disabilities find and retain paid employment. More about Dawn’s experiences since graduating here! Susan, who graduated back in 2011 like Dawn, also in French and Spanish, is now teaching English in Guatemala (more here!) and Jana, who graduated a little more recently (in 2014) with a BA(Hons) in French, has recently completed an MSc in Language Teaching at Edinburgh University and feels that the combination of Single Honours French at Stirling and the Edinburgh MSc have helped her to ‘very fulfilling jobs interpreting and providing study support to adult students with dyslexia.’

Then there’s Jonny who graduated in 2012 with BA(Hons) in French and Global Cinema and who has been working as a secondary school French teacher but is about to leave the profession to take up a post with the charity Sense Scotland next month. And Jennifer who graduated with a BA(Hons) in 2016 in French and Spanish and who first spent a year living and working in Vigo, Galicia through the British Council programme in order to determine whether she wanted to pursue teaching as a career: ‘It was a fun and challenging year and even though I decided that teaching is not for me, it was an excellent learning curve and allowed me to figure out the next step on my career path. In September, I will be graduating with a Masters in Translation Studies at the University of Glasgow. I am currently working on my dissertation, so I haven’t had a huge amount of time to fully consider my options, but I am hoping to have a clearer idea by September. In the meantime, I have applied for a traineeship as an Editor/Translator at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. If unsuccessful, I would consider reapplying next year because it sounds like an excellent opportunity. I have also been accepted into the British Council programme again, but this time in the region of Valencia. My plan would be to start off my career as a freelance translator on the side, instead of doing extra private lessons. However, I am still unsure of this option. Alternatively, I would stay in Glasgow or Edinburgh and dedicate my time to translation networking and building up my personal profile as a translator – I’ve been told that the sooner, the better! This will present significant challenges, but this is my desired long-term outcome.’

And Helen who – so far – is among the ‘oldest’ graduates, ie from the cohort that graduated the furthest back, in 2010, when she successfully completed her BA(Hons) in French and who says she always looks back fondly on her time at Uni: ‘I loved the strong sense of being part of something bigger in our subject. I still genuinely believe that I had the most rounded degree experience. There aren’t many options where you can study English, politics, literature, film, history, sociology… (I could go on) AND have a fab semester abroad thrown in. I studied in Aix and gained so much from using a higher level of French and meeting people from all walks of life. I managed to make the most of my summers and worked in France every year for a few months, as a watersports instructor. After graduation I was lucky to work in three primary schools on Réunion Island, through the British Council. Wow, what an incredibly different culture shock that was!

Anyway, I now use all of these stories at school to entice the kids who ‘don’t need languages’. I am currently Director of Faculty for Languages in a high school in Preston. I love being able to use my French and Spanish daily while working with young people. I also provide whole school training and I play a key role in the county’s language teachers network. I love the variety of work and no two days are ever the same. Somewhere in between I now have three children and we spend six weeks in France every year (my husband is also a teacher).’

As ever, many thanks to everyone who has got back in touch and sent updates. We really do like to get a chance to know where people end up after they graduate! And if you happen to be reading this as a French at Stirling graduate (from whichever year) and fancy sending an email, please do get in touch.

 

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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.

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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.

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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)!

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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!