Tag: University of Passau

“Languages live through the people who speak them”

Kathrin Opielka graduated from our Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies – in partnership with the University of Passau – in 2015. Originally from Germany, she is now living and working in Scotland and has sent us the following post about her experiences in Stirling and beyond.

2016-opielka-photo“I have always enjoyed discovering the unknown, adapting to new, unfamiliar situations and questioning my perspective on what I have taken for granted.

I think many language and culture students will agree with me that the fascination of this subject lies in its ever-changing, dynamic nature. Languages live through the people who speak them, through literature, art, and conversations. And is there any better way to learn and experience a language than through being surrounded by it every day?

During my studies, I have focused on English, Spanish, Polish and French as foreign languages. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months in both Spain and Poland during my B.A. and was eager to live in an English-speaking country for a while. When I heard about the International Management and Intercultural Studies programme between the universities of Passau and Stirling, I knew immediately that it would be perfect for me.

Not only did the University of Stirling offer excellent academic courses such as Spanish language, translation, politics, and management; it also meant that I would be able to discover this exciting country and vividly experience the Scottish culture! My expectations of the programme were not only met, but highly exceeded. The level of care and guidance by the university staff and professors were exceptional, and I loved every single class I took during these two semesters. Also outside university, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Scottish country and hospitality of its people.

I started to understand the Scottish saying “visitors of Scotland cry twice – once when they arrive, and once when they leave”. Albeit I heroically managed the first incident of crying (the weather really wasn’t exactly in my favour when I arrived), it soon became clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to face good-bye yet. I fell in love with and in Scotland, and after I graduated in May 2015, I decided to move to Edinburgh.

I started working in bars and cafés and was grateful for the translation classes I took in Stirling as I was freelancing as a linguist for Global Voices on my days off. I thoroughly enjoyed translation work but was concerned by the volatile nature of freelancing – I had hoped that the times of all-nighters would have been history after the point of me graduating.

After a couple of months, I found a great graduate position in a small, multilingual marketing agency in Edinburgh. Even though I only stayed there for three months due to the office being re-located to Barcelona (yes, I love Scotland THAT much), it was an amazing stepping stone into the industry and enabled me to gain some experience in various sides of digital marketing. I soon realised that I wanted to specialise in content marketing as it would allow me to combine my interests in creative writing, marketing, psychology and language.

I am now working as an Inbound Marketing Campaign Executive at Storm ID, a digital transformation consultancy in Edinburgh. My job is extremely diverse and creative; I am involved in both strategic campaign planning and operational, day-to-day activities such as blogging, social media marketing, and SEO. Most importantly, I am learning something new every day. Writing in English has helped improve my language skills significantly (although I still drink the occasional “litter of water”) and I am additionally enrolled at Google Squared through my company, an amazing part-time online course focusing on digital marketing and leadership.

As language graduates, there are many opportunities to apply our skills and knowledge in the professional world. I have discovered a niche in marketing which allows me to make use of my creativity and passion for writing but there are many other industries which require intercultural communication skills.

I definitely have found my place for now, although I haven’t given up on my plan to do a PhD in the field of Indigenous Cultures in South America – a topic I discovered in a seminar held by Dr Sabine Dedenbach Salazar-Sáenz in Stirling. I am sure that the experiences I gathered both at the University of Stirling and in my current job will help me pursue this dream sometime in the future and am excited about those yet to come.”

2016-opielka-graduation-sept

Many thanks to Kathrin for sending us this blog post and we hope life in Scotland continues to treat you well!

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First Day Back

Today is the first day of the new academic session at Stirling. To those starting out on our Semester 1 modules, whether in our ‘Advanced’ stream or as a Beginner, welcome to French at Stirling and we’re looking forward to getting to know you over the semesters ahead.

To those returning to Years 2, 3 or 4, welcome back. We hope you’ve had a good Summer and, for those just back from English Language Assistantships or Semester 6 Abroad, we’re looking forward to hearing all about it.

As ever, we’re also welcoming visiting students from a range of different places so whether you’re a Francophone Erasmus student or a non-Francophone exchange student taking some of our modules, we hope you enjoy your time with us. We’d also like to welcome this year’s cohort of students from Passau on our International Management and Intercultural Studies integrated Master’s programme and, this year, we’re also welcoming our first group of students on our Translation and Interpreting double degree with Hebei Normal University in China.

Alongside our undergraduate students, it’s also the start of the new academic year for students taking our Translation TPG programmes with French and for some new PhD students, working under the supervision of French at Stirling colleagues. More about them very soon but, in the first instance, welcome (back!) to Stirling.

Plenty more news to share about events coming up this semester, from French Film Festival screenings in partnership with the MacRobert to European Day of Languages celebrations and much else besides but we wanted to post a rentrée message before the day is out! More blog posts to follow soon…

French at Stirling News Round-Up

Another new semester is well underway with lots of French-related news to report…

Welcome, first and foremost, to our new intake of Year 1 students – whether you’re starting from our ‘Advanced’ stream or in our Beginners’ classes, whether you’re here to study French with Human Resource Management or Education, with Spanish or Mathematics, with English or with Business Studies, welcome to Stirling! And a particular welcome to those of you here as part of our double degree partnership in International Management and Intercultural Studies with the University of Passau – we hope you enjoy your year in Scotland!

On the staff front, following the retirement of our former Language Assistant Bernadette Corbett, we’re delighted to welcome Mathilde Mazau to French at Stirling. Mathilde previously worked at the University of Glasgow and will be teaching spoken and written language classes across all years of our undergraduate programmes, working alongside Brigitte Depret.

And welcome back, of course, to our Year 4 students returning from Study Abroad, readjusting to life in Stirling after a semester at Sciences Po in Paris, in Perpignan, Limoges, Clermont-Ferrand or elsewhere, and to Year 3 students coming back after a year on the British Council’s English Language Assistantship scheme! As ever, a new group of Stirling students are about to embark on a year as English Language Assistants as part of the British Council-run scheme so best of luck to them and we look forward to hearing about your year when you come back. We’ve also got around 20 students waiting to find out in the next week where they’ll be spending their Semester Abroad in Spring 2016…

Following on from an extremely interesting workshop organised by our Language Coordinator Jean-Michel DesJacques and led by Petra McLay of SCILT focusing on the transition from Higher French to University French just before the start of semester, we have a whole range of French-related events to look out for over the coming weeks and months.

The Africa in Motion Film Festival – founded by former French at Stirling PhD student, Lizelle Bisschoff – celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and the packed programme of events (screenings, exhibitions, concerts and much more) can be found here.

As part of the Division of Literature and Languages’ regular research seminar series, we’re particularly looking forward to two papers by colleagues from the University of Aberdeen and the University of Glasgow later in the semester. Ed Welch (Aberdeen) will be giving a talk entitled ‘Image, Imagination and Power: Visualising Urban Futures in Post-war France’ on 25 November and Jackie Clarke (Glasgow) will give a paper entitled ‘Consumer Culture in Post-war France’ on 2 December.

And our own Bill Marshall will be giving a paper on 21 October on ‘The Uses of Prehistory’, developing work he conducted during his recent research leave, a project for which he has also been awarded funding via a British Academy Small Research Grant with a Stirling workshop coming up over the next few months. Bill’s success as one of the joint recipients of the Prix du Québec from the British Association of Canadian Studies will also enable him to go to Montreal in early 2016 to conduct research for an edited book on Quebec Cinema: Texts and Contexts, and on Quebec bande dessinée for an article on images in that medium of the First French Empire.

French Programme Director Cristina Johnston and her Spanish counterpart, Ann Davies, have been successfully awarded Cohort Development Funding by the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities for a series of workshops aimed at Modern Languages PhD students on ‘Writing for an Interdisciplinary Audience’. The workshops will take place at the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, Stirling and Glasgow, involving colleagues from all those partner institutions. More details will follow in due course.

Stirling staff remain as active as ever in giving papers and keynotes at various locations throughout the UK and well beyond. David Murphy is giving a seminar on ‘The Performance of Pan-Africanism’ at the University of Edinburgh in November 2015 and Bill Marshall will be delivering a keynote lecture at the World Cinema and Television in French conference at the University of Cincinnati in September 2016. Bill will also be giving the annual Christianson Lecture at University of Bristol in March 2016. Elizabeth Ezra will be introducing and leading a discussion with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet at St Andrews University in October 2015 and has been invited to give a talk in November at the University of Aberdeen on her forthcoming book, The Cinema of Things. And Jean-Michel DesJacques continues to represent Stirling at regular UCMLS meetings throughout the year.

Following the successful EIAE Conference in Glasgow earlier this month, we’re also continuing to look at our range of Study Abroad partner institutions with a view to expanding our network. In this context, we were delighted to welcome colleagues from the Ecole de Management de Strasbourg to our campus, as well as colleagues from our partners ESSEC at Cergy and the Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie in Rabat and we’re looking forward to welcoming Annie Birks (Université Catholique de l’Ouest) in October to give a paper to our Translation students.

We’re also really looking forward to finding out more about our students’ French Society events for the coming year and will be posting more about them over the weeks and months ahead. And there’ll be plenty of events organised for French students coming up too, including a get-together for future and returning Study Abroad students from Stirling as well as visiting French and Francophone exchange students, and an employability event organised by Frances Sessford from Publishing Studies with a range of participants talking about what to do with a degree in Languages.

And last but not least, on the teaching front, we’ve got option modules running this year in French Crime Fiction, Quebec Cinema, The French Atlantic Slave Trade and the Cinema of the Fantastic and, for the first time, we’re offering an option module in Translation Theory at Honours level. French at Stirling staff will also be contributing teaching to a range of Stirling TPG courses including Translation Studies, Translation with TESOL, Gender Studies and our Film Studies programme.

Lots more news and updates to follow!

New Student Exhibition

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a ‘French’ exhibition but one of the students involved is in Stirling on our double degree in International Management and Intercultural Studies, run in partnership with the University of Passau, which happens to be ‘housed’ in French at Stirling so…

Visitors to the Pathfoot Building are welcome to stop off at the Student Exhibition space behind the Porter’s Lodge to see the new exhibition ‘Coca is not cocaine – The traditional use of the coca leaf in Peru and Bolivia.’ The exhibition has been created by Kathrin Opielka (our double degree student!) and Eva Molpeceres, working with Dr Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Saénz, and it seeks to challenge preconceptions and misconceptions of an ancient custom and to shed light on the incredible richness of a voiceless practice.

The chewing and other traditional uses of coca leaves have been an instrument of communication and reciprocity in the Andean people’s culture for centuries. However, Western influences have given a different meaning and value to coca-related products. Why can’t we think of the word ‘coca’ without images of cocaine or “Coca-Cola” (both Western creations) coming to our minds?

The exhibition is on until August 2015.

Summer news

Mark Cousins
Mark Cousins

It’s hard to believe that a month has already passed since Stirling’s graduation ceremonies and the great speech by our honorary graduate, film director, critic and programmer, Mark Cousins. Honoured for his outstanding contribution to Scottish cinematic culture and to the reception of global cinemas across Scotland, Mark was introduced by French Programme Director, Cristina Johnston, and brought the ceremony to a close with the following: ‘Let’s be generous, let’s be glamorous, let’s be a bit wild!’ What better advice for a graduating class?!

Semester has now well and truly ended, and staff and students are busy with their various and varied summer activities, so this is really just a chance to report on some recent French at Stirling news.

Firstly, congratulations to Charlotte Cavanagh who has just completed her second year with us and who has been awarded a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship for 2014-15 when she’ll be in the Bordeaux region working as an English Language Assistant. The Stevenson Scholarship is highly competitive and awarded to students across all the Scottish Universities so this is great news!

Charlotte’s plan is to use the funding to help her examine ‘the popularity of foreign languages in France during a time where there seems to be a decreasing number of students in Britain who study languages. I will also compare the French education system and way life to the Scotland. I hope that the skills and information I obtain from my research around this topic will help broaden my horizons and help with my dissertation in fourth year. I hope that the scholarship will enable me partake in recreational activities to meet new people and to travel around France as much as possible. Having only visited Paris and Nice before, I am excited to have the opportunity to visit and explore other regions of France.’

Congratulations, too, to Fraser McQueen and Rachel Taylor who both graduated last month and who were the recipients of prizes for their exceptional performances over the course of their degrees. We wish them both all the very best in their future endeavours.

There will be a couple of changes in staffing for the coming year in French with the arrival of our new Language Assistant, Brigitte Depret, and the departure of our colleague Jason Hartford. Brigitte will be involved with teaching our 1st and 2nd year students, in particular, and Jason is off to take up a post at University of Ireland, Maynooth. Best wishes to both!

We’re looking forward to setting up a new Erasmus exchange with Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand over the course of the coming months, too. Laurence Gourievidis, Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at Clermont, visited Stirling in the Spring semester and Jean-Michel DesJacques, our Language Coordinator and Study Abroad Advisor, had a very successful trip over there after teaching ended, so everything is well on track for a new partnership. We’re also in the process of renewing our long-standing partnerships with the University of Passau and the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg, with both of whom we run double degree programmes in International Management and Intercultural Studies.

Finally, some summer reading from Stirling colleagues: David Murphy has a new article in Francosphères, co-authored with Ferdinand de Jong and entitled ‘Archiving the Postcolonial City’!
Bonnes vacances!