Margaret F K Fleming graduated from St Andrews with an MA in French in 1933, and a Bursary was established in her name in 2010 for students of French to enable them to study in France. Georgia Spencer-Rowland received the Bursary in 2015, and she describes here the wonderful opportunities it gave her.
Thanks to the Margaret F K Fleming Bursary, I was lucky enough to spend six months in Paris studying International Relations and Humanities at Sciences Po University. I lived in the heart of the 2ème arrondissement from August to January and my time in the city was simply wonderful: I made friends for life, was challenged academically and seized every opportunity both inside and outside of the university environment.
I attended the University’s invaluable week-long Welcome Programme. Here we learned a completely new approach to research, presentation and in-depth data analysis and critique, without which I would have been lost once term began. My classes and professors were extraordinary and I feel privileged to have been included in what was, to date, the most intellectually stimulating environment I had witnessed outside of St Andrews.
I studied a range of subjects – all in French – from Terrorism and Asymmetric Warfare, to Ethics, French Philosophy and the Literary Culture of the Middle East. Unfortunately, my study of terrorism changed from the abstract to a real-life experience after the attacks on the city that November. However, well-rehearsed security measures and the positive attitude of professors and students meant that evacuations and false alarms did not impede our learning, nor our desire to attend classes.
Classes not only developed my language skills, but also influenced my choice of International Relations modules on return to St Andrews: studying an introductory course to Ethics at Sciences Po led me to take the Ethics and the Use of Force module in Senior Honours. I remain in touch with my professors from Sciences Po, all of whom have kindly written references for when I apply for a Masters course at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA).
Outside the classroom, I took advantage of the unparalleled cultural opportunities on offer around Paris by visiting museums, art exhibitions, jazz shows and countless other unforgettable activities. The Bursary also enabled me to enjoy university sports classes, including swimming and weekly pilates classes. This provided a much-needed break from the library and allowed me to meet other students, who introduced me to debating and to foreign affairs and film societies – all of which I subsequently joined.
Alongside my studies, I managed to get a job in the British Embassy in Paris. Having originally applied for diplomatic work experience, I was then offered and accepted a job as a server and interpreter. It was incredible to go straight from lectures to serve at state functions where guest lecturers from Sciences Po would often be dining. The extra travel costs associated with this were covered by the Bursary, meaning that neither my academic nor social time in Paris were compromised.
I cannot thank the donors of the Margaret F K Fleming Bursary enough for the astounding opportunities it afforded me. Not only was I able to engage fully in the academic rigours of such an incredible institution, but the analytical and critical research skills that I learnt there will serve me for the rest of my academic life. I was able to participate fully in all aspects of student life, from sports to the arts, all of which would have been financially inaccessible without the assistance of the Bursary.
If you would like to know more about the range of scholarships and bursaries available at St Andrews, you can find out at: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/scholarships/
You can support future generations of students to fulfil their potential by giving to one of our scholarship programmes at: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/development/support/other-fundraising-projects/scholarships/