Troon Town Twinning Association:
  Trantor Bursary

9b.Trantor Bursary 2017 My Visit To Berlin - by Erin Lee - Summer 2017

9a.Trantor Bursary 2017 Travelling To Berlin - by Georgia Neilson - Summer 2017

8.Report on My Time in Nantes, France - by Amy Bargh - Summer 2016

I have been lucky enough to experience two long-term trips to different parts of France throughout the year of 2016, the first being a summer contract working in Disneyland Paris, and the second being a semester in Nantes, attending the Université de Nantes.

I am a third year interpreting and translating student at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, and while this course certainly has the same trials and tribulations that most other courses face, a major benefit is that my course offers a year abroad (in my case, it’s in two countries; France and Spain, as those are the languages I study).

Working in Disneyland Paris isn’t something that a lot of people can say they’ve done, but for me it became life for the summer. I worked in the “Phantom Manor”. This was my first insight into how French people work and I had to try very hard to keep up with the language, so it was difficult for me to understand things first time sometimes, but after a few weeks things fell into place and slowly but surely, I noticed myself understanding things without even thinking about it and interacting with the ‘guests’ in French and Spanish too.

Arriving in Nantes, I was ready for the next four months. I had meetings with my Erasmus coordinator at the university about what classes I should take, and after a week or so with some taster classes, I decided on a few French to English and vice versa translation classes, amongst others. The classes were challenging as there were not many Erasmus students and all classes were taught almost exclusively in French, however this was for the best as it tuned our ear to being used to hearing the language every day.

Integrating with the native students was the next challenge. It would seem that maybe the French take a while to let foreigners “in”. It was a slow start but we eventually managed to make native French-speaking friends and it was worth it to persevere and try, because we noticed our French improving and we socialized with them and also they knew the places to take us, where the students hang out.

At the end of my time in Nantes, I had grown to feel very at home in the city, with easy mode of transportation, getting anywhere by tram, to being only 2 and a half hours away from Paris if I wanted to be in a bigger city. Nantes is famous for the Île de Nantes, which is home to a variety of mechanical animals, including a 40ft high elephant that you can pay to take a ride on, or simply watch and take it all in, it’s quite a spectacle and extremely famous in France. It was a beautiful city and I’m extremely grateful to have experienced my Erasmus in France there.

7.Report on the Trantor Bursary 2015 - by Céleste Jolivet - July 2015

6.Report on the Trantor Bursary 2012-13 - by Sophie Bell - October 2013

My time in France

In the summer of 2013 I was given the opportunity to carry out work experience in a small French restaurant, naturally I jumped at the chance and was fortunate enough to benefit from the Liz Trantor Memorial Bursary for my trip.

I am still at school and have always enjoyed languages however what I lack is confidence in my own ability simply from lack of practice. So I packed my suitcase and, with a friend, flew to Poitiers, a tiny airport with only 2 rooms! Feeling all grown up after my first time flying alone I soon realised that our expected lift was late, leaving us surrounded only by French speakers which soon had me feeling quite small again!

My first day saw a visit to the local town of Niort where I discovered its sociable atmosphere – a beautiful, newly opened park and plenty of outdoor cafés encourage people to enjoy the warm, peaceful days. There I browsed the French shops and ate a huge baguette for lunch. On our return we discovered that, despite the restaurant being ‘closed’, we had a large party to serve for dinner so it was straight to work. Until then I had been experimenting with my French on my family, who live there and put us up, but not yet relied on it so I was horribly nervous.

Visiting the nearby town of Niort

Time for service

There was absolutely no need to worry as everyone was so friendly, in fact my waitressing skills were more of a hindrance than my French! That night I served the mayor of the village and had a long conversation with one client, we discussed where I lived and the Royal baby and he even told me he used to play in a pipe band!

As the week progressed I realised I was able to speak French and be understood without anyone laughing uncontrollably which boosted my confidence a lot. I was able to interact easily with the customers, managing to accommodate special requests and explain wrong orders as my French improved rapidly. I enjoyed the experience immensely, becoming a lot more talkative and my proudest moment was receiving a tip from one of my tables, which apparently is rare!

I also met my cousin’s friend during the week which was great as talking to someone my own age meant learning about French schools and teenagers; she also attempted to teach me a French card game and I was very happy when she complimented my French. During my stay I discovered so much about French culture: Coca-Cola comes with French names, the radio is really bad, the cheese course comes before dessert and, from clearing plates, French people aren’t fond of chillies-anything spicy came back untouched! Alternatively, if dishes are sold as popular in Britain they are very keen to try them and everyone showed an interest in talking about Scotland too.

By the time Sunday came it had been a whirlwind of activity and yet our biggest challenge lay ahead-a 4-course lunch for 46 people. It was the hottest day yet and the work was non-stop but I managed to talk to the children and help a gentleman who had lost his knife! When everyone eventually left we jumped in the pool, only for a hailstorm to rain down on us-it’s certainly an experience I won’t forget!

The week was an incredible one and I can’t quite believe how quickly my French improved, I certainly feel a lot more confident in speaking it. The bursary helped cover the cost of my flights and visits into town to experience the French way of life (and sample culinary delights!)-as I’m only young it enabled me to afford this chance and make the most of it. My time in France has made me realise how much I enjoy languages and I have decided it is definitely what I want to study at University.

A French "Coca"

The size of the hailstones

Sophie Bell

5.Report on the Trantor Bursary 2013 - by Nicola Watson - October 2013

Report : My time in France

During the summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to travel to a small town in France called Auge, near Poiters airport to undertake a period of work experience. My friend Sophie, who travelled with me, has an Aunt who has lived there for almost eight years and has opened up a business in the hospitality industry. Sophie had been asked if she wanted to spend a week during the summer to help in the restaurant and had asked if I wanted to join her. Of course the answer was yes! We both have studied Higher French and are continuing to study it at advanced higher level, which will be hard work but this trip to France was to increase our confidence of the language and to be able to speak French more fluently for the course - as a large part of the advanced higher course is speaking, speaking with a complete stranger for 20 minutes on a topic which will be a complete surprise to us on the day

Throughout my visit, I had the privilege of staying with Elaine, Charlie, Taylor and Lewis in their home. We stayed in an old barn they had turned into a new modern Gîte. It was beautiful. It was wonderful to see how they have adapted to life in France, having moved there from Scotland, eight years ago. I was extremely impressed with how fluently they could speak the language.

Schools in this district are entirely different from here, as young people have the opportunity to go to a new school as often as every two years. Their exam system sounded very different too, and much was based on continuous assessment, leading to the final award.

The family restaurant was a reasonable size with a lot of outdoor seating. I had the chance to set the tables in preparation for guests, greet the customers, take their orders, serve their food, and to help prepare food in the kitchen.

On the day before I was leaving they had a big event – an 80th birthday party with 46 people there for a four course meal. There were only three of us serving, and Sophie’s aunt and cousin were in the kitchen for the whole time. It was a stressful day but such a great experience for me. I had first hand opportunities to chat with and meet locals, as they enjoyed their meals.

As the work was unpaid, the bursary was a welcome financial support, assisting me with flights, and transport.

Most of our time in France was spent working in the restaurant, learning about French Cuisine, and speaking with and serving locals

During our free time, my favourite place to visit was a town about 15 minutes from Auge called Niort.

Niort is a small town, similar in size to Ayr, with a range of shops, cafes, restaurants and places of interest. It also had lots of shops, right up my street!

Through the week spent in France, I felt my confidence in speaking the language improved. I am more confident in trying to converse with native speakers, and will engage more confidently with them. I also feel my accent has improved, which will be extremely advantageous as I approach advanced higher French.

In conclusion, my trip to France was a great success! It has confirmed for me, my desire to become more proficient in the language, with a view to working and living there in the future. I would thank Troon Town Twinning Association for their support through the Liz Trantor Bursary and for their encouragement

Nicola Watson

5.Report on the Trantor Bursary 2010/11 - by Heather Donaldson - Monday 12th September 2011

Report : Working For Pueblo Inglés at Candeleda, Ávila, Spain, Summer 2011

Having been attempting to learn Spanish for the past 5 years, one of the biggest stumbling blocks I have found was my confidence in actually speaking the language. I have a major problem with opening my mouth and talking to people in Spanish as I get too worried about looking idiotic. Oral exams at uni put me into a complete state of panic where I would literally feel sick walking into the exam and then come out from it and nearly faint.

In the past year or so I have finally decided what I want to do with my life – going into my final year of joint honours sociology and anthropology at Glasgow University, I am now determined that I want to be a researcher for anthropological documentaries, with the ideal being to eventually work for something as prestigious as Human Planet. This dream, however, requires me to get my act together and force myself to get some kind of grip of one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and the only way to do this is to throw myself in at the deep end.

After volunteering with this company 3 years ago, and working for them last year, I was asked to return again to Spain this year to work for a Madrid based company called Pueblo Inglés. This translates literally into 'English Village', and is an incredible company that runs summer camps for Spanish kids and teens who are learning English. The teen camps rely on a half and half mix of paying Spanish teenagers and volunteer 'Anglos' and the premise is that the Spaniards will be immersed in the language by meeting English speakers from around the world and only speaking English for the entire week. Having volunteered on this before, it is an amazing idea that works incredibly efficiently – the rule of 'No Spanish' being at first very difficult for the Spaniards, but eventually forcing them to speak English and learn as they go. The camp also makes for long-lasting and brilliant friendships – to this day I am still in touch with people I met 3 years ago from the camp, from all over the world.

With the kids camps however it is is a different set up. The rule of 'No Spanish' still stays strong, but there are no Anglos to break up the workload – the source of English comes purely from the monitors working at the camp. This was my job for two weeks this year – being one of 9 monitors looking after a group of 68 children between the ages of 8-12... mayhem!The job is not particularly difficult, in fact you don't even need to know Spanish to work for them as the camp relies on using English to describe everything and not resorting to Spanish translations for anything. If any of the children find it too difficult to get by or they have a major problem, there is a Spanish program director to help out, but otherwise we monitors have to use as many combinations of patience, sign language, persistence and willpower to get it through to the kids that they have to speak English! So in this way it is not a very hard job, it is just long hours, tiring work, and you have to constantly keep the children entertained and make sure they are having fun. I swear that I am sick to death of playing 'Simon Says'!

Heather at the lake at Candeleda

Monitors when the children were to dress-up

The camps are based in various beautiful rural areas of Spain, though Pueblo Inglés's office is based in Madrid. The camp I worked at for two weeks was in a place called Candeleda, Ávila – about 2 and a half hours west of Madrid. I worked in this same place last year and was very glad to return – it is absolutely stunning. You are surrounded by amazing views of mountains and a huge lake, and the weather is perfect every day. The hotel is lovely too, and the set up is ideal for the kids program.

Monitors on the final day

A Group of Monitors at the lake at sunset

So, although I was working hard at teaching English in the company of the kids, I made it my priority to be switched on to Spanish in my free time. Before starting at the camp, I went out to Madrid 5 days earlier and met up with a few friends, one of whom was a Spanish girl living in Madrid. Waiting to meet these friends at a bus station, they were an hour late, and I ended up whiling away the time having a full-on Spanish conversation with a male student sitting at the bus station next to me. At first I was positively terrified and insisted I couldn't speak Spanish, but he persuaded me to try, and we sat and talked for about half an hour, my confidence growing more and more throughout the conversation. He told me that my Spanish was better than I thought, and I came away from that experience absolutely exhilarated and so pleased with myself that I had managed it. I was also pretty sure that I had spoken more Spanish in that time than I had in the past 5 years of school, uni and night classes!

After that I went to stay with my friend in her family house just outside of the centre of Madrid. Being around a Spanish family was fascinating for me as I love they way they live over there, and adore their family values – it makes me pretty sure that when I have children I want to raise them in Spain. Having been in Madrid 4 times before, I didn't know if there was much left for me to do, but surprisingly I found a few beautiful places I had never seen and immediately fell in love with. One of these places was Templo de Debod – an Egyptian Temple donated to Spain in 1968 – and is next to a stunning park as well as having an amazing view over Madrid. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone visiting Madrid! My friend took me out one night to show me the Madrid social scene, and so we had delicious tapas (probably my favourite thing about Spain) and after a sangria or two my confidence with speaking Spanish soared! In the bar we went to I ended up chatting away to a Spanish girl and her brother and spent the entire night speaking in Spanish – yes it probably was a little bit sketchy, but the girl said she understood me perfectly and that all I needed was a bit of practice.

At camp in Candeleda I made sure to listen carefully to the staff working at the hotel, learning little bits of Spanish in my free time, laughing about some of the things the children said when they thought you weren't listening, and also chatting away to the monitors I worked with who did speak Spanish. Time at camp flew by as we had been working so hard and had busy days, so before I knew it I was back in Madrid and only had 2 days to go before returning home. I made some brilliant friendships with the monitors I worked with, so we made sure to make the most of our last days together in Madrid, drinking and eating very Spanish things, and having an excellent time. On my last night I stayed at another friend's flat in Madrid, therefore seeing another side to the city, and also seeing the side of life I could easily manage if I moved out there... The time I had in Spain helped me come to a few conclusions: firstly, that my Spanish is really nowhere near as bad as I thought it was. Secondly, that it is entirely possible to pick up a language as long as you are in an environment where it is spoken all the time and you have the will to learn it. Thirdly, that I now have a new determination to move to Madrid when I finish university as I believe it is the easiest and by far the best way for me to learn the language properly, whilst also living in a place that I absolutely adore. It is all thanks to the bursary that I managed to make the most out of my trip, and I thank the Troon Town Twinning Association and the Liz Trantor Memorial Trust so much for giving me this opportunity!

Heather Donaldson

4.Report on the Trantor Bursary 2009-10 - by Alan Ritchie - Tuesday 19th October 2010

Report : My time in France

In the springtime of 2009 I lost my job in Edinburgh as a financial recruitment consultant. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to travel abroad so with only a one-way ticket, a back-pack and French phrase book, I boarded my plane to Toulouse. After unsuccessfully searching for work in Toulouse. I took a train north to Bordeaux and after weeks of job-searching in this beautiful town and increasing frustration and questioning whether I had made the correct decision I eventually found cleaning work in a small, French hotel. I quickly made friends in this popular city and they all recommended I search for work as an English Language Assistant. After enquiring online with the British Council who co-ordinate assistants and language students from Britain I discovered I had two weeks before the deadline to apply for a job. I was lucky enough to be accepted and began work on October 1st in a quiet French town called Laval in the north-west of the country. It is between Rennes and Le Mans and approximately a two hour TGV train ride to Paris.

The British Council were great. They were extremely efficient in emailing information, teaching material and put me in contact with other assistants who would also be working in the region. On arriving in Laval I was taken to a ‘foyer’ - a bit like University halls of residence accommodation that was to be home for myself and other language assistants. Being in the same accommodation as other assisstants and finding myself in such an structured set-up felt like the opposite of three months earlier when I originally arrived in the country. This made adapting to life in a foreign country a great deal easier.

I was allocated work within five different primary schools which provided me with a well-rounded experience of all the town’s estates and a fantastic insight into how different teams of staff work in schools.

I quickly discovered that not only the pupils, but also the teachers weren’t very educated on Scotland and Scottish culture. Their knowledge of the UK was often limited to England and their memories of a school trip to London. As a typically patriotic Scot I was keen to establish any interest in my own wee country and after attempts with Scottish inventors, kilts, bagpipes, caelidh dancing and J. K Rowling I quickly found the big interest for French infants – the Loch Ness Monster!This captured the children’s imaginations and prompted many discussions – mostly about its existence!

With the money kindly given to myself I was able to explore more of France, enrol on a course to improve my French and buy teaching materials that otherwise I would have been unable to finance myself.

I travelled within France to fantastic destinations such as Amboise, Mont-Saint-Michel and made regular visits to Paris. I visited ancient castles, including one with the Chapel of Saint-Hubert which has the burial spot of Leonardo de Vinci, Parisian museums including the Musée de l’Orangerie – which I would strongly recommend.

Throughout my time in the country I worked on my French and made a point of refusing to speak in my native tongue. Taking part in a weekly class allowed me to meet people and furthered my learning of the language. I enjoyed these classes so much and the sense of achievement felt in progressing that I am soon to enrol on Spanish night classes at Marr College.

I have now returned to live in Troon and only this week have begun a teaching course at University of the West of Scotland. My long term plans are to qualify as a teacher in Scotland and sometime in the distant future live abroad once more and once again experience the joys of a different culture. I am certain that when fully qualified I will tell my own students of the time I spent in France and of everything I learned whilst there. I hope this will motivate them to travel and take a leap of faith in a new direction. This has made me a better person and given me a new perspective on Scotland’s place in the world.

3.Report on the Trantor Bursary 2008 - by Yvonne Irvine - Saturday 1st May 2010


I had the privilege of receiving the Liz Trantor Memorial Bursary to enable me to spend time in France over the summer of 2008. I had a very successful trip and the bursary was a great financial aid to me.

I travelled with Lise Barriere, a young French student who had spent 4 months in Troon, and was welcomed warmly into her home just outside Villeneuve-Sur-Lot. In the first week I also spent time with two other families in order to meet new people and experience the way different families in France live. The first was with a family who own a restaurant in Penne d'Agenais (L'Air du Temps), so I was able to explore this historic village and converse in French with the teenage son for a couple of days. Then I went and stayed in Villeneuve with the family who own the large 'Bazaar' home hardware store. Here, I experienced the Friday evening marché in Villeneuve where all the locals meet in the centre of town and buy and eat a meal of local produce, with music playing and a lot of mingling involved too!

During the next couple of weeks I spent most of my time with Lise - enjoying the countryside, speaking with her family and friends every day to improve my French, visiting Villeneuve and Agen and learning more every day about the culture today in France. C'est vrai que j'ai profité bien de ces semaines, surtout parce que mon français a amélioré chaque jour! I loved everything about this area of the south west of France - from the weather, to the wonderful food, and even to the accent!

In my last week I chose to travel to Bordeaux and stay there for several days in order to do some sightseeing. Using the very efficient tram system I saw le Grand Théâtre, la Cathédrale, le quai, le musée d'art contemporain, les jardins botaniques et la grande statue et fontaine à Quinconces. I really enjoyed my stay in Bordeaux as I was able to have some independence and the city was very impressive and lively.

The bursary especially helped me to pay for my return flights for the journey - with the best option for me being Glasgow - Bristol - Bordeaux; and also for my time in Bordeaux for travel, accomodation and living costs. This exchange was a very fruitful one and Lise and I developed a deep friendship which will last a long time and help us both to practice our English/French language skills as we keep in contact. I am now just coming to the end of a six-month internship in Paris, where Lise now also lives, so we have met up with each other many times and had a great time together.

Thank you for the help of the Town Twinning Association and I very much hope that another exchange will be arranged for two new people in Troon and Villeneuve this summer.

Best regards,