Feb. 26, 2024

E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship Newsletter: Winter 2024

Greetings from France

Dear Friends and Supporters of the E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship,

In August 2023, at a reception generously hosted by our friends at the Alliance Française, we welcomed Brooklyn Mori-Sanchez and Kirsten Young back from their year in France. Kirsten, a lively storyteller, shared with us the impact of her year abroad as well as her plans to return to Europe soon. Brooklyn was still in France at the time but sent a beautiful message, reflecting on her progress with communicating in French and expressing her gratitude to the ECB community.

During the reception, we also introduced our newest E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship recipient: Valeriya Mynak. Now in her second semester of studies in Lille, Valeriya sent these words to share with you:

"I am currently in my third year of a dual Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Communications. I initially chose Lille because Sciences Po is considered to be 'Les grandes écoles' of Political Sciences in France. The Lille campus is definitely a charming one, even possessing a courtyard with a garden right in the middle of the school. 

The courtyard inside Sciences Po Lille

"Additionally, Lille, a city in northern France, having historical connections to Belgium, and having the ocean just an hour away, has delicious 'les moules et les frites,' (mussels and fries)  the country's national dish, which is typically served with cheese or a vinaigrette.

Mussels with bechamel sauce  and fries

"The weather is similar to London, which I love, and the region has some of the loveliest people, who are called les Ch'ti owing to their unique French dialect. The city itself is gorgeous and quite walkable. I go to the centre frequently, and I find the charming stores and calm environment to be very appealing. I still have a lot to discover about my city, including the numerous museums like the Palais des Beaux-Arts or La musée de la Piscine, as well as a tonne of cooking classes at the Ateliers des chefs. My last culinary class taught me how to make macaroons.

Palais des Beaux Arts Museum

"After surviving the first few weeks of adjusting to a new language, meeting new people, starting school and opening a bank account, I was fortunate to visit the Dunkerque beach. Because Lille is so centrally located, I have had the opportunity to travel to many different locations, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland, England, Hungary, and naturally, a little bit more of France.

Me by the Edinburgh Castle

"One of my favourite experiences was travelling alone for the first time in November!  I travelled to Annecy, in the Savoie region near Switzerland. It is the most beautiful city I have been to, and I have already decided that would be the ideal place for my wedding. 


"In terms of my studies at Sciences Po, I am enrolled in the Certificate of Political Science (CEP) programme, which allows me to take two English classes as options and seven French classes that all have to do with exactly what I want to do in the future, like political economy, public policy, contemporary history, etc... So far, I am super impressed as I was able to take my very first philosophy class, get a better grasp of economics as it has definitely always been a challenge for me and has also demonstrated to me exactly what I am interested in my degree. Besides, a huge plus is that my conversational and grammatical French skills have significantly improved. 

I have to say that the biggest change that I have experienced is the spontaneity. I am someone who loves a routine and stability so during the school year I have a quite usual routine of going to school, doing sports and working. Yet here, every day is a new adventure. Of course, I still have my morning routine down but I just never know when my friends will call me up to go to a museum, to the city centre or just to take a spontaneous trip. I have been loving it. Yes, feeling unprepared is not easy for me but it has definitely been helping my growth as a person and being open-minded to almost all activities.

Me and my friend Maria at the Christmas Market in Lille

"Aside from the city centre, my favourite spot in Lille is the Béffroi de la Lille, a belfry, a portion of a church tower, where bells are suspended very near to the city centre. From the 104-metre summit, you have a 360-degree view of the entire city. I often climb and just observe the city. 

In the upcoming months, travelling and receiving my CEP programme diploma are the things I'm most excited about.  I am looking forward to visiting more cities in France like Nice, Montpellier and Saint-Malo and to experiencing all the different sides of France as well as the warmer countries like Spain and Portugal.  Above all, I want to continue improving my French and attend more cooking classes in France, all the while experiencing new spontaneous adventures every day.

Me on Rue de Solférino (where I lived this past semester)

The E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship has given me the opportunity to live abroad, explore a different culture, enhance my language abilities, and gain new insights into a whole different world. This has been incredibly beneficial to my personal development because I have had to learn how to do everything on my own (apart from the occasional times I call my parents for help fixing appliances or cooking recipes). It has been great and humbling, and I feel like I am growing day by day. Most importantly, though, I've been living my dream of living in France. Being the recipient of this honour this year makes me very grateful, it has changed my life, will keep doing so and will do the same for future recipients as well. 

Thank you again, to the donors of the E. Catherine Barclay community and to my parents for helping my dream to come true."



We are thrilled to announce that the ECB Scholarship Advisory Committee has a fourth member! Morgan Richardson, a recipient of the scholarship in 2021, will be joining forces with Andrea, Paola and Silvia to continue promoting, fundraising, and community-building efforts around this unique award. Welcome, Morgan!

With continued heartfelt thanks to each of you for your interest in and support of this growing, vibrant ECB community,

E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship Advisory Committee

Silvia Rossi (1991 recipient)          
Andrea Jung (1993 recipient)
Paola Velasquez (2016 recipient)

Morgan Richardson (2021 recipient)


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About the E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship

Offered annually to an undergraduate student registered in any faculty at the University of Calgary wishing to pursue studies in France through an official exchange program, for two semesters. Award holders must select courses in which the language of instruction is French.

Fall/Winter minimum GPA and units: 3.2; 24
Donor: Friends of E.C. Barclay
Value: $ 7,500

Apply to the French Centre by March 15.

Application form


Did you know?
If you are interested in contributing to the ECB Scholarship fund, you may wish to take advantage of an upcoming matching opportunity. In conjunction with UCalgary’s Giving Day, gifts made between April 4 and 18 will be matched up to $2500 while matching funds last!


Did you know?

We are now on Instagram: ecbscholarship

Follow us to stay up-to-date with ECB Scholarship news and to live vicariously through Valeriya’s adventures!


Have a question?

Micheline Lee
Program Coordinator - French Centre
Tel: 403-220-7226
E: michlee@ucalgary.ca

Instagram:  @ECBScholarship