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Buddies Newsletter – February 2014

26 Jan
Quizzing fun

Quizzing fun

Hello there, Buddies! First of all, for all you new faces, WELCOME TO EDINBURGH – in my eyes, the best place to study in the whole entire world! My name is Hilary, and I’m the Buddies secretary. I’ll be bringing you all the latest news and events in these monthly newsletters. If you want to share a story or photo of your time here, get in touch with me and we’ll put it on the blog for all to see.

January Events

We kicked the semester off with a rather fabulous pub quiz. Frankenstein’s is a great pub to be in at the best of times, and with the added fun and games of quizzing it was safe to say it was a successful evening! If you missed it, don’t worry. Make sure you’re added into the Facebook group to stay on top of event invitations here.

February Events

We’ve got loads of things planned for this semester, beginning with a walk and a Sunday lunch. Taking place this Sunday, February 1, we’ll go for a walk around Leith and Newhaven before heading to a nearby carvery. We’ll meet at 11am on Sunday in Bristo Square, just outside Teviot, and get the bus to Leith together from there. We’ve put on a sign-up deadline of Thursday so we can let the carvery know how many people to expect – you don’t need to buy a ticket or anything like that, just sign up via the link below and bring yourself, and money for the bus and carvery. For more info, here is the event on Facebook. 

Sign up here to let us know you’re coming!

Our next event after that will be to Sheep Heid on Wednesday 11th February. Meeting at 7pm, we will head to the famous pub in Duddingston for bowling (yes that’s right, bowling in the pub) and to soak up the oldey worldey vibes. Event details can be found here . Don’t forget to sign up on the here if you’re coming – just so we know numbers.

Also, our sister international group, Exchange 360, are planning a trip away for the last weekend of Innovative Learning week in February. It’s to Isle of Skye for only £120, and a great opportunity to meet more peeps and see more of bonnie Scotland!
Tickets are being sold on Saturday, here are the event details.

Future Events

Other dates for your diary are another famous pub quiz in week 6 and an exciting trip to Gorgie City Farm in week 8. Look out for more details and invitations!

If you have any questions, want to write for our newsletter, or are a bit confused, simply email me at: hilaryalison@icloud.com

See you all on Sunday!

Buddies Newsletter – October 2014

2 Nov

What a month it has been! After a massive welcome into October with the Frankenstein’s pub quiz, the Buddies events team pulled it off again with a trip to Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura. The museum is dedicated to all things visual and photographic, with all kinds of illusions involving lights, dark tunnels, and photo machines. With 6 floors of hands-on activities, it’s a treasure trove. One October Wednesday  afternoon, Buddies stuck their heads into various boxes, got lost in a mirror maze and were almost blown away on the roof. In a place like the Camera Obscura, picture taking is obligatory, and there were tons of excellent photographs on all kinds of social media (#edbuddies).

Buddies battling the wind at Edinburgh's Camera Obscura

Buddies battling the wind at Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura

Secondly, welcome to November – and week 8! Time is going so fast. With the announcement of exam dates and the ensuing revision stress, a quick coffee with your Buddies is always a sure-fire way to slow down and enjoy the rest of the semester.

November events are set to include a board games night on 12th November in Teviot – keep a look out on our Facebook and Instagram pages for information closer to the time.

Remember, remember…the 5th of November! If you’re feeling full of fireworks this Wednesday, 5th November is bonfire night, a historical evening dating back to when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up British parliament. Four hundred years on, we still commemorate this day by wrapping up warmly, eating bonfire toffee and letting off fireworks. Exchange 360, an Edinburgh University society for both international students and returners, are planning to climb up Carlton Hill to watch the fireworks. They are meeting just in front of Teviot on Wednesday at 6pm. Sparklers provided before everything kicks off! (For more info see their Facebook page).

Hope you all enjoyed a very Scottish Halloween. See you very soooooon.

Buddies Newsletter

4 Oct

Hi all!

My name is Hilary, and I’m the secretary/treasurer for this years Edinburgh Buddies! This means I will also be bringing all of the news, events and inside goss in these monthly newsletters. Detailing all the fun we’ve been having and what there is to come, we are also asking for contributions from Edinburgh and International Buddies. A different Buddy group will be asked each month for their pictures and posts. So get reading, get snapping  and get scribbling down your experiences so far. ALSO don’t miss out on our excellent Instagram account; follow @edinburghbuddies and hashtag #edbuddies to keep up to date!

September Events

Autumn is THE best time of the year and this September was no exception. It has been a super busy month, beginning with our hugely successful Meet and Greet, where almost 600 Buddies were due into Teviot Dining Room in search of their Buddy groups. And it worked! Complimentary wine in hand, I got to meet so many lovely people from Edinburgh and abroad, and it only added to the excitement buzzing around the Buddies programme for this year. Some Buddy groups even managed to find their way to a ceilidh in McEwan Hall afterwards!

Our next event was the Scavenger Hunt. With eight rhyming clues leading our Buddy groups from Greyfriars Bobby to Edinburgh Dungeons to the castle (or some kind of similar order) and tasks, such as squishing into phone boxes and proposing marriage, on the way, the pictures looked amazing (#edbuddies – you know it!) and the winning team looked very pleased with themselves and their prize!

photo buddies

Buddies ceilidh-ing away in McEwan Hall

October Events

With the first of a new month came more events! This Wednesday played host to the Buddies pub quiz at Frankenstein, the fabulously themed pub on George IV Bridge. Quiz rounds included topics such as Scottish, Music, General Knowledge and there was even a Buddies round (are there more girls or boys in Buddies?). The winners, pun-tastically named ‘Buddy Brilliant’ received some rather fetching prizes. Later on this month we are planning a Flat Safari – keep your eyes peeled for more details.

Obviously aside from our fantastic events, Buddies are welcomed (positively encouraged!) to meet up, mix with other Buddies groups and explore Edinburgh and further afield together. All details of upcoming Buddies Activity can also be found on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EdBuddies20142015/

Bon Voyage Retreat a success!

25 Apr

There is nothing more amazing than when an idea becomes something real.  From the cultural toolboxes to the Bon Voyage retreat – this week was full of Third Space realisations.

The first day was full of practical sessions on encountering a new culture and storytelling, in addition to a great talk on how to be an explorer in a new place.  We finished the day with an Edinburgh Award session on the skills of a good global citizen overseas.

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On Sunday, students were given a challenge, split into teams, and sent out into the city.  There challenge was to try out some of the approaches they might use to get to know the place they are moving to by exploring in a novel manner a place with which they already familiar: Edinburgh.  Using the activities from the toolbox, they went out into the city and presented back their reflections that evening.

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Some of the facilitators waiting on presentations

Some of the facilitators waiting on presentations

You can see more on their presentations here.  It was a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to see where the toolbox, new skills, and year overseas takes these students! I’m also looking forward to identifying ways to help Third Space grow to accommodate more students.

 

 

 

Putting the Tools into the Cultural Toolboxes

16 Apr

 

I am putting together our cultural toolboxes for the Third Space Bon Voyage Retreat this weekend.  Each toolbox contains amazing activities to get students (40 preparing for their third year abroad) out and exploring their new communities.

Check out all the activities here

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Languages. Communication. Community. Tandem!

27 Jan

A while back I wrote my first, and so far only, blog post for EUSA Global. I (silently) promised myself would write often and well, but not only for whoever might be reading it- it was also for myself. Overcoming barriers, gah. It has been difficult. Not only because it is scary to write things that will be on the interwebs forever, but because it is difficult formulating something that can only be experienced. Anyway, I’ve made it a new year’s resolution now. I suppose I need to keep my word, right?

Having been a part of the Tandem team for over 6 months, the dynamics and composition of the group continues to surprise me. There is a myriad of languages embodied within those who frequent Tandem. In addition to the usual suspects – German, French and Spanish, there are people wanting to learn Icelandic, Arabic, and Malay. Even hieroglyphs and ancient Greek are on the menu! There are complete beginners, polyglots and hyperpolyglots (you know, those who are casually maintaining 12 languages or more…) and everyone in between. It makes you wonder; you wonder about the stories behind the languages. Why Norwegian when you could learn something more useful such as Mandarin? And that’s it, isn’t it: Experiences. There are good stories. There are bad stories. There are sad stories. There are cool stories. Community. Lives. Fun. That’s what we’re dealing with, and what makes Tandem worth it for anyone who comes along. So whether you’re obsessed with heavy metal from Finland and wanting to find your ‘Inner Finn’, love South East Asia with a passion, or just want to learn the basics in Portuguese for your holiday in Mozambique- there’s room for you.

Working alongside incredible people with powerful stories of their own is one of the many privileges of being a part of the international environment we have at Tandem. We aren’t just there to learn grammar or new vocab; we are there to communicate. We’re there to talk, we’re there to listen, and we’re there to understand better and learn more. It makes you think about communication, and all the ways in which our lives interact across borders, ages and backgrounds. The global community is only really real in communication at the grassroots. The value of speaking to someone in their native language is at the core of it all; you are not only speaking with or to someone, you are speaking to their hearts.

PS! Speed Lingua this Friday- get excited! 7-9pm in Teviot Dining Room, see YOU there! 🙂

What I Already Know – Part 1

5 Aug

So my secondment has begun! I have an office, my name on the door, a calendar of meetings, and already am feeling that we are onto something big.

As part of my first couple weeks here – and in addition to mapping out activity already happening within the University – I’m making a list.   What do I already know about students, reflection, and the international experience. Equipped with post-it notes, flipchart paper, and an open mind – this list could fill a book.

Students are mobile in all kinds of ways.

We know that students go overseas in all sorts of ways – formal networks such as Erasmus, for field work relevant to their research, to volunteer on projects in communities, work placements, programme electives international conferences, the list goes on. Postgraduates, undergraduates – everyone is doing it. The International Office found that 2,066 students went overseas last year through formal networks.  While this number doesn’t include the informal adventures our students undertake (such as the fantastic opportunities through Edinburgh Global Partnerships), it’s clear that this number will increase year upon year.

Check out this video from our recent Welcome Home event showcasing some of these international experiences


The majority of students have a positive experience while overseas.

We meet loads of students through Edinburgh Buddies, Tandem, Peer Proofreading, various student society activities, and our new Welcome Home series that have been away and are transformed by their international experience.  While there is always a twist of hardship, culture shock, challenge, and sometimes intrigue – these guys demonstrate that even the difficult stories play an important role in a positive experience.

It’s difficult to know how to move beyond personal anecdotes to a narrative that is meaningful to other audiences.

Articulating transformative overseas experiences into coherent narrative is hard.  During the recruitment process of our EUSA Global Assistants, I’ve met great students who have just returned from being overseas and are keen to get involved in our projects. While they speak loads of different languages and have travelled all over the world – they struggle with acknowledging the cold hard skills they have gained.  It’s clear they are competent for the job, but they can’t tell me how their international experience has shaped them and given them the skills to be a Global Assistant. I get the sense they don’t know how they have transformed.  From my work with EUSA Global over the past three years, I can see this pattern.

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We assume students have the tools to reflect on their experiences.

I think we assume that without reflection, students will be fine and that they will find some way to make the most of it.  And you know what? I think they will. But I do think that without reflection, something of the experience will be unexplored, lost, and eventually forgotten. Students should leave university with lots of skills – the ability to write for a number of different audiences, the capacity to persuade through public speaking, to demonstrate technical knowledge, the confidence to ask for help, and the list continues.  But I think that without a suite of tools to reflect on their gained skills, culture and experiences – they lose a great opportunity to develop in a really valuable way.  I think this is where global citizenship can be encouraged, nurtured, and developed.

And one size doesn’t fit all.  While on the Study America trip this past April with ten pretty outstanding undergraduate students, I learned a lot about the reflection process.  While in America, we talked a lot about culture, differences, similarities, etc and it was amazing to see how they all processed these experiences in different ways. Drawing, journaling, radio documentaries, talking, blogging, emailing, observing, asking questions. It’s important to acknowledge that each of the students’ cultural toolbox varied in a way which suited them.

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Students have stories to share.

From bed bugs to car accidents (they were OK!) to amazing community projects, students have some wild stories to tell.  They are telling each other through societies, friends and families – but wouldn’t it be cool to have a structure where they could tell us as well? I hope to create this across the University through Welcome Home and other activities on the horizon, but I think local events (like the folks in Physics run) are also very important.

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I look forward to sharing insights with you as this list grows and evolves. I can’t wait to meet more people around the University doing this kind of work already and figure out ways to collaborate. Watch this space!