Tag Archives: third space

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.


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.




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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Third Space is born!

12 Feb

For the past few months, I have been working with people from University to develop a project for students preparing for an international adventure.

It’s been such a pleasure to talk with students about their time overseas and hear their ideas on how to better support and prepare for their cultural encounters.  I’ve enjoyed meeting staff who specialise in counselling, ethnography, storytelling, and intercultural communication to see how we could design something really meaningful.

It has been like putting together a puzzle where you know all the pieces are meant to fit, it’s just a matter of getting them into a room together.

From all this hard work has come Third Space, a new series of activities which wrap around students’ international experiences giving them the tools to explore, reflect, engage, and share culture during the different stages of their time away. Simply put, third space refers to when one culture meets another culture – something new is created. With so many students moving between countries and cultures, I feel the university environment can often be a third space and I see this project as something that can help students make the most of that.

You can read more about Third Space here. There will be a pre-departure retreat, a workbook full of cultural explorations, and returnees conference.  Students will even be eligible for the Edinburgh Award.

So, I’m asking you for two things:

1. If you are a student preparing for your third-year abroad, apply to be part of this special project. I promise that it will not only change your life, but can also be included on your Higher Education Achievement Record through the Edinburgh Award. You will enhance your cultural toolbox and meet some lovely people.

2. We need your strategies, activities, things to do while away, among many other things in a new cultural context.  We are filling the workbook (both physical and online) with these activities to encourage students to fully, openly and thoughtfully engage in the ongoing life of the place they are visiting. While it is inspired by ethnographic research methods, it is not meant to be a “how to do ethnography” book.  It is a collection of ethnographically inflected tips, notions and things to do.

For example, one could suggest that they find out what the most popular street food is? Then they could ask someone who cooks it for a living how to show them how it is done? Then they could have a go at trying to cook it themselves?

Alongside a brilliant illustrator, we will produce a workbook which is playful, engaging, and hopefully – useful. After a year, this will be their portfolio of cultural adventures and something they can treasure for a long time. You can email ideas to me at johanna.holtan@eusa.ed.ac.uk.

It’s an exciting project to be a part of and I feel everyone behind it really cares about the ethos of Third Space. Watch this space!

The Third Space

2 Sep

Last year, EUSA Global hosted a Welcome Home party for all students who had been away in the past year on some international adventure to study, work or volunteer.

Students shared their stories and met those who did similar work or were in the same country. As part of the event, we gave away raffle prizes for their valuable insights into their time away. While on secondment today, I was going over these insights and it’s great to hear about all the skills gained and friends made.

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These guys also offered great ideas into how we could do  better – more community building with other students beforehand and after.  Resettlement was a big theme – something that Welcome Home aims to address. Culture shock is hard, but reverse culture shock can be more difficult because you aren’t expecting it.  You are returning home to a place you know and love – why would it be so hard?

Over the course of my secondment so far, I’ve had to pleasure to meet academics who do research into these areas. Maria Dasli from Education introduced me to the term ‘third space’ – when one cultural identity meets another and a third space is created. You might say our campus is a third space, not belonging to one culture but to many. When students live in another country, I think that they create this as well.  No wonder the return feels so familiar and strange at the same time.

We will be running the Welcome Home party again this year on Thursday, 3 October and we hope you can make it. We can’t wait to hear about all your adventures.  We are also planning a series of other events – once we confirm the details, you will be the first to know. Visit us at www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/welcomehome and www.facebook.com/eusaglobal to find out more!