Friday, 29 March 2013

'Food' from the University Expat Teen Contribution series


Everybody told me how much I would miss home when I moved ‘up North’. At the time, home was a daily routine that, in retrospect was deeply undervalued. Home is not only the geographical region where ones family lives, but also includes the area's culture, weather, traditions and food. No doubt after living away from home for just over a month international students are now craving the Char Kway Teows, Wiener Schnitzels, Biryanis, Croquettes and Tacos typically served at mealtimes. These are a far cry from the dishes served at the universities catered facilities and unimaginable to the self- catered student now accustomed to microwave and instant meals.

So, what is an international student to do in order to satisfy their cravings for home made dishes, and overcome constant salivation when thinking ‘what would I be eating if I were at home right now’?
Finding the best substitution in the form of a restaurant is a good start. That noodle, meat or rice based meal will abate the hunger once or twice, but be warned: this is only a good temporary fix. The cravings will return once you begin to notice the curries have been sweetened, the seasonings altered and the meats changed due to local availability- or lack thereof- and the Scottish palate.

Self- catered students at least have the essential kitchen facilities to attempt a proper home cooked meal. Perhaps lacking in a mortar and pestle, rice cooker, raclette machine, bamboo steamer and crepe pan, the basic oven and stove should suffice. But which first year student would splurge on filet mignon and remember to marinate it for 24 hours according to mother’s recipe? And who would bother with complicated baking when papers must be written, books must be read and social lives must be led? Not to mention home made meals also require a lot of cleaning up… possibly not worth the high risk of failure when attempting naan and butter chicken.

The quality of food typified by roadside stalls, hawker centres and mum's kitchen can only be achieved whenever the international student returns home and, in that case, indulges excessively until the inevitable return to university life.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Introductions/First Impressions; University Expat Teen Contributions Article ONE

One thing many Expat Teens are very good at is taking initiative. We have discovered one Expat Teen who has moved from Singapore to Edinburgh, Scotland, to attend University. This Expat Teen took the initiative to secure a newspaper column in the University newspaper, 'The Journal'. The writer has agreed to share some of her articles with us in a new series we will call 'Expat Teens transitioning to change in their first year of University'. While the articles are representative of the author's experiences and perspectives, the content is certainly full of experiences and change that nearly all Expat Teens can relate to.

Social groups are crucial for youth existence: they assure company, support and loyalty in all walks of life.  So how do social groups form at a new accommodation in a new university in a new country some 15’590 kilometres away from ‘home’? First impressions are key.

The basis of first impressions is personal introductions, and during the first few weeks of university there is a multitude of opportunities for one to introduce themselves. “Hello my name is…” to roommates, hall mates and classmates is a start, but once sports teams and societies are underway, ones exposure to new people fourfold. As a result names fade out of memory and instead you, initially, associate ‘that blond girl’ as the girl who has the pantry cupboard next to yours, and ‘that tall guy over there’ as an avid basketball player. It is exactly this extra background information that becomes the identifier between all the Hannah’s and the Harry’s.

One of the most important questions to distinguish one from the other, especially to the international mind, is ‘where are you from?’. In this patriotic department there is a much wider range of answers available, resulting in the generalised ‘three categories of nationalities’:-

1.     Single nationality: the introduction from the student who is from one country or city and has lived there their whole life
2.     Dual nationality: the student who has two passports from separate countries and most likely lives in one of them, or the student who lives in a country they call home separate to their one passport nationality
3.     ‘Third Culture’ nationality: the individual who holds two passports but lives in a third country and whose longer-than-expected answer to the simple question tends to bewilder the questioner.

Not only does this cause the international student comic relief but it creates an international camaraderie and a first impression that could bond you together for longer than you first assumed.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Guest Post: 20 Rules Teens Want their Parents to Follow...

Greetings! We have the opportunity to present another guest post to you, written by Paul Taylor, who contributes to another blog, entitled "Babysitting Jobs". While we do not usually do this, we decided to go ahead and present to you a recent article that was posted to Paul's blog, as it has relevance to our topic of Expat Teens. So, we invite you to check out the link below, keeping in mind that the views reflected within the article may not necessarily reflect the views of the authors of Expat Teens Talk.

20 Rules Teens Want Their Parents to Follow But Know They Won’t (

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Loneliness of an Expat Teen...

Those who have grown up in an environment where they are able to experience four seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall) tend to appreciate them more then they move out of those environments. However, one of the seasons that tends to have the most complaints is winter. The shorter days of sunlight, cold temperatures, and general blah-ness that accompany that season tend to result in people being less active, less energetic, and, at times, lonely.

One of the entries in our book, Expat Teens Talk, speaks to loneliness and the difficulties that teens face, regardless of where they are living or what season they are experiencing. In this entry, the writer says:

"I went from an expat international life to a local life. I like where I live; however I wish that other Expat Teens lived where I do. My biggest issue in this local environment is loneliness. I feel very isolated from the people around me...I miss having friends who are more like me, other expat friends who can relate to my expat experience..."

When an individual is experiencing loneliness due to feelings of being constricted or restricted by cold temperatures and dangerous weather conditions, the loneliness can sometimes be alleviated by recognizing that, eventually, the days will get longer and the weather will warm up. However, for Expat Teens and others who may not know where or when they will next move, alleviating these feelings could be more difficult. Regardless of the circumstances, loneliness can be very uncomfortable, and finding ways to combat loneliness can be a challenge. Here are some ideas of appropriate, healthy ways to combat loneliness:

*Find ways to adapt to your environment, including finding new hobbies to get into that could initially distract you from feeling like you are alone, and ultimately add to your repertoire of personal activities to do, regardless of the time of year or how you are feeling.

*Use this time to spend more quality time with your family. Consider establishing new family routines and rituals that will help you maximize your family experiences and create lasting memories.

*Explore your neighborhood and others in your immediate surroundings. For example,  winter time is one of the best times to explore new restaurants, so set a goal for yourself in terms of how many or which types of restaurants you want to check out.

*Keep in touch with your friends! One of the best ways to combat loneliness is to remind yourself of your family and friend support network. In this day and age, social media has made it extremely easy to do so, so be sure to take advantage.

*Remind yourself that this, too, shall end!

As we go into Spring time in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, we hope that these suggestions will help you combat loneliness and enhance your overall personal experiences!