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.

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