Monday, 22 April 2013

features of the foreign world; University Expat teens Series FOUR

Journal Article: features of the foreign world

There are so many new and different things international students experience when they move away from their home country. Evident changes such as language, accents, climate come as no surprise but nobody warned us about less obvious things, like road rules and plug sockets.
All students are used to a variety of transportation means; some walk, some cycle, some drive and some get driven. This is no different at a university; however imagine the international students’ frustration when vehicles drive on the wrong side of the road.
Crossing the road becomes a backwards process- needing to look right then left as opposed to the ingrained habit we are used to back home. It is an everyday affair that all students must do to travel to George Square or Kings buildings, but, is a fear one must overcome.
Moving abroad, one also realizes how electrical items, and the plugs and sockets to charge them, have been taken for granted. Nobody told me that three pronged plugs were used here, and nobody warned me of the small fortune needed to buy adaptors or new chargers.
These differences vary from country to country and their reasoning mainly rooted in their colonial history, but there are other differences that, I as an international student, have noticed on, supposedly, less regionally specific items. Take for example the laptop and phone keyboards; on some European keyboards the ‘z’ and ‘y’ keys are swapped around, some have a distinctly smaller ‘enter’ key and others have more key options to produce the foreign accentuation and intonation on words.
On one hand these novelties take us by surprise, or even scare us, but, eventually, when we’re back home these differences will make us miss Edinburgh, our new home. And the laptop keyboards, well they’re just a small token of home that we can take with us around the world, reminding ourselves to keep in touch.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Phenomenon of Fog - from the University Expat Teen contribution series

The Phenomenon of Fog

Everybody warned us of the cold, grey, rainy weather in Scotland, yet somehow nobody warned me of the fog that cloaks our city of late.

Week six into university has exposed me to a diverse range of weather conditions, many of which contradict each other and would never occur in my hometown a few continents away. Whoever would have thought the sun could shine, and yet two sweaters, a scarf and coat are not enough to protect from the incessant cold? Or likewise that the light drizzle, here called rain, really does soak through every coat and bag, no matter how ‘waterproof’ the fabric? However, the most novel weather condition that has both pleasantly surprised, and slightly scares me, would have to be that of fog.

Fellow international students originating from ‘season-less’ countries may argue that the potential snowfall is most exciting, but the cloudy fog is what fascinates me most, especially around this time of Halloween.
In a gothic sense it magically transforms Edinburgh into the Scottish setting of Macbeth, causing one to imagine the possibility of prophesying witches around every corner. In a less Shakespearian sense, it also causes the buildings in their baronial and gothic architecture to come to life and realize the settings of historic events, which is a very unique feature of the city.

In spite of my captivation by the fog, it is perfectly understandable that some of us foreigners are scared by its presence, causing us to really believe the end of the world is near thanks to the cloudy warning of the Apocalypse through ‘a thick cloud of water droplets suspended in the atmosphere that restricts visibility’.
Nevertheless, all foreign students may as well get used to the ever-changing weather now; practice layering clothes, buy thermal underwear, always carry an umbrella…. Or just stay inside- we’re only here for four years!