Your Edinburgh knowledge and experience can make a real difference to international students finding their feet in an unfamiliar city.
Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience. Alongside the academic and social challenges that all students encounter, are cultural conundrums combined with baffling new ways of doing things.
To help our students adjust to life in Scotland, the International Office runs a hospitality scheme called Go Connect. The scheme links international students to members of the local community - including staff, local residents and former students - and draws on their extensive knowledge of the city.
It is not however a one-way process. Being a host provides plenty of opportunities to learn more about different cultures and ways of life and it was this aspect of the scheme that encouraged current host and university staff member, Jo Cockell to get involved.
I was really keen to become a host because although I meet international students every day, I wanted to have the experience of getting to know them in a more informal setting and finding out more about life in their country, and their perceptions of life in Edinburgh.
Alumni based in Edinburgh are in a unique position with an understanding of the city as both a student and a resident. If this is you then your insights could help an international student feel like a local.
Your commitment doesn't have to be large; it can be as simple as meeting for coffee once or twice. However, some hosts enjoy spending more time with their students, meet more regularly and enjoy going on trips around Edinburgh and Scotland.
Edinburgh resident, Rosie was keen to share her love of the Scottish outdoors and so embraced the trip element of Go Connect with organised visits to Bonaly and North Berwick with her two students.
For student Peige, the experience was like being part of
the local family and, not only did she enjoy the company of Rosie her host, but she also bonded with her fellow student participant during hikes and a memorable housewarming party.
Like Rosie, Jo hosted two students at the same time. The students were from very different countries but this multi-national dynamic proved extremely positive and led to diverse and wide-ranging conversations that enriched the experience further.
I have not only learned a little more about Chinese and Norwegian culture, but I have also discovered some things I didn't know about British/European culture, so that I could answer their questions!
If you are interested in becoming a Go Connect host then you can find out more by visiting the information pages on the International Office website or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.