International Student Centre

Hello and happy move-in to all the Scranton students! Good luck with your first day of classes on Monday! ūüôā

This week I want to focus on one thing specifically, because it has been largely responsible for making my first three¬†weeks in Edinburgh incredible… The International Student Centre!

The International Student Centre (ISC) is a completely student-run organization; it branches off of the International Office at the University.  All the students running the ISC are volunteers, and they put on social activities for other students.

Every weekday from 12 until 4, the lounge is open for free tea, coffee, and biscuits (cookies) for anyone who wants to come in! They also have board games, but most importantly, kind volunteers for nice conversation!

Tuesday nights from 4 to 6 is their weekly Coffee Evening, where they (as usual) have free coffee, tea, and biscuits, as well as other delicious snacks like carrots & hummus and french bread & brie cheese!  Typically, we play a game at Coffee Evening Рthe first two weeks we played Articulate! which is very similar to Catch Phrase, and this past week we played Dominoes.

They also host movie nights and pub nights! The first week, they hosted a pub quiz in the ISC lounge. ¬†I went, and my team came in second! (I cannot take any of the credit, though… I’m great at Taylor Swift trivia and that’s about it.) ¬†Here is my team ūüėÄ


Angela, me, Alex, Sarah

The International Student Centre is also responsible for hosting weekly trips for students.  In my previous post, I shared pictures from St. Andrews Рthat was an ISC trip!  There are day trips every Saturday, with the exception of the weekends where they host weekend trips (Friday evening to Sunday evening).  This Saturday I am going to Durham, England (parts of Harry Potter were filmed here!) with the ISC.  Next Saturday I am going to Dumfries and the Caerlaverock Castle!

These two trips (Durham and Dumfries/Caerlaverock Castle) are especially exciting for me because I am actually going on the trip as a volunteer.  I helped plan each trip along with two or three other volunteers;  we generated publicity and created a poster, constructed an itinerary, worked out the details, and created an information sheet to be handed out on the day of the trip.  Our job tomorrow and next week will be to make sure everyone is accounted for and that everything runs smoothly!

I have had a lot of fun being a trip volunteer! Each trip volunteer chooses a couple of trips to help plan, so these were the two I chose. ¬†If another volunteer ends up backing out of a future trip, I could help plan that, but as of now I will just be attending future trips as a participant! ūüôā

I am also a lounge volunteer for the ISC.  Being a lounge volunteer is very simple Р I just have to be in the lounge during the times I signed up for, refill the coffee, and clean up any mugs or dishes.  I always end up staying much longer than my designated volunteer hours, though, because it is so fun to hang out with the people there.

I cannot say enough good about the International Student Centre! ¬†I have made some really wonderful¬†friends there already, and everyone I have met is incredibly kind and interesting. ¬†I love learning about everyone’s different cultures – I have met people from Switzerland, Canada, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Zambia, Mexico, as well as other people from the USA!

Check in next week to hear all about Durham! I am so excited – this will be my first time in England! ūüėÄ

– Tori

Hello from Scotland!

Happy New Year and happy spring semester!! I am writing from the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Tomorrow marks two weeks since I arrived and I am loving my time here.

I am studying this spring semester at the University of Edinburgh as a study abroad student.  Classes started last Monday, so I am in my second week of classes.  I am taking three philosophy classes over here: (1) Philosophy of Well-Being, (2) Puzzles and Paradoxes, and (3) Logic, Computability, and Incompleteness.

Classes here are quite different from how they are in America – for example, I only have each class once a week. ¬†The grades (which they call “marks”) are also very different – a 70 is an A here, and it is extremely difficult to get a 70. ¬†I¬†do not think anything will prepare me for receiving my first mark here – I am so used to mid-60s being a failing grade, but here that is a good grade!

I love my classes so far, especially Puzzles and Paradoxes. ¬†I find the material for this class especially fascinating!! Last week, we discussed the question “What came first: the chicken or the egg?”. ¬†This week, we discussed the Liar Paradox, which has many different formulations, but one of these is “This sentence is false.” ¬†I am looking forward to learning about some other paradoxes in the coming weeks!

Having fewer hours in lecture means I have a great deal of independent work, so I have kept myself busy with that. ¬†However, I still have quite a bit of free time to participate in the University’s social events and explore!

I have attended so many events already, but the most stereotypically Scottish are definitely the “Taste of Scotland” held the first night I arrived and the ceilidh held on Friday. ¬†At Taste of Scotland, I witnessed the Address to a Haggis, which involved a dramatic reading of a Robert Burns poem by a man in a kilt, and a procession with another kilted man playing bagpipes. ¬†Then, we all ate haggis, neeps, and tatties (Sound Scottish enough?). ¬† Here are photos:

New friends and kilted Scottish men! (Jennifer, Me, anonymous kilted bagpipe player, Carla, Alex, Bobby, anonymous kilted poem reader)

Address to a Haggis

Haggis (brown), Neeps (orange), and Tatties (white)

The ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), hosted by EUSA (Edinburgh University Students Association) was the first of several throughout the semester, and it is a social gathering featuring Gaelic music and dancing.  And yes, there were more kilted men here Рthis time, though, students!

And as far as exploring and traveling…

I still have a great deal of exploring to do around Edinburgh – good thing I have all semester ūüôā For now, I know the area surrounding my flat the best. ¬†I was very lucky to end up where I did; I live¬†a 10-15 minute walk from main campus in Meadow Court student housing. ¬†I have my own room in a four-person flat; two of my flatmates are first-year students at the university, and one of my flatmates is a fellow study abroad student from the United States. ¬†They are all very sweet girls and I am glad to live with them! My favorite part about this location is what is practically in my backyard (well, I don’t actually have a backyard, but this is a one-minute walk from my door)… The Meadows ūüėÄ Here is a photograph I took of the Meadows (I actually took this from the opposite side as the side I live near because I wanted Arthur’s Seat in the background!)

Speaking of Arthur’s Seat… I climbed it on Friday! Arthur’s Seat was formed by an extinct volcano, and it is part of a group of hills in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. ¬†I climbed it with my friend Alex (from University of Scranton!) and some new friends she introduced me to: Angela, Rachel, and Sarah.¬†Here are some photos I took during the climb:

View of Edinburgh (this wasn’t even taken from the top!)

Panorama of Edinburgh – click to enlarge!

On Saturday, I went on the International Student Center trip to St. Andrews, which was lovely! It was bitterly cold but the sights and structures were beautiful. ¬†Alex also went on the trip, and we got brunch at Northpoint Cafe, which I¬†strongly recommend… in fact, my temptation to go back to Saint Andrews is largely fueled by that cafe. ¬†I got one of their¬†griddle melts: ciabatta with goat cheese, roasted bell peppers, pesto, and spinach. ¬†Oh my gosh, I want another. ¬†Moving on… here are photos from St. Andrews!

View of St. Andrews from St. Rule’s Tower

Panorama of St. Andrews from the MUSA (Museum of the University of St. Andrews) viewing terrace – click to enlarge!

Like I said, I went on this trip with the International Student Center, or the ISC. ¬†I have so much to say about the ISC, so I will definitely write all about that soon! (But in summary for right now… I LOVE IT)

Last thing for this week’s entry… Monday’s happenings. ¬†Alex and I went to Scotland’s very first cat cafe, Maison de Moggy, conveniently located right in Edinburgh. ¬†It was absolutely adorable and such a fun, happy, and relaxing experience! Of course, photos:

This is Guillaume ūüôā

Me and Guillaume!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more adventures!

– Tori