Can you relate to an international student on another level?…

…by Elsa / from Finland / studying Architecture / 1st year postgraduate

Do you need to think twice when someone asks, “where’s home?” Is answering “where are you from” not as straight forward as it should be? You’re not alone my fellow international students. Here is a short, but sweet, relatable ten-point checklist:

One: You can’t really pin-point where home is at this point. When you’re in Edinburgh you call your current flat home, but then you also call going back to where you grew up home, but then also if you grew up in a second place, that’s also home… right? Holidays essentially are leaving home but also going home, just to return back to home, but leave home. It’s a muddle. It simply depends on the time of year!

Two: Most people have a hard time guessing where your accent is really from. Personally, the guesses range from American, to Australian, to German, to Polish, to absolutely everywhere else. The reality is, we have some odd hybrid accent developed over time through TV, media, friends, places we’ve lived, languages we speak… The “International Accent” is a thing. Let it be; embrace it.

Three: On a night out, your ID check can go one of either two ways. Either the bouncer gives you a wary side-look and you feel like borrowing Karen’s ID would’ve been a safer bet than your own real Spanish one – or, you get that cheery “HOLA!” the bouncer has been waiting all night long to be able to use. They grin at you so proud of… so just, awkward thumbs up and get your night started.

Four: You still think in your own currency – unfortunately, translating pounds into euros doesn’t always work in your favour and… oops, I just spent five euros on a coffee? 

Five: Street knowledge is not your forté. Globalisation definitely helped you build a foundation, but at the end of the day you were brought up with slightly different music, pop culture and TV series – and frankly, you just cannot always relate to references made by the locals. I’d give you an example, but I’m on the same boat… I have no idea! Another awkward thumbs up.

Six: Isn’t it suddenly so exciting when you meet someone from your country at university? Almost as if you’re a rare species and the chances of bumping into each other was one in a million. (Speaking from a Finn’s point of view).

Seven: The ultimate party trick up your sleeve is “spitting a few bars” in your native language.

Eight: You can get away with messing up sayings. Somehow, you always rephrase it slightly differently – which is great fun, really. “We could also go by the shops on our way, that way we can kill two birds with one arrow, right?” sure, seems more precise than a stone. “We ate so much, I’m so full. I definitely fit more through my eyes than my mouth!” … Do you mean “your eyes are bigger than your belly?” Or is it really “my eyes are bigger than my stomach”?

Nine: When travelling back to Scotland, the suitcase is usually reserved for home goods. Unfortunately, they get eaten within the first week back. 

Ten: Some stereotypes about your country might annoy you a bit, and you’re always trying to prove it wrong. However, when you break away from the stereotype a bit too much you almost question your nationality. Wait a minute… why don’t I take siestas all the time, am I even Spanish?? Why did I just sit next to someone on the bus, am I even Finnish!? It is a fine line guys.

So indeed, we might pronounce some things a little funny – but, it’s somewhat charming. Don’t you think? The University of Edinburgh is an international hub encouraging interaction between an incredible array of nationalities, cultures, beliefs, backgrounds… there is really no better way to enrich oneself than to mingle on campus.


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