Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. In season 3 we talk to graduates about going back. But is it back to the beginning or back to the future? In this episode we meet 2015 Law graduate Michael Weinberger and chat reverse culture shock, the Scottish work ethic, and another London.
After studying law in Edinburgh and Frankfurt, Michael is now back home helping businesses seeking growth in Canada. He advises in English, Spanish, French, and German.
Whether it is returning home after graduation, returning to Edinburgh after adventures elsewhere, or just returning to a place that felt like the past but turned out to be the future, season 3 of Multi Story Edinburgh explores how going back is never life in reverse.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.
Music: Since When by Mise Darling from freemusicarchive.org
Artwork: Vector created by vectorjuice / Freepik
Voiceover 00:11 This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season three, back to the beginning or back to the future.
Michael 00:25 I live in London, Ontario, which is about two hours south of Toronto, and two and a half hours north of Detroit, and an hour and a half west of Niagara Falls if you can triangulate that.
Voiceover 00:38 Michael Weinberger. 2015 Law graduate.
Michael 00:43 I love University of Edinburgh. It was the--like the opportunity of a lifetime. And I met so many amazing people, I experienced so many amazing things. And its the greatest place on Earth! [laughs] Greatest place on Earth. After graduating, I went back to Canada and I worked as a summer student at a law firm. And then, that was up until August of 2015. In September 2015, I went back to school, I completed a Masters of Law and Finance at the University of Frankfurt, at the Institute for Law and Finance, and had a really wonderful time there. After that, I came back to Canada once again, where I started my legal transition exams, my accreditation exams, which I passed, and then I studied for the Ontario bar, which I passed. And then I started working as a lawyer in 2019.
In the very beginning of my degree, it was my plan to go back to Canada. But as you spend more time abroad, you see that, you know, there are a lot of opportunities out there. And there's--naturally there's an allure, or a pull, to bring you--to keep you there. There was a period in my life where I seriously considered staying in Frankfurt, in Germany. But in the end, I came back to Canada.
I experienced what I call a 'reverse culture shock'. So, I would come back, after spending my time in Europe, when I came back to Canada, I realised a lot of the things that we do as Canadians and North Americans were foreign to me. So for example, there are certain social interactions that happen in Canada that don't happen in the United States--in the United Kingdom, or in Europe. So the main one I'm thinking about is the way waiters and waitresses interact with their guests at restaurants, right? Because here they are working for a tip. And in Europe, not so much. And so the--the social interactions are far more flattering. They're far more in your face. They're--they're physical even. And it's--it felt almost a bit intrusive to me. Another thing that I noticed was in--in people's--in people's fashion. In North America, men wear ball caps, all the time, whether it be outdoors, indoors, wherever it may be, it'll have, you know, their favourite sport on it. Which, you know, I don't think I've ever seen in the in--in Europe, right? It's just--it's a strange kind of 'North Americanism' that was kind of foreign to me. The other thing that I noticed was, at least where I live, public transit is not the greatest. And so, I went from walking on the--daily, to getting in my car, driving to work, taking the elevator up, taking the elevator down, getting in my car, driving home. It's a far more sedentary lifestyle.
When somebody goes abroad, they'll--they learn a lot about themselves, and they learn a lot about their own country, simply because they can see the contrasting characteristics of another country. And so they're able to compare more and they are able to get a better understanding of the pros and cons of where they're from. So, it's--it's hard to say, a lot of small events will occur in your life that will lead you to--to take a decision whether they be physical, mental, in your relationships as well. But for me, I would say, ultimately, living in--in Canada affords me a lifestyle and access to--that I wouldn't otherwise have, for example, my family's here, my friends are here. And good job opportunities that are not always afforded to someone who might be a foreigner, for example.
I work for a company that has a subsidiary in the United Kingdom. And whenever I let them know that I lived in the UK, over the course of four years, their smiles all brighten up. And they say 'Oh, Edinburgh, what a beautiful place!' And they all have this kind of doggy-eyed face when they think of the Fringe or whatever, their time at the castle, wherever it may--might have been. And beyond that, I find with--with German companies, so--my German is by no means perfect, but it's okay. Right now I'm, I'm--I--I finished B2 level German, and I'm studying for C1, and they really appreciate it, if hey, you know, you actually took the effort to learn my language. It's--it really goes--goes a long way.
So growing up, we kind of spoke a combination of English and Spanish, I would say 80% English, 20% Spanish. Every Saturday, my mum dragged me out to Spanish school, from the ages of, gosh, 4 to 16. I thank her now, but at the time [laughs], it wasn't so fun. But I always had an interest in going to Europe. I had never been until I was--until I was 16. In--in my family, there were always those--those roots, European roots that I wanted to explore. So for example, when I was 16, that first time went to Germany, I went with my grandfather who escaped Germany as--from the Holocaust. And it was really an eye opening experience to experience that. On the other side of my family, my mum is Scottish-English. And my grandfather in particular was a very proud Scotsman. And so, it was always something that I wanted to explore. Kind of as a funny story; I remember the day before I went to University of Edinburgh, my grandmother told me 'Michael, your grandfather would have been so proud.' Because in our family, you know, the height of intellectual rigour, and being hard working, was to be Scottish. And it was something that my family was very proud of. I remember getting to Edinburgh thinking, you know, Friday nights, everybody's going to be studying, they're going to be at the library, they're going to be, you know, very kind of thrifty and hardworking people. And there I was in a club, with a sea of drunken students [laughs] and thinking to myself 'Oh, I'm not sure how proud grandpa would have been.' This is like super rosy picture that people think this--this--this--put it on the pedestal, you know, of what it was to be from Scotland. It lived up mostly to the truth, I would say.
Voiceover 08:29 We also ask our guests to tell us about a place - somewhere local, somewhere that kind of captures something important, something worth sharing.
Michael 08:35 Queen Street here in London, Ontario, because in Canada, we have--we have this reputation that our yoghurt has more culture than we do. And when you walk down Queen Street in London, Ontario, it dawns on you very quickly that even as a--as a relatively young culture, Canada has a lot to offer. You know, excluding the obvious exception of--of the Aboriginal peoples here. But as--as--as you walk down Queen Street, you'd start off and it's called Banting House, which is where Sir Frederick Banting discovered insulin. Right so, we have that kind of scientific history of that incredible discovery, which has saved, you know, millions of people's lives. And as you continue to walk on, you'll see a lot of Victorian style houses, you see a lot of English architectural influence. And then, on your left hand side, you'll find a great big modern glass tower called One London Place. And it just so happens on the 11th floor, the largest Canadian Ponzi scheme happened there, in which a lawyer duped the banks out of approximately $67 million as he created fake bonds, and it kind of shows the--the underbelly of the white collar crime that one might find in--in North America and well, across the world. But I--I always find that to be an interesting--interesting story. And then as you continue to walk down, you reach the--what's called the Thames. So, a lot of people laugh, in London, Ontario it's very much like London, England. So we have the Thames, Piccadilly, Oxford Street, the Thames River. Just the people are a lot nicer [laughs]. I tease. But as you approach the Thames, you see kind of where first Canadian industry--industry started. Or London Ontario industry, which is Labatt brewery. It's a brewery in our town and you--it's interesting to see how London Ontario culture and history started from - I suppose - the good old beer drinkers.
Voiceover 11:19 Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai