For episode two, Angharad talks to us about cultural differences, managing expectations, and special moments.
Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. Season one talks to our 2020 graduates about how things are going, or not going, for them.
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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.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 0:05
This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season one: Class of 2020.
My name is Angharad, I studied French and Scandinavian Studies. And you can specialise in a language in that, in Scandinavian, so I did Norwegian. And yeah and I graduated this summer. [Sigh] It felt a bit like nothing happened immediately. It just felt like it was the holidays and we're at home - didn't really feel like much graduation. I had a job lined up that I'd got back in March, actually, just before we went into the lockdown. And I was quite lucky that it was all still going ahead, despite all the craziness and chaos. And so it's a job in France teaching at a university. So there's quite a lot of worry about travel restrictions, whether it would still be possible, but it was all fine. And I managed to move over at the end of August.
So at first all seem quite chilled and quite like it will be something that I'd really enjoy. And I was quite ready to get engaged with it. And then we started teaching three weeks ago now and it's been a bit stressful, to say the least, a bit of a shock, I think, from the perspective of having spent a summer in the UK having a very quiet time, not really going to crowded places, or seeing a lot of people, to now suddenly coming into this university where I mean, it's like being one year ago, but that feels really strange now.
So it's just groups of students sort of loitering around in the corridors and queues where everyone's just stood bunched up next to each other and not keeping space between them. So it's been a bit of a shock to the system for me.
It feels harder to relate, I think, than I would have expected. I don't know if it was me, I feel like I would have been more worried as a student, whereas they mostly seem quite relaxed. But also just aside from the coronavirus things, the university culture is a little bit different here. And I think that's kind of creating a bit of distance for me, it's kind of taking a while to adjust and get to know the students. But it's not so common here to move away from home and go to another city. So it means that a lot of them are still with their friends from school, a lot of them still live at home. So it still has a kind of slightly school environment. And they still kind of treat it a little bit like they're in school.
In my head, I thought it was going to be kind of like another year abroad, almost, not all Erasmus parties and having fun, like I knew it would be more serious. And this was kind of going to be like the next step up. So like my year abroad, but more challenging and being professional. And then that's been quite... obviously not the same from what I expected, though, I think I had the whole summer to kind of stew on it almost, but worrying that it wouldn't be able to happen. And then kind of just adjusting my expectations, I think, and just kind of realising, okay, I'm gonna go but we might not be able to go to bars or cafes or restaurants. And I might not be able to do the things that I would normally do. And then I think it almost went a bit the other way that I was expecting to really not be able to do anything and just to be in a lockdown immediately. So-- but having said that, I think it still kept true to that initial way that I imagined it when I just have little moments of going to a bakery, and it all seems very French and everything is very calm, and it's really quiet. And then it's like, oh, yeah, this is kind of what I wanted. So I think, yeah, that even though everything is crazy, there have still been some of those kind of special moments that I came here to have, I suppose. I still definitely kind of rely on that support network from home and people at home.
Um and it's probably good that we will have gotten into this habit of communicating online with Zoom or Skype or whatever before and that now it doesn't feel like a very big transition. It's just that I'm geographically further away, but it hasn't actually changed that kind of-- the way that we interact. So that's-- that has been quite nice.
So I feel like this is an experience of working for the first time is not a representation of what it's normally like, it's kind of an inaccurate experience. So it's quite hard to feel almost like um going into battle every day. And then people tell you, yeah, sorry, isn't normally like this, but just having to kind of deal with it and think, oh, why did it have to be the year that I joined, that it had to be the most difficult? And sometimes, I think, what am I going to do when I go home after this? Oh, I have no idea. I don't know what if there aren't any jobs, there might not be any jobs. But I think [sigh] I just kind of tell myself, I'll just find something and do something. And I suppose wh-- or maybe getting used to kind of finding fulfilment in other ways, if they will, there's going to be ways that languages are in my life, and so even if you can get paid to do what you absolutely love at the moment, you can still kind of keep in your life somehow.
We also ask our graduates to share a place. Somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.
So my place would be somewhere from my year abroad, um from my semester in France, which I spent in a town called Tours, which is in the Loire regions is on the Loire River. In that town, there was a cafe called Cafe Reno, that we used to go to quite often. And it's a little bit sad thinking this is my place, because I know it doesn't exist anymore, or is it closed down. But if it was still open, would make it exist again for a day to go there. So the kind of meaning of that for me, is that we used to go quite a lot, me in friends that I made during that Erasmus semester. It was maybe somewhere that was quite comforting and we'd go on maybe Sundays a lot, Saturday, Sundays, and just chill out. And it was one of those places that maybe not many people knew about, so there was always space to sit down. And so we could just spend really a whole afternoon there talking. It was-- it's one of those cafes, where it's sort of lots of little rooms with just little tables in nooks and crannies. So you could just find a little nook to sit in. And then as the semester went on, the lady who owned it obviously got to know us and would recognise us, she kind of knew more or less what we wanted, it was somewhere I could ask for milk with my tea without it being kind of weird [laughs]. And we were all kind of from different countries, from Italy, and Romania and Canada. But I think we all just found this kind of sense of home. It's sort of somewhere-- yeah, I think to go when things are a bit hard as well. Um I know I went there on my own once or twice as well. I think I was having some really hard days and feeling very homesick, and kind of just go in to sit down and just have a bit of calm.
Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kirsten Roche (Careers Service) 8:39
If this conversation has raised more questions than answers, then you might find it helpful to speak to someone. An appointment with a careers consultant can be a great way to get some answers. Simply log on to my career hub to make an appointment. And don't forget, you can still use everything on offer from the Career Service as a recent graduate.