My Freshers Week & Yours

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I’m going to be honest – I was really nervous when Freshers Week finally approached. I didn’t know what to expect, I was both incredibly excited and horribly nervous. At first I thought this was quite unique to my own situation, that I must be the only one that felt that way because everyone else seemed smarter, funnier and generally more at ease. It wasn’t that they actually were smarter or funnier than I am but instead that we were all putting one the same act, and it wasn’t until I made great, like-minded friends, that I realised that everyone else felt more or less the same as I did when we started university.

Freshers Week is a lot to take in but this doesn’t mean it’s bad!  Instead there are a few things that you can do to take a bit of of the nerves, stress and worries off the table. Here are my top tips based on what I learnt from my Freshers Week back in 2012!

1. Get involved! The single best piece of advice I got before starting university was to give every opportunity that is presented to you a go. It’ll give you the chance to find like-minded, interesting people and it’ll put your mind off any thoughts of home, worries about yourself or others and make you feel a little more comfortable in your new environment. By immersing yourself in everything you will give yourself an excellent opportunity to find out what you like. There is absolutely no harm in trying something once and realising it’s not for you!

2. Be safe. For some people coming to Edinburgh will mean that you will be experiencing and living in a completely new city – both during the day and at night. Please remember to be safe! Stick with a group of people when you’re out. Drink alcohol sensibly. Be aware of your surroundings and if you ever feel uncomfortable, remember that it is totally okay to leave and try something else or go home for some peace and quiet.

3. Don’t over think things. You are meant to be here! Freshers Week isn’t a reflection of what the rest of your 1st year or the rest of your university life will be like. In my opinion, you should treat it purely as an induction process, a chance to meet new people and get on your feet. You’ll soon work out your real university routine , especially once you start your 1st week of teaching. Your university experience is what you make of it and there are plenty of staff members and older students who will be more than happy to help you if you need it. You can always rely on your SSO or Personal Tutor!

4. Look after each other. Not everyone is outgoing and not everyone is shy but everyone SHOULD look out for each other. Some people will find it harder than others to get involved in things, ask questions or even introduce themselves. Be sure to make everyone feel welcome, invite all of your flatmates or classmates out when you do things – you never know, they could end up being a really great friend. The best thing to do is introduce yourself to everyone, even if that is a bit of a scary thought. Once you get over that initial hurdle, things tend to be a bit smoother!

5. Look after yourself! It’s okay to miss home and it is more than okay to be a little worried when you start university. Please give yourself a break and look after yourself! Whether that is treating yourself to a lovely meal, popping home to see your parents or relaxing in front of a good TV show. It is extremely important to have a good work/life balance. If you ever need help, please reach out and talk to us. Whether that be your SSO, Personal Tutor or someone at the Advice Place or Counselling Service. 

6. Go to introductory meetings. Most of the questions you have during Freshers Week about your academic life within the School of Social and Political Science will be answered within the SSPS Welcome Talk and your subject area welcome talk. These are extremely important as they give you most of the information you will need as you go on to start your journey with us. I found myself feeling much more comfortable after I had been to these meetings and even met a few of my good friends at my International Relations welcome talk. You might even get a chance to meet me if you pop along!

For all of the Undergraduate events that the School of Social and Political Science is holding during Freshers Week please see here.  In advance, welcome to Edinburgh, we are so incredibly lucky to have you as part of the SSPS family!


Should I get a part-time job?

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Many students work a part-time job while at university. Some work during the semester and some don’t. Some students have to get a job and others don’t. It is all relative to your personal circumstances and choices. Personally, I have had a part-time job ever since I started university and I’ve really enjoyed it. It has allowed me to experience what it is like to work in many different environments – from a bakery to an office. I get asked the question, “should I get a part-time job while I’m at the University of Edinburgh?” a lot and honestly, it is a tough question to answer! It really depends on the type of person you are, the workload you have from university (baring in mind that you have to commit a solid chunk of time towards studying and that you will need time to adjust to being in Edinburgh) and whether or not you need to work for financial reasons.

In short, whether you work or not  is really up to you. There are lots of benefits to part-time work and a few things that you should keep in mind when thinking about whether it’s the right decision for you. Please remember that the University of Edinburgh recommends that you work no more than 15 hours a week during semester time and I’d strongly recommend that you keep to this, too.

Combining work and study can be tricky at first, so it is good to keep in mind to be easy on yourself. Don’t agree to lots of shifts during the week at first, but instead decide upon only one or two. By seeing how it  fits into your life while you study you will allow yourself time to adjust instead of being overwhelmed. Please don’t work during your lectures and tutorials, they are incredibly important and missing them regularly will mean that you will spend most of your study time catching up.

I ended up interviewing a few students at the University of Edinburgh, some of them who are from the School of Social and Political Science. I wanted to know why the had chosen to pursue part-time work, what they enjoyed about it and the benefits that they thought they gained from engaging in this somewhat necessary part of life.

Why did you choose to work part-time?

“Although money isn’t my main motivator, being able to earn a wage and use it towards rent is really useful. For me though, I was able to earn money and in turn learn how to save it towards something like a trip to Paris or Amsterdam.” – Simon

“It was something else to put on my CV, in a competitive job market you always need to be more prepared.” – Louise

“It acts as an escape from the monotony of study, not that study was incredibly boring, but more so that it was nice to have a place where you can achieve different goals which are more short term.” – Matt

“For me, a part-time job was a great opportunity to give back. I love my degree and I’m a bursary recipient myself so it ticked all of the boxes.” – Meghan

“It was something that I considered beneficial for the future, some movement upwards into a more professional environment.”  – Hannah

“Working outside or alongside studies gives you an actual sense of earning a wage. For example, when you earn £7 an hour what does that mean in contrast with paying rent? It gives you a page to complete on your CV. For undergraduates, it means you can expand from more than just the basic information. For postgraduates, who are often coming back to study, it creates a complete timeline on their CV with no gap. Furthermore, it lets you contrast theory with practical implementation.” – Postgraduate Student 

“I decided to take up part time work due to financial necessity: student finance doesn’t even cover my rent so I would be in serious financial trouble without it. It’s been relatively easy to balance work and study though, especially since I work for EUSA, as they are very flexible with shifts etc.” – Gemma 

What did you gain from part-time work? 

“Through my position with the careers service, I was able to practice my Spanish (which is part of my degree) in a real environment which is difficult to replicate in conversation classes. I also improved my time management skills as I had to plan my evenings around my work schedule.” – Charlotte

“I benefitted financially from part time work, as well as, hopefully, through the fact that it adds to my CV. It gave me a lot more confidence in terms of leadership and decision-making, as well as increasing my level of professionalism. Also, time management, since I had to balance it with my degree.” Gemma

“I gained leadership skills, confidence, and experience.” – Matt

 “If you don’t know what to do after university, or want to try something you think might be in your future, a part-time job provides a great insight into different workplaces while still gaining valuable skills.” – Louise

“You always think you don’t have time to do a lot during your studies. I quickly found that making time to do a part-time job meant that I learnt that working hard pays off. It gave me a more positive and productive approach to university life. I was able to learn to be professional, practice good time keeping and how to maintain professional relationships.”  Simon 

“Personally, I have gained alumni management, overcoming rejection, target achievement, campaign management and project management skills.” – Postgraduate Student 

The University of Edinburgh’s Careers Service provides a wide array of information and facilities for all students at Edinburgh. If you’re looking into part-time work I’d highly suggest that you read their guides to part-time work which talk about everything from typical jobs and earnings to your rights at work. They also provide specific advice for International students and Postgraduate students. The Careers Service has been an absolutely wonderful asset for me as a student. Through setting up a meeting with a Careers Consultant I have been given great advice on my CV, how to approach interviews and how to plan for my life after university. Please use all of the resources the Careers Service provide – they are invaluable and  helped me immensely when I was trying to get my wonderful internship! The Careers Service also have some brand new online resources and job listings, check them out!

All things considered, I can’t tell you whether getting a part-time job is something you should do or not! It is important to remember that there are both advantages and disadvantages to having a job during study. Despite this,  it can also be an incredible asset to have when you are applying for graduate jobs in the future. Whether you decide to get one or not, remember that balancing your life so that you get some rest and relaxation time in is VERY important. Don’t do too much, university is a time to be enjoyed not endured.



Postgraduate Life from a Student’s Perspective

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This week we have a wonderful guest blogger, Alyssa, who studied with us here in the School of Social and Political Science twice! I asked Alyssa to give some insight in what postgraduate life was like for her. She has an especially interesting insight as she came back into education after working. Hopefully this gives some of our lovely incoming postgraduate students an idea of what their life could be like come September! Remember that the University of Edinburgh produces a Postgraduate guide for incoming students, so does our student union, EUSA and that there are lots of resources for new students available from the International Office.  Here is Alyssa’s blog:

After taking a three year gap upon completion of my undergraduate degree in Washington, D.C., I made the decision to quit my job at a non-government, non-profit organisation in the States, to undertake a postgraduate degree, a Master of Public Policy (MPP) which is administered through the Academy of Government in the School of Social and Political Science. This decision, although risky at the time, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I previously studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh as a visiting undergraduate student. I loved the country and the people the first time around so I thought I would have an advantage having lived in Edinburgh before. The people are still friendly and the country is still beautiful, but coming back as a mature postgraduate student is completely different to undergraduate studies. First off, the classes are much smaller, and there is a greater expectation on students to write at a higher and more rigorous academic standard. Being out of formal education for a couple of years meant that I wasn’t as comfortable and used to writing academic papers, much like my colleagues who continued on to the Master’s degree straight after their undergraduate degree. However, my time outside of formal education meant that I had a couple of years to explore the workplace and to figure out what I wanted to do and what type of postgraduate degree would be the best vehicle for me to achieve my personal and career aspirations. Throughout the duration of my postgraduate degree, I learned so much about research, policy, and practice, and I was given many opportunities to explore new interests and further develop my passion for higher education. A capstone project, comprising of a professional internship and a master’s thesis, provided me with invaluable industry experience. This is a unique component to the MPP as compared to the typical 12 month MSc. The MPP is a 15 month degree, to allow students to undertake an internship as part of their degree programme.

Here is Alyssa and her wonderful MPP classmates at the Scottish Parliament and at a social event!

Here is Alyssa and her wonderful MPP classmates at the Scottish Parliament and at a social event!

Upon completion of my postgraduate degree, I was hired by the University of Edinburgh as an Admissions Project Officer for the Applicant Experience strand of the Student Experience Project. My postgraduate degree from the School of Social and Political Science provided me with the skills to be selected for this job and to feel confident and successful in this role. Before starting my postgraduate degree, I felt that my career had hit a roadblock. I was bored and not in a place to progress. Now I feel that the sky is the limit. I constantly feel challenged and professionally gratified. For anyone who is considering postgraduate study, I would say “do it,” but do your homework first. Make sure you are making an informed choice and that you are completing the right degree, at the right time, and at a university that is suited to your needs. For me, it was the Master of Public Policy at Edinburgh.

My First Year in Pictures.

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After a week of hiatus, I am back! I know that many of our lovely undergraduates will have received or will be receiving their exam results soon. I hope that everything has gone well and that you are all now excitedly preparing to join us.

This week I wanted to give you all a taste of what my 1st year was like when I started Edinburgh University 2 years ago. I absolutely loved my first year here and quickly found that the nerves of Freshers Week went away when I immersed myself in the huge range of activities, societies, sports clubs and opportunities Edinburgh has to offer. I thought the best way to show you how wonderful it is to be a student here was through the pictures I took during my first two semesters studying International Relations.


In Freshers Week Edinburgh had it's welcome home parade for our Olympic athletes and I got to shake Chris Hoy's hand! I bought my Edinburgh academic diary with my best friend from high school which was a lifelong dream achieved. I also spent many a sunny autumn afternoon in George Square between my Introduction to Politics and International Relations and International Law courses.

During Freshers Week Edinburgh had it’s welcome home parade for our London 2012 medallists. I got to shake Chris Hoy’s hand and spent the day bonding with my new flatmates. I bought my Edinburgh academic diary with my best friend from high school, it was really wonderful to have someone familiar in halls. I also spent many a sunny autumn afternoon in George Square between my Introduction to Politics and International Relations and International Law courses. I really adore George Square – especially the gardens. I think they are notoriously underused by students but I’m sure some people would protest that statement.


Snowy & Stormy Edinburgh

Believe it or not, these are all photos taken after I had been in tutorials, lectures or through the lovely open windows in the library while I was studying. Edinburgh University allows students some rare vantage points of the city with the view from David Hume Tower being especially beautiful. The first semester of my 1st year I was lucky (or unlucky, depending on who you are) to get lots of snow. Edinburgh looks particularly brilliant in the snow and made a great backdrop to my library study sessions. By this time, I had made some wonderful friends in my lectures and had started attending the Baking Society’s weekly meetings, where I found some lovely, like-minded people, too.


Spring & Summer

Spring rolled around during my second semester and brought with it some absolutely gorgeous weather and the opportunity to sightsee many an Edinburgh attraction. If you ever want a quick-fire way of seeing the city, go on one of the bus tours! I’ve lived near Edinburgh for most of my life and even I learnt a lot. By now I had survived my first set of university exams and felt much more like Edinburgh was my new home. I’d found a wonderful group of people in my halls of residence with seven of them becoming the people I know call my best friends. I was more confident in tutorials, had a good grasp of how I liked to take notes in lectures and was really glad that I had chosen to come to the University of Edinburgh.

Spotlight on… Academic Staff.

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As you can imagine, academic staff within the School of Social and Political Science become a big part of your life as a student at Edinburgh. They are one of the biggest sources of knowledge that you can tap into as a student. Forming good relationships with academic staff members is extremely beneficial as they have been in the same position as you are now and can help you reflect on your academic progress and suggest ways that you can move forward. They are specialists in their field and are always happy to advise students on any topic of academic nature, so please utilise them! To encourage you to approach our fantastic academics, I interviewed two who have both made an extremely positive impact on my own experience within the School of Social and Political Science.

Dr Claire Haggett – Lecturer

When I first started university I felt really uneasy about approaching lecturers. This wasn’t any fault of their own but rather, a new found shyness that I had gained since starting university. In my head I had decided that they would never want to hear from me. I was very, very wrong. Once I finally plucked up the courage to approach a lecturer in their office hours, I was faced with a warm welcome, an offer to have tea and biscuits and a very in-depth discussion about the particular question I had.  Approaching your lecturers with academic queries, questions or discussions is thoroughly encouraged within the school and I would highly recommend doing it as it allows you the brilliant opportunity of talking to an academic one on one.  To show you just how friendly and enthusiastic our lecturers are, I interviewed one! I had the pleasure of  interviewing Dr Claire Haggett, who taught me in Sociology, and is the Programme Director for MA Sustainable Development. Claire is a wonderfully engaging , makes crazy words like ‘epistemology’ understandable and will always offer you a biscuit if you go to her guidance hours.

Why did you become a lecturer and what do you like most about it?

“I love teaching – it is the best job in the world! I started my academic career studying Sociology as an undergraduate. When I was in 2nd Year I had a very inspirational lecturer who inspired me with a want to save the world. From then on, I had tunnel vision and was set on wanting to inspire, even in a small way, the next generation.”

If you could give one piece of advice for incoming students, what would it be?

“Lecture slides are always available 24 hours before a lecture, there I’d suggest that it is always useful to look at and have the slides with you before you go to a lecture. Going through the lecture with the slides allows you to write down what is being said rather than what is on the slides.”

What is something that students don’t do enough?

“1st and 2nd year lectures can be big and this means there can be very little contact between students and lecturers.  But if you want to ask a question, please come to our feedback hours and ask us! We won’t know you’re confused if you don’t tell us. We are always willing to talk so please use your initiative and ask for guidance, as that is what we’re here for!”

Any advice for our incoming students? 

“Edinburgh is your oyster! There are so many opportunities, everything is available to you from workshops and events to societies and socials. Make sure you ask for help if you need it. We love what we do, we’re always happy to see keen students, ready to discuss ideas – so knock on the door!”​


The wonderful Dr Claire Haggett and the lovely tutor and PhD candidate Megan Melanson.

The wonderful Dr Claire Haggett and the lovely tutor Megan Melanson.

Megan Melanson – PhD Canadian Studies Candidate & Tutor

Tutorials in 1st year can be daunting. Suddenly your lecture halls of 300 people have been downsized to 15 or 20 and you are expected to join in discussion. Speaking up can be scary and not speaking at all can seem even worse! Although you will quickly acclimatise to tutorials and feel more willing to speak, not everyone uses tutorials to their full advantage, especially when it comes to utilising the many skills of their tutorial tutor. Megan Melanson tutored me in Canadian Studies and was consistently encouraging, warm and friendly. She made approaching her for help very easy and in the following interview she gives advice on how you can make the best of tutorials.

What is your role within the School of Social and Political Science?

 “I have worked as tutor for Canadian Studies 1A, as well as Sociology 1A and 1B. I have also guest lectured for Canadian Studies 1A.”

 Why did you become a tutor and what about it do you enjoy the most?

“Before I moved to Edinburgh, I taught skiing and snowboarding for 8 years and coached soccer and swimming. I found that my love for teaching and the skills acquired from teaching sport technique were transferable to the academic classroom. I most enjoy getting out of my PhD thesis bubble and working with the students. I always plan a tutorial around a general conclusion and lesson, and the most rewarding moments are when the students come to that conclusion through their own discussion.”

 What is the role of a tutor and how can a student use a tutor to their advantage?

“The role of a tutor is to facilitate discussion in the tutorials, and mark essays/projects/exams. As the first point of contact for the course, we are also there to answer questions and help as much as possible. Many tutors offer assistance with essay outlines; I highly recommend that students take advantage of this. Some of the most common errors that I have seen amongst first year students are due to essay formatting that could have been clarified during a meeting with your tutor. Not to mention, we are the ones marking your work so we are excellent resources.”

 How can a student have a positive impact on their tutorial group?

“Attend and participate! The best way to clarify the readings and lectures is to discuss and debate within tutorials.  Tutorials are so informative, and provide different ways to learn than lectures. I have used techniques such as powerpoints, drawing exercises, and roleplays as a way to facilitate discussion, but also to relate to students with different learning types. Secondly, read the appropriate articles before the tutorial. You, the student, will get so much more out of the discussion, and it will make participation easier.”

Any advice for our incoming students? 

“As mentioned previously, take advantage of your tutorial leader; he/she is working towards becoming a specialist in his/her field and is willing to share his/her knowledge. Finally, take advantage of the tutorial and your classmates in it; facilitated discussion with your peers can be the best way to learn!”

The Grad School Club

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This week we have a guest blogger, Katherine, who is a current Msc Global Environment, Politics and Society student and one of the founders of the fantastic Grad School Club. Katherine is an engaging and thoughtful member of the School of Social and Political Science community and is an absolute pleasure to have on the blog. She writes eloquently about how the Grad School Club came to be and everything that it offers to you, as a prospective or incoming student.


One aspect of postgraduate life that distinguishes itself from the undergraduate experience are the long hours of solitude and independent research that it entails. No matter how good the intentions of adhering to the hours of a 9 to 5 job, Masters and PhD students must deal with ebbs and flows of productivity as well as isolation. Clearly, any student relishes the times when the words flow,  when readings are absorbed like a Metro newspaper and concepts are fluid and lively rather than opaque abstract ramblings. I admit that often this is not the case, despite even the most sincere efforts to ‘get in the zone’. I confirm that following extensive scoping of all possible Chrystal Macmillan Building (where you’ll be based!) levels and imaginative study social spaces;

1. Studying at tables outside professor’s offices resembles an extension of the “occupy” movement

2. The glass-enclosed first floor study spaces turn the individual into an aquatic state of being after more than six hours.

3. Sitting in the West Wing feels like a temp concierge job.

Thus as a group of desperate Master students, we decided to submit to Franz Kafka’s idea that “writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself”. Frankly I believe that Kafka was wrong. In fact I am glad that I did not spent most of my time in the Graduate School in solitude because I would have missed a big part of what it means to be a postgraduate. It is as much about getting involved in activities, being engaged through seminars and getting to know the familiar strangers sitting next to you on Facebook during breaks.

This is where ‘life’ can be brought into the postgraduate experience. The Grad School Club is a simple forum, an idea, to break the monotony of desk-based academia. There is much value of having regular events such as Bad Football Fridays on the Meadows organised by students for students, the introduction to local bars, renting the movie lounge at the Brass Monkey bar and the successful Spring Ball following a stint of deadlines. The World Cup Final event was a highlight in the midst of dissertation time, drawing 70 students out of their respective study cocoons.

Some of our wonderful Graduate School members participating in a Bad Football Friday!

Some of our wonderful Graduate School Club members participating in the regular Bad Football Fridays!

Bringing together international and local students, PhDs and new Master’s students in these informal settings is not only good for ‘community building’ (sorry I’m a politics student banging on here) but actually encourages support, insight and moreover encouragement to not submit into “a cold abyss of oneself”.

I can even say this now with 12,000 words of my dissertation left to write, weeks of long library hours to endure and tragic Tupperware meals for one to look forward to. Those familiar strangers are now proof-readers, fellow procrastinators and share with me the wonderful moments of epiphany.

The Grad School Club is very simply a starting point a self-sustaining idea. I advise you to see and take the opportunities that exist here in Edinburgh. Throw yourself into the postgraduate life which indeed can go beyond a mundane 9-5 desk-based job.  The Grad School Club can be joined through their Facebook group. 


Spotlight On… the Commonwealth Games & Sports and Exercise at UoE.

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Something incredibly exciting started in Scotland last night – the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. It is the first time in 28 years that the games have been in Scotland and the largest multi-sport event ever held here. Although the games are being hosted by Glasgow, the diving competition is being held in the Royal Commonwealth Pool in our very own Edinburgh! The University of Edinburgh is incredibly proud to have 43 students, staff and graduates involved in the Games. The University produced a really lovely video which introduces you to some of our fabulous students and athletes.

Some big names  from the University of Edinburgh include Eilidh Child who is captain of the Scottish Athletics Team and is hoping to improve upon the silver she won in the 400m hurdles in Delhi and freestyle swimmer, Caitlin McClatchey, who is competing in her third Commonwealth Games, having won double gold in Melbourne in 2006.

Although not everyone who is part of the wider University of Edinburgh community is a world class athlete, we do have world class facilities at the university which everyone can access. The Centre for Sports and Exercise or CSE for short has facilities which are ranked amongst the very best in the UK. There are a range of places to keep fit, including Pleasance the sports centre and gym, which is my personal favourite. The gym is really affordable with full membership around £11 a month for the academic year! Everything to do with the CSE can be found here. 

If going to the gym isn’t your thing, Edinburgh University Sports Union has 64 sports clubs for you to choose from and also hold stress buster sports sessions during exam time alongside many other things! My own experience within the Judo club and Surf and Windsurfing Club has been incredible and such a fantastic addition to my university life. There’s always the Meadows, too, which provides the venue for many a runner, cyclist and casual game of football or rugby!

Getting involved with sports clubs or just using Edinburgh University facilities is a great idea as it allows you to have a good work/play balance and reduces stress! What sports clubs are you thinking of joining? Remember you can meet them all at the Sports Fair during Freshers Week!


Moving to University: Societies (& Sports Clubs!) (Part Three)

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It’s the last week of the societies feature and this week we meet one wonderful society and a sports club who are both very dear to my heart! Both the North American Society and EUWSC have been a huge part of my life at Edinburgh and have provided many wonderful night outs and friends. Remember that societies and sports clubs can provide you with some awesome opportunities, skills, friends and memories. They really are what you make of them. I hope that their answers can show you just how much you can get from being a society member… maybe one day you’ll even be on a committee!


University of Edinburgh Surf and Windsurfing Club

1. Tell us a little bit about what you study and how you got involved in the EUWSC. What your role is now and how it has benefited your time at university?

My name is Matt Newton and I’m going into my 3rd Year of studying Biological Sciences in September. I got involved in EUWSC in my first year – going out surfing with people at the beaches nearby and going on trips. Last year I was one of the Social Secretaries – responsible for organising our weekly social nights – but this year I will be the treasurer.  I hadn’t done much surfing before I came but I have improved greatly! I met a great group of people and it has got me out of the city to some beautiful beaches across Scotland.

 2. What is the EUWSC and what do you do?

EUWSC is the Edinburgh University Windsurf and Surf Club. We do both Windsurfing and Surfing locally to Edinburgh but also organise many trips throughout the year: surfing up North in Thurso, windsurfing and surfing on the island of Tiree, and even head down to Newquay for the yearly BUCS Surf competitions. There are a range of abilities from those who had never windsurfed or surfed before to those who don’t look out of place surfing Thurso East (Google it!). We try and organise as may lessons as possible for beginner and improvers and everyone is always willing to give tips and advice. Every week we have club socials – be it flat crawls, scavenger hunts, fancy dress – and although we may not have the reputation of other sports clubs, we definitely know how to go for it!

 3. What do your society members gain from being a part of your society?

They become connected to an amazing group of fellow windsurfers and surfers who are keen to get out on the water. Our Facebook groups are used to organise impromptu trips with people offering spaces in cars when they are heading out. There are also the trips we organise which are a great way to travel around Scotland and get to know people. We have all the equipment which members can use including wetsuits which should keep you warm despite the low water temperature.

The wonder EUWSC out Windsurfing!

The wonderful EUWSC out Windsurfing. Don’t they look lovely!

 4. What was the best event/social you had last year and why? Are there any funny stories?

Best social would have to be one of the flat crawls. We started in Vodka Revs and headed round a series of club members flats having a different drink at each one. The last flat before we went out culminated with everyone filling the lounge and dancing to Katy Perry… You can never really predict the trajectory of the socials!

5. Is there anything else you would like to add?

During Fresher’s Week we have a Beach Party where we take a coach full of people, wetsuits and boards down to Dunbar beach for a BBQ and opportunity to have a go surfing and to see what the club is about. It would be great to see you there! Take a look at our website and follow us on Twitter @EUWSC for more information.



University of Edinburgh North American Society

1. Tell us a little bit about what you study, how you got involved in EUNAS, what your role is now and how it has benefited your time at university.

My name is Alex Marinaccio, and I’m a 4th year student studying International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. I’m from a small town in New Hampshire, USA and have really enjoyed my time studying in Scotland. I became involved with EUNAS during the end of my first year. The society started as a group of students who were interested in helping register voters for the U.S. Presidential Election in 2014 and I decided it was something I wanted to get involved with.  At the first meeting everyone was excited and it became clear that a society which represented and celebrated North American culture was something which was both missing from campus and desired by students. At our first AGM I was elected Treasurer and got the chance to join the committee for the society’s starting year. EUNAS has truly benefited my time at the University of Edinburgh. I’ve met many of my good friends through the society and have been able to help organize many events which I feel make a difference both in the local Edinburgh community and in a broader sense as well. From registering over 200 voters for the U.S. general election in 2014 and raising over 3000 pounds for the Edinburgh Woman’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Center (EWRASAC) to working with the University to develop a greater careers and alumni network in the USA, everyone on the EUNAS team has helped to contribute. As the newly-elected President of EUNAS for this upcoming year, I hope to keep up the society’s good work and promote an atmosphere that is welcoming for all students and all interests.

 2. What is EUNAS and what do you do?

EUNAS is the Edinburgh University North American Society. We’re a cultural society, and our goal is to celebrate and share US and Canadian culture. We’ve put on many cultural events in the last few years – from a U.S. election party (which the Principal of the University in attendance!), sporting events including ‘Sunday Funday’ American football, a massive annual Superbowl party at Teviot , and an annual Thanksgiving Ball. The society is really around for its members – we’re interested in putting on any events that our members want! With both social and academic events, EUNAS is designed for students of all interests.

 3.  What do your society members gain from being a part of your society?

Personally, I think EUNAS is a great way to meet new people. I’ve met some of my best friends through the society, and have watched as the same thing has happened to many of our members. We’ve also worked out many discount deals at restaurants and bars in Edinburgh! In addition, our society’s fantastic Alumni & Development team have been working closely with the University to better develop a network of alumni and job opportunities in North America, as well as support for North American graduates. Down the line we’re hoping to have a dedicated list of jobs/internships in the United States and Canada that University of Edinburgh students can apply to. Overall, EUNAS is a society with both social and networking aspects. Being part of the society allows you to meet new friends who share similar interests, and allows you to get involved with the University’s work in North America.

EUNAS members and committee looking all snazzy for their Thanksgiving Ball.

EUNAS members and committee looking all snazzy for their Thanksgiving Ball.

 4.  What was the best event/social you had last year and why? Are there any funny stories?

The best event we held last year was our annual Thanksgiving Charity Ball. In the afternoon we played a pick-up American football game, and later spent the evening at the Balmoral Hotel. With traditional Thanksgiving food, raffles and live-music, EUNAS was able to raise several thousand pounds for local Edinburgh charities. Each Thanksgiving Ball has been better than the last – be on the look out for our Thanksgiving Ball next year!

 5.  Is there anything else you would like to add?

In the end, EUNAS is nothing without its members. My goal and the goal of everyone on the committee is to put on events and provide support for both students from North America, and students elsewhere who are interested. We’re an incredibly inclusive society, with nearly half of our membership being students who aren’t from North America. Everyone is really welcome – whether or not you’ve been to North America, or are interested in learning more. If you want to get involved, or have any ideas, please feel free to email me at and get in touch. Thank you!


Remember that you can always look up any societies that aren’t featured by looking through the societies page on EUSA.  Our wonderful Sports Clubs can all be found on the EUSU page. You can also meet them all at the Societies Fair and the Sports Fair on the 10th of September during Fresher’s Week!


Spotlight On… Accommodation.

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We’ve recently been asked a lot of questions from students about finding accommodation within Edinburgh, especially by our lovely Postgraduate students. The thing is, I am no expert in all things accommodation, although I wish I was sometimes! Instead I have decided to link you to those who are there from the University of Edinburgh to give incoming students advice. This blog post will hopefully point you in the right direction as to where is best to ask your questions and also provide you with information that you can sit and read without having to pick up the phone or send an email.

1. University of Edinburgh Accommodation Services. Many incoming students don’t realise that the University’s Accommodation Service does a multitude of things beyond providing University owned accommodation to students. My experience within UoE Accommodation was absolutely brilliant and I actually met most of my closet friends at Edinburgh there but if private accommodation is something you’re looking into, Accommodation Services provides a lot of advice and help to both current and incoming students.

The section on Private Housing on the Accommodation Services website can be found here. This webpage provides information ranging from advice on council tax to links to lists of Edinburgh area estate agencies and property managers. It’s quite a comprehensive page full of links and information and I used a lot of these links myself when I moved from halls to private housing. It is also important to note that Accommodation Services run an accommodation advice centre which opens at the start of every academic year.  The centre will be open daily from 10am to 4pm from the 1st of September to the 12th of September 2014 (including weekends!). If you can’t wait to ask a question (anything from ‘I’m not sure where to look for a flat? to ‘I’m having problems with my landlord’) or have an pressing issues, please get in contact with Isobel Weatherall from Accommodation Services via the Advice Centre Facebook page or through her email (

2. EUSA Advice Place. Our brilliant Student Union, usually called EUSA for short, also has a great place to go for information. It is aptly named the Advice Place and it’s website gives information focusing upon tenancy rights and searching for accommodation. Their website can be found here.  Once you are in Edinburgh you can visit the Advice Place in person as it is inside one of our student union buildings, Potterow. Important links to note are their Tenancy Rights Checklist, Rental Checklist and their page on other student’s experiences. 

The Advice Place is warm and welcoming and  full of people who are more than happy to answer your questions. You can send them an email (, contact them via Facebook or Twitter or get in touch in another way.

A beautifully sunny day in the Meadows, which is right next to George Square where you'll be based!

A beautifully sunny day in the Meadows, which is right next to George Square where you’ll be based! This could be you next year!

3. Renting Scotland.  Renting Scotland is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and Shelter Scotland and provides a lot of useful information about being a tenant within Scotland. Their renting guides give comprehensive information on everything from looking at properties to getting repairs done. The website really is a hub of information and I found it incredibly useful to use alongside University of Edinburgh sites. It has been especially useful for me lately as I’m out to move out of my current flat and into another one!

4. Living costs. Our fantastic International Office provides estimated living costs on their website. These are particularly useful if you’re trying to work out a budget for once you’ve arrived in Edinburgh. The International Office also provides a whole load of information on Student Life in Edinburgh which may be particularly useful for those of you who are coming from outside of the UK.

A great blog post was written by our intern last year, Anna, all about the wonderful and vast areas of Edinburgh.  It’s definitely worth a read! Please remember that there are lots of places and people within the University of Edinburgh who are willing to give you advice and information about finding accommodation so please utilise the contacts above! They are more than willing to help and I am sure that no question you may have will be silly or stupid. Remember to keep calm, read the advice and get in touch with the Accommodation Services or the Advice Place if you ever need any help!

Moving to University: Societies (Part Two)

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It’s week two of the societies feature and this week I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the Social Anthropology and Sociology societies. These two lovely societies will conclude the SSPS affiliated part of the societies feature. Next week we will be focusing on societies which exist outside of the School of Social and Political Science. Remember that societies can provide you with some awesome opportunities, skills, friends and memories. I hope that their answers can show you just how much you can get from being a society member and that you’ll go and meet them all during Fresher’s Week!

SocAnth Logo

Edinburgh University Social Anthropology Society:

1. Tell us a little bit about what you study and how you got involved in the Social Anthropology Society. What your role is now and how it has benefited your time at university?

My name is Lee McNeish and I’m SocAnth’s Treasurer. The current SocAnth Co-Presidents Kirstin and Katie asked me to answer these questions as I was in your position last year! I study Social Anthropology, I have just completed my first year of university and I’m loving everything about it so far. I found SocAnth at the Freshers’ fair and joined up as I thought it would help with my course. I am now starting second year as the society’s treasurer, which is only getting bigger and more fun. My exams and essays went very well last year and that’s without a shadow of a doubt down to having the society as a place to talk about all the new ideas and theory that we are taught. More importantly, I gained a great group of friends.

 2. What is the Social Anthropology Society and what do you do?

This is both an easy and a hard question to answer as the society can be anything you want it to be!! It acts as a group based on members’ participation that facilitates any ideas you have and gives you the platform to achieve these ideas. In the past, events have ranged from social events like film screenings and club nights, to more academic events like guest speakers and special lectures. In the past we have collaborated with other societies to put on bigger events, such as with Save the Children to present on global health issues and the Archaeology Society to host a seminar on materiality which brought speakers from Oxford and Canada. The best thing though is when we work with the department of Social Anthropology and put on big anthropological events such as the Social Sounds Project which ran during Innovative Learning Week.

Here are the lovely SocAnth committee & members at some of their events last year. Don't they just look so friendly and welcoming!

Here are the lovely SocAnth committee & members at some of their events last year. Don’t they look lovely!

 3. What do your society members gain from being a part of your society?

You really get what you put in, be that friendship or study partners, to having a closer connection to the Social Anthropology department and other professors around the university.

4.  What is the best event/social you had last year and why? Are there any funny stories? 

Hands down this has to be Social Sounds Project. This was a week long event for Innovative Learning Week which was a joint event between the society and the Social Anthropology department. We looked at the anthropological theories of sound in research of culture and how people relate to the sounds around them. We had groups of people going around Edinburgh recording sounds and also guest lecturers from different parts of the world. It all came together on the last day with an exhibition of our ‘sound map’ in the lobby of the department building. It was so much fun!

 5. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I think societies are a fundamental part of the Scottish university experience. You get what you put in to them and you shouldn’t underestimate the help they offer you.  We would love to welcome you into our society so check us out on Facebook if you’d like: 



SocSoc Logo

 Edinburgh University Sociology Society:

1. Tell us a little bit about what you study and how you got involved in the Sociology Society. What your role is now and how it has benefited your time at university?

My name is Ilinca Barsan, I have just finished my third year of Sociology and Politics at the University of Edinburgh. I enjoy Politics but I love Sociology, so that’s why I decided to get involved in the Sociology Society. I actually only got involved a couple of months ago – I had the idea to publish a sociology magazine featuring engaging and fun to read pieces with a sociological background, so I got in touch with last year’s committee and they liked the idea. That’s when I learned that the Sociology Society was a bit short on people, so I decided I might as well take on a bigger role in the society in general and not merely focus on the magazine. I wish I could say that I won a heavily contested election to become the president of the Sociology Society, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m planning to be a dedicated president!

2. What is the Sociology Society and what do you do?

We aim to offer a vibrant, friendly and inspiring community open to anyone passionate about (or just mildly interested in) sociology. We want to establish closer links between undergraduate students, postgraduate students and staff at the University of Edinburgh, both within and outside of  the sociology department. We do social events (sociologists do love their food and wine) but also host academic lectures and discussions and we plan to run academic support sessions as well. But it’s really up to the members – we’re a small, very dedicated committee  and we’re more than happy to accommodate any wishes and interests. As mentioned above, we’re also planning to start publishing a sociological magazine – if you’re interested in looking at everyday life and contemporary events and issues through a sociological lens and willing to make your writing approachable and interesting, we’d love to publish that. Sociology is a lot of fun, and we don’t want to be the only ones to know.

3. What do your society members gain from being a part of your society?

A lovely community that aims to be there for you every step of the way – if want to listen to and take part in academic talks and debates, that’s great, but if you just want to come along for food and chat with fellow sociological enthusiasts, that’s wonderful as well. And if you find yourself struggling with your courses, we’d really like to help and will gladly share our own experiences and knowledge. We also want to make an arts and crafts afternoon happen, I’ve learned that it’s hard for students to say no to that kind of mad fun.

The wonderful SocSoc members at the SPS Ball, picture used with permission.

The wonderful SocSoc members at the SPS Ball, picture used with permission.

 4. What is the best event/social you had last year and why? Are there any funny stories? 

Since I only got involved a couple of months ago, I’m probably not the best person to answer this question – but I did hear that there was a pancake feast last that got pretty wild last year. I did ask Anna Drever, who was SocSoc’s President for two years before I was voted in and she said, “A few of our most memorable nights have been spent in the pub over nachos, movie nights with sociological framings from lecturers and of course the always memorable wine-fuelled opening events at the start of the first semester, because who doesn’t love a game of ‘Pin the Beard on Karl Marx?’ A couple of years ago, SocSoc joined forces with PIR Soc, and Social Anthropology to throw a collaborative SPS Ball which was such a fantastic night and really highlighted what a great community feel SPS has!”

5. Is there anything else you would like to add?

The Sociology Society is a great opportunity for freshers and all other Sociology students to get involved and meet like-minded people, so please do join if you feel like that’s something you would be interested in. Come and talk to us during Fresher’s week, we’d love to meet you – follow us on for updates and further information.


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