Swiss cheeses, Scotch mist, ghosts and Nessie!

Fransoise Loup, Brigitte Chanson and Katia Nidegger are the leaders of a group of Swiss young learners who recently spent a week in Edinburgh with Hamilton School of English. They live in Lausanne (by Lake Geneva) in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and had previously brought another group to Scotland, so this wasn’t a new experience for them (although it obviously was for most of their students!). We met in Global School of English in Edinburgh while the students were in classes there and had an interesting chat about Scotland and Switzerland.

Most Swiss associate Scotland with whisky, rain, kilts, Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) and, perhaps slightly surprisingly, ghosts and tattoos. The students in this group were aware of Edinburgh and some aspects of its history, including Greyfriars’ Bobby, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and, of course, JK Rowling and the Elephant House café (where she began writing the Harry Potter books!).

Despite everyone’s concerns about the weather, since the Swiss Group had arrived, the sun had shone almost unceasingly. There had been no sign of ‘Scotch Mist’, that persistent light rain for which the country is famous. Instead, for virtually every day of their stay in Scotland, the sun had shone and the weather had been extremely pleasant and warm. This made it much easier for the students to enjoy a number of interesting excursions, to see, amongst other things, the Royal Mile, the Castle, the statute of Greyfriars’ Bobby and, naturally, to go to the Elephant House for a cup of coffee and a cake or two.

Their students are studying English at an intermediate level and all three of the leaders were unanimous in their praise for the School and the teachers (“good, very good, and in a nice building that’s more like a house than a school”). They also noted that the host families were excellent.

We then chatted about some of the differences between Switzerland and Scotland. The biggest difference for the Swiss is that prices are much cheaper here than they are in Switzerland, closely followed by the fact that (for them), we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road here! Also on the roads, some of the students had not seen ‘double-decker’ buses before, as in Europe buses tend to be ‘single-decker’.   As well as being used for public transport, some double decker buses in Edinburgh are used to advertise the ‘Ghost Tours’ of the city (see picture).

Food is different too. We discussed the merits of Scottish haggis and Swiss Gruyere and Emmental cheeses (all very nice!) and also the fish and chips, which many students from all over the world say is the meal they like best when they come to Scotland.

In French-speaking Switzerland, children at school learn German first and then English second. Apparently, they find English easier, helped by the fact that classical languages (Latin and Greek – which form the roots of many English words and grammar) are still popular school subjects there. Moreover, western culture, especially pop/rock music, is underpinned by the English language, which makes it more appealing to many young Swiss students than German.

Finally, we discussed the benefits of coming to study in Edinburgh as opposed to London, where many overseas students go to learn English. The leaders said that one of the main reasons they come back to Scotland is that it’s different from London. In particular, it’s less expensive and also a lot quieter than the UK’s capital city. All of which means they expect to be coming back again with another group in the future!

What do our students REALLY think of Global School?

When students and agents are considering which school of English to study at in the UK, they take a lot of different things into account. Is the school accredited, is it in a big city, does it have a programme of events and activities, is it a cheap place to live and study and, of course, does it have a good reputation for the quality of its facilities and teachers?

It is, of course, easy for any school to make claims about the city in which it’s based or its programme of activities, but, important as these are, the key factor in any decision to come to the UK to learn English is the quality of the school and the teaching it provides. Reputations are hard won, and equally hard to maintain.

To that end, Global School of English in Edinburgh is not just subject to the full round of official inspections, but we also make a point of asking our students to fill in a quarterly survey, where they can be as honest as they like about their experiences with us.

Our last survey covers the first quarter of 2017, from January to March, and we’re delighted to say that we have received excellent reviews and comments from our students. The full details are shown below, but, briefly, 100% of our students either agree or strongly agree that their English has improved after studying here, 100% like our teaching style and 96% of our students would recommend us.

 

Some students added comments. A representative sample of these is shown below.

Great method for teaching. Kind. Very good! Thanks! (Colombia)

Great and fun. (Spain)

The best! (Thailand)

Very friendly teachers and helpful office staff. ( Switzerland)

I am very satisfied with all the teachers. (Russia)

I really love the Global staff. Global School is the best school in Edinburgh. Great prices, great teaching and an amazing staff! (Italy)

 

Nice city, nice flowers and gardens, great teachers – and four seasons in one day.

Although Veronika Shirobokva (pictured here with Scottie, the School mascot) has travelled extensively in Europe and also visited the UAE, this is the first time she’s ever been to Scotland and the UK. Veronika has recently come to Global School for two weeks after winning a British Council competition in her native Russia.

She likes Edinburgh, but finds the Scottish weather very different from what she’s used to in Russia. Veronika lives in Izhersk, about 1,000 miles east of Moscow, so she’s used to much colder weather than we get here. At home she says that you just put a coat on and keep it on all day, but here the weather changes during the day, so you can start with a coat and then have to take it off as the weather warms up, then put it on again if it starts to rain. At this point, I told her about the English expression, “four seasons in one day”. She laughed and wrote it down so she could remember it!

Veronika is a vegan, so we discussed how easy it is to get vegan food in Scotland. She said she brought some of her own supplies, “just in case”, but in fact she can get almost everything that she wants here. That’s good news if you are a vegan or vegetarian or eat only halal or kosher. We cater for all tastes here!

She had only been in Edinburgh for a few days when we met, but she has had the chance to walk around and look at the parks and gardens in the city. Veronika particularly likes nature and said she really liked strolling about in Princes Street Gardens, looking at the flowers. Over the next few days she hopes to see the Castle and some of the other buildings, but she did admit she’s more interested in the natural world rather than history so she would probably spend more time in the gardens than in museums. However, she has also found some very good second hand bookshops and bought some interesting books.

She really likes the School, telling me, “I love my teacher, she’s very nice and we’ve connected well. Also, the fact that there are only a few students in the advanced class means that we get lots of time to talk and discuss a whole range of different issues”.

 

Interview by Alastair Blair

 

One of the key attractions of coming to Edinburgh was the chance to stay with host families.

Giovanna Malchiodi comes from Piacenza, near Milan in northern Italy.   She is the leader of a group of 50, mainly 15 and 16 year old, Italian students currently studying at our School in Edinburgh. None of these students had ever been to Scotland, so I began our conversation by asking what they knew about our country before they travelled and then what their first impressions have been.

“We didn’t teach them a lot about Scotland before we came here. That’s because we prefer them to discover things when they arrive. For the more senior pupils, we did suggest they did a little research about the important museums and castles, but in general they came here without a lot of prior knowledge. However, like most people, they had the stereotypical view of Scots in kilts playing bagpipes – a bit like the School mascot!” (Giovanna is pictured with Scottie, our mascot, in the photo above).

“So far, the best things have been Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town in general. It’s very picturesque and interesting. They also love the shops!

“One of the key attractions of coming here was the chance to stay with host families. We were keen that our students didn’t stay in college accommodation as that would mean they would just speak to each other in Italian. The host families are so welcoming and very good at looking after the students. We rely on them to look after our young people and I’m very happy with the standards they set and the generous way they help the boys and girls get to know their country.

“As far as the School’s concerned, what’s pleasing to me is the way they are so open to changing the programme for us and coming up with new ideas and plans. The teachers are brilliant and I’d say this is a very high level school compared to most others. The visits, tours and morning classes are good – in fact the whole package is excellent.

“Finally, overall I have to say that this is a friendly city, and it’s a safe place to walk around too. The atmosphere, both in the school and out and about on the streets of Edinburgh is sociable and welcoming.”

 

Interview by Alastair Blair

 

 

 

The legend of Nessie – the Loch Ness Monster!

Do you think the Loch Ness Monster actually exists? In our last two blogs we provided some weblinks that suggest she might, but there are, of course, others who think that she is just a myth, kept going to help the tourist industry in northern Scotland.

Certainly, one of the most powerful arguments against Nessie existing is that we should found her by now. Although there are lots of people who have seen something, there is not any definitive sighting or photograph that conclusively proves she exists. However, it’s well known that humans have not discovered every creature that exists and that many of those still to be discovered live in the depth of the oceans. Loch Ness, while very deep, is hardly an ocean though.

A major scientific investigation in 2003, conducted by the BBC, could find no trace whatsoever of the Monster and concluded that “the only explanation for the persistence of the myth of the monster is that people see what they want to see.” A more recent report, on the website, thescienceexplorer, was not quite so certain, with its author saying that while she “would prefer it that Nessie be real … she probably doesn’t exist.”

However, we have news for all the scientists. Nessie is alive and well and has just joined Scottie and Bonnie, our other mascots, to add to the School’s marketing team. She’ll be making regular appearances in the future and accompanying Andrew Lennox, the School’s President, on his travels around the world to see students and agents. It just goes to show how little scientists know!

 

The legend of Nessie – the Loch Ness Monster!

Last week, we told you a little bit about Loch Ness, where the Loch Ness Monster, who is usually referred to as Nessie, is supposed to live. But does she actually exist? What evidence is there?

In your country what do you know about the Loch Ness Monster?  Does your country have a mysterious monster? Tell us about it.

Actually, there is quite a lot. The website nessie.co.uk records dozens of sightings over the last 150 years or so, both in the loch and also on the land alongside.

There are also a few famous photographs, allegedly showing a monster-like creature in the loch. One of the most recent, which can be seen here, was taken in 2011 and it is claimed it has been analysed by the military in the USA who said there is no doubt that it shows “an animate object in the water.” Could it be that Nessie really does exist?

Join us next week for more information on Loch Ness and the Loch Ness Monster.

 

The legend of Nessie – the Loch Ness Monster!

The legend of Nessie has been around for hundreds of years. One of the earliest sightings was on October 1871, when a Mr Mackenzie saw a ‘log-like’ object in the waters of Loch Ness. Since then, dozens of other people have seen ‘something’ in the Loch. But is she real – or just a myth?

There are lots of websites dedicated to the Loch Ness Monster. One of the most interesting is nessie.co.uk, from which we’ve taken a lot of information for this blog.

Loch Ness is a very large, freshwater lake (lakes are called lochs in Scotland). In fact, it’s so large that it contains more water than every other lake in the UK put together. It is 22.5 miles long and up to one and half miles wide, with a depth of 754 feet. It holds 263 thousand million cubic feet of water and has a surface area of 14,000 acres. In other words, it’s a VERY large place with lots of room for a monster to hide!

Join us next week for more information on Loch Ness and the Loch Ness Monster.

 

 

Professional footballer or pilot? – we get such interesting students at Global School of English in Edinburgh!

Matteo Bernardi (pictured here with Scottie the School mascot) is from Rome. He arrived in Edinburgh seven weeks ago to study at Global School of English and he’ll be here for another four weeks. He kindly agreed to meet me recently to tell me how he is getting on and what he thinks about the School and Scotland.

Matteo BernardiMatteo, who is from Rome, originally wanted to be a professional footballer and was pursuing a career with one of the lower league teams in Italy but unfortunately had to give up that ambition when he suffered a bad leg injury.   Now, he intends to become a pilot and, as he said, you can’t be a pilot if you can’t speak English! However, you can still watch football, even as a pilot, and Matteo is a huge fan of Lazio (one of the two teams in Rome – “the better one” he says!).

I asked why he had come to Scotland rather than go to London.

“Very simple,” he replied, “my brother studied at Global School three years ago and he recommended it highly. He said it was much better than London – and it’s cheaper to live here too!”
We then discussed what he most enjoyed about Scotland.

“For me, the most important thing is how friendly the people are in Scotland. They really will help you, even if they don’t know you.  

“Also, the public transport in Edinburgh is amazingly good. It’s very different from Rome.”

Were there any things that surprised him I wondered?

“Yes – people wearing kilts! I went to the airport a few weekends ago and it was full of Scottish rugby supporters, all wearing kilts. My friends in Italy know all about kilts and bagpipes, but don’t understand why a man would wear a skirt!

“The other thing that was a (pleasant) surprise is that the supermarkets here are open for far longer than back home in Italy. There, they close at around 6.00 pm or 7.00 pm at the latest, but here you can still buy anything at 11.00 pm or even later.”

Finally, I asked him about the School – what does he think of it?

“It’s very good. The teachers are very friendly and as well as teaching us, they give advice about places to go and things to see in Edinburgh and Scotland. Like my brother, I would definitely recommend that if you want to study English in the UK you should choose this school.”

Interview, Alastair Blair

 

With the value of the pound sterling (£), this is a great time to study English in Scotland!

Especially when 99% of our students say their English has improved after studying with us!

The fall in the value of the pound means it’s a lot cheaper to come to study English in the UK than it was a year ago. That’s good news for all our students, but did you also know that it’s much more cheaper to study in some parts of the UK than others?

In particular, it’s much cheaper to study and live in Scotland than it is in most other areas of the UK, especially London. You don’t have to take our word for it: there are lots of studies that show how much cheaper it is to live and work in Edinburgh than London. For example, look at the differences in these prices:

  • Rent prices in London are up to 128% higher than Edinburgh
  • Restaurant prices in London are up to 15% higher in London than Edinburgh
  • Overall, Edinburgh is 38% cheaper than London

Our figures here are taken from these independent, third-party websites, where you can find our much more about the difference in the cost of living between London and Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Expatistan (Edinburgh v London)

Numbeo (Edinburgh v London)

Not only is it cheaper, but almost all our students in Edinburgh tell us that Edinburgh is a very friendly place and that the public transport is very good so it’s easy to get around. They also tell us that the School is excellent. A recent survey by an independent firm showed that 99% of our students say that studying with us has improved their English!

If you’d like to find out more about studying at our school, please email: admin@gse-edinburgh.com and/or go to our website: www.gse-edinburgh.com