Iryna Mateychenko (pictured here with Duncan Fitzhowie, Director of Studies at Global School) is the Group Leader for a small number of young teenagers from Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine. Although Iryna has been to Scotland twice before, none of the students have, although one girl has been to England. They are here for one week only, but she kindly spared a little bit of her time to chat about Edinburgh, the School, the food and (or course!) the Scottish weather.
“The first thing I’ve got to say is that the School has been very welcoming. We have a mixed-ability group in terms of their level of English – some are intermediate and some pre-intermediate – but location of the School in the heart of the city centre is excellent and the staff are friendly and professional. While it’s obviously not possible to master a language in just one week, this visit will certainly improve the kids’ English and they learn so much more just by being here. As well as improving our English, we have done lots of cultural things, been to Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, and discovered just how interesting a place this is and how much variety there is here. Edinburgh is very different from Kharkiv, but then it’s also different from Newcastle, London, Brighton and the other English cities I’ve been to in the past.
“The students have also noted how friendly all the people are in Edinburgh. In my opinion, this is one of the city’s (and the School’s) biggest strengths and it sets Edinburgh apart from most big cities in England. I had noticed this during my previous visits to Scotland – whatever you ask, someone will help – and the kids have been similarly impressed by how nice everyone is to them.
“The food it not the same as we have in Ukraine and that’s taken a bit of getting used to and although they don’t complain they also say that we have more salads at home, there is no cheese for breakfast in Scotland and they would prefer more mashed potatoes than chips. However, they haven’t tried your famous fish and chips– perhaps that will change their minds!
“The weather is also different from at home. I think we have had what you call “four seasons in one day” for a few days in a row! We don’t normally have snow, rain and sunshine all within 24 hours.
“Overall though, this is a great city for a group looking to improve their English.
Everything is fine, well organised and I wish we could be here for longer – perhaps in the summer. The kids have definitely had a good time and will leave with a positive impression. I think we’ll be back!”
Interview by Alastair Blair