Each episode is a snapshop, 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. In episode twenty eight we meet French and German graduate Maria.
Each month we meet five more graduates. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about this weird and unpredictable time.
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) 0:07
This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season one, class of 2020.
My name is Maria. I'm a recent graduate from Edinburgh in French and German Studies. And now I'm working as a teacher, the teacher of English in a school in Switzerland. I'm living in a city, it's a very small city, but city on the Swiss standards anyway, called Biel/Bienne. So it has two names, a German name and a French name. And it's actually bilingual in the city, which is really cool. I moved over here last August and I've not been able to go back since so I'm officially stuck here for the foreseeable, but there are worse places to be stuck, all things considered.
Yes, still able to practice my French and my German, which was the goal really behind it was to not just leave uni with the degree but not without the skill, which is, arguably the more important thing with the language is to be able to keep speaking it and not lose it. And so yeah, this opportunity, it ticks many boxes in that sense. I applied for the position with British Councils, so it's an exchange, you can do of sorts, where an English speaking person will move over and work as an assistant in, in a school somewhere. So I applied for that. Yeah, knowing I would have liked to be in a French speaking or a German speaking place. And that was in February time. In all honesty, I just thought, oh yeah, that sounds great. But I thought I would apply, you know, just put the feelers out there and see what I got back. And then obviously, March time, I began to realise, oh, everything's just up in the air, you know, there's no chance I'm going to be able to actually move abroad come summertime, can kind of forget about that one. And I was getting mixed messages from the organiser, I suppose to say, I'm sorry, obviously, really can't give you any details at the moment.
So it was a bit of a waiting game in that sense, before I knew for sure, before I had some kind of confirmation that it would be okay to go. I was, I was panicking, but not organising anything else. It's that kind of panic that renders you incapable to get yourself together in a way. So I just thought, oh, well, like many of my friends we were all in the same boat. We didn't know. I still didn't have a certainty about it until about June time, I think. And that coincided with when things started to open up a bit more. And I thought, okay, this is really going to be a possibility now.
And then I had to get to grips with the fact that okay, right I'm going to be moving country in the midst of a pandemic. That's an interesting challenge. Yeah, I kind of just had to, had to embrace it really embrace this, this chance that had been thrown my way. Yeah, I actually really, really love it. I didn't necessarily see myself as an English teacher having studied French and German, I thought maybe I'd be a French or German teacher, but in the UK. So it's interesting to see the other side of things, to discover English, how it works and to, to work with students who are really, despite everything they've been going through, because it's the same in Switzerland as, as pretty much everywhere else, they've had to, to deal with all the restrictions, you know. Not being able to hang out with their friends, really. You want to talk about what's going on in the news, that can be a really great way to learn a language, you talk about the news, we did that at Edinburgh. But with these guys, the news is Covid-related, so it comes up quite a lot and they're always keen to, to know oh, well, how are things in the UK? You know, they asked me how I'm doing. They know that I can't go home and things like that. So they're really considerate it in that way. Yeah, we talk about it a lot and there's, there's always something new. We had, you know, discussions about the vaccine and things like that. So they're learning a lot of new vocabulary that they might not have necessarily known [laughs].
There's days when I'm alright with it, and there's days when I just really want to be at home even though the logical part of me knows, well if I was at home, I still wouldn't be, you know, going around seeing all my family, seeing all my friends. So in that sense, being in a different country doesn't make that much of a difference, you know, everyone's still isolated no matter where they are. But that's the logical side. And then there's just the other part of me that it feels further, it feels much further away. There's just the fact that I guess I'm getting along with my life here, I'm still going into work and that's a bit of a disconnect with, with at home with the lockdown. I miss my family, and they miss me, it's never quite the same as when you're, when you're back there, and you have the, you know, the daily life that you can chat about. So if I were still living with my parents at home, I was hoping to go, go back at Christmas, that's what I was holding on to, the being able to go back at Christmas time. Um, and then obviously, you know, it was just that that perfect storm of the, the day when I wanted to go home was the day that all the flights started to be cancelled between many countries and the UK. So it just wasn't meant to be. It has to get better after this point, you know, this is pretty, is pretty dismal. You know, with every school holiday that I have coming up, that's my next slot that I could maybe go, I just don't know, I think it could well be the summer holidays. So the end of my year, as an assistant before I do get to go back, which is tough.
There's some days where I really, really do lose the positivity and I, I regret and I think, oh, why did I, why did I do this, why did I, you know, choose to be away at this time? I knew what I was getting myself into, even though we had the blip of a summer of thinking, oh, happy days again. I still knew that no, come winter time, things aren't going to be that easy. But on the whole, I think that purpose of being in a school and going into a school and being with other people, I've-- that's a blessing really, in my opinion. Because if we were to move to online school again, not only would it be tough on the kids, but it's tough for me and there's a few other assistants in the same position as me, who also you know, from, from different countries, but who can't go, go home. And for us, I think that fact that we can still go in and speak to people and, and share something with them, you know, share our experiences of, you know, living in another country and now being in Switzerland. I'm very lucky that here there's, there's a wealth of ways that you can get outside. Which again, I think it helps me personally so much. Even if I think I cannot be bothered getting outside today. There's, there's just something about that which, which boosts my mood and keeps me feeling more positive than not. For example, today, you know, we've got blue, blue skies and sunshine. And that helps and also knowing, knowing that the days are getting a bit longer. That's something I've noticed a lot. Because in winter time, I'd finish school and it would be dark since they finish quite late here compared to at home. And now I finish and it's still light and I'm hopping on the train home and I have more energy just because yeah, summer is on the way. Even if it feels a bit like a waiting game before I can get home again. I know it's, it's coming eventually, so yeah.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 9:01
We also ask our graduates to share a place, somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.
So I think this, this place pops into my mind, especially because I'm missing home so much. And not even necessarily my, my hometown, which I do miss lots and lots, but just those, those landscapes that you get in the UK, that green that you don't really get or you don't really see in other places. And so I was thinking of a place, which I visited a few summers ago on the Isle of Harris, which is called-- the place in particular is called Hushinish, but especially another beach that you can walk to not very far from there, and it's very secluded. You can't get there by car and you have to go on foot. So you walk along there and we did this on a gorgeous evening in summer. It was the only gorgeous evening that we had on our whole kind of two week trip there. And we'd been camping so it was, it was incredibly wet. But we had this one day of just absolute bliss where we walked to this beach and it was completely empty, secluded, peaceful. And yeah, we just had a gorgeous evening there enjoying the sun going down and chatting with, with each other. And just feeling you know, at peace, relaxed. And I would go back there in a heartbeat really just to see those stunning views. Just to be on an island, you know, at home but far from home and yeah, to embrace that kind of feeling once more because it's a really nostalgic one for me, I think.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 11:05
Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kirsten Roche 11:20
You're not on your own when it comes to planning for your future. Your University of Edinburgh community is here to support you. And this includes ongoing support for graduates from the Careers Service. Why not take a look at our website to find out more about how we can support you get the future you want. Go to ed.ac.uk/careers to get started.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai