January 14, 2014, by offcampus
International Family Link
Over the coming months, we’re going to be sharing some blog posts about the University’s International Family Link scheme. Today, we’re pleased to welcome Melanie Bentham-Hill from the International Office to the blog to introduce the scheme, and to host Laura Gerarda for sharing her initial experiences.
International Family Link is a well-establish scheme run by the International Office, which invites local people to offer hospitality to international students, academic visitors and sponsored researchers.
Many students complete their course with limited experience of British life and culture outside the University and so getting to know local people who are willing to offer hospitality in their own homes can be an important part of their experience here. The scheme is intended for mature international students, academic visitors and sponsored researchers whose studies will last for 9 months or more. Students can apply for the scheme with their spouse and/or children.
Most of our hosts are members (or retired members) of University staff and alumni, while others are from different professions – some have links with local churches, or other local organisations. We have found the enjoyment the hosts get out of meeting people from culturally different backgrounds is as widely reported as the benefits the students feel.
Visits are usually 2-3 hours and can take place once a term or more often. It may involve a walk in the local area followed by tea and biscuits, a Sunday lunch, or dinner invitation one evening. Hosts can apply for the scheme by requesting an application form and further information via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks to our host Laura Gerada who has provided a good insight into the type of activities enjoyed by those participating in the scheme:
International Meal 1: 7th December 2013
Our host-student group comprises six people with five different nationalities (British, Maltese, Chilean, Polish and Kosovan). My husband and I hosted our first gathering yesterday at our house, which was an evening meal on a ‘British’ theme: firstly some Mediterranean appetizers (not so British) followed by mushroom soup (a la Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) and then deluxe bangers and mash (Jamie Oliver style), all washed down with some fine Chilean wine. We then enjoyed pulling Christmas crackers, a peculiarly British tradition, and of course had to wear the paper hats whilst telling the jokes found inside. Dessert was provided by our Kosovan contingent in the form of a delicious cheesecake leading us to discuss at length the word ‘pudding’ and its meanings. Overall a very enjoyable evening with lots of lively conversations on many themes. Our next gathering is set for January where we are looking forward to enjoying a Kosovan-German-Polish themed meal, hopefully with some more fine Chilean wine.