Euan Fergusson has been managing the ISAS team since April 2012. Read on to find out more about his job, and his tips on what to see and do in Edinburgh!
Please tell us a little about your role.
I’m the Head of the International Student Advice Service within the International Office. I’m responsible for the team, the service and the strategy for supporting international students and their families at the University. I am also one of the people responsible for maintaining the University’s Tier 4 licence. This is a challenging part of the job because the rules aren’t always straightforward and Edinburgh is a particularly diverse institution, where the rules can apply differently in a variety of different situations.
What do you like the most about your job? What motivates you?
Apart from having great colleagues across the University, I find the day-to-day problem solving interesting. I like to find solutions wherever I can and if I can make a difference to someone’s time here in Edinburgh, then that’s a good motivation for me. Other than that, meeting and helping people from all over the world who’ve come to make Edinburgh their home is one of the reasons I got into this kind of work in the first place.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I love travelling – so most of my time out from work involves either planning or going on some kind of trip. This year has had a particularly heavy carbon footprint, with Zimbabwe being a definite highlight: I have always wanted to go and it didn’t disappoint. Apart from that, I go to gigs and music festivals quite a lot, I dabble in buying and selling antiques and I also make ceramics and pottery.
What’s the most useful piece of advice anyone has ever shared with you?
I am a Leither at heart and while it’s not advice that anyone has given me, the motto for Leith is “Persevere”: it’s good advice. Keep going forward and don’t look back.
You’re Edinburgh born and bred: tell us about your favourite Edinburgh hidden gem!
More or less – I was born in a hospital where the Quartermile now stands – the spot is marked by a Starbucks and Sainsbury’s. I grew up about an hour away from Edinburgh. I don’t want to give away too many hidden gems, because the beauty of them is that they are hidden! However, the Canny Man’s pub in Morningside is unique and definitely worth a visit (but note: no backpacks and no photography! – it’s on the sign on the way in). I also recommend a visit to Gilmerton Cove – it’s a mysterious place and no-one is entirely sure how old it is, why it was built or what it was originally used for. I spent a lot of my childhood in North Berwick and it’s also worth a visit.
Where would you choose to have a meal in Edinburgh?
Empires Café on St Mary’s Street is an excellent Turkish meze place and sometimes has live music. Other than that, I have decent kitchen skills which I learned in various jobs while I was a student – so I like making dinner and having friends round quite a lot.
Like everyone in the ISAS team, you have lived abroad – with this experience in mind, do you have any advice you’d like to share with new international students?
Everyone’s experience of living abroad is slightly different. I think first of all, it’s very easy to hang around with people who speak your own language or come from a similar culture but it takes a lot more effort to meet people from the host country: with the best will in the world, they already have friends and networks. So, I suppose getting out of your comfort zone is the first thing. Second thing is that you could spend your time trying to find the things you miss from home, but I think it’s good to find new things in the host country that you like: even small things like food, a drink, a café or restaurant or even things like a regular TV programme or newspaper/magazine. I lived in Copenhagen for a few years and still ask people who are going to Denmark to bring back things I miss, I still read the newspapers and still watch various programmes online.
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