Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Stirling Trip [26/09] - Video

Stirling Trip [26/09] - Photos

For the entire gallery please click here!

Do you want to upload your own photos? Please click here

The Gordian Knot - ISC Trip Tickets Sales and what next?

On Monday I opened up the ISC Lounge and was fortunate enough to witness the spectacle that followed. As every Monday, Saturday Trip tickets went up for sale, this time for a trip to the exquisite piece of architecture named "Culzean Castle". I was highly impressed by how patiently all of you queued for your tickets - I have been involved with the ISC for over three years and to be honest, this was not always the case - so well done and keep up the good work!

ISC Trip to St. Andrews [see full album here]

Another issue that caught my attention was the speed with which all 69 tickets disappeared - 42 minutes must be our new record! Those of you who arrived after 12:42pm could not have therefore purchased any tickets and your reactions varied - disappointment was common, bitterness occasional, and in some cases our ticket sales system as such was questioned. These reactions are understandable - many of you are in Edinburgh only for a short period of time, be it a semester or two, and you are keen to explore this wonderful country. I am writing this short article in order to to clarify our current ticket sales policy, outline the reasons for it and allow you to express your opinions and take on any suggestions you may have - because all of us are the ISC!

Demand & Supply
Ticket Prices & Availability
As all of you hopefully know, the ISC is a non-profit organization that relies entirely on the eagerness of its dedicated volunteers and the generosity of the International Office. Our philosophy is to enable you to enjoy your time  in Edinburgh to its fullest possible extent, and therefore we strive to make out trips as affordable as possible and ensure that a sufficient amount of tickets goes on sale every Monday.

The latter often becomes rather contentious - available tickets  do sell out quickly. Nearly 150 tickets went up for sale for the St. Andrews Trip during the Freshers' Week and disappeared in three days; 100 Stirling tickets were gone in about two days, while 69 Culzean Castle tickets found its owners in record-breaking 42 minutes! Why do we keep selling less and less tickets, while demand remains high?

The answer is simple - capacity. We work closely with Historic Scotland and National Trust for Scotland to provide you with an opportunity to broaden your horizons outside the classroom. Each venue does, however, have only a limited capacity of large groups that can be admitted in - the smaller and more confined the venue is, the lower the capacity. In St. Andrews we were able to divide you up into three separate groups in order to get around this problem - one group went to see the castle, another one the cathedral, while the final group was given time to roam freely around St. Andrews. Unfortunately, what applies for bigger tourist attractions such as St. Andrews or Stirling does not apply to the likes of Culzean Castle - therefore only a limited number of tickets goes on sale, so your experience does not get spoiled by pointless waiting & queuing.

ISC Trip to Stirling [see full album here]

Ticket Sales Policy

Our Ticket Sales Policy is by far the most controversial issue in our functioning and has been an appearing and re-appearing point on the Core Committee agenda for as long as I can possibly remember. Saturday Trip tickets go on sale on Monday at 12 o'clock noon and can be purchased by matriculated University of Edinburgh students only - which would be alright if they did not sell out with such an astonishing speed. Some are lucky enough to have friends or flatmates queuing - please bear in mind that each person can buy two tickets - others are not that fortunate...

It is this speed that generates a lot of emotions, especially from those who for one reason or another failed to turn up at 12 o'clock and sometimes even queue before the actual sales time. We realize that not all of you can make it on Monday at 12 o'clock - you might have lectures at KB, have a training, a practical or be at work.

We have therefore gone through a number of suggestions. Some of you have suggested reserving tickets beforehand - unfortunately, this cannot be accomplished. We are not a tourist agency and therefore cannot afford to run an online or telephone reservation system and accept legal responsibilities that such reservation systems carry [to name just one - storing and processing your debit and credit card information]. 
Another suggestion has been releasing one half of tickets for sale on Monday and another half, let's say, on Tuesday - this again is not a solution, as it does not address the problem itself - what if someone turns up on Monday, only to realize that all the Monday tickets have been sold out and he/she cannot make it on Tuesday.

One final idea revolved around a ticket quota system, i.e. allocating a certain number of tickets to people that study in KB and/or medical and veterinary science people, who might have their practicals on Monday and cannot make it to George Square on time. Such a quota system give rise to another problem - how to allocate these tickets fairly and how to re-allocate them if, for example, there are some left over medics tickets? This clearly is not a solution...

Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, by Jean-Simon Berthélemy from Wikipedia Commons

We therefore have no other option than keeping the current ticket sales policy and release trip tickets for sale on Monday at 12 o'clock [noon]. We do realize that the current sales policy is not entirely fair, but please recall Churchill's famous dictum: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Our situation is somewhat similar and our current ticket sales policy is like democracy - or maybe even like the legendary Gordian Knot - if you feel like Alexander the Great, please send us your suggestion using the "Post a Comment" feature on the bottom of this page and I can guarantee you that it will be considered.


Monday, 28 September 2009

All Semester 1 Trips - now on Goooogle Map too!

Rosslyn Chapel [10/10]

The Green Man of Rosslyn

As made famous by "The Da Vinci Code". Stunning architecture, beautiful details and many secrets...

Whisky Trip [17/10]

Whisky distillery

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do" - watch this space for more details!

Loch Katrine [24/10]

 Cruinn Bheinn on the northern shore of Loch Katrine.

There are more lochs in Scotland than Loch Ness! And this is one of them...

Lindisfarne/Holy Island [31/10]

Lindisfarne Castle

A tidal island with its own castle and monastery off the north-east coast of England (also known as Holy Island) connected to the mainland by a causeway (flooded twice a day by tides). Sir Walter Scott says:
For with the flow and ebb, its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry shood o'er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day the waves efface
Of staves and sandelled feet the trac.
Weekend Trip [07/11-08/11]
More details coming out soon - so wait for it!

Newcastle Upon Tyne [14/11]

Tyne Bridge

Explore the Geordie capital with its long history and great diversity.

North Berwick [21/11]

A picturesque seaside town...

Glasgow [28/11]

Glasgow mosaic

Christmas shopping, museums, galleries, Celtic & Rangers rivalry, pubs and great night life - something for everyone!

Ticket prices TBC [to be confirmed]!

See our GoogleMap here!

Photos from Wikimedia Commons; North Berwick by JR.

Danish Night

On monday the 5th of October, the second of our five nationality themed nights will be held at the ISC.

This time, it is Danish Night. So get ready for a night in the company of "The World's Happiest Country" (in numerous surveys, here a few:1, 2 & 3)

You will be treated to a traditional Danish meal (which is likely to fill you up), after the food you will have the opportunity to learn a bit more about Denmark, and maybe learn a bit of the language. During this you will be treated to some Coffee (which a Dane will drink at any time of the day), Danish Buttercookies and if you are lucky: Some of that Danish pastry.

You will also have the opportunity to sample a real Viking drink, namely mead.

At the end of the Night, we will show a movie from the Danish 'dogme' tradition "Italian For Beginners".

All this will happen in a candlelit ISC in order to promote an atmosphere of what in Danish is called "hygge" (a rough translations to English is the non-word cosiness).

Tickets are 2£ and is sold at the ISC.

Hope to see you there!

Culzean Castle Information

The trip next Saturday [03/10] will be to Culzean Castle and Country Park!
A bit of history:

The first written reference to a Tower House at Culzean dates to the 1400's, although it is possible there was a building here even earlier. Then, it was known as 'Coif Castle', or the 'House of Cove', taking it's name from the caves below. This name was altered to 'Cullean Castle' in the 1600's and the present spelling adopted sometime in the 18th century. As times became settled, Culzean became more of a family home.

By the 17th century terraces and pleasure gardens had been constructed. Since even then Culzean was rarely lived in all year round, improvements to the house were haphazard. In the 18th century a chain of events occurred that transformed Culzean Castle from a relatively modest tower house into a neoclassical mansion.

It was not so much a sudden influx of real wealth or power that brought about this transformation but, rather, the desire to create a trophy house, a building that said, even shouted, that the Kennedy family had arrived. What you see at Culzean Castle today is a result of many years of careful restoration by the National Trust for Scotland, that has united the different stages of Culzean's aesthetic history. It reflects the different stages of Culzean's past, from Robert Adam's additions to the medieval tower house, to its heyday as one of the grandest houses in Scotland.

Country Park

Culzean was Scotland's first Country Park, created in 1969 and consisting of 563 acres. There is a wealth of interest from shoreline through the Deer Park, Gas Court, Fountain Court and Swan Pond with exhibitions, to mature parklands and gardens. The Ruined Arch, Viaduct, Ice House, beautiful Camellia House and unique Pagoda have all been restored.

Where is it?

Information taken from and

Culzean Castle Trip [03/10] - SOLD OUT

We sold out all the tickets in about 45 minutes - sorry guys!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

How to upload YOUR photos to OUR Picasa Web Album?

It is dead simple - all you need to do is to send an email with your photos attached [as *.jpg, no *.zip please!] to:

Please note that the attachment size cannot exceed 20MB - so please decrease the size of your photos before sending them!

And do not forget to include your name - so we can attribute your photos to their rightful owner[/s - i.e. you]!

Do you not know how to resize your photos? It is very simple:
1.) Download IrfanView [100% free software that does not contain any viruses/spyware/malware/nasty stuff - works with every MS Windows]
2.) Watch this tutorial - it explains how to resize photos in IrfanView [and does so very well indeed!]
3.) Convert your photos - max. width/height [whichever is greater] 1024 pixels
4.) Email your photos to the above mentioned address
5.) That's it - well done!
[6.) Wait for your photos to be published]

St. Andrews Trip [19/09] - Photos

For the entire gallery please click here!

Events at the ISC

Hi all

The French Night on Monday has been sold out!

But if you did not get a ticket, do not despair. I can happily announce that at the ISC we are now starting a cavalcade of nationality themed nights!

French night is just the first in a series of five nights in Semester 1 where you will have the opportunity to be introduced to different countries, their food and their culture. All done by natives to ensure that you get the 'true' story.

Here are the dates and nations:

28th of September: French Night - Sold Out!
5th of October: Danish Night
12th of October: Irish Night
19th of October: Chinese Night
26th of October: Scottish Night

The tickets for the nights will go on sale a week before the event and will generally be priced at around 2£. So come down on Monday the 28th and buy tickets for the Danish Night!

Do you feel your country has been left out, and would you like to rectify that error? In semester 2 we will run another series of Nationality themed nights - please mail: if you wish to present your country.

What other events will come to the ISC in the course of semester 1?

Well, I cannot disclose to much, but things which are brewing is the amazing opportunity to go watch the Rugby match Scotland vs. Australia on Murrayfield stadium on the 21st of November, watch this space for more events!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The ISC. And its blog. Us <=> YOU

Who are we?
The International Student Centre is a student-run arm of the International Office of the University of Edinburgh. Our main purpose it to ensure that domestic as well as international students make the most out of their university experience - inside as much as outside the class room.

We therefore strive to enhance one's horizons by organizing events, trips and running our Lounge. The purpose is clear - to introduce Scotland's rich cultural and historic heritage to international students and introduce a broad range of equally rich cultures from abroad to Scotland

The ISC consists of a large number of highly committed volunteers and neither charges any membership fees, nor does it generate any profit.

Why this blog?
The Internet offers seemingly never-ending opportunities - and the potential to act as a bridge between the ISC, its friends and the wider world. Most students enjoy their time at the University of Edinburgh immensely and are not only keen to share their personal experiences, such as reflections on their time in Edinburgh and photos from trips or events, but also to introduce their home university, town, city, country and even continent, eager on providing fellow students with some real insider tips. We would like to answer these calls - and have therefore created this blog to offer YOU a real platform for communicating with fellow students. Feel free to use this creative space to its maximum!

So what?
To put it very simply - WE need YOU! Your ideas, your articles, your input. If you feel like reflecting on your time in Edinburgh/Scotland/Europe, introducing your home town, submitting some travel tips or a piece of creative writing - the stage is yours! 

Please send your articles to:


We have also created the ISC Picasa account and are in the process of finalizing some very last technicalities - very soon you will be able to share your photos from our Lounge, trips and events - or simply your time in Edinburgh. More details will be released very soon indeed!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


The tickets for Stirling have now been sold - all 100 of them. For those of you who got one, I hope you have a great trip, for the rest: please drop by on Monday @ 12.00pm for tickets to Culzean Castle!


Monday, 21 September 2009

Pub Night - Bannermans 2.0 [every Tuesday from 9pm onwards]

We just met up with the manager of our favourite Tuesday night venue and prepared many *new* & *fresh* changes to our regular Tuesday [Pub] Nights in Bannermans Bar [212 Cowgate or see our GoogleMap].

To name a few:
  • the back bar in its entirety - just for the ISC
  • special discount cards & special Tuesday night drinks - exclusively for the ISC
  • and many more - TBC - watch this blog for more info!

Come and experience it yourselves - every Tuesday from 9pm onwards

Sunday, 20 September 2009

French Night [Monday 28/09 @ 7pm]

Come to the ISC and get a real French experience!

With crépes, cheese & wine as well as our French hostesses Cécile & Violette, who will present their country and test your knowledge of all things French [in a quiz]!

Enjoy yourselves and learn a bit about France, taste some nice food & wine!

But be quick - only 30 tickets go up for sale, costing £2 per head!

On sale from Monday [21/09] 12 o'clock [noon] - when they are gone, they are gone, since our capacity is limited!

Facebook event here!

Eugène Delacroix - "La liberté guidant le peuple" from Wikimedia Commons.

-rd- & -lg-

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Monday's Event - ISC Poker Night

Come play Poker at the ISC on Monday!

If you do not know how to play Poker you will be taught, and if you're already a seasoned player you will be able to test your skills against others.

There will be a beginner's and a intermediate tournament, both of which will have prizes at stake.

It is absolutely free and everybody is welcome, also your friends!

See you there :-)

Some inspiring quotes:

"The commonest mistake in history is underestimating your opponent; it happens at the poker table all the time."

”Cards are war, in disguise of a sport."

"Most of the money you'll win at poker comes not from the brilliance of your own play, but from the ineptitude of your opponents."

How-to & strategy here!

Facebook event here!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, 18 September 2009

New trips added

We just updated our GoogleMap with two more trips - Stirling and Culzean Castle!

Stirling [26/09]

Stirling Castle

Wallace Monument

Broad Street [Old Town]

One of Scotland's oldest cities, with its very own castle and Wallace Monument that commemorates William Wallace, the 13th century Scottish hero [you must have seen Braveheart with Mel Gibson].

100 tickets go ON SALE [£8 per head] on MONDAY 21/09 at 12 o'clock [noon]. Please don't forget your matriculation card - you will need in order to buy a ticket[/s].

MEET @ 8.45AM outside the ISC Lounge!

Culzean Castle [03/10]

The clifftop castle made famous by its country park and appearance on the back of five pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Tickets go ON SALE on MONDAY 28/09 at 12 o'clock [noon] - exact price TBC - ONLY 69 tickets, so be quick!
Please don't forget your matriculation card - you will need in order to buy a ticket[/s].

See our GoogleMap here!

Photos from Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

St. Andrews Trip [19/09]

For those of you fortunate enough to have secured tickets to our upcoming trip to St. Andrews - here is a short guide. For the rest of you - we are really sorry to say this but all the tickets have already been sold! Our next trip will take us to Stirling - tickets go on sale on Monday [21/09] @ 12 o'clock [noon] at the ISC Lounge [22b Buccleuch Place] - be there if you want to go all the way to Stirling!

St. Andrews is a picturesque seaside town located in the Kingdom of Fife. It boasts one of the oldest universities in the world (and a royal alumni ever since Prince William graduated from there a few years ago) and is also known as the Home of Golf.

We will visit the ruins of the St. Andrews Castle that is perched on a cliff-top and partly worn away by the sea. The Castle has served as a palace, prison and fortress in the past and is now a visitor centre attracting hoards of tourists every year.
We will also take a stroll around the beautiful Cathedral grounds. The Cathedral itself was once Scotland’s largest building but now lies in ruins after being allowed to decay as a result of an attack by the Reformation in 1559. St.Rule’s Tower (also located in the Cathedral grounds) offers beautiful vistas of the town and the sea and the surrounding countryside.
If the sometimes notorious Scottish weather will treat us nicely St. Andrews has beautiful sandy beaches perfect for a picnic if that catches your fancy. Everything in this small town is within a walking distance so feel free to wander off on your own to check out the museums (St.Andrews Museum, Museum of Golf) and the Old Course (for the golf fans,obviously..) if you so wish but please do try to remember to be back on the buses on time!

Please check the back of your ticket to find out which group you are in- when in doubt ask the volunteers!
  • buses depart from the ISC Lounge
  • be on time as we leave at 9.00 sharp!
  • arriving in St.Andrews (we are getting dropped off on Market Street)
  • GROUP 1 visits the Castle
  • GROUPS 2 and 3 visit the Cathedral 
  • GROUP 1 visits the Cathedral
  • GROUP 2 visits the Castle [make sure you are on time!]
  • GROUP 3 free time
  • GROUPS 1 and 2 free time 
  • GROUP 3 visits the Castle             

  • leaving @ 5pm sharp
  • Market Street again - be there on time or we will leave without you!
  • buses arrive back to the ISC
In case of an emergency (if you happen to get lost) get in touch with the volunteers:


For more info on St. Andrews click here!

-ak- & -lg-

Monday, 14 September 2009

Welcome from President

Dear all,
welcome to the International Student Centre and welcome to Edinburgh! Here at the ISC we would like to provide a platform for both international and UK students to meet people and make friends from all around the world as well as brighten up that before, between and after lectures routine in our relaxing environment. We are open every day during the Freshers Week from 11am to 4pm [and 6pm on Thursday] - I would like to encourage all of you to
drop by, enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee and experience what we have to offer.

As the year starts we are looking for volunteers, who would like to spend an hour (or more) a week staffing our Lounge, arranging events or helping out with the planning of our weekly trips. Volunteering is a great opportunity to get to meet people as you will be the first point of contact; it is a perfect way to become a part of a truly international network and all in all a very rewarding experience. Your participation and help are absolutely crucial for our success - volunteering is a win-win situation!
I look forward to seeing many new faces in the ISC during the coming week, and indeed the coming semester and beyond. I hope that all of you will at least stop by once and feel the atmosphere of our lounge. If you have any questions, or if you want to help out, please do not hesitate to approach one of the committee members that will be present at our Lounge.
Good luck to all of you in your studies as well as in any other endeavour you may undertake while here in Edinburgh.

Sincerely yours,
Jonathan Riise

Friday, 11 September 2009

Freshers Week with ISC!

We all know that feeling - some of us were freshers a while ago, some more recently. Yet hardly anyone forgets his or hers first days and weeks in Edinburgh - butterflies in the stomach before landing, meeting flatmates and housemates upon arrival, exploring the city, the country and even the continent during the day 'n' night. Making friends from all over the world, living life to its fullest, learning inside university lecture halls, tutorial rooms and libraries just as much as outside these. Realizing that university studies are not only a means to an end, but quite possibly one of the greatest moments in your life. Leaving the University of Edinburgh a semester, a year or four years later, looking back and thinking "this was one hell of a ride".
Our aim is to make sure that your ride is truly an enjoyable one and therefore we organize weekly pub nights, events, trips all over Scotland and run Lounge, which is located just off George Square.
We are kicking this year off with our Freshers Week events - please fasten you seat belts, we are taking off!

International Day [Sunday 13/09]

"It all starts on Sunday..."

Come to Bristo Square and find us in the oldest student union building in the world - Teviot. Come for a chat, see what, when and where we do - hear about our exciting events, magnificent trips and comfy lounge. We are looking forward to meeting you on Sunday in the Commitee Room in Teviot, 11AM-4PM!

Guided Tour of the university [George Sq.]

[Monday 14th & Tuesday 15th]

"If it snows, know where to run for cover"

Meet in front of William Robertson Building [40 George Square] on:
  • Monday @ 11AM, 2PM or 4PM
  • Tuesday @ 11AM or 4PM
Learn to navigate your way across the George Square ocean and its surrounding seas!

Pub night @ Bannermans

[Tuesday 15th]

"Slaandjivaa means cheers in Scots Gaelic"

Meet @ 9PM outside the ISC Lounge [22b Buccleuch Place] or directly in B'mans [212 Cowgate, near Robertsons Close].

Our inaugural pub night with 3-4-2 on all drinks -  a must-attend...

Historical Tour of Edinburgh

[Wednesday 16th & Friday 18th]

"Athens of the North"

Meet in front of William Robertson Building [40 George Square] on:
  • Wednesday @ 2PM
  • Friday @ 1PM or 4PM
Come and see why is Edinburgh rightfully included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We will guide you through its streets and closes, telling you a bit about its history and history of Scotland as such.

Don't forget your cameras!

Arthur's Seat
[Thursday 17th]

"How many European cities have its very own vulcano?"

Meet in front of William Robertson Building [40 George Square] @ 2PM.

Walk up Arthur's Seat [251 m], Edinburgh's very own extinct volcano, for some stunning views of the city and its surroundings and go to the
ISC's Coffee Evening afterwards. Be sure to wear shoes with good traction!

Volunteers meeting
[Thursday 17th]

"WE need YOU!"

Meet at the ISC Lounge at 6PM.

We are looking for three kinds of volunteers:

- trips [if you know how to manage crowds & get things done]

- events [if you are creative, fun-loving & know how to get things done]

- lounge [if you are friendly & easy-going]

Please join us and you will get a reward that no money can ever buy you - working experience & many transferable skills [whether you are a CV hunter or not], we can guarantee that you will meet legions of amazing people from Iceland all the way down to New Zealand and most importantly, get that warm feeling right next to your heart, knowing that you dedicated your time to something meaningful!

St. Andrews Trip
[Saturday 19th]

"Also known as Cill Rìmhinn"

Home of golf, medieval cathedral, castle, Scotland's oldest university (Prince William studied there!), nice beaches - it has it all
- bite-sized too!

Tickets (£8) can be purchased at the ISC
Lounge! Get yours soon as they always sold out very quickly indeed - and we cannot take all of you with us!

Our GoogleMap - with all those important locations...

View International Student Centre Edinburgh 2009/10 in a larger map