The International Aberdeen Welcome Project, a joint initiative between the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University, put on an Experience Aberdeen Culture Fair in Cowdray Hall at Schoolhill to welcome the newly arrived students to Aberdeen and give them the taste of what the Granite City has to offer.
The event, the first of its kind, was an immense success with over 600 overseas students representing a rich variety of nationalities coming along to get a taster of Scottish culture from food and drink to traditional performances.
Long queues formed as enthusiastic students browsed stalls featuring local food and drink, enjoyed fantastic performances from the Traditional Music Society and the Scottish Dance Society and were captivated by readings of Scottish poetry.
Information was available from careers, support and advice teams from student associations at both universities, and the event proved a fantastic opportunity for the students to get to know their counterparts from the other university. One group of Chinese girls said: “The fair is fantastic, it is so culturally diverse! The food is delicious and we love the music and the Scottish dancing! We are deeply impressed.” Meanwhile Jessica and Jana, newly arrived from Germany, enthused about how much they enjoyed trying the traditional beverages from Glendfiddich to Irn Bru.
Lord Provost of Aberdeen, George Adam, who gave a welcome speech to the newly arrived international students, said: “I am very proud that Aberdeen is a city of choice for so many students from different countries, and that its international reputation is rising. It is a beautiful city with a long history, and it has two of the best universities in the UK. This Fair plays a great role in the incoming international students’ cultural integration. Their involvement - and the involvement of the universities - will be one of the keys to us successfully bidding to be the UK City of Culture in 2017, and winning the title would boost the city’s international profile enormously. I wish the students an enjoyable time in Aberdeen and good luck with their studies.”
The organising team praised all the exhibitors for taking part with such enthusiasm, and the exhibitors also expressed their delight at how the event had exceeded their expectations. Andrew McDonagh from Red Frogs said “I am really enjoying my time here! It is a tremendous welcome event as it brings everyone together. And all exhibitors and the event staff are very helpful. We should have brought more food!”
The International Aberdeen Welcome Project is part of Student Welcome Scotland, a Scottish Government funded project run by the STRATOS Group. The Aberdeen project is part of creating a truly ‘National Welcome’ for international students when they arrive in Scotland.
In addition to the Welcome event, the project student intern team has created a website providing incoming international students with all the information they need for their new life in Aberdeen.
For more information about the project and the event visit the International Welcome project website