I stand in the airport ‘arrivals’ waiting for strangers. I don’t know who they are or where they’re from, but they’re coming to study here, in Scotland, and it’s my job to welcome them. I’m possibly the first Scottish person they’ll meet – and the face of Robert Gordon University – where they’ve chosen to study abroad for a period of time.
Soon they begin to arrive, one by one. Students come from far and wide; from Germany, India, the USA, Canada, Finland and Hong Kong, to name a few. Some appear apprehensive, reality hitting as they emerge from the warmth of the aeroplane and into the brisk Scottish air. I can see the relief in their eyes as they spot me, beside a giant sign reading: RGU: International Student Help Point. From here, it is my job to reassure, direct and offer advice and support.
Some students are quite confident and don’t need my help, while others require assistance with simple things like counting change for the bus or finding their luggage. One student doesn’t have accommodation arranged and looks terrified at the prospect of having nowhere to go. RGU have some fantastic staff on hand to help with such situations, and with a simple phone call to the Woolmanhill accommodation team, I’m able to arrange emergency overnight accommodation for the student before he finds a more permanent solution.
It is easy to forget how daunting it can be to enter a foreign country alone. Last year I studied abroad in Toronto, Canada, and working in the airport as an RGU Student Ambassador brings back memories of my own study abroad experience: I remember emerging from the airport terminal in Toronto and feeling completely overwhelmed, lost in the crowd and alone. Luckily, the Canadian college had their own student ambassadors who were able to help me out.
I see this opportunity to work as a student ambassador for RGU an opportunity to give something back to the university for all the opportunities and support they’ve given me over the years – especially study abroad. To help other students embark on their own study abroad adventure is completely rewarding.