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Handbook for International Students

Handbook for



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Handbook for International Students

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig would like to sincerely thank Kyle Carey, from Newhampshire in America, who was a student here in 2009 and who kindly wrote most of this handbook. We hope the information included in it will be of use to you while you are with us and, in Kyle’s own words,

Fàilte oirbh do shaoghal na Gàidhlig: gur math a thèid leibh!

Design Cànan |


Handbook for International Students

Visa Scottish Law 03.. Money 04. On the Plane 05. Getting to the College 06. Travel and Accommodation Links 07. Student Fees for International Students 08. Fees at the College 09. Health 10. Childcare and Schools 11. Driving in Scotland 12. Spending Money at the College 13. The Weather 14. The Internet 15. The College Shop 16. Religious Beliefs 17. Photocopying and Printing 18. Working at the College 19. Mobile Phones 20. Food 21. Getting Around 22. Stay Awhile 23. Culture Shock 24. Culture Orientation 25. Phew... Now Onto a Lighter Subject! 26. Useful Links






Handbook for International Students

01 Visa If you live outside the European Union you are likely to need a Visa. It can be a complicated process that you should start early as it can take up to six months to complete. You can read more about the process here: If you are required to get a visa, let the College know as soon as possible. If you need advice from someone at the College, contact the Admissions Officer at the College

02 Scottish Law A bheil sibh nur èiginn? Dial: 999 Some international students will have to register with the police when they reach Scotland. The stamp you get from the border guard in the UK will tell you if you need to do so. If you do, you should go to a police station within the first seven days of your residence in the country. When you go to the station, you should take the following documents: • Passport • Two photographs • Registration fee: £34 • Letter from the College

Ma nì sibh seo, cha bhi na poileas às ur dèidh!

’n ìle, ’n ìle ’S ann an ìle, rugadh mi ’S ann an ìle ’n ìle, ’n ìle ’S ann an ìle, dheach ’S ann ìle bhòi chan ann!!! ... t or h ic ir u ... F

Handbook for International Students

03 Money a’ gliogadaich ’s a’ gliogadaich In Scotland the pound sterling is used. There are a hundred pence in each pound, and there are coins for one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty pence, and for one pounds and two pounds. As for paper bills, these come in units of one (unusual, but can be found), five, ten, twenty, fifty and a hundred pounds. If you have a credit or debit card, you’ll be able to take money out from the Ionad Fàilte (Reception area of the College), without having to buy anything. The College has an ATM/cash machine and two different mobile banking vans (Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland) come to the College every week. You can get a bank account with one of the many banks in Scotland. International credit cards work at the College, as well as at the shops and hotels surrounding the College. For the most recent conversion rates go to: Your pockets will be jingling in no time!


On the Plane Tha mi a’ falbh, air an jet-itealan, chan eil fhios ’m cuin a thilleas mi... la, la, la, la, la... oops... duilich! During your vacation, make sure you buy your plane tickets early – ticket prices usually go up at the busier times of year. If you’re after cheap ticket prices, take a look at the RyanAir website: But be careful! RyanAir is cheap because they’re very strict in regards to baggage weight and if you exceed the weight limit, there are very expensive penalties. You can carry one bag on the plane free of charge, and check up to two bags for a fee, if they’re light enough. Bon voyage!



Handbook for International Students

05 getting here If you travel to Glasgow there are three options for getting to Skye by public transport. The first option is travel by train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Mallaig (approx 6 hours) and then catch a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Armadale on Skye (½ hour). You’ll need to plan ahead as the ferry timetable is more limited during the winter months. Check in advance to make sure that there’s a ferry waiting to take you to the other side! Armadale is situated two miles from the College and this is a lovely walk if the weather is nice and sunny and you’ve packed lightly, but there are also buses that run from Armadale past the College. As with the ferry, they run less frequently during the winter, so it’s a good idea to check schedules beforehand. The drivers will be happy to stop at the College for you. Alternatively, you can book a local taxi. The second option is to travel by train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Inverness (3-4 hours) and then from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh (2-2½ hours), which is linked to Skye by a bridge. There is a bus service between Kyle of Lochalsh and Sleat and buses to Sleat go past the College. Again, the service is less frequent in the winter and you will need to check schedules beforehand to ensure you don’t have a long wait. Alternatively, you can order a taxi from Kyle of Lochalsh to the College, a distance of around 20 miles. The third option is to travel by Citylink bus from Buchanan Street Bus Station to the Isle of Skye (approx 6-8 hours), arriving in Broadford, which is approximately 14 miles from the College. You can then get a bus from Broadford to Sleat, stopping at the

College or order a taxi to take you. Again, you’ll need to check the bus timetables in advance, as the service may be infrequent. If you are flying to Edinburgh, a train will take you to Glasgow Queen Street in around 45 minutes. Depending on when you arrive in Glasgow you may want to stay overnight before heading north. I prefer a little bed & breakfast place in Glasgow called the 1883 Guest House. It’s clean, quiet and cheap and what’s more you get a cosy bathrobe and a bit of chocolate with your tea. If arriving at Glasgow Prestwick Airport you can get to the B&B by taking the train to Glasgow Queen Street. With your airplane ticket, you should be able to get a half-price discount on your train ticket from Prestwick (just show your ticket to the conductor). If arriving at Glasgow International Airport, there is a shuttle bus to Glasgow Queen Street Station. Once you’re at Queen Street you can get a taxi to the B&B for about £7.

Handbook for International Students



Travel and Accommodation Links

Student Fees for International Students

1883 Guest House gd.html

Buses in Skye travel/local-buses.htm Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries Tel: 0800 066 0500 Nicolson Taxi Hire: Taxis in Skye Tel: +44 (0)1471 844338 Scottish Citylink Coaches Scotrail Trains Traveline Scotland Tel: 08712 002233 Visit Scotland

Student fees are higher for international students. However, you can submit a scholarship request to the College for financial support. Sometimes, Comunn na Gàidhlig can offer scholarships to students studying Gaelic, regardless of nationality. For more information take a look at: Also, if you’re a student from North America, you can submit a scholarship application to the Gaelic Committee of North America: scholarships They offer scholarships ever year to students studying Gaelic, both for full-time and short courses. Take a look at the British Council website as well, for information on scholarship opportunities for international students:

08 Fees at the College When you reach the college, you’ll have to pay a £100 deposit on your room, as well as the first part of your tuition payment. At the same time, you can pay your tuition and accommodation for the semester, or set up a plan to make monthly payments.



Handbook for International Students

09 Health Bidh ubhal gach latha a’ cumail an dotair bhuaibh, ach mura bi... As a student in Scotland you should receive low-cost or free health care. There is a health centre a very short distance from the College, and you can walk there and back in ten minutes. You should register with the Centre when you arrive at the College, by going to the Health Centre with a letter from the College that says that you’re a student. Let the receptionist know that you want to be on the NHS list, and if you are entitled to this, you should shortly receive a card in the post with your National Health Service Number. Don’t lose it! Under the NHS, appointments with the doctor are free for courses that run for more than six months. If there is anything of a more serious nature, or an emergency, there are hospitals in both Broadford and Portree. And if you’re experiencing emotional problems or suffering from stress, there is a counsellor at the College who you can speak with at any time. Exercise is easily available via local walks, hikes or jogging, but there are also trips to Kyle of Lochalsh every week to the Leisure Centre, which includes a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and gym. The College also has its own walking and climbing group, which goes out on regular excursions, usually at the weekends. And if that’s not enough, you may be able to plan your own trips using the College minibus.

10 CHILDCARE AND SCHOOLS There is a Gaelic-medium childcare facility, Fàs Mòr, situated at the College. It provides a safe, comfortable and stimulating environment for children aged 0-12 years. There is a Gaelic-medium primary school less than half a mile from the College, Bunsgoil Shlèite. The island’s secondary school is Portree High School which is 40 miles away and a bus is provided for schoolchildren who live in Sleat.

11 Driving in Scotland If you’re thinking about buying a car in Scotland, you should think about the extra expenses, such as insurance, road tax, maintenance and petrol. It’s expensive to rent a car as well and you often have to be twenty-five years old to do so. If you have a driver’s licence from overseas, this is valid in Scotland for up to a year. But if you bring a car with you from overseas, you’ll need to get green card insurance and bring the registration papers with you.

Handbook for International Students

12 Spending Money at the College If you live at the College, you won’t have to spend a lot of money and, most likely, your living expenses will be fairly low. All the same, you might want to put a bit of money aside for one or two things from the shop, drinks, books or a fancy dinner. If you go to a town or city on the weekend, you should expect to spend a bit more!

13 The Weather ’S iomadh oidhche fhliuch is thioram Sìde nan seachd sian... -Griogal Cridhe Although Scotland has a temperate climate, the weather on the island can be very unpredictable. The seasons are generally mild and wet, and there’ll be plenty of clouds and rain year-round. This is Eilean a’ Chèo, the Misty Isle, after all! So bring a warm jacket, boots that can keep the water out and (most definitely) a rain coat. The sun does shine between the rain showers but even these wet spells have their own particular beauty and contribute to the lush and wild nature of the island.


10 Handbook for International Students

14 The Internet Your family and loved ones will be happy to hear that there is wireless and ethernet available in each room and in àrainn Chaluim Chille (new campus), where the library and computer room are located. There’s another computer lab located at Àrainn Ostaig (old campus) up the road, so if you don’t have a laptop, you can use any of the computers in the computer labs. All are internet-accessible, so you’ll be able to call your mother on Skype! If you’re experiencing computer problems at any time, there is an experienced technical team that can lend you a hand. You’ll also get a student e-mail address from the College, essential for communicating within the College community and keeping up to date with events and announcements.

15 THE college Shop Meal do naidheachd andiugh, meal do naidheachd an-diugh... In the shop, you’ll find cards for every occasion; you can even buy your mother a birthday card in Gaelic! Surely, she’ll be impressed with your newly acquired language skills. On top of that, there are clothes, CDs, office supplies, a few basic things like painkillers and washing powder, and a wide selection of books – so go crazy!

Handbook for International Students

16 Religious Beliefs If you have religious beliefs, there are facilities and events that will sustain your religious life at the College. Every month, there’s a religious service at the College in Gaelic, and every Sunday, there’s a regular service down the road at the Free Church. On top of that, there is a minister who works at the College, who can speak with you at any time about any spiritual questions you may have.

17 Photocopying and Printing You can use the printers in the computer labs for free and you can buy cards to use with the photocopying machine at a very low price. When you reach the end of the card, you can put more money on the same card and use it again.


12 Handbook for International Students

Handbook for International Students



Working at the College ’g obair ann am mèinn guail, a’ dol sìos, sìos, sìos

Food Obh, Obh, tha mi cho làn ri crò!

You may have the opportunity to seek work at the College and how many hours a week you can work will depend on what kind of Visa you have. In many cases you should be able to work more during the break times. With the Tier 4 Student Visa, you can work full-time during the holidays. It’s better to submit an application form for work as quickly as you can, as many other students will want work as well! Every worker in Scotland must receive at least the minimum wage. Bear in mind that this changes every year but for the most current wages take a look at:

If you’re an international student, it’s more than likely that you won’t have a car. If this is the case, it will be a bit harder for you to get to the local Co-op shop in Broadford for food. Don’t be too worried though as you can get breakfast, dinner and lunch at the College as part of your room and board. As an added plus, or even an essential part of life, you’ll get to know the other students and lecturers if you eat in the canteen at meal times. You can buy candy, soda and tea at a low price, as well as sandwiches if you fancy a midnight snack. The canteen is also open on Saturday and Sunday until ten a.m. with hot breakfasts and open again at five p.m. for dinner. It’s also wise to keep a bit of food in your room. There are kitchen facilities available in every hall of residence with refrigerators, microwaves and kettles. Students with cars go to the Co-op often, and again, you can organise a trip with the College minibus. Employment/Employees/ TheNationalMinimumWage/ DG_10027201

19 Mobile Phones Hello? HELLO??? CAN YOU HEAR ME? Ah! That’s better! You can use your mobile phone in Scotland with the right SIM card but you may want to consider buying a phone in Scotland. You can get one for as little as £20, with pay-as-you-go top-ups.

There is also a small grocery shop in Ardvasar, just over 2 miles away. Cafè Ostaig at the old campus is usually open in the afternoons during the week where you can get tea, coffee and homebaking. Slàinte!


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21 Getting Around Buses go past the College and there is a service to Broadford or Portree, the largest village on Skye, which is approximately 40 miles away. There is also a train station in Kyle, which can take you to Inverness, and in Mallaig which takes you south. If you fancy a night in the city, catch a train or bus to Inverness or Glasgow. Sometimes other students will head to the towns and cities on the weekends as well, so don’t leave your Manolos at home!

22 Stay a while To keep more international students in Scotland, the Government has put in place a ‘Post Study Work Scheme’ for overseas students. The scheme is for those who have completed a HND, Masters, or a PhD at a university in Scotland, and have been living in the country during their educational years. Students who qualify can put an application in for two more years in Scotland, using the time to find work:

Handbook for International Students

23 culture shock Hmmm... Am fàileadh... An dualchas... Na h-aodaich? For many people, it can take time to adapt to a different culture, particularly at the beginning, and especially when you have to learn a new language. But don’t worry, the College is a very supportive place and you’ll become friendly and familiar with the community quickly. From time to time, overseas students might feel a bit lost and here are some of the different stages of culture shock you might experience: Ecstasy: You’re excited to be in a new place, everything is interesting and new, and you aren’t focusing on the differences in culture between the host country and your own.


Irritation: At this stage you will start to notice the differences between your own culture and that in your host country. You might become irritable over insignificant things and experience homesickness. This stage can be very difficult, however, most travellers experience mild symptoms of irritability and the next stage is far better!


Familiarisation: In a bit of time your outlook will change and you will become familiar with the new culture. You’ll feel more comfortable and regain your confidence.


Assimilation: At this stage you are confident and comfortable in the new culture, you don’t notice the things that once bothered you, and you take part in the traditions and ways of the new culture. Apparently, you can even experience ‘reverse culture shock’ when you go back to your old home!



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Cultural orientation

Phew... Now onto a Lighter Subject!

• Don’t wait for friends to come to you - take the initiative.

Most importantly try to make the most of your time at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and remember that, as an international student, you have a special part to play in the Gaelic world. Thank you for you interest and support of the Gaelic language–suas leis a’ Ghàidhlig!

• Become familiar with the layout of the College and the surrounding community. • Become familiar with local names and phrases. • Listen carefully when people are speaking, and remember, they’re not necessarily thinking the same thing you are. If you have a question, ask. • Speak Gaelic, even if you don’t have very much at the beginning. People will be pleased that you’re trying. • If you have pastimes, keep up with them in your host country and you’ll attract friends with the same interests. • Find comfortable places outside your room and spend time there. • Keep busy! • Speak with your new friends, or the counsellor at the College if you’re having problems– don’t keep your troubles to yourself. • Look at each problem on its own– don’t allow them to overwhelm you. • Be open to new views and opinions. • For more information on how to deal with culture shock, take a look at:

26 Useful Links A range of information, including the weather and the news: The British Council, with information for students in the UK: The Council for International Education, with advice and information: UK Border Agency: UHI Pages for International Students: international

International Student Handbook  

A guide for international students coming to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig