Before coming to Scotland, international students have heard of the Highlands and want to visit. They come because they want a good holiday with their friends and they want to explore the mountains and lochs.
Alltnacriche is ideal because, although it is easily accessible, close to the A9, people quickly realise they are in a different world, surrounded by the hills and the autumn colours of the trees. Students who have come previously are quick to sign up to come back. Our cooks are also pleased because the well equipped commercial kitchen facilities are excellent for a large group and we can provide first rate meals – our Scottish treats, desserts and Sunday lunch are well known and local businesses provide good ingredients.
There is space for people to do as they please around the centre. A few rarely emerge from the perpetual football match in the gym or play endless pool or table tennis, others relax by the stove in the lounge and drink coffee but between meals the dining room becomes a real hub – a table with toppling jenga towers, a table for board games, people discussing which outing they will enjoy with their friends. In amongst the mix, some of the students entertain us with songs, a dramatized parable, a story, a game, often related to our theme for the weekend. It’s a space for everyone and people come and go as they please, enjoying the home baking.
There are different outings for Saturday: a tour of Loch Ness finishing in shops and cafes in Inverness, a visit to Urquhart castle, staying around the centre to join in outdoor activities, an adventurous hillwalking expedition or an easy walk nearby. Alltnacriche staff help the students find adequate outdoor clothing for the walks.
In October or November, the days are short, so we return for afternoon tea with an art project, a discussion group focussed on a good story, or all the usual games. After the evening meal, we have a truly international ceilidh. Over the years we have included Slovakian as well as Scottish dancing, a Nigerian poet, brake dancing from the streets of India, songs from our music group and stories from our drama team.
Before we clear up on Sunday morning, we have the option of gathering to focus more closely on our theme. A variety of people from the group contribute. Others prefer to relax in the grounds. After lunch and the group photo, we load our luggage but there are plenty of interesting places to explore on the way home.
We come from most continents of the world. Many have only been in the UK a few weeks. The weekend is an opportunity to get to know one another and the start of many new friendships.
Friends International exists in most University cities in the UK. We are Christians who provide a welcome for all international students who come here and build friendships with them. We love to hear their views and share our lives and share the love of Jesus with them. The groups from Dundee and Paisley have visited Alltnacriche several times. About 150 people in countries around the world have great memories of our holidays in Alltnacriche.
We have booked again for this year.
Friends International, Dundee