Social Influence

Edinburgh is a city filled with year-round festivals and celebrations that attract many people from all around the UK and the World. The biggest yet is Hogmanay – the Scottish way of celebrating the New Year. It is a three-day celebration that starts on 30th of December with Torchlight Procession and ends on 1st of January with The Loony Dook. Although I had not heard of Hogmanay before coming to Edinburgh, I am very glad that I was part of this Torchlight Procession during my stay in this beautiful city.

When Dan, Joni, and I first got our torches at the entrance, Dan and I immediately started guessing how much Heat Release Rate the torch would have and how fast would it burn. But then, after seeing thousands of people jammed on South Bridge, we started reluctantly thinking about people’s behaviour with a meter long lighted torches. According to BBC news, this year there were 20 000 participants and 20 000 spectators in the procession (1). Luckily, we witnessed no fire-related accidents during the procession.

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This semester in Lund, we are taking Human Behaviour in Fire class, where we learned about different theories related to human behaviour during a fire. One of the theories made me think about this procession. Although there was no emergency during the event, people’s behaviour, I think, is still relatable to the theory of Social Influence. According to the theory suggested by M. Deutsch and H.B. Gerard, normative social behaviour is characterized as people not wanting to stand out and making fool of themselves, hence behaving in accordance with what is expected from them (2). During the procession, torchbearers were walking cautiously and at the same pace. Nobody wanted to walk faster, bypass each other, or cause discomfort to others. Although there were some that stopped during the walk to get that “Picture perfect” photo of themselves walking with a torchlight, by which they caused disturbance to others. I must confess, I also wanted to stop and get a good photo of mine taken during the procession. However, following a classical case of normative social influence, I wanted to avoid glares and judgment of people, so I chose not to do so (although I have some good photos before and after).

Overall, being part of this procession was a memorable experience. Many thanks to Dan and Joni for quality time.

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References

  1. Brown, Angie. Edinburgh torchlight procession creates giant Scotland map. BBC News. [Online] BBC, December 31, 2018. [Cited: February 27, 2019.] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-46721188.
  2. Nilsson, Daniel. Exit choice in fire emergencies – Influencing choice of exit with flashing lights. Lund : Lund University , 2009.
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Winter break

After a very short and intense semester, my fellow classmates and I wanted to kick off our official winter break right after our final deadline at 4pm on 21st of December, which we did. We kicked off by throwing a Secret Santa party at Dan’s place. Dan and Joni kindly offered to host this party, Joni made an amazing vegetarian marinara sauce, and Karim and I helped her out by cooking different types of meat to meet everyone’s dietary restrictions.

As you might have noticed, since it was the Secret Santa party, everyone came prepared with their gifts and kept their recipients in secret. Overall it was a great party where we finally got relaxed, talked about something other than classes, and laughed. Since the conditions of the gift exchange were to find a funny gift under 10 GBP, I must say the gifts were funny and imaginative. You can see the photos below:

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Then everyone went separate ways to spend their winter break. I myself stayed in Edinburgh up until New Years. I visited all touristy places, had traditional turkey dinner at Dan and Joni’s place on Christmas, went to Hogmanay Torchlight Procession with them (which I will post later), and spent quality time with friends on New Year’s Eve after which left for Berlin to have a mini European trip.

P.S: sorry for making this post late, I just needed an excuse to share the photos from the event. Photo credit: Dan and Joni.

A Thank You Note

In honour of an upcoming Thanksgiving Day celebrated in the US, I want to write what I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful to the IMFSE program for giving me an amazing opportunity to spend two years in Europe to obtain an advanced degree at excellent universities and work with exceptionally talented people. IMFSE is truly a one-of-a-kind program:

  • Consists of a diverse group of students who share a common mission and interests.
  • Has established in its short existence an excellent reputation within the fire safety engineering community
  • Has a course structure that embodies the current and future needs of fire safety
  • Affords an opportunity of mobility to see and experience the world. 

I am spending my first semester at The University of Edinburgh along with six other IMFSE students.  It seems like we started the courses just yesterday, but already is about to finish. These two months were more than enough to get to know my classmates in this wonderful program – Seven students from seven different countries with seven different backgrounds and seven different personalities who became one diverse family. Although we are different,we complement each other: wisdom, wit, kindness, openness, mischief, sarcasm, fuss. A family that is always open to help you overcome your insecurities. A family that makes sure you are on track in your studies and not lagging. A family that I have come to trust in a short period of time. I am thankful to have this newly-gained diverse family. 

Although busy and feeling the stress of pending exams, the excitement of what comes after overshadows the worry and gives me motivation to go forward. Our next stop, Lund, is where we will get to know our other classmates, who are now in Ghent.  I am sure the next semester will be as memorable as this one.

To all who celebrate Thanksgiving Day: Happy Thanksgiving! 

To all who are getting ready for the final exams: Good luck!