Week One: Complete.
It has been such a whirlwind of a week. It feels like I’ve been here for so much longer than that. Here is a brief recap:
I chose to take the IFSA-Butler group flight, which departed Tuesday evening from JFK. Having never been on a plane for such a long period of time before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find a pillow and blanket awaiting me at my seat. I entertained the idea that I may be able to fall asleep during the flight. Unfortunately, my seat was located four rows from the galley, and three rows from a restless infant. I quickly crossed “get a good night’s sleep” from my to-do list. It wasn’t all bad, though; around 2:00am EST, a full meal was served—pasta in marinara sauce, salad, a roll, tea, and chocolate cheesecake. It was wonderful. The remainder of the flight consisted of cat naps, watching segments of Brave (I thought it was fitting), and occasionally opening the window covering to see if we had hit daylight yet. Eventually, we landed at London Heathrow, where we would wait for four hours until we could board the connecting flight to Edinburgh. After a series of bus transfers, we finally arrived at the hotel in the Grassmarket. Here may have been the first moment I began to fall in love with Scotland.
Through the window of the hotel dining room, we could see the giant Edinburgh Castle perched just above the city buildings. It’s the most surreal juxtaposition.
I think my body hadn’t fully realized the effects of the jet lag, so after a welcome dinner, I decided to explore the city with a group of girls from the IFSA-Butler program. We wandered about the streets for a bit, taking in the ancient buildings and cobblestone streets, before settling on a pub called Doctors. I highly recommend this pub to anyone who visits Edinburgh—the people there are friendly and the atmosphere is quite relaxed. It was a quintessential pub experience.
The next two days consisted of mainly information sessions, punctuated by tea time and chances to buy phones, bedding, etc.
On Friday, I finally was able to move into my flat at East Newington Place. My flat mates are very diverse, but equally lovely. One is from England, another from France, and the third from America. Two know how to cook, so I hopefully can get one of them to teach me a few tips. That being said, the self-catered accommodation has suited me well thus far; my first attempt at a lunch can be seen below. It actually tasted pretty good!
The rest of the week has been very busy. From attending various Fresher’s week events, to joining societies, to opening a bank account, to trying out different pubs, to finalizing my schedule, to grocery shopping… I’ll highlight a few of the more memorable moments:
- Finnegan’s Wake. This Irish pub is hands-down the BEST pub I have visited. The energy inside is absolutely infectious. A live band performs every night, usually performing covers of well-known songs. This particular band could not have been better. They played some of the best: Sweet Home Alabama, Walk the Line, 500 Miles, Stuck in the Middle, Folsom Prison Blues… And everybody in the pub was either singing along, tapping the rhythm, or dancing to the music.
- Societies’ Fair. Coming from a small college in Nowhere, Ohio, I was shocked at the sheer number and variety of societies (i.e. clubs/organizations) that was available to the student body. I joined quite a few, including the Music Society, the Neurological Society, the Folk Society, and the Composers’ Orchestra.
- Arthur’s Seat. I climbed a mountain. It doesn’t seem possible. But I did it. In fact, my hiking group climbed all over that mountain. We must have reached the top of nearly every peak in sight! It was an exhilarating / exhausting four-hour journey. There is nothing like laying down at the top of Arthur’s Seat (the wind is actually less harsh closer to the ground) and opening your eyes to nothing but the sky and a scenic view of the city. Until the hailstorms strike, of course.
- The weather. I just realized that I hadn’t mentioned anything about Scottish weather. It is constantly changing; the day of the hike, we saw sun, rain, (the tiniest bit of) snow, hail, heavy winds, a light breeze… All I can say is that I have learned to dress in layers.
Classes start Monday. I am both nervous and excited for them. Up until now, this whole experience has felt like a vacation. I’m ready to finally start my life as a student.