Tallest Man in Edin-brr-ah
The past two weeks have been a marathon. Not only have I had to start classes and (quite unfortunately) homework here at the University of Edinburgh, but I have also had to write papers, complete projects, study for finals, and take finals for my classes back at Princeton. Needless to say, adjusting to a new school and country when still tethered to another school with finals looming, all the while attempting to make friends and be social is not an easy task by any standards. I could have taken the primrose path and spared myself this two-week masochistic sprint by choosing a study abroad location that began Spring semester around a similar time to Princeton’s warped schedule, but then I would have missed out on the beauty of Edinburgh and the challenge of having to (for lack of a better phrase) be in two places at once…and that’s just not my style.
Thankfully, my years inside the academic-automaton incubator of Princeton equipped me with top-notch study habits, not to mention the ability to function intelligently on 3 hours of sleep, consummate levels of coherent stream-of-consciousness writing (a.k.a. BS’ing), and the masochistic tendencies ascribed above. All “jokes” aside, I really have appreciated my undergraduate experience thus far. Coming to Uni (short for university: colloquialism used in Europe) in Edinburgh, I expected an academic atmosphere perhaps not exactly the same as what I have been accustomed to, but somewhere on par with my prior scholastic experiences. To my surprise, I have found the academic environment to be quite refreshing. Student independent-based learning has always been present in my classes, but the UK system takes it to the next level. Weekly assessments (problem sets, quizzes, etc) are less stressed, with more emphasis being placed on intellectual discussions in class and individual engagements with readings. Translation: little to no work on a weekly basis, and lots of work in the weeks before finals since in most cases they are the only graded assessments. Admittedly, I have a small sample of classes to base my conjecture on, but through conversations with other study abroad students I find my conclusions unanimously validated.
This fact made finishing up finals back at school in the states not as stressful as it could have been. However, my success was not the result of my effort alone. The staff at IFSA-Butler provided beaucoup resources to help with acclimation to the university system and overall living in Edinburgh. My girlfriend Sydney was always there to give me encouragement, boost my confidence, and also make me laugh with her usual assortment of sarcastic quips. Lastly, the support of my family and friends back home, and the new friends I have made in Edinburgh kept my focus unflinching to the very end. Special shout-outs to Dan, Allen, Elizabeth, Hannah, Rachel, Sophia, and Travis for their help and support while I toiled away in my work dungeon for two weeks! I would not be where I am today were it not for the tireless efforts of those precious people around me who not only help me reach great heights, but give me reason to.
While on the tangent of heights, I feel it only necessary to give attention to my first order of business after officially finishing finals at Princeton. To commemorate my victory over junior fall classes, I proceeded to climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh which peaks at 823 feet. During the few minutes I stood atop Arthur’s Seat, I gazed unto the city below me and smiled as the tallest man in Edinburgh.