Friday I’m in Love, Saturday I’m in St. Andrews
As the title of this post suggests, this week I will be discussing an event I went to called “Friday, I’m in Love,” as well as my day trip to St. Andrews on Saturday. But first I need to address the following topics and questions:
- The Scottish class system (as in the academic/university class system – I won’t be discussing the bourgeoisie, at least not this week)
- How many times can the weather change in a 30-minute period?
- How many potatoes can/should one consume in a week? (Spoiler alert: the limit does not exist. But also it kind of does?)
- If your team’s name doesn’t involve a pun of some kind, are you really fully participating in pub quiz night?
- This week was the first week of classes. As I mentioned in my last post, part of me was excited and ready to settle into what will become my daily routine in Edinburgh. Because I’m an English major and thus in the College of Humanities, I only have to take three, 20-credit courses. The academic system and structure at the University of Edinburgh (and, from what I’ve been told, throughout the U.K.) is slightly different from the system in the United States. For first and second year courses, there are huge lectures several times a week and smaller tutorials, where the hundred or so students are broken into groups, once a week so the material can be discussed and explained in more detail. Third year courses are generally seminars that meet once a week but also involve autonomous learning groups, where you meet with other students in your class independently and prepare for the seminar discussion. As of Friday, when I finally finalized my schedule, I am in one second-year course, called “Visualising Scotland” that examines issues like the role of the image in cultivating one’s view of another country or how one presents one’s own country. I’m also in two third-year English courses – Savage Laughter, a course about satire, and Medicine in Literature, a course that examines questions of medical ethics as they are presented in literary texts. I have one lecture or seminar every day, with one tutorial and two ALGs sprinkled throughout.
Even though there are fewer contact/in-class hours here, there is an equal amount of work, as students are expected to do independent reading, research, and work. In addition to the required readings for the class, I’ve been given bibliographies with as many as seventy suggested readings, of which I am expected to read a selection in order to round out my educational experience, allow me to follow my individual interests in relation to the course materials, and have a wider range of reference to use in essays and exams.
The academic system in Scotland also involves far less assessment, and often one’s grade in a course is reliant on a single paper and the final exam. While this means that there are fewer assignments, it also means that the few assignments you do have carry much more weight and involve much more work and stress.
- Five times. So far. It was cloudy, then raining, then sleeting (is that a word?), then cloudy again, and then sunny.
- Because Edinburgh is such a big and fantastic city that offers so much to do, my friends, Karen and Morgan, have been working to compile a bucket list of sorts. Most of the items are food-related and/or restaurants because that’s really where our priorities seem to lie. On Friday we checked another item off our list by going to The Baked Potato Shop for lunch. For those of you who don’t know, The Baked Potato Shop offers “the hottest tattie in town” and basically serves giant baked potatoes with pretty much any vegan or vegetarian topping you could ever want. I went for a classic with just cheese, but if/when I inevitably return, I could have anything from avocado to baked beans with my tattie. The portions are huge; I ordered a small, which is two pretty hefty baked potatoes. Not only was I unable to finish, but I was full for the rest of the day. So that was my limit for the day, but the day before there were potatoes in my curry and the next day I had crisps with my lunch and today I had chips with my dinner. Potatoes are inescapable and it’s not a bad thing.
Tonight Morgan, Karen, and I participated in Teviot Pursuits, the pub quiz night at the Library Bar. It was a lot of fun, but because a lot of the questions were geared towards a British audience (and also because we just didn’t know a lot of the answers), we came in last place. However, part of the problem may have also been that our team name was Dumbledore’s Army Reserve (as in we wouldn’t have been needed/wanted in his actual army) and not some clever play on words involving alcohol or the word “quiz.” We will be playing again in the future and rebranding ourselves as “Let’s Get Down to Quizness” because a) that’s a fantastic team name, and b) Mulan is the best Disney princess.
Okay, now onto the main subjects of this post.
Friday I’m in Love
The university of has a really active student union and actually hosts fun and interesting events on a regular basis. Because it was Re-Fresher’s Week, there were even more special events on tap than usual. Friday evening was massaoke, or karaoke where the entire crowd sings along to every song and instead of just playing an instrumental track, an actual band (Friday I’m in Love) performs the music. It was actually really fun, and you have not lived until you’ve jammed to “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” with a roomful of Scottish people.
On Saturday, the International Student Centre at Edinburgh sponsored a trip to St. Andrews, a small coastal town a bit north of Edinburgh. Morgan, Karen, and I all managed to snag tickets and got the chance to spend about six hours in the beautiful area. The bus ride was about 75 minutes, and besides the fact that we were all functioning on minimal sleep, was quite painless. When we arrived in St. Andrews, the bus dropped the group of three hundred or so Edinburgh students in front of the cathedral ruins. The first thing the three of us did was head to the beach and then walk towards the golf courses. Because St. Andrews is so small, we were able to see the vast majority of the town, if not the whole thing, in an afternoon. We walked through the city centre, explored the cathedral and castle ruins, ate at a fantastic pub where we were probably the only people under the age of fifty, and took countless photographs. The weather actually cooperated, and it was a brilliant sunny day. It was the first of what will hopefully be many day and weekend trips to places in the U.K., and the perfect way to spend a Saturday.