Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Time Flies

Today I officially only have two months left in Edinburgh. It’s a distressing realization, as I have come to completely fall in love with the city. I know it’s a cliché to say that your time studying abroad has been the best experience of your life, but in this case, it’s true. In this short period, I feel like I’ve grown and changed in ways I could never have anticipated and seen and done so many amazing things. I have made lifelong friends, tried new things, and found a place where I feel completely comfortable to the point that I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid homesickness entirely. Honestly, I’ve already spent a lot of time regretting that I chose to only spend one semester here and if I could do it over, I’d even consider coming to the university for the entirety of my college education. Since that isn’t possible, I’m trying to make the most of every single moment I have left. In that spirit, here’s an Edinburgh bucket list of sorts:


Climb Arthur’s Seat – if I leave the city without doing this, I will be incredibly disappointed with myself. How often do you get the chance to climb a dormant volcano in the middle of your new favorite city? It’s a must-do according to everyone who’s ever done it, and it offers stunning views.

Have a picnic in the Meadows – this one is reserved for when the weather eventually gets a bit warmer, but spending an afternoon in this beautiful park would be grand.

Go to a show or gig – though I have gone to a gig whilst in Edinburgh, I’d love to go to another. Glasgow is the music-oriented city, but Edinburgh also has a lot to offer and it’d be a shame if I didn’t take advantage of it. My friends and I also really want to go see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at the Festival Theater.

Spend the day in Leith – though Leith is technically part of Edinburgh, residents of both areas largely consider it a separate entity. It’s located directly on the coast of the Firth of Forth and would be a lovely place to spend the day as the weather continues to improve.

Go to the National Gallery – thankfully my friend Steph and I are going this week, but as both a student in Visualising Scotland and a tourist, a visit is a must.


7 Responses to “Time Flies”

  1. Priscilla Novom Says:

    Hi Anna,
    My daughter is in the process of applying to the Univ. of Edinburgh to study abroad next Spring break ( 2016) & I just found your blog as I was searching this website for information.
    I have enjoyed reading all your posts, looking/watching your amazing photos & videos.
    I think you’re a gifted writer! I look forward to reading your future blogs.

    I have a couple of questions for you:
    Did you buy your waterproof boots there in Edinburgh or did you bring them with you?
    Did you buy your bed linens there?
    Do you plan to travel once you are finished with your semester? If so, have you figured out where you will leave your extra luggage?
    Thanks in advance!
    Enjoy the rest of your time in Edinburgh!

    Be well :-)


  2. Anna Anna Says:

    Hi Priscilla!

    Thank you so much!
    In answer to your questions:
    1. I didn’t actually get rain boots (or wellies, as they’re referred to in the UK). People wear them pretty rarely, if ever. When it rains, I generally just wear boots, and for trips like Argyll weekend, I used bean boots from L.L. Bean that I brought with me from the US.
    2. I bought the bedding pack from the university, but to be honest it wasn’t really worth it. While it was nice to arrive at my flat with one less thing to worry about, the quality isn’t that great. I’d recommend going to Pound Stretcher or one of the other dollar store equivalents to get linens. The quality is actually pretty good. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend bringing linens with you is limited luggage space.
    3. I’m not traveling after the semester is over, mostly because I don’t want to miss my sister’s high school graduation. I do know some people who are, but I’m not sure what they’re doing. The only thing that comes to mind is either renting a storage unit or shipping things back home before embarking on the trips. Flats have to be emptied by May 23, so it’s not really an option to just leave things there. IFSA-Butler is really helpful, so if you got in touch with them and asked, they could definitely have an answer.

    Thank you again and let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help. Edinburgh is amazing and I’m sure your daughter will love it!

  3. Priscilla Says:

    Hi Anna,

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply!

    It sounds like you have a busy academic schedule. So other than the organized trip ( Argyll & Isle of Skye) & visiting your friend in London, do you feel you have the time to travel to nearby cities on the weekends?

    What would you do differently ,now that you’ve been there, if you could do it all over again?

    What advise would you give a friend regarding studying at U. of Edinburgh?

    Are you happy with your living arrangements in terms of the flat (apartment) you chose?

    I read that the flats are fully furnished, is this true? I mean are there pots & pans, dishes & utensils so you can use for cooking your meals? Are there laundry facilities near by or attached to the apartment?

    Thanks for the tip about the boots! Did you take a raincoat & do you wear it? My daughter has never owned a raincoat as it doesn’t rain much here.

    I just realized that I’ve asked you so many questions… Thanks in advance!

    I know you’re busy with your studies, so please take your time to answer.

    Thanks again!

    Be well & enjoy the rest of the semester!


  4. Anna Anna Says:

    Hi Priscilla,

    The academic schedule is definitely busy, but it’s not overwhelming and it’s definitely possible to travel, especially if your class schedule works out so you have a four day weekend. I know people who have traveled almost every weekend; I just chose to spend that time getting to know Edinburgh.

    I don’t really have any regrets, though there are a few minor things I would’ve done differently. I probably would be better at keeping track of my expenses from the beginning and would have opened my UK Santander account immediately to avoid fees. IFSA provides a lot of information on banking during orientation, but I just was slow to actually set up the account. This is kind of bleeding into your next question, but I also would have been better about staying on top of the readings. The UK academic system is much more student-driven with less contact hours and much higher expectations on the student’s ability to self-motivate and do independent reading and research. While it hasn’t necessarily affected my grades, I didn’t do a great job reading beyond what was absolutely required, which meant that when it was time for essays, I wasn’t as prepared as I could’ve been.

    I’m very happy with my living arrangements this semester. I live in a student flat called Hermits Croft. It’s 10 minutes from George Square (and that’s if you’re walking slowly) and though it’s pretty centrally located, it’s quiet. I also really enjoy having my own room – I don’t know about your daughter, but in my student apartment in the States I have a roommate. In Edinburgh you have a single and then share a kitchen and common area with about four other people. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to has been really happy with the self-catered flats, and I don’t think there are any that are too far from anything. That’s one of the perks of Edinburgh’s relatively small size.

    Flats are furnished in terms of pots and pans. You have to get your own dishes and utensils, but they’re very inexpensive at places like Poundland, Pound Stretcher, and Pound Saver. Since your daughter’s coming in the Spring, there is a chance that an exchange student could’ve been there in the fall and left things behind. I know when I moved in my predecessor had left behind some utensils and mugs.
    Laundry facilities differ from building to building, but in Hermits Croft the laundry facilities are in a building right outside the door. The washer is two pounds and the dryer is one pound.

    I did take a raincoat and now that it’s slightly warmer, I do wear it. The thing about Edinburgh is that the weather is that it’s really sporadic. There have been days where I’ve looked out the window to see what coat to wear and it’s sunny, but by the time I get out the door it’s started raining. And then in the time it takes me to get to campus that could’ve changed. The other day it snowed, rained, sleeted, and was sunny all within the span of an afternoon. A raincoat isn’t absolutely necessary, as when it rains it usually doesn’t rain really hard. As long as your coat is relatively water resistant, it’ll be fine.

    No problem – it’s a nice study break! Please let me know if you have any other questions at all. I really am happy to help.

    Thanks and have a lovely rest of the day!

    – Anna

  5. Priscilla Says:

    Thank you so much for the great information you’ve provided. I will make sure my daughter reads your blog.

    Her semester will end in about 3 weeks so she’s very busy with her studies now. She is also trying to find an internship for this summer.

    She mentioned that she wants to live in a flat but I forgot which one. Yes, she has had roommates these past 2 years, so it will be nice for her to have her own room.

    Thanks for the weather information! Hopefully the weather is much nicer these days.

    I know you took the group flight from the US to the UK. I’m just wondering if this is imperative or truly advantageous. Is this where you met your friends (Morgan & Karen) or did you meet them once you’d arrived there?

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer all my questions.
    Your blog has been very informative & I’ve enjoyed reading all your posts.
    Will you continue to write on this blog once you return to the US?

    Be well!

  6. Anna Anna Says:

    Hi Priscilla!

    Sorry it took so long to reply – I’ve been busy with exams. I hope your daughter had a good end of the semester.
    The only real advantage of the group flight for me is that IFSA-Butler staff meet you at the airport in Edinburgh and take you to the hotel. It’s very nice to see a semi-familiar face after hours of traveling and not have to navigate through a brand new city on your own. The group flight was also a nice way to become the somewhat familiar with the other IFSA students. I didn’t really begin to make friends until orientation itself actually started, but I was at least able to recognize the people I was having dinner with that night. And I actually didn’t really become friends Morgan and Karen until after orientation ended, so it’s also not a big deal if you don’t meet your best friends right away.
    After I return to the US there should be at least one post about reverse culture shock and transitioning back to normal life, and the blog should continue to be on the website.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions – I’m always happy to help!

    – Anna

  7. Priscilla Says:

    Hi Anna,
    Thank you so much for answering all my questions!
    My daughter’s final exams went well, thank you! I hope your exams went well also.
    I will make sure my daughter reads your blog as I’m sure she will enjoy it as much as I have.
    It’s great to see that you did have a chance to travel after all! I remember reading in one of your posts where you said that the semester was coming to an end & you still had a bucket list that you hadn’t completed.
    Is there a possibility for my daughter to email you if she has other more specific questions about the university, classes, etc..?

    Thanks again!


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