First three days in Edinburgh…
Goodbyes & Hellos
After having a tearful goodbye with Mom, Dad, and Meg at JFK, we hung out in the terminal until we boarded the plane around 5:30. Aidan (another girl from Fairfield) and I sat next to each other and almost had meltdowns when it looked like our seats were the only ones on the plane without TV screens (turns out that they folded out from our armrests….weird). We settled in for a not-so-sleepy 7 hour flight across the Atlantic. I was insanely jealous of the little kid across the row from me who knocked out with his gameboy five minutes into the flight…and then I hated him three hours later when he was wide awake and playing his game on full volume. He and his brother kept speaking both French and Spanish, confusing Aidan and I a lot until we decided that they must just be both French and Spanish and not speaking some hybrid of the two.
We sprinted through Heathrow after an agonizing hour going through customs and security, and barely made it on our 1 hour flight to Edinburgh. The sun rose just as we flew above Edinburgh, and I could have cried, it was so beautiful. We flew over Arthur’s Seat (a huge mountain in Edinburgh) and everything was green, green, green. The cab ride into the city was just as heart-breakingly beautiful–everything here really is cobble stone, old, and out of a fairytale. Edinburgh Castle is in the middle of the city and looms above the already-tall spires and turrets of normal buildings.
…is interesting. I was the first to arrive but I’m the only international student; the other four students are “first years” (aka freshman) who lived here last semester, too. I was surprised to walk into the bathroom and see the toilet seat up…and soon after found out that there are three of us girls and two boys. (And one bathroom). I asked for an adventure…I guess I will get one! When I looked out the tiny window in my room, it finally hit me that I am in Scotland…for five months.
We each have a single, and luckily I thought of bringing my duvet cover and pillowcase from home so it feels a bit more like my dorm room at Fairfield. I thought I would love having a single, and it’s nice…but I do miss sitting in Townhouse 16 with Lindsey right across from me and being able to lean back from my desk and see Diana and Kalee across the hall. I unpacked pretty quickly, took a shower, and then went off to explore on Nicholson Street.
Edinburgh has tons of consignment, thrift, and charity shops that line the block in bright colors. It seems like every building is either a bar, coffee shop, or charity shop! Nicholson St is really long so I got delightfully lost and did my shopping
at Poundsaver, where everything is one pound (the equivalent of 1.60ish in the US). I got some lunch at Elephants & Bagels, texted with Mom in the free wi-fi spot, and took it all in.
Jet lag wasn’t so bad, but my homesickness was. Even though I was in this beautiful city, one that I have dreamed about for almost a year, it finally hit me that I was going to live here for five months. I had only met one flatmate at this point (a girl from Leeds, England) and was feeling pretty lonely. It felt good to take a 45 minute nap and Skype with Mom, Dad, and mis hermanas. My flat, Kincaid’s Court, had scheduled a pub crawl for 7, so the Fairfield girls and I planned to meet up there and meet other kids living in my building!
We first went to Rush, a sticky bar with a punching-bag game in the corner that banged every time someone punched it. All of the local students said that it was a pretty seedy place, but I liked it…probably because it was the first place where I could show an ID, get into a bar, and then actually buy something. At Rush we met several Americans and a few local students from Scotland, including a Scottish guy who stuck with us for the rest of the night to help us order and find our way around. Adam told me to try Iron Bru, a typical Scottish soft drink that students use as a mixer. I ordered one at the bar, and after tasting a sip, realized there was absolutely no alcohol in it.
“What’s wrong with mine?” I asked him.
“Well, did you ask for whiskey in it?”
I thought that Iron Bru meant it came with whiskey in it…so funnily enough, my first time purchasing a drink legally was a semi-screwup. The bartender laughed at me when I returned, explained the way ordering works, and helped me figure out how much change to give him.
The next place was Bar 50, a classier bar underneath a hostel and more student flats. It was pretty packed with more of an older crowd, and by the time we got our drinks, it was time to head to the next pub.
Malone’s, our next stop, was an Irish pub that the local students say is very popular with the Americans. “I don’t understand why you all like Malone’s so much,” one of my flatmates from London said last night. But she was right–all the Americans in our group loved Malone’s. It was two levels and had a dance floor with a live band playing “Sweet Home Alabama” and the like. I got a half-pint of an Edinburgh beer that sounded something like “Duke-ess,” even though it’s probably spelt very differently.
We stayed at Malone’s for almost 2 hours, and I got back to my flat at a crazy 1:30 am. So much for getting a good night’s sleep on my first night in Edinburgh! I was very glad afterwards that I took that nap earlier in the day. My homesickness lessened when I was out with people and having fun. The pub culture in Edinburgh is very refreshing, although it was bizarre when one of RAs asked if I wanted vodka or wine right before we went out. Later on in the night, another RA ordered my drink for me. Very different from Fairfield! Bars seem a lot friendlier and relaxed here than in the States, most likely because all the kids are legal to drink. I’m looking forward to finding a real Scottish pub this weekend!
On Sunday morning, all of the international students had our orientation. Afterwards, Aidan, Michele, and I went shopping and then hung out in Aidan’s apartment for a few hours. At 4:30 it was already dark, so we hurried to Tesco (a really cheap, dollar-store like grocery store) and got groceries, then I began the 25 minute walk back to Kincaid’s. I got pretty lost but somehow managed to make it back home. I made my first meal in my flat (stir-fried red and yellow bell peppers) and met another flatmate (still waiting on one more). We went back to Bar 50 last night (Sunday) so that a few of our new American friends could watch the Pat’s game at 9 pm. We met two Texans and all hung out for a while. I Skyped with Mom, Dad, and Dev, texted with Meg while her plane to Sevilla was grounded, and finally made it in bed at 12:30.
I have my first class tonight at 4 pm, and now I’m sitting in the library to pass the time. It’s not as cold today as it has been the past two days, and I was actually a little warm in my down coat while walking from Kincaid’s to George Square (where the library is). So far I’m loving Edinburgh and getting used to being here. And trying not to get hit by cars.