Sometimes I forget that I’m not a typical exchange student.
This past week, my other exchange friends reminded me that essays, tutorials, and societies still existed. These three things about Uni (University) life had far slipped from my mind once I began my internship. Although I do not miss the workload, the one thing I do wish I did was to join more societies. I did do the Music Society, but I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend the concert. I had booked trip to Ireland and realized at the next rehearsal for that concert was that same weekend. #fail
I admit, I do have a lot more free time compared to the other exchange students. But let me dispel your first worry that I probably sit in my room all day. I wrote in my first blog post that if I have spare time, I would spend it going out to explore a new part of the city. I am happy to say that I’ve been keeping up with this promise.
Things I’ve discovered so far on my spontaneous walks in the city include:
Some extreme and strange street performances. Its not uncommon to hear bagpipes on the streets, but my ears perked up when I heard Leonard Cohen’s, “Hallelujah” (one of my favorites). It was played via the flute pipes by a man wearing a Native American headdress. I also saw a man eating fire and another playing the violin while on a suspended line.
Delicious local food. The best food can always be found at farmer’s markets. I found a great one in Stockbridge that had some noteworthy Kenyan Samosas and Spanish paella. Yum.
Celebrity sightings. I only noticed that fame was in our presence when I saw the traffic commotion of…the Irish Rugby team in front of the Balmoral, aka the most expensive/grandest hotel in Edinburgh. I looked them up later and discovered that they are currently 3rd in the World Rugby rankings (as of 3/2/2015).
Each time I go out, I see more of why all my friends, professors, and advisors have told me that Edinburgh is one of their favorite cities. There is always music somewhere, the people in general are reserved, but friendly, the buildings are beautifully historic, and the city is so alive in its own Scottish culture, but also in other cultures. Its not uncommon to see an Indian restaurant, Pizza Hut, a Scottish tourist shop, and French pastry shop all in one row.
While it is easier to get plugged into Edinburgh city, it definitely has been more difficult to get plugged in at Edinburgh Uni. There aren’t many social events that unifies the campus like a football game or a Pig Roast would on a given Saturday. Rather, it’s a more common part of the European uni life to be part of the campus by being part of the communities already within the campus. Aka, by joining multiple societies.
But joining a society while doing the internship has been semi-difficult. There are interns who are actively part of societies; one of them recently had a show that we attended through the Opera Society and another two are part of the Sports Unions. But for me, the key to getting more involved at school and meeting more Scottish people has been to go to society events.
Just last night, I went to the Improverts Show, an improvise comedy society, and it was one of the best Friday nights I’ve had. My flatmate and I were warned that we probably won’t get tickets unless we bought them ahead of time. But fortunately we got in line early enough before they sold out. And I could see why we were warned. It was packed and hilarious. Its also a very popular Uni event because apparently, they sell out for every Friday show. That’s a pretty good track record.
Here is a snapshot of what the pre-show looked like:
There is never a shortage of events here at Edinburgh. This week, I’m going to a Harry Potter themed pub quiz, a theatre festival for social change, and my Scottish neighbor invited us to see her play, Candlewasters. I find out about most of these events through friends or my kind Scottish neighbor. There is no convenient “Spiderbytes” equivalent here at Edinburgh and you really have to dig through Facebook and read the posters throughout campus. But despite the sheer number of events, this has also meant that I’ve also been able to find a lot more entertainment/fun things to do that fit me better. It’s definitely one of the things I’ll miss most about Edinburgh.
P.S. If you want to check out the list of Edinburgh’s 240+ awesome societies for anything and everything, check out: https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/getinvolved/societies/findasociety/.