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School of Engineering Blog

School of Engineering Blog

A blog for students, staff, alumni and friends of the School of Engineering.

New city nerves: Memories of arriving in Edinburgh

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By Kevin, MSc Advanced Chemical Engineering

In realizing my dream of becoming a student at the University of Edinburgh, I had a journey filled with emotions and exhilarating experiences.

While settling in a new country might feel like a vacation, it’s also a terrifying new beginning filled with lonely nights, immensely overwhelming days, and lots of uncertainties. It felt like a lot at the time, but I now look back on it fondly.

Although it’s hard to describe my experience in words, here are some of the most memorable moments from my first few weeks in Edinburgh and how they shaped me as a person.

The smell of new air…

I still remember the feeling of my heart thumping against my chest as the flight began to touch down on unfamiliar ground. As I disembarked from the plane after a long 20 hours journey from India, my mind rushed with hundreds of thoughts.

Am I walking right? Are those people staring at me? Am I dressed weirdly? Can I make it here in this new country? What if the people in Edinburgh do not like me? Should I just quit this dream and go back to my country?

Upon smelling the uncomfortable air around me, every hair on my skin stood on end, and the corner of my eye was ready to shed that one tear, which probably would have been the beginning of my emotional breakdown. Since I had never been out of my native country, I immediately started missing my loved ones back in India. But the unexpected smile and friendly chit-chat of the cab driver made my day brighter than the sunshine.

The warm welcome from the strangers of this Neo-Gothic city stunned me. It might be the kind gesture of the property owner at the guesthouse, the pleasant greetings from the strangers while walking on the pavement, or the empathetic smile of the cashier at the convenience store that eased the straining weight on my heart and made me feel at home in the city.

My love for magic was sparked when I explored Edinburgh, the birthplace of Harry Potter, giving me a glimpse into the world of wizardry and filled my heart with curiosity and joy. As I explored more, I met strangers who soon became my friends, and my lonely days faded away with their company.

Gosh, the chaotic Welcome Week!

It was physically and mentally draining moving into my new place because of the radical change in familiarity, but the Resident Assistants (RAs) in the University accommodation helped to make our first few days as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

RAs are usually continuing students who live in University accommodation to provide support and guidance to other students living there. The fun networking events arranged by them allowed me to meet many like-minded students around the world and learn about their cultures. Listening to their passion vindicated my decision of choosing the University of Edinburgh.

Well, putting down roots in a new home can never be easy, can it? Our perfectly planned schedule to attend the University’s Welcome Week events went to rack and ruin, as we had to run from store to store to buy the essentials. Amidst this stressful exertion, attending a few of the events lightened our spirits. I still remember the evening when I was completely immersed in the miniature golf course, one of the Welcome Week events, and letting the feelings of stress and profound anxiety ebb and dissolve with the game.

Other events like hiking up Arthur’s Seat (a hill formed from an extinct volcano in the heart of the city with breath-taking city views), bookshop crawling, a picnic at the Meadows, and Harry Potter tours not only helped me to refuel my exhausted mind but also unfastened the mysterious gate of historic and beautiful Edinburgh, giving me a break from the exhausting moving-in venture.

The unnerving first week of first semester..!

As we started our first day at the School of Engineering, the Director of my programme – the MSc Advanced Chemical Engineering – was incredibly helpful in giving us a sneak peek into the year ahead. Having someone to guide us through this journey was reassuring and comforting to my confused mind.

I was excited to meet my classmates from different backgrounds and cultures, and exchanging experiences with them helped me to make friends quickly. Additionally, our cohort Student Advisor and fellow lecturers took us on an Arthur’s Seat excursion as a class, and their friendliness and sense of humour made us laugh, which helped me to connect with them.

I felt exhausted and overwhelmed when I left my familiar surroundings for a new country, and my inner self constantly told me to give up. Nevertheless, I am glad I chose the University of Edinburgh as the place to pursue this rollercoaster adventure, since their support and facilities helped me to settle very quickly into this unfamiliar setting and to become an independent, self-sufficient individual.

The journey may seem impossible and overwhelming at times, but remember that the University, the School, the teaching staff, and the people around you will be there to assist you and help you row in the open ocean.

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