Welcome to Edinburgh!

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Helloooooooo new students….

By now, you all will have your offers and hopefully are getting excited about moving to Edinburgh. Having been in your position before, I know the weird mix of nerves and excitement might leave you confused, so I am here to help you direct that excitement to a positive place.

In a post-covid world, not everything will be as expected BUT that doesn’t mean you cant have fun and enjoy welcome week!

With all the craziness going on at the moment, make sure to get set up and comfortable in your room. Give yourself a safe space with a taste of home to make sure you have somewhere you can relax. I definitely brought too much stuff to university (check the photo below !) and so would recommend lots of warm layers and coats – be prepared for the Scottish cold. Make sure you have all your home comforts too – dressing gown, blankets, pictures, things that bring you joy. Your room is your space so make it perfect for you.

Girl moves into her university room
As you can see, move in day was a bit chaotic!

On this note – STAY HEALTHY! I remember when I first got to university I ate whatever I wanted because I was away from home and I could, but then I got ill. If you’re in catered halls or non-catered halls don’t neglect to eat properly.

Based on my experience, lectures aren’t always the best way to make friends – so fear not. Firstly, the people in the closest proximity to you in your halls will be from all over the world and you might be surprised about what you have in common with them. Though there won’t be any large scale, in person lectures, there are so many other ways to make friends…

In the undergraduate Facebook group for instance, don’t be afraid to reach out or respond to posts. Join in the university community any way you can.

Similarly, there will be lots of socially distanced society events to get involved in. There are over 280 societies in Edinburgh, so you are guaranteed to find one with likeminded people! Whether you are looking to find friends with similar interests of passions, have a wander on the EUSA website and see what you might be interested in. Some of my closest friends are part of my society GeogSoc, so don’t be shy and get involved. The link to have a

Screenshot of the GeogSoc Instagram page
It is easier than ever to get involved in societies now!

browse for societies is here: https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/activities/societies/findasociety/

Though there won’t be any pre-planned socials, keep an eye out for how things might change in the upcoming weeks. Also, there will be online socials which can help you find friends safely, like the Post Pandemic Planet joint online webinar with Geogsoc and SDA (sustainable development association) on the 24th of September from 6pm.

There will be lots of online content which could boost your knowledge of your course, or help you make friends – so stay in the loop!

(Follow instagram, twitter and Facebook pages to make sure you never miss an opportunity)

  • In saying that, don’t feel pressured to do everything available in your first week! There is so much and there are always opportunities to do things in Edinburgh. Don’t try and do too much, you have four years!
  • One of the best things about Edinburgh is the myriad of things to do – the ‘Give it a Go’ fair in semester 2 lets you try things out for free if you missed it in freshers.
  • Use this as an opportunity perhaps to approach university with a different mindset – explore nature, focus on being kind to yourself, maybe get a job; there’s so many ways to interact with the city as a student.

Three students enjoy the sunset from the top of Arthur's Seat.

People tend to overdo themselves in freshers week with drinking – but there are daylight activities too!

  • Hike up Arthurs seat, Calton Hill, Blackford Hill
  • Go round a museum with a new friend
  • Get to know the city … together!
  • Outdoors based activities like golf at the Bruntsfield Links
  • Go and spend the day at Portobello Beach

So in short, Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the world to be embarking on your next adventure. Keep feeling excited, keep preparing and doing your research for your course. If you ever feel anxious, don’t be afraid to reach out, the likelihood is … everyone is in a similar place to you and this experience will be wonderful if you open yourself up to it.

Four students' shadows as they walk up arthurs seat.

A geography student’s top secret guide to Edinburgh

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I am a Geography and Social Anthropology student in my second year and I have to be completely honest, when it came to me choosing Edinburgh I picked it as my first choice before I’d ever been. I knew there was something drawing me towards this city and I didn’t realise what a perfect fit it would be for me until I moved in. I took a gap year to travel and amidst my travels I managed to squeeze a visit to the capital in and I automatically fell in love

Fast-forwards to freshers and I felt the EXACT same way. The city is magic

Now that I’ve lived here for a while I will let you in on some of my best kept Edinburgh secrets…

Explore your course options
  • Grrr boring right? NO! The sooner you get your head on straight understanding what you have to do for the academic year the more you can enjoy the rest of your life!
  • My best advice I could give is to stay on top of work and know what assignments you have. Sometimes creating a visual calendar can help with this.
  • The great thing about studying Geography at Edinburgh is you can choose your modules and tailor your degree to be more suited to you. I wish before I’d come to Edinburgh I had done some more research and got ahead on the key readings – most of them are super interesting.
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  • Enjoying burgers at the Boozy Cow.Edinburgh has an amazing underground food and beverage scene, and here is a way you can taste the best Edinburgh has to offer AND be sustainable too! Below is the Boozy Cow who do some of the BEST burgers in Edinburgh (no bias)
  • This applies to clubs too, some of the oldest institutional clubs in Edinburgh are tucked away. Sneaky Pete’s, Subway and Bongos on Cowgate are my personal favourites
  • Close to uni are some great dinky, reasonably priced places to eat
Strike up a conversation!
  • The people of Edinburgh are lovely, don’t be afraid

My family is Scottish, and there is something so distinct about the way that the people of Edinburgh make the atmosphere so calming and happy. One of the first thing I noticed was how friendly taxi drivers are (SO the opposite to my hometown of London). This is a feature of Edinburgh which makes it feel so safe

Explore BEYOND the city centre

Me with poster protesting for climate change.

  • There are so many beautiful experiences to be had beyond the city centre, for instance the beach? Arthurs seat? The Craggs? Holyrood park? Blackford Hill? Leith (best charity shopping in my opinion)….
  • Being in a capital city you can get involved with global movements !!! Me and my friends went to the climate march outside parliament in Holyrood.
  • There are lots of great music festivals at Edinburgh – like FLY, woodlands Me and my friend dancing at a festival.

 

 

And finally…. Get involved!
  • Lectures are sociable places, you can always go for a coffee after with your friends, or if the sun is shining hang out in George Square!
    People dressed up for the Ceilidh.
  • Join a society – I joined the Geographical Society and can never look back, some of these people are my best friends. (I’m social secretary and I get to organise the socials – the picture to the side is from our annual Ceilidh)
  • There are extra lectures put up by the RSGS which are fascinating and explore topics beyond the course materials.

SO, in short there’s many reasons why Edinburgh is fantastic. I hope you follow my guide and have the best years … ever. 

The Life of a University of Edinburgh Master’s Student: 7 Reflections from the First Semester

Reading Time: 7 minutes The Christmas holidays are coming to an end, which has prompted quite a bit of self-reflection on my experiences this first semester. Instead of keeping …