“Welcome” is…

…by Jana / from Germany / studied at The University of Edinburgh on exchange as part of ERASMUS+

Welcome is much more than a word. It is a feeling. Filled with excitement and the thrill of a new beginning. It’s being invited. Invited to come and stay and to share your story. It means being allowed to be yourself and to feel at home in your new surroundings. It is openness and warmth and a stranger’s smile. “Welcome” – that’s what coming to Edinburgh feels like.

Three weeks have now passed until I hopped on a plane, heavily over-packed, but sure ready for one of the biggest adventures of my life: Spending two semesters abroad at the University of Edinburgh! That’s three weeks of speaking English, meeting people, attempting to understand the weather and dressing appropriately, settling in and most importantly starting to feel at home.

Stepping of the tram that took me from the airport to the heart of the city, the first thing I saw was the castle. Right in the middle of town on top of a hill, very hard to miss. And then there were the university’s posters, in bright colours, all over the place, welcoming students to Edinburgh. These welcomes wouldn’t stay the only ones and I can now say that all the small and big welcomes have made settling in and feeling at home heaps easy!

With International Day as a kick-start right into Welcome Week, I found myself being overwhelmed by all the diverse activities, events and socials. Not just once have I struggled to decide between two or three events, being reminded of a German saying: “You can’t dance at two weddings at once!”

As a third year exchange student, I’ve been through Fresher’s time before. But that was nothing like Edinburgh! Not only did I love the broad range of stuff to do – coffee crawls, Scottish dance workshops, picnics, information talks, the language café, Whiskey tasting, society meet and greets (…). The overall friendliness, openness and curiosity of each and every one I met made this week a very special one.

Summing it all up pretty well, there’s a touching statement from the Principal’s Welcome Ceremony, that’s stuck in my memory since:

Welcome – and we mean it!

These first three weeks have been a blast! Thank you, Edinburgh, for welcoming me.

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