This post comes to us from Meghan Chayka from the University of Tampa. Meghan is currently studying abroad with API in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Halò again my fellow world travelers! Hello from Edinburgh, Scotland!
I have completed the last day of week 3 classes for me (as I have no Friday classes), and I already love the university so much, I don’t want to leave!
Since you last heard from me, I have done a TON of exploring, both with API and with some friends, for there is so much to explore, the possibilities are endless!
Currently my list of attractions around the city includes; the Edinburgh Castle (an API excursion which I will expand on later), Holyrood Palace & The Abbey, The Scottish Whiskey Experience, The National Museum of Scotland (which was FREE), St. Giles Church (I even went back after my walkthrough visit, to attend mass), Circus Lane (the most photographed street in all of Edinburgh, see photo), Hotel Chocolate (a café that has the BEST hot chocolates in town), a TON of coffee shops (to name a few; Brew Lab, The Milkman, Black Medicine Coffee Co. and SO many more), George Street (has lots of yummy restaurants including the famous Dome, a fancy high tea restaurant that a friend and I made reservations at for our Downton Abbey inspired day), survived Burns Night (a Scottish celebration on January 25th, in honor of the famous poet Robert Burns, where people dance and eat haggis all night long), got invited to some new British friends birthdays (that I have yet to attend as they are coming up soon), conquered doing my first load of laundry at my flat (which resulted in my dryer clothes coming out dripping wet), but it’s all part of the process, as its only just week 3 and I have so much more to explore!
WOW, that’s a long list! I’m already tired all over again just reading it! But without a doubt I will be going back to some of those locations again, such as the Holyrood Palace (where her royal highness, the Queen of England stays when she’s in Edinburgh), because for a flat fee of 16 pounds, any university student can buy a ticket with the added perk of a year’s worth of free entries back to the grounds!
Aside from the Palace, as I previously mentioned, I also visited the Edinburgh Castle with API as a part of a Cultural Event that I got to partake in, an event that brought the whole group together to share in a local experience for a little while! Upon arrival to the castle, my API site director, Alexis, greeted our whole group at the top of the Royal Mile, on the bridge right before the entrance to the castle. Now while there is a fee to view the magnificent piece of history, one of the great perks about choosing to study abroad with API is that they buy all of your tickets for excursions ahead of time so you never have to worry about paying to partake in the events once you arrive.
Once the tickets were handed out, Alexis told our group that we had free reign to tour the castle, to stay as little or as long as we would like, for the rest of the day was free! So, my amazing new-found friends and I hiked up the bridge to the castle doors, scanned our tickets and then spent about 4 hours walking around the castle walls! Inside the castle grounds there is so much to see, everything from reading historical galley signs to taking break taking photos, I can now tell why Edinburgh is often nicknamed the Athens of the United Kingdom!
Now of course, aside from exploring I do attend class. My three courses include Scandinavian Civilizations, The History of Edinburgh and Visualizing Scotland, all of which I love and find fascinating! One thing that is a lot different from American universities compared to my one here in Scotland, is the idea that the professors here in Edinburgh expect you to do a lot of the work yourself by actively reading posted sources before class so that they don’t have to spend the time lecturing to you about things you should already know or have read.
Furthermore, in America, if your university is at all like mine, throughout a semester you may have 4-5 exams/ test, a good amount of hand-in little assignments, an essay, and points for participation throughout your time. However, here at the University of Edinburgh it is quite typical for classes such as mine, to only have two components that your grade is based on; a mid-semester 2000-word essay and a final exam, that’s it, your whole grade lies on just two marks, so while attendance is not recorded I highly recommend attending class. Don’t worry, it might sound scary, but I promise you your grade will be fine, and you will find resources to adapt to this new school structure. While I am taking all elective courses (ie. not related to my major), it helps that I find my courses fascinating, combined with my personal work effort, at this point in the semester I don’t feel overwhelmed, I just know I need to keep myself on track.
Without further-adieu, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, you are now all caught up with my University of Edinburgh life over the past week and a half! Between now and the next time you hear from me I will have visited the Harry Potter Bridge and the city of Glencoe, Scotland, gone to Costco’s in Edinburgh (YES that’s right I just found out that they have one here!), had week four of classes, chilled at a few more coffee shops and encountered some magical Scottish moments that have yet to be discovered (by me)! I can’t wait to tell you all about my upcoming adventures next time I write to you…
Until then my fellow traveler….