Abroad with the Scots

Abroad with the Scots

After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.

“A view of the city from Arthur’s Seat”

Lots of Buses and Bagpipes

The campus of Edinburgh University is a city campus, which means that accomodation and school buildings are scattered around and integrated into the city. As a Georgia suburbia girl, I’m still getting used to the high energy and movement of living in a city. I, along with the another Caltech abroad student, am living in university accommodation in a twelve person flat with other international and local Edinburgh students. They’re all lovely people with unique backgrounds, life stories, and accents. We’ve already shared many dinners in the common room discussing which words are pronounced differently in our home towns and how bizarre many of them find American health care costs and gun laws (or lack-thereof). Being able to hear the life experiences of my flat mates from a variety of different countries has allowed me to expand my own perspective about the world and see the world through a different pair of eyes.

With Great Clubs Come Great Colds

“Friends and I reveling in the iconic red phonebooths after a night out”

I’ve even had the privilege of sharing new life experiences with them as we’ve adventured out in the lively and rainy city together. The first week of the term at Edinburgh is called fresher’s week, which is a week of social and academic events where incoming students get to learn about university resources, meet other new students, and party at the hundreds of nearby pubs and clubs. I got to share some memories with my new-found friends during this week until we all came down with a cold they call the “fresher’s flu”. At that point, we spent the nights in together with movies and lots of tissues. We eventually mustered up the energy to hike a nearby historical, extinct volcano called “Arthur’s seat” together as is local tradition for the start of classes. While the start of classes is usually something I dread, I’ve been really appreciating having in-class discussions about conservation and attending in-person biology field trips after too many terms on zoom university. As my first week of senior year classes comes to a close today, I can tell the themes of this term are going to include newness, learning, and growing.