In the time since you last heard from me, I’ve been a complete tourist here in Edinburgh. Since I only have one semester here, I’ve been seizing every opportunity to explore the city. Thus, I believe I am now qualified to write the following guide: if you ever stop by Edinburgh, here is the breakdown of all the places!
For every tourist:I don’t know why you would only stay for a day or two, but if you really have no choice and cannot cancel your subsequent trips to Glasgow or England (just kidding! Those places are lovely, too), then these are the sorts of things that people do when they only stop by.
How much: £16.50 (adult) = approx. $24.50 (conversion rate 1.53, according to Google)
The castle is a giant walled fortress on a hill, constructed for defense. Today, the castle is filled with museums about how it was used. The Honours of Scotland (including the crown jewels!) also reside in the heart of the castle, and they’re gorgeous. They’ve been through a lot, and the museum walks you through how they were smuggled to safety, hidden away, and rediscovered multiple times. My favorite was the part about prisoners of war. During the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars, prisoners of war were kept in the dungeons of the castle. American POWs were treated like pirates and were given a chunk of bread a day, while European POWs were given hearty, balanced meals with some meat and vegetables, too. Most surprising was that they were even given a pint of beer every day!
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct basalt volcano in the heart of the city. It’s a short trek with different paths that suit hikers of any expertise. The view from the top (as well as the hike up) is breath-taking: Princes Street is fun to identify, as well as each of the spiraling towers of various monuments. To the northeast is the massive blue ocean. I’ve climbed twice to catch the sunset, but naturally Edinburgh’s autumn brings clouds at just the most inconvenient moments. If you make the trek, make sure to bring a hat to stay warm, but watch out for the wind! During my more recent attempt with some friends, the wind whipped at us really strongly. Fortunately, it was blowing us into the mountain rather than plucking us off!
Auld Reekie and Mercat both offer great ghost tours of the vaults. There are also several stands along the Royal Mile. The tour guides are talented storytellers, and their stories sent waves of chills dancing down my spine.
On a related note, check out the Real Mary King’s Close! The tour guides each assume a character from the Close and lead you through what was once a vibrant market area.
Those are some of the basic things that every tourist must do! If you have more time in Edinburgh, check out my next few blog posts for information about cafés, museums, and more!
wish you were here + keep lookin’ up,
ps: again, if you have any questions about studying abroad or Edinburgh, feel free to comment and i’ll answer them in a post later!
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
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.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!