Give Me Patience, Give Me Time

So I landed in Edinburgh in the wee hours of this morning, hitched a taxi to school with my friend, picked up the keys to my rented kingdom, successfully located and entered said room, and even introduced myself to one of my flatmates on my way out.

I thought I was doing well. I hadn’t even forgotten my keys like I’d been afraid of doing. They jingled in my purse as I wandered down the street. I admired the stately brick buildings, and the odd spire that jutted into the blue sky, which for today was clear of the infamous Scottish rain. The air was unexpectedly brisk, but refreshingly so. My pre-departure worries seemed to be evaporating with the clouds.

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And then I got to the corner.

I stopped, completely flustered, quickly pulling my foot back onto the sidewalk. It hadn’t occurred to me that I would have difficulty understanding the traffic lights, so much less prominent to me than their Canadian counterparts. And in my distraction, I hadn’t noticed that the pedestrian walking signal was still red, and had tried to continue because there were no cars passing.

Which was strange. The cars perpendicular to my motion had stopped, clearly waiting for their traffic light to change. In Canada, this would usually mean that the lights would allow me to walk as well. But, oh well. I stepped back a little more and waited.

And waited.

Those cars passed. The cars going in the other direction passed, and then it was the first cars’ turn again. Still the pedestrian light stayed red, denying me. I leaned over and pressed the button again.

Eventually I noticed that the people around me were simply stepping onto the street when the road seemed clear enough, with the calm and speed of a pedestrian with pedestrian’s rights, as opposed to the jaywalker’s guilt that I was expecting. I clued in.

By this point, I was the only one on the sidewalk. And in the end, it turns out all I needed to do was take a quick look to see that these cars were not going to be moving, and then I was stepping forward and crossing the street into ongoing traffic.

The rest of the day was similar. The streets, initially so beautiful to me, became an inescapable labyrinth as I paced up and down South Clerk Street, desperately looking for the one cute little brick building, unexpectedly mundane in a city full of brick buildings, that I remembered from the taxi ride was the administration office at East Newington Place.

My friend was similarly lost, and we found each other wandering aimlessly about a half an hour later. Our combined knowledge made it possible to find the office. We then made our way to my friend’s dorm and spent ten minutes on the landing, trying to open a door that eventually turned out to be two down from the flat where she actually lived.

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We got it eventually, though, and that’s the important part. To my fellow Scoobies (Scottish + Newbies): persevere! You’ll figure it out. Until you do, take comfort in the fact that you will not be lost on your own.

And also, can anyone me what it means when the line that separates the car lanes becomes a zig-zag? It’s been driving me crazy

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4 Comments

  1. musicompsci says:

    I had a near-death experience trying to cross the street today(yesterday?). I misinterpreted the lights and had to sprint out of the way of an oncoming bus. The street lines make no sense to me yet, I’m as lost as you are.

    1. gwycheung says:

      Oh wow haha! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one… Especially the traffic lights are so confusing to me! The yellow lights for cars work completely differently from in Canada lol
      How’ve you been settling in so far otherwise?

      1. musicompsci says:

        Right now? Honestly terrible. I’m having massive accommodation issues to the extent that I might have to go home. I am rapidly getting better at crossing the street, though. I’m from Kingston, everyone jaywalks in Kingston. I’ve gotten into jaywalking far earlier than I should do. Also, a tip – don’t trust the green person on the walk signal, the bus might not see you or bother to stop anyways, that was the second time I almost got run over by a bus. One thing to keep in mind is that the cars have the right of way here, so they’re not obliged to not kill you if you walk in front of them.

      2. gwycheung says:

        Oh no, that’s awful! =/ It would suck to have gotten all the way over here only to have something like this mess it up for you. I hope they’re able to fix it! Could you also look for some private accommodation too, if it doesn’t work out? I heard there’s a forum, studentpad or something, where you can look for some
        I… did not know that. Whoa. Thank you! Haha that changes everything…
        I’ve been getting better at finding my way around too! I was way too early for the St Andrew trip tickets line up this morning (are you going to that?) so I just wandered around George’s Square trying to figure out how I’d get to class

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