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.
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.
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.
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