Exams, hiking, and the ramblings of an exhausted student

Whether you know me or not, if you walked up to me on the street right now you could probably tell that I’ve just been in an exam. My eyes are slightly bloodshot, my face is a mixture of worry, relief, and exhaustion, my hand is slightly cramped, and I am absolutely covered in ink.

The tale-tale hand... ink smears everywhere!
The tale-tale hand… ink smears everywhere!

One of the traps that a lot of study abroad students fall into is underestimating the exams. I can hear you all now…. “Oh, god… I don’t want to hear about exams. I have had enough of those as it is. Can’t you just move on to the fun stuff?” Well, unfortunately, study abroad is not just a giant vacation. Yes, I plan on travelling through Scotland and hopefully through a bit of Europe as well (although my main focus will definitely be the British Isles), but that doesn’t mean I can fail my exams.

The problem is, Edinburgh is very lenient and self-directed. Coming into an environment like this after having had so much assessment at Cornell was kind of shocking, and motivating myself to study and work just as hard as I would there has definitely been an adjustment. Granted, it has been a lot less stressful than Cornell… but you have to work nonetheless.

NOW! On to the fun stuff, because I absolutely don’t want to think about exams anymore (and if I see another piece of Greek Art today I think I might scream!)

Edinburgh is a very active city, and one of the things I have been doing when I’m not studying is hiking. I’ve already mentioned Arthur’s seat, which I have climbed four times thus far. It is by far one of my favorite places in the whole city, and you may think climbing it so often is excessive but it has different moods depending on when you go and what the weather is like.

View from Arthur's Seat of the Crags in the Rain, Early Fall
View from Arthur’s Seat of the Crags in the Rain, Early Fall
Me near sunset on top of Arthur's seat. Aren't I tiny?
Me near sunset on top of Arthur’s seat. Aren’t I tiny?
And descending as darkness falls
And descending as darkness falls

But Arthur’s Seat is not the only place for hiking, especially once you get out of the city. Two weeks ago I went to a place called Callendar with the international student center, and it’s right on the border between the highlands and the lowlands and absolutely gorgeous! Waterfalls, crags, and cliffs are just a few of the many wonders you can see there. The only problem is that not all of the trails are very well marked, and there are no good trail maps… so we hiked up to a waterfall and crossed a very lovely bridge…


And unbeknownst to us, were supposed to turn around, going down a nearby path to finish the loop. Well, needless to say, we ended up walking a LOT further than we had originally planned down some gorgeous country roads and to the Callendar Crags. But with views like this and a spot of nice weather, who’s complaining?


This wonderful adventure reminded my just how much I like exploring, because if we had stayed on the trail we never would have seen this. I had started settling into a routine, and there is so much of this city that I still don’t know, and hidden gems around every corner. I hope to see as much of it as I can, especially before the winter weather begins. You can be sure I will be spending as much time as I can outside, because my favorite season is finally upon us and Edinburgh wears it gracefully:

The fall colors are so lovely :)
The fall colors are so lovely 🙂

P.S. There was a faint rainbow here a couple of days ago, and because I love rainbows so much I feel the need to share. Can you see it?

A faint rainbow above George Square, the Salisbury Crags, and Arthur's Seat
A faint rainbow above George Square, the Salisbury Crags, and Arthur’s Seat