It’s three weeks into the spring semester and things are picking back up. Classes are sorted, competitions are happening and life is slowly returning back to normal.
For me, the spring semester has always been the hardest. You have last semester’s routine, but even if it doesn’t change dramatically, sometimes the smallest tweaks can send things derailing in major ways. Traditionally, spring is usually when I decide to add half a dozen things to my plate, so I’m trying to use this semester as the one where I stop the pattern of taking on more than I can sanely handle. I’m pleased to say that aside from a few minor bumps (mainly related to my attempt of overloading on classes because I could… I know, I know), everything is going smoothly.
Along with all the joys a new semester brings, I have a new flatmate! She adds another nationality into the bizarre mix we have (two Americans, one Scottish, one Swedish, one Bulgarian and now one Canadian), which further proves that our flat is never dull! Although the majority of our interactions seem to be at odd times of the night and almost always include chocolate cake (not that I’m complaining!), and the six of us seem to have found a rhythm fairly quickly. Another bonus- I have a travel partner to Turkey over Innovative Learning Week!
I’m slowly becoming more and more aware of how little time I have left in this city I never want to leave. Today is the first day of February, and I leave on May 25. I’m trying not to see it as a countdown filled with negativity at the thought of having to leave, instead taking it one day at a time, but it’s quite hard. In the middle of all the day to day, I find myself thinking about my looming thesis proposal (eek!), how I’m going to schedule myself next year so as to prevent excess amounts of stress, on-campus jobs/housing, etc. I’m stressing myself out for no reason at the moment, but it just adds to the impending sense of doom (not to be too overdramatic).
So, with this in mind, I’ve also started thinking about who will be taking my place next year on this little blog and what words of wisdom I have at the moment. In no particular order, have 5:
1. Walk. A lot. As soon as you get here, you’ll realize how hard Old Town can be to navigate. Being without a smartphone with data, I’ve had to get better at learning my way around without an electronic aid. Not only does this help with the getting lost bit (which isn’t aided at all by the constant road name changes), but some of my best memories so far include those 10pm walks and getting minorly lost, expanding my mental map of the city and illuminating the nooks and crannies of Edinburgh’s charm that a map can’t convey. Also, I now have the ability to give semi-intelligible directions to tourists (although that could be contested by my flatmates…)
2. Societies. I really can’t emphasize this enough. Finding friends is hard no matter where you go, and while you might keep up with that great person you met during Fresher’s week and spent the entire time with, in all likelihood, you’ll never talk to that person again. So join a society, find a new passion, start volunteering, whatever works for you. For me, that’s been the archery team, and I can’t imagine this experience without them.
3. Housing is a pain. But it’s also wonderful. I have a wonderful set of flatmates, who I wouldn’t trade for the world, I get to cook on a regular basis and feel like I might actually be an adult, and I have more freedom than I could have dreamed was possible in uni housing. That said, our flat has the charming tendency to stop producing hot water in the middle of your shower, my room is a mini-sauna for no apparent reason and has a mold problem, the fridge is far too small for 6 people, and I live on Cowgate. Would I choose it again? Absolutely. Do I wish I had known these things were a possibility? Absolutely.
4. This uni is not your home uni. Otherwise known as “this is a very large school and you are just a tiny cog that no one really cares about”. Yes, there are people who care. For example, my personal tutor has been fantastic in that regard and very willing to help in whichever way possible. But aside from the people who, well, have to care, the lecturers, the bureaucracy? They don’t. And that’s ok. Coming from a small, 2,200 person campus, I’m used to having all my professors know my name because I’m only in a class with 15 other people. So it’s an adjustment, but it’s one I’m glad to have experienced. Plus, it means you don’t have to make small talk with your professors every time you run into them in the coffee shop.
5. Find your place. Which sounds vague and existential and I couldn’t tell you what my place in the world/life/take your pick is if I had to, but I’m really talking about that little out-of-the-way coffee shop, or that corner in the library that you can just be (and maybe also do homework). But finding a place that’s yours in some tiny way that isn’t your room makes all the difference between living in a place and having that place become home. It might take some time (I know it did for me), but once you find it, it’s the best feeling.