Hello! If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either a family member or a friend and you’re already well-acquainted with my weirdness, but in case you’re a stranger who somehow stumbled upon this blog, I’ll introduce myself before getting into the nitty gritty details of the blood, sweat and tears I have endured in the first week of my exchange (okay, you caught me, mostly tears). I’m a 20-year-old born-and-raised Montrealer, and yes, everything you’ve heard is true. As a Canadian, I do in fact ride my polar bear from my igloo to school every morning, but not before I drink maple syrup straight from the bottle and eat salmon that I personally ice-fished. Okay, confession time: Canadians don’t actually drink maple syrup straight from the bottle. We pour it into glasses first. We’re not savages.
All kidding aside, I am a proud Canadian, fluent in English, French and Sarcasm, an undeniable nerd (see my Harry Potter book collection and/or superhero-themed suitcase for reference), a foodie, a secret musical theatre junkie, and of course, a hockey fan (as is my birthright).
For the sake of being honest, I have to say that this week has been overwhelming, particularly the first few days. In the months leading up to my departure, I had experienced increasingly frequent bouts of anxiety over matters that ranged in importance from “what if they don’t have maple syrup in Scotland?” to “what if I don’t make any friends?” Despite the nerves, I was obviously excited beyond belief for my year abroad, but I left Montreal stuck in a weird and exhausting middle ground between the two emotions. The terrifying reality of moving halfway across the world to a new country of which I had no knowledge and in which I had no friends only truly hit me about four steps into my new dorm room. I won’t say I cried, but I also won’t say that I didn’t. Needless to say, nearly a day of travelling takes a toll on you, and arriving late in the evening on Saturday, hearing dozens of kids in the halls who seemed to already be best friends certainly didn’t help. My mom may have been 5000 kilometers, 5 times zones, and one ocean away, but her voice rang clear in my head telling me to get a good night’s sleep and start fresh in the morning. And of course, even the imagined version of my mother was right. I woke up the next morning ready to move in and start meeting people. My lack of life skills worked in my favour here, as I made my first friends due to my inability to put a duvet inside a duvet cover. Once I had met a few people, my anxiety subsided and excitement took it’s place instead. After a night out with the first-years in my dorm, I decided that I needed to make some sort of effort to orient myself in this beautiful but confusing city. I’m not shy to admit that I have a comedically bad sense of direction, which, combined with far too much self-confidence and/or pride in my ability to get around has made for some very interesting (and incredibly embarrassing) detours in the past. As fate would have it, I happen to have chosen a city that is not only full of winding roads and a plethora of tiny side streets, but where even the main streets change names four or five times along the way (I almost believe that the city planners have done it on purpose to confuse tourists… Almost). In fact, if it weren’t for Google Maps, I have no doubt that I’d be in Glasgow by now, if not further. So on Monday morning I joined a tour of the city organized by the university, on which I learned nothing but more importantly met some fellow exchange students who’ve become my closest friends thus far.
As overwhelmed I was by the daunting move overseas, I was equally if not more overwhelmed by how beautiful this city is. Between the old intricate architecture that lines the city, the castle that sits in the city’s centre, and Arthur’s Seat overlooking it all, every angle offers a unique and equally stunning view. Princes Street in particular offers a gorgeous combination of old and new, with a range of modern stores and shops on one side of the street, and the castle on the other. I have so much exploring left to do but what little I’ve seen of the city thus far has already made me begin to fall in love with it.
I haven’t even gotten to my hike up Arthur’s Seat yet, but I think that’s more than enough rambling for my first post, so I’ll leave you here for now (on the edge of your seat, I have no doubt) and pick back up in a few days.