October + November = Rough Times (feat. Lots of Food)

Well, well, well. It’s almost time for the end-of-semester exams and I’ve only thrown up a scant few blog posts. I am here, friends, to explain. And then fill you in.

The main reason for the lack of posts is that my hard drive crashed and was completely wiped in mid-October. This was obviously a wholly unwelcome intrusion into my technology-fueled life. Combine this with five essays, a fractured nose, shin splints, and an unexpected bout of – not homesickness, fit of nostalgia? – and, well, you get the picture. Or not, actually, because they were all on my broken hard drive.

Luckily, what I had taken on my phone is still accessible, so I’ve decided to just throw up the hodgepodge and some thoughts to go along with it. (Warning: this post is very garbled!)

Me and my mom took a quick selfie in front of Princes St Gardens before I moved in.
Me and my mom took a quick selfie in front of Princes St Gardens before I moved in.

I miss my parents and my sister, of course, and I knew I would. I’ve been away from them for long periods of time before, but I’ve never dealt with a time difference. It’s extremely annoying, but staying up talking to my family until 1 or 2 in the morning is never something I regret.

My first foray into pie crust... delicious!
My first foray into pie crust… delicious!

I have started to enjoy cooking a lot more than I thought. I think it’s because I have become mostly divorced from my normal creative outlets (sports – thanks, nose and shins!; my various music ensembles; unlimited access to a piano less than a 5 minute walk from my dorm). I have started to get more ambitious and more experimental. For the first month I think I only made slow-cooked beef dishes (hello meatballs, hello goulash!), but now I’m shelling out the time and £££ for more complicated dishes. I’ve fried chicken now, made shepherd’s pie and empanadas – which combines spiced meat and a dough – kind of like a calzone.  I made pie crust by hand for them, which was surprisingly fun. Working with my hands and puzzling over converted measurements takes me out of whatever is going on in my day and puts me totally at the mercy of time pressure, chopping, the scrape of a pan on the stove… My mentality has shifted from “cook to survive” to “enjoy cooking as a leisure activity” and my palate has been enjoying the shift.

Apparently "the best hamburger in Edinburgh"... certainly the closest I've found to an American hamburger.
Apparently “the best hamburger in Edinburgh”… certainly the closest I’ve found to an American hamburger.

More food (you’ve been warned). My flatmate Jordyn and I went to this place, a 10-15 minute walk from our flat.

What a tasty pun...
What a tasty pun…

We had both been craving a little taste of home, and decided to put the good reviews of Burger Meats Bun to the test…. I was not disappointed, but for some reason hamburgers just aren’t quite as satisfying here as they are in the states. Still, it has been nice to get to know my flatmates more as this process has gone on, whether through our weekly takeout nights (Saturday curries are a GO!) or our trips to the Christmas market, our nights out or our flat Halloween party, our movie nights in…

Yes, that is a BOX of food for the six of us... delish!
Yes, that is a BOX of food for the six of us… delish!
View from the ferris wheel at the Edinburgh Christmas market.
View from the ferris wheel at the Edinburgh Christmas market. Photo creds to my flatmate Maggie!

As we were decorating for Christmas yesterday, I mused out loud, “Do you ever wonder what your experience at Edinburgh would be like if you weren’t in this flat?” One of my flatmates looked me dead in the eye and responded “Awful!” Certainly, she probably still would have had a good experience, but we’ve really gelled as a flat in a way that has made my experience much easier than it could’ve been. I am learning a lot from them, and having a lot of fun with them, too.

Waiting for the bus has never been so beautiful.
Waiting for the bus has never been so beautiful.

The weather – let’s just say it’s been much better than expected. The fall has started to cool down into a perfect November. Often it’s sunny, and I’ve been lucky to experience high temperatures and low winds. I haven’t pulled out my winter jacket yet, and checking the weather back in Massachusetts always gives me a chuckle.

Old College at the start of the evening - stunning.
Old College at the start of the evening – stunning.

Riding the bus as the evening is creeping into the city is one of the most beautiful commutes I could imagine – seeing the old buildings lit up and grasped by the new evenings – I could never do it justice. Come see it for yourself if you ever get the chance.

The view from my evening commute. Not too shabby.
The view from my evening commute. Not too shabby.

I’ve also been exploring a little more; I’m definitely more comfortable wandering from my beaten path to scout out new places to visit knowing I (roughly) can get myself back to my flat or city centre without much trouble. It’s always fun to drag friends along, and I plan to use December to try and insert myself into this city much more than I have been. There’s some lovely areas around my flat that I’ve barely even touched!

Stumbled upon this view while taking a circuitous route to a friend's flat.
Stumbled upon this view while taking a circuitous route to a friend’s flat.
One of my first nights in Edinburgh, took a wrong turn down a popular street and was rewarded with this beauty.
One of my first nights in Edinburgh, took a wrong turn down a popular street and was rewarded with this beauty.

At this point, I’ve never been more sure of my decision to stay for the year. I know that the toughest parts are just coming up – missing my family for the holidays and gearing up for another semester after a steep learning curve – and I can’t imagine having to leave right now, with all the challenges of the new semester laying unfaced. Staying the year may be one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I can feel myself becoming more confident in my decision to separate myself from my family, my school, my country, and my friends for 9 months. When I write it out, that aspect of study abroad always seems insane, and in many ways it undoubtedly is, but without doing insane things how would we grow?

A post-workout burrito is never a bad idea... tex mex lives in my heart.
A post-workout burrito is never a bad idea… tex mex lives in my heart.
Splitting desserts with acquaintances - surefire way to friends status.
Splitting desserts with acquaintances – surefire way to friends status.
Maybe the most beautiful loaf of bread I've ever seen.
Maybe the most beautiful loaf of bread I’ve ever seen.

Of course, I had to end with some more food. All purchased and consumed with new friends – the most social of all my endeavors may be mealtime. Although it has been very hard to adjust to a new school and city, I feel good about this final stretch of the semester. Things are slowly starting to settle into place – another reason I couldn’t imagine having to leave now.

Hopefully it will not be as long until my next post! Until then –

Lauren C

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