Welcome Week and “Being Brave”

So, it’s my second week as an international student in Edinburgh and I’m only getting around to writing my first blog now.

I know, I’m a cruel, neglectful blog-parent. I just hope that you can forgive this terrible oversight on my part and that we can start again on the right foot.

Hello, my name is Rosa. I’m a twenty-year-old student from Dublin and I’ll be spending this academic year in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh being beautiful

When I first started to tell people that I was doing a year abroad in Edinburgh, their responses were less than reassuring.

‘Wow.’ They said. ‘You must be so brave.’

This might not sound like the worst response ever, until you imagine it in other contexts:

‘I’ll have the Vegetarian Lasagne’ You tell the waiter.

‘Wow.’ He says. ‘You must be so brave.’

‘I’m thinking of wearing this dress tonight.’ You tell your best friend.

‘Wow.’ She says. ‘You must be so brave.’

‘I’m going to spend the night in that abandoned lighthouse.’ You tell the townsfolk.

‘Wow.’ They say. ‘You must be so brave.’

The reality is, ‘you must be so brave’, is often not-so-subtle code for ‘that’s a horrible idea, but have fun.’

The truth is, I’m not particularly brave. Plenty of things scare me; spiders, loud noises, identical triplets. I would have to say that right at the top of the list of things-likely-to-send-Rosa-into-a-terrified-tailspin is ‘spending a year alone in student accommodation totally unable to make new friends while all her old friends forget about her.’ It is for this reason that I made my way to my student accommodation on Saturday the 10th of September with more than a little trepidation.

The Bar under my student accommodation on Blackfriars St

‘Emily Dickinson was a recluse.’ I told myself. ‘And she was pretty cool. I’m sure I’ll be a cool recluse too.’

The Poet Emily Dickinson #LifeGoals

Fortunately, (unfortunately?), I never got to see whether I would make a cool recluse, as Welcome Week has been far from reclusive (I’ll stop saying ‘recluse’ now, sorry).

Welcome Week, and the week that has followed it, has been an absolute mess (in a good way) of new and interesting experiences. Somewhere in between learning how to cook and clean for myself, I’ve managed to experience “the big cheese”, see Edinburgh Castle, walk up Arthur’s seat, join several societies, accumulate multiple wristbands from various clubs, and witness what the Scots choose to call an ‘Irish Pub’ (Irish pubs back home generally don’t have multiple stories, flags hanging from the ceiling and green lighting- see below).

Malone’s Irish Bar

My Edinburgh Freshers week has actually been far more social than my own Freshers week (which I believe involved a lot of Netflix and food), probably because being away from home, in a new city, surrounded by new people, motivates you to be social in a way that being a bus ride away from your parents and bed doesn’t.

If I could give any advice to people considering doing a year abroad it would be that you don’t have to be brave. It’s normal to have fears and uncertainties when deciding to move to a strange country by yourself, especially if it’s your first time living alone. There are many reasons why you might decide not to do a year abroad; lack of resources, etc, but fear should not be the deciding factor.

My names Rosa. I’m twenty. I’m not particularly brave, but I’m still an Erasmus student and, so far, I’m having a pretty good time.