Turning 20 and welcoming darkness with light.

Hi there, and welcome back… in time?

Once a year, we’re allowed to cheat and go back in time, just an hour back. I’ve always hated that because it means that my beloved October is coming to an end, and days are becoming shorter. I turned back in time, and then I turned twenty. It feels weird, dropping the ‘teen’ at the end of your age. Though I most certainly wouldn’t want to be thirteen again, I’ll miss being a teen, and using that as an excuse for every awkward or stupidly adventurous thing I did. Until last week, ‘Well, I’m not even twenty, so who cares!’ was my motto.  But somehow, cold November has found its way back to us, though we still get to enjoy blue skies most of the time, which is marvellous! I don’t know where the past two months have gone. I feel at home in Edinburgh, I’ve completely settled in, yet I don’t want to admit how fast time goes by, and would prefer to think the adventure only just began! Anyway, enough with my reflections on the passing of time. Darkness creeps in earlier every day, but let me tell you how Scotland welcomes darkness with light!

In France, November comes with plain bleakness. Days grow cold and grey and there’s nothing more to it. Here, darkness is celebrated in such a way that I actually came to embrace it, and avoid the post October depression –for now at least.

Samhuinn is the Celtic New Year, celebrated on Hallowe’en night. I learnt in class that it was considered as a day belonging neither to summer, nor to winter, during which the spirits of the dead wandered between two worlds. In Edinburgh, it is celebrated nowadays by a procession of artists bearing torchlights down the Royal Mile, and acting a play representing the fight between summer and winter, in which winter wins. The warmth of the fire, the crowd of people, some of whom were wearing frightening costumes, and the mystic atmosphere of the play were incredible! Unfortunately, you’ll have to rely solely on my words; I didn’t take any pictures because it was pouring.

The other event to bring light to the first few dark days is Bonfire Night on November 5. It celebrates the failure of Guy Fawkes in his attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, and more generally the victory of Protestantism over Catholicism, mostly with fireworks and sometimes with bonfires. I climbed Calton Hill with friends to catch a glimpse of some fireworks. It was freezing but still enjoyable!

Apart from that, I’ve been kept busy by schoolwork, obviously. Writing so many essays in so little time is stressing me out, but taking breaks is important to stay on top of things and avoid drowning in coffee, tears, or books – delete as appropriate. Thus, I’ve enjoyed an afternoon wandering in the cobbled streets with a friend, ending with a much appreciated afternoon tea in cosy Clarinda’s Tea Room. I’ve spent a wild, crazy, indescribable weekend of racing and partying in Manchester with the cross-country club. I’ve also run to Portobello Beach on an impulse only because I wanted to see the sea, and ended up seeing some of the best autumnal sights of Edinburgh on the way. Finally, I’ve enjoyed an unexpected birthday party with my lovely, thoughtful flatmates.

Then, there are the smiles on people’s faces, the literary chats with someone whose favourite authors are the same as yours, and all the other little lights which make your year abroad what it is, and make you enjoy every single second of it.

See you later,

Inès

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