The Beautiful Edinburgh

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Здравствуйте (“Hello” in Russian) from Edinburgh (pronounced “Edin-bruh”)!

It’s been a busy but amazing 2 weeks here in Edinburgh so far!  My 24 hour travel journey began in my hometown of Hilo, Hawai’i on September 11th, 2015.  My flight was a total of 18 hours to LAX, then Chicago and after a 3 hour delay (due to aircraft maintenance)… to Edinburgh!

First of all, I want to apologize for not being able to write sooner.  Classes began here at the University of Edinburgh last week, so I’ve been so busy running many errands for school, getting acquainted with new people and adjusting to my new home and the huge time difference between Edinburgh and Hawai’i!  Plus having a lot of fun, too!  :)

Once I arrived in Edinburgh around 12pm on Sunday, September 13th, my body was exhausted because of the 11 hour time difference between Hawai’i and Edinburgh.  It was 1am in Hawai’i when I arrived, so all my body wanted to do was sleep.  The jet lag stayed with me for a week… and it was brutal!  I would be so tired all the time and wanted to crash at 4pm every day.  But this past week has been amazing because I am finally rid of it and fully adjusted to the time difference!

The Russian program at the university is amazing.  I am taking 3rd year Russian Language, which is composed of a variety of weekly meetings including grammar, translation, oral, home reading, and what we call “fast track” (designed for an accelerated pace of learning).  I am especially enjoying translation, to my surprise, and working out the homework for translation has been a fun, new challenge.  I am also taking two 4th year Russian Literature classes which are super interesting!  I love them because the classes are conversations and discussion based.  My professors are open, friendly and speak English when necessary, so it’s very easy for me to understand the material and the meaning behind what I am learning.

I joined the Russian Society, Japanese Society and the Exchange 360 Society (a society for exchange students).  I’m also looking into some volunteer work for TEDx events and getting involved with fundraising for charity.  Almost all students participate in societies (clubs) here and they are HUGE!  I have never seen this kind of student participation in my life after studying at 2 completely different universities before coming here.  There were at least 400 people at the Japanese Society event I went to last week Sunday and the auditorium it was held in was jam-packed!  So many people come out, it’s incredible!  And there are societies for literally EVERYTHING!  There is even a Yugoslavian Society, as well as a Renaissance Singing Society.  Talk about diversity, I love it!  :)

Initially, I did not want to live in the residence halls here, as I am used to living in an apartment in Seattle.  However, my mom encouraged me to live in the dorms for safety reasons and to have food prepared for me every day so I could focus on my studies.  It turns out that mother is always right, and I am loving living in the dorms!  I have my own room, which is actually larger than my room in Seattle and I have a sink with a station for getting ready that I love.  It’s also extremely social and easy to meet people from all over the world in my dorm!  I would highly recommend dorming for a student who is not interested in a homestay, versus living in a private flat.  It has certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone in terms of meeting new people!  There are 2 bathrooms shared by the 6 of us in our corridor.  One is called the “shower room” because it has a single shower and the other one is called the “bathroom” because it has a bath tub, while both rooms have a toilet and sink in each.  The shower took me a while to get accustomed to because it is a tiny little square and makes me feel claustrophobic.  But, it is Europe and everything is compact here, even the cute, little cars!  I never realized how spoiled I am in Seattle and back home with my big showers and car!

I have been pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone here is!  The people are warm, kind and willing to help in any way they can.  I’ve quickly become friends with 2 Australian girls (also on exchange) living on my floor who are so sweet!  We hang out every day whether we are going to breakfast together, class or a social event.  One of them is half Greek, so she even took me to the Hellenic (Greek) Society’s social event where I was pushed out of my comfort zone to meet people of a totally new culture and to attend a society event I never would have thought of joining on my own!  I’m so glad we did it together because it was so much fun, as well as interesting and rewarding to learn about the Greek people and culture while meeting new people!

It can be quite difficult trying to explain to someone that I am from Hawai’i, go to “uni” (the British slang for “university”) at UW in Seattle and that I am studying Russian in Edinburgh.  Thankfully Edinburgh is an international city and many people here are from diverse backgrounds and lived in several places, so they are generally understanding!  There are also many new British terms I have been picking up on, such as “queue” for standing in a line or “clashes” for a scheduling conflict with classes.  A worker at the bank also thought I did not know how to spell “cheque” (the British term for “check”) because I spelled it as an American would, “c-h-e-c-k.”  But I’m learning.  :)

I love it here because you never know what you’re going to come across each day.  There is always something new to discover, whether I’m just on my way to class or going to my first rugby game with friends like I did this past weekend.  I’ll do my best to post weekly!

Until Next Time,

Megan