“Hiya” from Edinburgh!

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“Hiya” (Scottish greeting for “Hi”) from Edinburgh!  Whenever I walk into a store or business here, the person greeting me says this, which I am still getting used to!  Today is a very windy, cold, yet sunny day in Edinburgh.  I am taking a break in between classes to write you from the Elephant House Café that J.K. Rowling wrote “Harry Potter” in!  This is my second time here and it is a quaint café that is conveniently a few steps from the University of Edinburgh.

The past 2 weeks have been absolutely insane, so I apologize for the delay in my posting.  I had a fever last week, saw a GP (General Practitioner/Doctor) on Monday and have just been battling a really bad cold for a while now.  It’s getting better and I’m hoping it’ll be completely gone by next week.  But I think it has something to do with the flu shot I took the day before I flew out to Edinburgh.  Sometimes the flu shot actually makes one sick, so I think that’s what happened to me.

Keeping up with school has been really insane as well.  It’s the middle of the term, so things are definitely in full swing and getting even more intense than they were before.  The academic work here is very much similar to graduate work in the U.S.  You are given many tasks, assignments and have to figure them out on your own with little direction and guidance.  Thus, I’ve been spending much more time in the library and with my nose in my Russian dictionary sorting my questions out for myself.  The university is very much an example of the traditional “European model” of British education and very different from the American education system.  I definitely prefer the American system of education over the British.  Coming here, I was more “culture shocked” with the school setting versus the surrounding area.  No one beats UW’s ability to foster creativity, vision and genius.

Last week Thursday, I went to an award-winning play called “Lord of the Flies” with my Korean friend at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.  The theatre is located right beside our university.  I read the “Lord of the Flies” book and watched the American movie of it in high school, so it was so amazing to watch it in its English play version!  I guess I wasn’t expecting the play to be done with English accents, but then I remembered I’m in the UK!  Hahaha!  But it was a really great show and I’m so excited to go back to the theatre to see more performances.  I also booked tickets to watch the Scottish Ballet perform “Cinderella” in early December, as well as the Royal New Zealand Ballet perform “Giselle” next week.  I was so happy to shell out pounds (the UK form of currency) for the best seats in the house!  I’m really excited for the ballets because I’ve danced my whole life and am a Dance- Creative Studies major at the UW (in addition to my Russian major).

I had the chance to watch a movie called “Twinsters” at home this past Friday to wind down.  I watched it this summer with a friend when it came to Seattle and it finally became available on iTunes last week.  It was so comforting to watch something familiar that made me happy.  When you are abroad, I find it so refreshing to take time for yourself and do things you enjoy just to take a step back once in a while from all the chaos around you.

This past Saturday, the Exchange 360 Society I am a part of took a trip to St. Andrews which is a two hour drive from Edinburgh.  We all ordered authentic fish n’ chips (a must-do while you are in Britain) and walked around exploring the town.  The town has a beautiful university, which is the University of Edinburgh’s rival and also where Prince William and Princess Kate studied at.  After that, we checked out a museum, the beach and went home after a long day of adventuring.

On Tuesday, I had coffee at a fun place called “Black Medicine Coffee Company” with two Scottish girls I met a few weeks ago at a Japanese Society event. They taught me some Scottish slang phrases, such as “Dinnae dae that” which means “Don’t do that.”  Both of the girls are from Edinburgh and are of Chinese descent, which was really cool.  It was a lot of fun just hanging out and getting to learn more about them and their lives in Scotland!

I had a midterm yesterday for Russian translation as well as a hefty translation assignment due last week.  Yesterday after my exam, I tried an authentic Japanese place here by ordering some “take away” (which is the British term for “take out”) for lunch.  I ordered a beef bento which was absolutely delicious and such a comforting reminder of home and my Japanese heritage.

This coming Saturday, a group of us are making lunch at my Korean friend’s flat and having a girls day. There is also a k-pop event hosted by the Korean Society happening at the underground bar on campus that evening which I’ll be going to.  On Sunday, I’ll just study, get some work done and relax to wind down from the week.

One thing I was told at my study abroad orientation in February was that being abroad “is not good or bad… but different.” I definitely do not agree with this statement and do not believe students should go into a study abroad with such an indifferent attitude.  Be open, but be prepared to step out and take risks. Be prepared to work hard on your own. Be prepared to not like certain things.  Be prepared to discover yourself and your preferences.  And most of all, be prepared to take what comes your way and deal with it at your own pace. Studying abroad is not an easy thing to do and it takes a really open minded and independent person to do it.

I didn’t expect living and studying in Edinburgh to get me thinking about my plans after UW.  It has seriously got me thinking about where I want to apply to graduate school, as well as appreciating UW even more than I did before.  And if you know me, you know how much I already love UW as I’ve mentioned in my last post.

I am really fortunate and thankful that I have my family and friends for support back home in Hawai’i and Seattle.  I make time to talk to my family on the phone every weekend.  My mom and I also iMessage all the time and I got to Facetime a friend back home several times this weekend.  Both iMessage and Facetime are free in the UK, yay (thank you Apple)!  So this has made keeping in touch easy and keeping me going.  It’s also good to keep busy and occupied with different events on campus, meeting new people and doing all the things I want to do here.

I’ve got to head to class, so I will write again soon!

Until Next Time,

Megan