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Tips and Tricks Guide to Life Abroad: Edinburgh

Now that I have lived in Edinburgh for six weeks I thought it would be a good time to do a tips and tricks guide to Edinburgh and studying abroad in general.

Safety

  • One thing to know about Edinburgh is that it is one of the safest cities in the world. Yes there is crime and seedier parts just like there is in every city, and you shouldn’t wander down dark, narrow, suspicious allies late at night, but walking the streets or coming home from the pub at night should be safe.IMG_2225
  • There are no guns carried in public. The police don’t even have guns. What I also found very surprising is that it is against the law to carry mace. So if you do get nervous walking the streets at night use common sense, stay in well-lit areas, use a buddy system, and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Probably the most common crime is theft. So don’t leave valuables just laying around and lock your door to your bedroom when you leave. But also be aware of credit card fraud and identity theft. Credit card information is frequently stolen over here so keep track of your records and receipts; also, leave copies of important documents at home with your parents or emergency contact so if anything was to happen the information you need is just a phone call away.

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  • There are many great cafes, restaurants, and pubs that you will want to try out; especially when you are with a great group of friends. But beware that it adds up and becomes expensive fast. What seems like a reasonably priced 7 pound meal is in all actuality 10.62 dollars and that will not include a drink. To cut costs you can get meal deals at grocery stores for 3 pounds or less, or you can get a group of friends together and make dinners at home. I do this; we switch off who cooks and which flat we will go to for dinner. You can also buy groceries online which can be cheaper than the local Sainsbury’s or Tesco.  But if you like picking out food yourself then it is better to go late at night because bakery and freshly made sandwiches will be heavily discounted because they are made fresh every day.

 

Shopping

  • The pound is doing a lot better than the dollar right now, so it is more expensive to shop over here. For instance, at Staples you can get a notebook for a few cents at home here at the bargain store it will be a couple pounds. So in every store ask for a student discount, look for deals, and try to stick with necessities not wants. You are going to want to save up your money for souvenirs and memories, so don’t waste it all on a cute pair of shoes or sweater you won’t need.
  • If you want to go on a shopping spree while you are abroad, go on a weekend trip when you are in the Eurozone. The Euro is closer to the dollar so it will be cheaper than buying on the pound.

Television

  • To watch live TV here you need first a TV and then you need a television license (which tends to cost more than its worth), so stick with Netflix or sign up for Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime is free for the first six months, so you get six free months of TV and movies.

Getting Around

  • Walk! Walk everywhere. Edinburgh is actually smaller than most people think so it is easy to get around just about anywhere in the city center within 15 minutes, so be healthy and save money by walking.
  • If you leave Edinburgh by train you can get discounts on tickets if you get the 16-25 railcard. Also, check with your abroad university and see if they have any subsidized trips. Edinburgh’s International Student Association has planned trips that students can take for heavily discounted prices around the UK.

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I hope for those abroad or thinking about going find these tips and tricks helpful.

Happy Travels!

 

Helpful Hint: Many art galleries and museums are free so take advantage and go enrich yourself with culture.

What’s the Rat Pack?

So I haven’t posted much but I would like to catch you up on my 1st weekend trip.
My first week flew by and I headed to Edinburgh, Scotland. In the three days I was there I couldn’t believe how much I had gotten accomplished! After arriving late Thursday evening and meeting Sue, the lady we stayed with (our first airbnb experience), my travel buddy and I found a great fish & chips restaurant, then hit the hay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday: June 12, 2015

•We woke up fairly early to go hike Arthur’s Seat {the #1 thing to do on trip advisor in Scotland😊}

Just an FYI, it’s steep, bring water, sunscreen, and tennis shoes!

•Next we walked to The National Museum of Scotland, by far one of the largest museums I’ve been in (also it’s FREE) From space to animals this place has it all.

•We ate lunch at The World Famous Frankenstein Pub 1818, first off the food is to die for, and secondly, there is silent movies and a robot monster that does a little dance every 30ish minutes.

•After lunch we came across these underground tours, being the curious tourist that I am, I wanted to check it out. Ashley and I did the Ghostly Underground Catacomb tour of Scotland, we found out about the Burke and Hare murders

  • Burke and Hare were two men who in the beginning sold corpses to Dr. Robert Knox, then got carried away with the money and began killing people so they could sell those corpse for money.

We also found out Scotland basically had an underground city that is now supposedly “haunted”.

•Finally we finished the long day window shopping and eating dinner at Amarone, an amazing Italian “ristorante” on the Royal Mile.


Saturday: June 13, 2015

•Just like the day before, we woke up early and headed out, on this day is was half the temperature as the day before (it went 27 C to 15 C) and slightly misty. Our first stop was a place I had found on Pinterest called “Mary’s Milk Bar” they are world famous for their frozen hot chocolate. I sat inside the vintage pink & white striped shoppe and enjoyed the dark chocolate with sea salt hot chocolate with a big peanut & Carmel gelato. ({delizioso} that’s Italian for delicious)

   •Our next stop was the Edinburgh Castle, this stone wall castle looks over all of Edinburgh. We took a short tour and truly didn’t spend much time there due to the weather and loads of people. But I was able to snap a few photos and see The Crown Jewels.

•After leaving the castle we came across The Scottish Whisky Experience, we found out how whisky was made, tried whisky, and say the largest collection of whisky in the world.

  • Fun fact: Scottish spell their whisky without the “e”

•Directly across was Camera Obscura, a 6 story illusion museum. Each level has a different theme and you’re able to experience them all by using all of your senses. It’s very hands on and fun just to play like a child again! The best part is on the rooftop, you see breath taking views as well as close up views with large binoculars.

• Walking around the city we passed “The Elephant House” for any Harry Potter fan, this is the location J.K. Rowling enjoyed coffee/cake while writing Harry Potter.

•We finished the afternoon enjoying Patisserie Valerie Selva (Chocolate sponge layers filled with whipped cream, zabaglione custard and fresh fruits) and Strawberry Gateau (Layers of vanilla sponge filled with whipped cream and fresh strawberries)

•Deciding to go back to Sue’s we were walking to the public transport bus and saw a live music pub called “Rat Pack” we debated going in, but it was our last night in Scotland so we decided to go. The fellow was singing Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett.. The sound was beautiful. A few hours later, ears ringing, we were tired and ready to go back to Sue’s.
Sunday: June 14, 2015

•This morning we had a fairly early flight back to Dublin, Sue drove us to the airport and we were Ireland bound. Ashley and I had arrived back in Dublin around 9:15 thinking we had until 10:30 to catch our GoBe bus back to Cork. We slowly made our way to get breakfast, while I had gotten my bagel and Ashley was getting a full Irish breakfast, I doubled checked our bus time…. The bus was coming at 10:00am it was 9:50am!😖I yelled at Ashley from across the airport, she hurried over with her food and started shoving her food in ziplock bags. We ran through the terminal down the escalator and through all the different bus stops arriving at ours just before the bus was taking off (we made it)

This concluded my first weekend of traveling through Europe. Scotland treated me very well, I couldn’t have asked for a better first Airbnb experience, itinerary of things to do, and first experience using public transport (Edinburgh has a wonderful app for public transit called Transport for Edinburgh I recommend anyone traveling to Edinburgh download the app, it was a lifesaver)