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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I hope for those abroad or thinking about going find these tips and tricks helpful.
Helpful Hint: Many art galleries and museums are free so take advantage and go enrich yourself with culture.