Hello again! Let me apologize for this post being overdue, but the first week of classes is always a busy time. Now week one is done and gone and I am officially in fall school mode. Back in the states I would normally take 15 hours a semester with five classes, but in Edinburgh the equivalent is 60 hours with three classes. Over here lectures are short and meet only a few times a week, and much of your education rests on your shoulders, so it’s imperative to do a lot of research and reading outside of class and to attend tutorials (which are essentially small group discussions with classmates). Usually 40% of the grade will be based on coursework (in the form of one paper), and 60% will be the final. The grading scale is also entirely different. For instance, a passing grade is a 40%, A’s are rare, and a perfect score is almost unheard of. It takes a bit of mental adjusting as to not go into a panic attack once grades do come out, or even at the beginning because here you start with a 0.
What I found extremely unexpected was that many of my fellow classmates are not from Scotland. Most I have met are foreign like me, and many are on exchange too. In my International Marketing class there are only a handful of business students from the UK, I would say about 90% of the class is from a foreign country. What was also unexpected was how fast students jump into their studies. At home we tend to procrastinate on midterm papers, in favor of working on upcoming tests and the weekly homework; here we began working on research for midterm papers right away. Students can be found in campus libraries, in the park, in local cafes, like the Elephant House (where JK Rowling started writing Harry Potter) hard at work studying. And it is only the first week of classes! The scholastic culture is much more self-taught here with little professor intervention.
So my week in a flash has involved classes, reading, socials, meetings, crashing a pub crawl, and my first rugby match.
This week the Rugby World Cup began. Before coming to Edinburgh I had not seen a ruby game and I was totally ignorant of all the rules and regulations, so to prepare for the World Cup I saw my first rugby match over the weekend. Edinburgh challenged St Andrews at Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday night, for the oldest varsity rugby rivalry in Scotland; in the past St Andrews has mainly emerged the victor, but this past Saturday, the underdog, Edinburgh, emerged victorious!
To celebrate my friends and I went to Mary’s Milk Bar the next day, but to be honest we go anytime we can to get our gelato fix. Having been in the city a few weeks now I definitely have places I regulate. Mary’s Milk Bar is one, for lunch on a nice day we will head over to Made in Italy, on a late night when we’re are craving fish and chips we will go towards Bobby’s Takeaway, and for a taste of home we will stop by Starbucks. This week we tried the chain Nandos, the City Café, the Boozy Cow, and Bella Italia. There are so many local places to try around the city and we have only gotten a taste of a few, but I can guarantee that we will do our best to try them all.
Helpful Hint: Get the local flavor. So taste the haggis with neeps and tatties, go to the rugby match, try to submerge yourself into the local culture and see the life of the country you are in in a new way. There is more to a city and culture than monuments, museums, and local sites. You can learn a lot by heading to the local bars and cafes, watching people interact and speaking with locals.