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I have been in Edinburgh for a week now and already I have learned so much about the people and culture! In this post I am going to talk mostly about advice I would give to students looking into Edinburgh, Scotland for their study abroad experience.

  1. BUY WATERPROOF BOOTS. Seriously. I highly recommend Dr. Martens. Not only are they water resistant and incredibly comfortable, they are extremely popular in Edinburgh. Everyone from college girls to 60 year old men wear them here. I know the price can be a bit daunting but I found mine second hand on the internet for about $30 and I have worn them every single day. It rains every single day here and nikes or vans just don’t cut it.
  2. Scarves and hats are a must. Out of the 7 days I’ve been here I have seen the sun exactly once. It is generally below 40F here and the wind and rain make it feel even colder.
  3. Be patient. Especially when it comes to classes. For some reason, nobody at the university seems to be in a rush to do anything. If you don’t get the classes you want? No big deal. Most people don’t go to class their first week anyway. There is a 2 week add/drop period and your personal tutor or the visiting student office will help you rearrange your schedule. According to them, about 85% of people are unhappy with their schedules and rearrange them within the add/drop period. (Note: after the first 2 weeks, adding or dropping a course is not possible)
  4. Get in line at the visiting student office on the first day of classes early if you want to change your courses. They say the office opens at 9AM but I got there at 8:30 and was number 24 in line. An hour later and the line was wrapped all the way around the block.
  5. Learn to cook! Eating out is nice the first few days but it can get expensive. Once you purchase cooking supplies and silverware, start making your own meals. Pasta is an easy and quick meal that can be customized for every night of the week. And its cheap!
  6. Buy long underwear. I know, I know, I sound like a grandmother. Seriously though, even underarmor and leggings work. It gets so cold here and the wind is so biting that I have worn multiple layers every day.
  7. Know your limits when it comes to alcohol. Don’t be that friend.
  8. Explore on your own! Walk around your neighborhood by yourself your first day here. See where the local cafes, bookstores, grocery stores, and banks are located. It will make you feel more comfortable in your surroundings.
  9. Buy a bus pass! I bought the citysmart pass which is a top up card. I find this useful because you can use it as much or as little as you like. For science students, this is particularly useful because the King’s Buildings (science campus) are about a half hour walk from the main campus. In the rain and the cold, this will get really old really fast. There is a free campus shuttle but if you don’t live near the main campus, you will have to walk there to catch the bus. Taking the city bus will save you a lot of time. It will also let you travel around the city more freely.
  10. Don’t feel like you have to do everything Edinburgh has to offer in your first week there. Spread it out. Do the museum this week. The castle next week. Arthur’s seat next month. Don’t worry! It will all still be there a few months down the road!