Some things never change. Right now I’m sitting in a cozy Café of Costa and I am writing. That seems to be a constant thing in my life – the different franchise cafés with their leather seats, the brown/reddish painting, the rather soft music and chatting in the background, the sound and smell of coffee. In the cafés the world is wrapped in cotton-wool, somehow it’s always peaceful and calm. Thanks to franchise you can find one of those cozy islands all over the world, even at Fort Kinnaird near Musselburgh. Somehow the franchise-cafés are all the same and they manage to create the same atmosphere, no matter if it’s Costa, Coffee Fellows, Starbucks or Woyton in Cologne, Amsterdam or Edinburgh.
Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than a real nice cozy café with a passionate owner who established the whole café himself (if you should ever get to Cologne, don’t miss the Café Elephant, the best Café in town. But I haven’t found one so far, so I’ll just stick with Costa. Enough of Cafés, let’s come to the point of the blog – fresher’s week:
I’m here now for a little more than two weeks. And time’s flying – I feel as if I’ve been living here for longer. That feeling lasts at least until I speak to a Scottish/Irish person: then I realize quickly that I haven’t been here for a long time. If it happens that I speak to a Scottish/Irish person (which happens rather often, my 5 roommates are all Scottish/Irish) the conversation is often interrupted by my “sorry” – “häh?” – “what” ’s , as both accents tend to be rather heavy and difficult to understand (for me – no offense 😉 ). But give me some more weeks and I’ll be able to understand everybody and everything. At least I hope so! Today was my first lecture, and luckily the lecturer’s Scottish accent was not too heavy – only the rolling “rrrrr” and an occasional “wee” so it was easy to understand him and follow the lecture. And like at the beginning of my apprenticeship I have a weird feeling: This guy’s talking about movies and the beginnings of cinema, and I’d even listen to him in my spare time. But no. That’s what I learn now! Every Tuesday there’s even a screening of a film and we have to watch this film. Wohoooo! I’m in paradise! The Uni seems to be very family-like anyways. People always tell us that they are here to help us and make sure that we get the best degree possible. If it really is like they say, then it might have been the best decision ever to come here. Staying in Halls, the Student Residences, is also great – I share a kitchen with 5 other students who are all on different courses, and as I basically live on campus, it takes me 5 minutes to get from my bed to the lecture. (Awesome for me, as I tend to be a little late all the times – no buses / trains to miss 🙂 ) . They have a well-equipped library as well (found 4 books on Brokeback Mountain!), and even a DVD collection.
Furthermore, there’s the Student Union on Campus as well. They run a Café / Bar, offer sport courses, organize many different societies and support students. The Presidents even take a year off from their studies to fulfill their duties as Presidents. So the whole last week was organized both by the student’s union and by the university. Fresher’s Week started last Sunday with the International Induction Day. This Day was held for all the international Students that are new at QMU (Queen Margaret University, for those of you, who don’t know where I ended up…). 20% of the Students at QMU are Internationals – but we, as EU students aren’t part of that 20%, so there are really many foreigners. The people I met so far are perhaps about 60% foreign and 40% Scottish – so I am really not the only one that’s far away from home and I shouldn’t have worried before. The Uni is used to us, I guess. At this international induction day, there was a breakfast and afterwards an info-session, where we also learned what Scotland is (not) about. That was great fun to listen, as the guide of Haggis Adventures was really entertaining (and he wore a kilt). In the evening was a Ceileidh, a Scottish dancing event, which was really fun as well. They made us dance in groups, and though we didn’t get it on the first time, we had a great time. I ended up feeling rather dizzy because of all the spinning… Here you can have a look at what we did:
Monday there was the schooldisco/foamparty. I was neither prepared for a foam party nor for a schooldisco, as we don’t have a school uniform in Germany. I got a cravat though and we headed for the foam. Interesting experience, to see all the half-naked girls covered in foam. The music was not that good (at least I think so – I just don’t like electro etc….), but it was alright. Have a look:
At Tuesday, the “normal” induction program began and I even got my student id. Yehaaa! We also signed up for seminars, and I managed to get a free Friday. So if anybody wants to come over for the weekend, go and book a flight! I’m here. Though I don’t know whether I’ll have to deal with loads of work on my free day or maybe have to work as I’m planning to find a job.
In the evening, there was a ball at Musselburgh, so we all dressed up and went there. This was as well my first encounter with something like “English Schlager” or whatever it was. Sometimes I was glad that I didn’t get the lyrics. And the DJs reminded me somehow of the “DJ der guten Laune”. Another youtubelink, for those of you who don’t know him….
Wednesday there was a beachparty which I skipped, but the best was to come on Thursday, the Mysterynight. At first, there was a magician who made 50p vanish and stuff like that. And then, there was the hypnotist. At first he did some really amazing things: he had two people on stage, one person closed their eyes and then he touched the other one. And actually the person with the closed eyes thought she was being touched, though it was the other guy who was being touched! Or he made some predictions that all came true. After the break, the really cool thing started though: 11 guys volunteered to be hypnotized. And one after the other was under his control and did awesome things. For example he told three girls, that they can’t see him anymore. And they really couldn’t see him! They thought that the girl sitting on the hypnotist’s back and waving with her arms was actually flying! Or he told 3 girls that they were 7 years again. And when he asked them where babies come from, they just giggled or answered “the stork”. The hypnosis lasted for about 1,5 hours, and it was absolutely breathtaking, what the hypnotized did / how the hypnotist could control them. It was really amazing to watch it, because it’s completely different if you see it happen right in front of you rather than on TV. But after having seen how complete the control of the hypnotist over someone is, I don’t want to try it myself. I’d love to know how it feels, but I don’t want to loose control like that over myself. What about free minds ??? So the audience was really stunned and couldn’t believe what was going on. But also that night went by and I skipped another event at Friday – the Sexy little Friday Party including the Burlesque Show. On Saturday, there was another international student event: we were on a bus tour of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. It was a nice way to get to know the most important places and get a feeling where everything is.
In the evening there was Fresher’s Fest, a festival in the student union. Several Bands played, some of them were really good, and we also got a facepaint. Jeha! On Sunday, the last event began: the Pub March (In Edinburgh we don’t crawl, we march). It started at 12 o’clock, and when we wanted to buy drinks at Maggie’s Bar (the student’s union bar) – that’s the point of a pubcrawl, isn’t it? Unfortunately we were told, that they can’t give us alcoholic drinks before 12.30. Funny Scottish rules! Think about a Weißwurstfrühstück without beer!!! So we waited exactly till 12.30 and then got started. We all wore army shirts, dog tags –l everything with QMUSU on it. By bus we got to town and went to several pubs. In one, we got our cocktail in a sandbucket, ballerman-style. I took it home, so now I got my multifunctional bucket – I like! Some of the bars were really nice and I’ll go there again. But often the drinks were expensive, I think I’ll have to get used to that – at least I can buy everywhere cider! They are rather strict with the rules here, so often I had to show my id and sometimes you couldn’t buy two drinks at the bar, because you might give the second one to someone underaged. I think it’s also not allowed to buy alcohol after 10 in a shop. These regulations seem to be a little bit strict to someone who’s used to buy alcohol whenever one likes. But they’ll have their reasons!
The PubCrawl came to an end in a vodkabar where you could try about 20 different vodka-flavours, including birthdaycake, white chocolat, pear…. When we entered the bar, it was occupied by Asian people who had a meeting there before, but some of them left soon after we showed up. Perhaps because of the girls of our Uni that were totally drunk and ripped their shirts apart and were dancing wearing “only” their bra. Paradise for all the men? I don’t know….
Back at the Uni, at about 23.30, which felt actually much later, the Fresher’s week came to an end. Though I was skeptical about the whole fresher’s thing in the beginning, I definitely enjoyed it. I met so many new and nice people, that I wasn’t bored a minute. All the time there was something organized for us, even in the afternoons there were events (“pampering”, bouncy castles, pillow fights…). I hardly managed to speak to my family and friends back at home, so sorry for that! I promise I’ll talk to you more often from now on!
And when I was in Edinburgh at night, walking through all those narrow closes, admiring the old town, the high buildings and Edinburgh castle, I still can’t believe it, that I’m living here now, that I can enjoy this fantastic sight everyday – if I want! We also happened to run across a nice band at the Mound called “The Spinning Blowfish”, and once again it was a perfect moment.
This band consists of a bagpipe, e-guitar and drums, and they were performing in the middle of Edinburgh. Many people were listening to them when we walked by, so we stopped as well. People were dancing and soon afterwards it began to rain. But that’s what it’s all about: the ever-changing weather – one minute it’s raining and five minutes later the sun’s shining, so you learn to treasure and enjoy the sunshine, the wind, the wonderful buildings, the narrow streets, the bagpipes, the friendly people, the wonderful accent, all the pubs with live music.
It all blends perfectly together to this dream of mine that came true. I hope I won’t wake up soon.
PPS: Some more things: It might sound, as if I ain’t missing my folks at home – but I do! You should see all the pics on my wall so you know, that you’re here with me, always. Actually you can look… there you go:
And I got a bike! The guy who sold it knew from my accent that I was from Bavaria, but the bike he sold to me seems to be a good one, it’s called Emmelle. Unfortunately I have to wait for my helmet to arrive, driving on the left side might be disastrous; and also the brakes are different from the ones on my bike back home (I have to change that if I want to survive, definitely!).
Puh, long Blog – I hope you made it to the end 😉