It’s February now and the only thing to be said for the weather is at least I’m not drowning in snow. It has snowed here a few times, much to my surprise, off and on, but more off than on. Down here, in lowland Edinburgh along the coast, the snow doesn’t really stick and we’re far more likely to have rain. We certainly don’t miss out on the cold though! While all my friends back in the Northeast are struggling to class in the cold and the snow, it’s just plain cold here. Still, things could really be much worse, but it’s easy to forget about enjoying the experience of being abroad when it’s dark and gray for days on end. Or it would be if Scottish weather wasn’t so changeable.
Spending Christmas abroad was strange. I stayed with a friend near London over the holiday, one which has very little religious meaning and lots of sentimental meaning for me, and I was reminded by how weird other people’s family traditions seem to an outsider. I also discovered Christmas poppers, which is a tradition that should absolutely find its way to the States. That time of year makes you appreciate the difference between being sick of home and being homesick, and also how very lucky I am to have a place to call home. More than one place really, because Edinburgh has become a second home to me. When I think of “home” while I’m traveling, I picture my flat with my five international roommates in a building that’s not really near anything at all but still somehow feels central and has good memories, and even a few not-so-good ones, and makes me happy to be back in this city and this country that I’ve come to love.
I spent New Year’s in Edinburgh, which meant that I joined about fifty thousand of my closest friends at an enormous street party called Hogmanay. I don’t know why it’s called Hogmanay, because there are no hogs and they aren’t manaying (not actually a thing), but it’s definitely a good time! There were so many people there that despite being outside in the cold for hours, I didn’t feel cold. Fireworks went off on the hour from the castle for the four hours leading up to midnight, and then there was a huge display when 2014 became 2015. If Edinburgh knows how to do one thing, it’s New Year’s Eve.
It’s been an adventure the past couple weeks getting to know my new roommates and starting classes. The first two weeks is the busiest time up until exams in May — trying to figure out if you’ll be able to stand your classes, if you’ll actually pay attention, if it counts toward your major, etc. It’s always a struggle to figure out just the right combination of courses to guarantee at least a passing grade in all of them. I also got three new roommates in place of the ones who went home, and it has been a delight getting to know them. If group living has taught me anything, and it’s taught me many things, it’s that everyone has their quirks and people are far less concerned with how weird you are if you are neat, don’t leave your dishes in the sink, and remember to buy toilet paper from time to time. (It’s also taught me that people tend to have a bystander mentality about answering the doorbell.)
And that brings us back to February. We’re already one-seventh of the way through the shortest month of the year. It’s crazy to think that a month has already gone by in the new year. Time seems to be going much faster this semester, and there’s still so much I want to do! Last semester it seemed like there was all the time in the world, and now I’m realizing just how many things I didn’t do and still want to. I have places to go, things to do, people to meet! And there’s so little time! In four months’ time I’ll be home, back in the United States. Leaving feels so far away and yet so very, very, very soon. I’m lucky that I was able to go abroad for the whole year, but that still doesn’t seem like enough time, and I’m only exploring a small portion of the world. It’s truly incredible how vast the world is and how much there is to explore and see. But I’m working my way around it, one train ride, one flight, one city, at a time. Here’s to another great semester, Edinburgh, cheers.