Coming back to Edinburgh in year four is a strange experience

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Has he changed or have I?

In May 2021 I left Edinburgh to study abroad for my degree. Now, in October 2022, the city is undoubtedly a changed place, but I must admit that I am too. Finding new routines and adapting to new demands as a fourth year, surrounded by a city that knew me in second year was a pretty steep task. learning curve. It’s only with a break now, after the week of reading, that I’ve been able to reflect and collect my thoughts on what has changed and what hasn’t.

The city, geographically, has changed surprisingly. For a city as old as Edinburgh, I was shocked to find that the layout of the city had changed. I had bet that finding my way around Edinburgh would remain the same.

But new places have opened up; Edinburgh’s food scene is almost recognizable. Old favorites for a lunchtime snack have been replaced by newcomers and the year and a bit I’ve been away means I can’t keep trying new places because there just too many.

The introduction of St James’ Quarter is also a game-changer. When I got to first grade it was still a pile of scaffolding with little to offer – I fondly remember my mother complaining about how dark John Lewis was because the construction work blocked the light. Now I have a new shopping destination.

However, the one constant in Edinburgh’s geography is the scaffolding of George IV. Although the scaffolding has changed sides since my last visit, you still have to walk one side of good old traitor George IV. When will this scaffolding be completed? I’m not entirely sure but his familiarity is oddly comforting.

The rental market has undoubtedly changed (much to my chagrin). Affordable student flats have now been cut out of my budget and my flatmate has seen an increase of over £100 for our flat, compared to last year. Personally, I couldn’t find an apartment for three months and only moved in during the first academic week of the term, and I’m considered lucky. No more Covid rent reductions or moving because apartments were cheap. Now also my friends Newington or Marchmont are located in Bruntsfield or further afield – Gorgie, Granton among others. There has also been a change of housemates – new routines and new quirks to learn. And new habits myself; I admit that I have become a bit of a grandma in my flatland habits. Weekly cleaning rotations have been established and friends are invited over for dinner or charcuterie night rather than being stuffed with vodka and mixing.

Lack of Covid is something I was so excited to come back to. My sophomore year was full of long walks (for lack of anything better) as well as covid testing, quarantines and stay-at-home orders. When I last attended Edinburgh University, it was all online, with Zoom chat groups and Microsoft Teams a regular part of my studies. Now I can attend classes! I can get as sick as I want with undergraduate flu, attend lectures with hundreds of other students! And as a language student, the value of in-person oral lessons cannot be underestimated.

The courses changed considerably between my second year and my last year of undergraduate studies. 2n/a the year academically counted for nothing – this year, everything counts. Each formative assessment will eventually lead to my first college exam (and what a first exam it will be). The majority of my classmates passed their 3rd year of adjusting to honors while I spent a year abroad messing around and forgetting how to write an essay. We talk about dissertations, master’s applications and dreaded exams. But on the plus side, at least I can speak Russian now. After spending my year abroad with people who are also studying Russian it was nice to come back to Edinburgh with a whole new cohort of friends and a sense of unity with the class rather than screens and names empty during an online tutorial.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have changed. Although I am older, I feel much more settled and confident in my identity now. After dealing with the inevitable hardships of life abroad (and an unexpected invasion of Ukraine and subsequent rapid withdrawal from Russia), life here seems so much easier. I will happily wait on the phone for two hours to get my council tax exemption because at least I know they speak English. There’s a different level of motivation – I know where I want to be and who I want to be. As I make decisions for next year, for the first time I feel like I’m making decisions that will impact my future. I can also think in a different language now, use complex declensions, grammar points and speak quite off the cuff – something unthinkable in second grade. And hey, it’s always nice to be able to swear in Russian.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

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• Omg, Edinburgh is officially the best city in Scotland to go pumpkin picking

• We’ve researched all of Edinburgh’s ghost stories so you don’t have to

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