Sunday, September 5, 2010

A wee post

Basically got everything in and settled here at the new place in Edinburgh. Alas, still dealing with a bit of adjusting and jet lag.

Thing is, it took roughly 32 hours, not including the time change, to get here. 3 hours at the SF Airport, 3.5 hours on the red-eye plane to Chicago, of which I slept a couple hours whilst annoying adjacent Spaniards chatted too much and too loudly, then 3 more hours at O'hare, during which I snoozed a bit, 7.5 hours on the plane to London, which I got a decent snooze in, then a hurrendous 6 hours overnight at Heathrow, which I napped on and off every half an hour on a no-armrest bench (not the easiest/shortest evening) with other overnighters, followed by a 1 hour train ride to the train station, a 1 hour wait, then a 4.5 hour train ride from London to Edinburgh, snoozing a little on that train as well. With all that intermittent sleeping, my schedule has been pretty out of wack, and is just starting to normalize after a few days

Nonetheless, my landlord George met me at the train station. He picked me up, drove me around a bit, explaining some of the areas and buildings, then got to the place and unpacked. He is an interesting character, former fire fighter, ripe age of 62. He also used to work at a guest house here in town. He is a Scotsman through and through. He is also president of a local golf society, so basically because of all this, he knows everyone or someone in most families in town. In fact, he even said he knows one of my professors, they met at his favorite pub down the street and talked about fire. He took me up for lunch at the golf society after I got unpacked...Lamb ceylon....I had to look up Ceylon, supposedly Sri Lankan...anyways, it was definitely not the greatest thing I've tasted, with some white rice, lamb, and a bit of curry sauce.

It is an odd place that he has here. Nice, though. He does not stay here at night, but kind of passes in and out through the day, usually making some breakfast and spending a little time before he goes out to play golf or something. He does know a ton about Scotland history and politics, which are quite complicated given how they work with the UK, so it is actually great because I am learning a lot. And when I read a news article, I can get his opinion on it and aside from that, he will usually explain something in further detail, like laws, history, events, etc, which is fantastic. But basically, I have the place to myself the majority of the time. The apartment itself is on a quiet residential street, about a 30 minute walk from the Royal Mile, the big center street in Edinburgh. Plus it is 2 blocks from my campus, and about 15 minute walk to the original, larger University of Edinburgh campus. For a rent of 400 gbp/month, I think it is a quite the deal. Heck, he even made a Scottish breakfast for me and the contractor fixing up the living room the first 2 mornings. Just a really friendly person. In fact, it partially seems like couchsurfing a bit, because I will definitely have received a better perspective on Scotland after living here than if I was living by myself or with other students.

Anyways, in my opinion, Edinburgh itself is a mixture of old/new. The center area is all older architecture and roads, while outside of this area is much newer. It doesn't seem to be the most diverse city. There are a decent amount of Chinese, Indian, and Bangladesh people here. One really interesting thing is that there are no ghettos or neighborhoods with high concentrations of a particular ethnicity. So there are chinese grocery stores, Indian restaurants, etc, sparsely spread throughout the city but not overloaded in any one area.

So tonight I am heading to meet some people from Rotaract, and we are going up to a large hill overlooking the city, called Carlton Hill, to watch the fireworks for the end of the Edinburgh Festival. August is basically a month full of festivals here, one of the largest in all of Europe. People have been building these fireworks up to be one of the best shows all year in Scotland.

Anyways, I have more blogs on funny stuff coming up, such as language, food, alcohol, politics, sports, and a bunch of other things that I am finding interesting, especially since English & Scottish society is so easily compared/contrasted to American lifestyles since they are probably much more simlilar than any other European country.

My shower has an on/off switch instead of a lever! And the bathroom has a pull cord light with a giant handle! Odd/new things are great. Oh, and I haven't got hit by a car just yet, but never seem to know which way to look when I cross the street.

My street:

Scottish breakfast...Sausage, bacon, blood sausage, and fried egg, on soft bread roll with butter:

I thoroughly enjoy that they park any which way they feel on any side of the road:

The main road I walk between my place and the center area. This is just adjacent to the main University of Edinburgh campus:

Just off of the Princes St area in the Old Town:

High Street (on the Royal Mile):

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