Edinburgh castle

Things to know before coming to Edinburgh as an international student

Coming to a new place is always exciting but it comes with its own pros and cons. Here are a few things that I wish I had known before I arrived, that might help you to settle in quicker.

Four months back when I first arrived in Edinburgh, everything was new to me and I didn’t know what to expect from student life, the University and the city. Sometimes, it was fun and adventurous trying to figure them out, but sometimes it was difficult to learn the hard way. No matter how challenging however, each of these things has enriched my experience. Here are some tips from me and my fellow students that I would like to share from our experience:

  1. Don’t be scared – people are very friendly

Edinburgh is a small city and people are very warm here. So, don’t be scared or nervous when you first arrive. Most of the student accommodation is near to the main campus which means that you’ll mostly have students around you who will be as new as you are, and will probably be experiencing the same situations as you.

2. Don’t try to pack for Scottish weather

Avoid trying to bring too many clothes from your hometown. Eventually you will have to buy clothes here because of the weather, which is totally unpredictable, and will probably be very different from yours.

3. Enjoy learning to cook new things

Being a master’s student you will have to cook for yourself but it is totally okay if you don’t know how to cook. Once you start cooking here, you will be able to try new things, test different combinations and experiment. I am quite sure of this because I was definitely not a cook before coming here. I had learnt some very basic dishes but mostly I have learnt a lot from my friends here. So I know, if I can do it, anybody can.

4. Make the most of University accommodation

Choosing between the various accommodation options can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty, but if you are staying in university accommodation, you don’t have to worry too much. Every accommodation option has Resident Assistants who are super helpful and interactive. They organise social events and mixers where you will get an opportunity to interact with people from different courses and countries and make new friends.

5. Think about what to pack and what to buy here

I noticed that a lot of people had brought cooking utensils from home, but you don’t have to do this. Your kitchen will have quite a few things and you can buy everything you need here – leaving you space in your suitcase to pack a few extra mom-made snacks, which will definitely not be available here.

6. Allow for unplanned expenditure in your budget

Don’t be too strict with your budget and accept that unexpected costs might appear from time to time. For example, in my second month here, I incurred a loss of 10 pounds (the difference in the currencies made it worse) because I didn’t know exactly how I was supposed to recharge my phone. Because it was unexpected, it felt like a disaster to me but it was not something that I could have anticipated and in the end it was fine. Had I been prepared for these things, I would have panicked a little less.

7. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to do everything

Before coming here, you will find out about lots of events at the university that you will want to attend. You might make special notes of these events, or bookmark them just like I did, but the fact is, once you get here you may not have time to attend even half of them. So don’t worry, and don’t try to be everywhere.

It might take time to adjust to your new life in Edinburgh, but it is going to be okay and it will be worth it. A little piece of advice is to be practical and flexible. Also, maintaining a budget and managing expenses might seem a little difficult at times, but it differs from person to person so you need to be aware of your individual habits and needs and focus on what works best for you. Don’t come with any assumptions or pre-conceived notions; they might end up affecting you negatively if things don’t turn out exactly as you had planned.

It is going to be a beautiful experience and you will enjoy and learn equally. You will receive all the help that you need, and might end up helping others too.

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Vinisha Prakash

Vinisha Prakash is an MSc International Human Resource Management student from India. She has done her Bachelors in Business Administration and is an aspiring HR Professional. She has an interest in writing, especially poems and is a huge Harry Potter fan.