Freshers’ Week 2018: Part 2

I’m writing this on a Sunday, the official end of Freshers’ Week and to be 100% honest, the past few days have not been too great. I’m still pretty homesick but I still attended a couple events from Wednesday to today, so here we go, this is a recap of the second half of Freshers’. Unfortunately, I did not really take a lot of pictures during that time, sooo… sorry about that haha.
So on Wednesday, the 12th of September, I had my first course induction events, which was really exciting. I essentially spent my entire afternoon at Uni, attending Welcome Talks and getting my photo taken for my Student I.D.. After going to a workshop on how to get a part-time job in the UK, I headed back to the flat and my flatmates and me attempted to make Pancakes. However, we all still have not 100% figured out the stove and therefore, we ended up with one edible pancake and a big amount of burnt dough. I hate throwing away food, so I felt horrible about the whole thing but we really tried our best.
I headed to bed relatively early, since I had to be at the National Museum of Scotland at 10 am the next day. After a belated and therefore pretty stressful bus-ride, we arrived at the meeting point a couple of minutes too late, but there were quite a few people who got there after us, so it was fine.
Our lecturers were hanging out around the huge museum and we were split up into groups and had to try to find all the lecturers while exploring the building and the different exhibitions. However, at lunch time, something (or someone haha) set off the fire alarm and so everyone had to evacuate the building. After standing outside in the cold for a while, we were told to go and have some lunch and sure enough, the people were only allowed back in after about an hour and a half, so sitting in front of a nice café and having some food was certainly a good decision. We spent the afternoon back in the museum in a seminar room, doing some exercises in small groups, which was actually really nice and a quite relaxed way to end the day.

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After a quick trip to Sainsbury’s, I jumped on the train and headed back to Campus, where I got to Skype with my family. I know there are different opinions on homesickness and whether skyping helps or just makes it worse, but for me, it was definitely a good idea. I was just so excitedto talk to my parents instead of texting them and having to hang up in the end was quite sad.

The next morning, I got up pretty early again to first head to a Library Workshop (where we learnt how to look up books, journal articles etc. in the library), followed by a Theatre-themed workshop. This was by far my favorite thing I did this week. We once again split up into smaller groups and then had to create a short play in like an hour, using some pictures that our Workshop leader printed out as inspiration. This exercise was SO fun and the first time I really felt like I had made the right choice coming here and choosing this course.

Friday was also the day my boyfriend returned from his vacation in Italy and the first time we would be able to facetime again in like 5 days, which might not seem like a lot, but it felt like an eternity.
So of course, I was determined to stay awake until he was home. I had quite a long time to kill in the evening, so I went to the Accommodation lounge and ended up watching the movie „Knocked Up“ with another International student. I had such a good time and it felt almost like sitting at home in my living room. After the movie had finished, it was time to go back to my room and finally see Flo again. We ended up facetiming for 3 hours, which left me tired but ready to go to sleep happily.
My weekend has not been all too busy so far. I talked to my grandparents, posted a letter and went to a free brunch hosted by the ResLife Team. The only thing I really have planned for today is to finally do some laundry, so the rest of the day I will probably use to relax and prepare for my first lectures on Tuesday. I’m actually really excited about finally learning and being busy and hopefully a little less homesick.

Sophie

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Freshers’ Week part 1

Hello!
So, Fresher’s week (the first week of uni, full of events, parties etc. in the UK) is officially over now and while I’m super excited to finally start really studying at Uni (which is what I came here for after all), I’m also a little sad about all the events ending. I’m not much of a party person, which is why I mostly left those out and spent the evenings/nights trying to sleep as much as possible. I did try to take part in as many other events as possible, in order to find new friends and explore the area around our campus. I actually arrived on Friday, the 7th of September, and there were no official events from Uni going on yet. My sister made an adorable name tag for my door, which I love.

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I did go to a flat party though, but left after about an hour, because as I mentioned before, I am just not a party person. On Saturday though, there were already two events I attended. I actually got a Fresher’s wristband from my Uni, which allowed me to go free to some events and jump the queue at others, so for me, it was definitely worth it. I went to this event called „Speed Friending“, which was hosted by the Student’s Union and it was so fun! At this event, I started out sitting at a table with 3 other Students, with a couple of questions in front of you that you could talk about and every 10-15 minutes, everyone switched tables and started talking to others. This event lasted for over an hour but it felt like a couple of minutes, because it was so interesting! After the speed friending and a quick dinner, I headed back to the Uni café for a little welcome party, which consisted of me sitting around and talking to lots of people, which was fun. I headed to bed relatively early, because the next day started at 9:30 for me. I attended the international students’ induction, which was super informative and even included a free lunch!

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In the afternoon, I facetimed my boyfriend and then attended a Witchery Tour in Edinburgh. I was expecting scary stories and visiting some places around the city, but the tour was honestly so much more than that! Our tour guide was dressed up and even wearing makeup and along the way there were a few surprises waiting for us. I also loved the way the stories were told, they were scary, funny and just plain entertaining. If you ever go to Edinburgh, I highly suggest doing a Witchery tour, it’s such an original way of getting to know the Scotland’s capital.

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On Monday, I visited Musselburgh with a really nice girl I met at the international induction. We strolled along the high street and went to a Supermarket and just had a great time exploring our surroundings. Our Acommodation Team had this great offer for Monday where they gave out free tickets to see „Mamma Mia! Here we go again“ at the local cinema. At this point, I had seen the film 2 times, but it had always made me really happy and I was quite homesick and sad on Monday, so I immediately decided to sign up for it. So at about 6pm, I headed out with a group of 9 other girls. We first had dinner at a restaurant and then went to see the film. Just like expected, I had such a great time, I was smiling and laughing pretty much throughout the entire movie.

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However, that also meant that the homesickness and loneliness hit twice as hard once I arrived back at my room on Campus. After a long phone call with Flo, I was okay again though and wanted to go to bed. That’s when I discovered that a spider had set up camp above my bed. Since I’m absolutely terrified when it comes to spiders, bugs, insects etc., I did what I had to do: Pulled my mattress off the bed and slept on the floor haha (The spider was removed the next day by one of my flatmates).
Tuesday was my last day without any „real“ uni responsibilities and I started it by going to Breakfast with a lovely girl I met at Speed Friending on Saturday. After that, I headed to the Student Services office with another one of my new friends in order to get an answer to one of her questions. After lunch, I went to this event called Therapets which was AMAZING. My uni offered to meet a couple of therapy dogs and even though I am actually kind of scared of dogs, I decided to go. The dogs were really calm and quiet (no barking or anything), so it was really easy to feel comfortable around them, even for me.

After this event, I headed back to my flat for an early dinner before the final activity of the day: A bus tour through Edinburgh with lots of other international students. At this point, I had visited the city quite a few times, but I still got to see and learn things I did not know about, which was great.


This will conclude my blog post on the first half of Fresher’s Week. Since there was so much going on, I feel like splitting it up would be a good idea, so stay tuned for part two 🙂

Sophie

Our Scotland Roadtrip

 
By the time I am writing this, it’s my first night at university and I am currently pretty anxious and homesick. I hope that will improve within the next few days/weeks and have decided to write a blog post in order to distract myself haha.

Now, I was born and raised in Upper Austria, in fact I have never even left my hometown. However, I really wanted to go to University abroad and that’s why my parents, my sister Tabea and me boarded a plane to Edinburgh on the 1st of September. I will certainly do extra posts about uni life and maybe the application process etc. but today I want to focus on the little roundtrip the four of us took for a week before I was dropped off at Uni today.
After a delayed flight, which left one hour later than expected due to heavy rain, we arrived in Edinburgh on the 1st of September. We collected our luggage and a rental car and made our way to a tiny cabin, which was our accommodation for the night. It was situated near Falkirk, which gave us the opportunity to check out the Falkirk wheel (essentially a ferris wheel for boats) before dinner. The wheel is a pretty fascinating construction, however, I was so hungry at this point that I couldn’t really enjoy it. After dinner, we headed back to the cabin, where Tabea and my dad went out for a walk, while my mum and me stayed in an watched an episode of Date night. After everyone had gotten back to the cabin, we went to sleep pretty quickly, since a day full of traveling can obviously be really exhausting.

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On the 2nd of September, we spent the morning in Glasgow, exploring the city and had lunch at BarBurrito, which was a lovely Mexican Restaurant. Glasgow has such nice street art. I felt like everywhere I looked, another painting on a house awaited. I took like a million photos, but decided to only include one (sorry).

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In the afternoon, we headed up to Fort William. Traveling through the Highlands during heavy rain is really an interesting experience! Even though we saw a few hikers here and there, it felt really isolated and the huge mountains and long valleys really make you feel tiny. We actually stayed in a really nice accommodation that night, called Corran Bunkhouse. It had such a nice, homey feeling about it and actually kind of reminded me of Uni Halls haha. We actually got to go to the Restaurant we had dinner at with a ferry, which was so cool! It was raining heavily though and since my phone did not have a lot of battery left, I did not take a single photo, which is so sad, since the whole surrounding area of our accommodation and the restaurant was actually so beautiful.

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We spent the next day traveling again. The first stop we made was Loch Ness, which my sister was really excited about. We took a one-hour boat trip around the Lake and one of the guides on the board told us a few interesting things about the Lake and the creatures that live inside it, which was so interesting! I also got one of the best cookies in my life from a stall near the boat stop so that was nice haha. In the afternoon, we arrived at our next destination: Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. We actually had dinner at Bella Italia. It’s a chain restaurant that I discovered in Brighton during our Interrail trip and the food there is so delicious. If you ever go, you have to try their strawberry pannacotta!

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After one night in Inverness, we headed towards the south again and arrived in Edinburgh on the 4th of September. We actually drove by the Uni campus that day and I had a mental breakdown (which is a story for a different post) and so I stayed home in the evening, facetiming my boyfriend, who was able to cheer me up.
The next day was a bit more eventful, as we started it off by visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is the Queen’s Yacht that she and other members of the Royal Family used until the 1990s to travel around the world. I used to be a huge fan of the Royal Family, so seeing the boat and walking in the footsteps of Royalty was such a nice experience!

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The afternoon was spent shopping, I actually got some new Chelsea Boots from Dr. Martens, which I love so much! We had a simple takeout dinner at home and headed off to bed in order to be fit for Thursday, which was quite an eventful day! We actually spent the morning on a guided walking tour through Edinburgh, which was really educating but honestly kind of exhausting haha. The tour ended at Edinburgh Castle and after exploring there on our own for a bit, we quickly grabbed lunch at Subway. We actually had booked tickets for the Edinburgh Dungeon for that afternoon, but we could only enter at a certain time which at this point was still over an hour away, so we actually sat in the Southern Cross Café for a bit and got some dessert. I had a warm brownie with some ice cream which was SO delicious. The café is also really beautiful and has such a comfortable atmosphere, I highly recommend going there if you’re ever in Edinburgh.
At about 3pm, we finally arrived at the Dungeon in order to be scared out of our minds. My mum chose not go, so it was my sister, my dad and me and we had a really good time! Honestly, I’m super easy to scare but I most of the time I was actually feeling really comfortable and entertained instead of really freaked out. I know that might not be what everyone’s after in a place like the dungeon, but for me, it just made the experience really great!
After our trip there, we spent the evening at the Hard Rock Café. We booked a table in advance and arrived there at about 5 pm. Now, going to the Hard Rock Café (and usually getting some merch there as well) has been part of our family holidays (when we go to cities at least) for like the past 7 years or so, and I still enjoy it so much. Honestly, I just think the atmosphere and hospitality there, mixed with nice background music and the clothes and instruments of favorite artists on the wall make every visit wonderful.
I had the cauliflower wings and some fries and it was SO good, but way too much food for me haha. My mum had the black bean & quinoa burger and let me have a bite and that was really delicious as well, so if you’re vegetarian like me, don’t worry, you’ll find food at the Hard Rock Café too.

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Friday, the 9th of September, was our last day together :(. We travelled to my Uni first thing in the morning, getting all the clothes and stuff I brought from home into my flat. After that was done, we took a trip to Ikea, Sainsbury’s and to the doctor’s office in order to purchase the last things I needed for my room and to register with a local GP. My sister actually made a name tag for my room at Uni, which I think is so adorable and I’ll keep it even after moving out for sure.
Then, in the late afternoon, after exploring the campus, it was time to say goodbye to my family. Everyone cried and it was absolutely horrible to be honest. I never thought I’d be so sad about seeing them leave, but knowing that I won’t be in one room with my parents and my sister until October is honestly really hard on me.
As I said, I hope the homesickness will go away though once lectures start.
Anyway, that concludes our little roundtrip around Scotland.
I’ll soon be back in order to update you guys on University life and everything that’s happening in for me in Edinburgh at the moment.
Sophie

Interrail 2018: Hamburg

 

Finally, on the 21st of August, we arrived at our last destination: Hamburg. This is the only place where we had two different accommodations. That’s because Valentina and Kathi stayed one night longer than Flo and me. The two of us had yet again booked an Airbnb and it was a beautiful apartment in Altona, which is a really quiet part of Hamburg. I felt so safe and comfortable and that was really nice. So, on the first night we arrived relatively late, so we cooked some pasta and then headed straight to bed. The next day, we visited the St. Michael church and then made our way to the „Speicherstadt“ and the surrounding areas. Speicherstadt is an old part of the city with beautiful houses and it’s so nice to just wander through and explore. We also went to see the Elbphilharmonie, which is a relatively new concert hall thing and also looks stunning.

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After getting lunch, we spent some more time around the Central train station, since we were all looking for clothes/accessories to buy for the evening. Valentina got herself a new dress and I bought a small black bag from H&M. Then we went back to our accommodation and got ready for the evening because we went to see a Musical! I absolutely LOVE Musical Theatre and we actually went to see Kinky Boots, which has been on my „Must-See“ List for quite a while. The Theatre we went to was located on the Reeperbahn, which is the Red-Light-District/Party location of Hamburg. The show was SO GOOD and afterwards we grabbed some snacks from various food trucks that were close to the theatre. Flo had mashed potatoes with chickpea-beetroot salad and buttermilk-raspberry dressing (I know it sounds gross, but it was actually really good).

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On our last day in Hamburg, Valentina went to a hairdresser, which left Kathi, Flo and me going to lunch at an Italian restaurant, relaxing at a park and then grabbing some ice cream. After reuniting with Valentina, we spent the remaining day at the park again, just laying in the grass and reminiscing about the trip. At about 5pm, Flo and me headed back to the train station, picked up our bags from the lockers we left them in and waited for our train. We got some water and a magazine and were able to board our train at like 8:30 pm. The ten-hour train journey home was actually quite nice. We had reserved seats in a normal seating compartment. It had 6 seats and for about 5 hours, we shared it with three other people, but after they got off at about 1:30 am, we had the entire compartment to ourselves, which allowed us to lie down and actually get some sleep. At about 6am we arrived at the train station back in Austria, where Flo’s parents picked us up (which was SO nice of them and very appreciated) and drove me home.
And that concluded the two (probably) most eventful weeks of my life. Going on this trip really was a great experience and I would recommend it to you all!
Thanks for sticking around and reading my posts about the trip,
Sophie

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Interrail 2018: Amsterdam

On the 19th of August, we arrived at the second to last stop on our trip: Amsterdam. I’ve visited Amsterdam previously in April 2017, but at the time I did not get to see all too much of the city, as I spent most of my trip there at Vidcon Europe. So even though I had been there before, I did not get bored or anything at all (However, I doubt I’ll ever get bored of Amsterdam, it’s such a stunning place with all the canals and cute little houses).
Because of construction work, we actually had to take the bus from The Hague to Leiden and were only able to board our train there. Even though that was a bit of extra work, we still managed to arrive about an hour earlier than expected. This ended up being a bit of an issue though, since our host was not expecting us and we had to wait for him in front of the Airbnb. This was our fault though, and the flat we stayed in was amazing. On the first night, we all wanted to relax and not really do anything, so Valentina and I took a quick trip to the Supermarket (which was like a 2 minute walk away from our accommodation), got some ingredients and then we all sat together in the living room/dining area and made wraps/burritos.

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The rest of the night was spent as a movie night and we all gathered around my laptop and watched „To all the boys I’ve loved before“. It’s a relatively new rom-com on Netflix and I LOVED it.

The next morning, we went into the Magna Plaza Mall in order to use the bathroom, which might not sound super interesting but i still wanted to share it because the Plaza is STUNNING. It has lots of pretty expensive shops, so we didn’t buy anything, but it’s such a beautiful building.After that little break, we went to explore the Canals. I actually stumbled across the flat my family and I stayed in in April 2017, so that was really cool. Flo and me actually sat down next to one of the canals to have a quick supermarket lunch there and it was actually so nice.

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We also visited a Houseboat museum, which allowed us to take a glimpse into an actual houseboat and learn more about it’s history, which was so interesting.
But that was not the only museum we visited. Kathi really wanted to go to the „Iamsterdam“ sign, which is right next to tons of museums: Reijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Moco (which is where Valentina, Flo and I went to see the Banksy/Icy&Sot/Roy Lichtenstein exhibtion, which was really fascinating).
Our second night was yet again spent relaxed in our accommodation. On the 21st of August, we headed to the train station in the early morning where we killed some time by riding a ferry across a river and then back to Central station.
Finally, in the early afternoon, it was time to grab our bags from the lockers we put them in in the morning, and head to our last stop. amsterdam 5amsterdam 4amsterdam 6amsterdam 7amsterdam 10amsterdam 8

Interrail 2018: The Hague

The Netherlands were the second to last stop on our trip and we actually visited two cities there. The Hague was the first destination and we arrived on the 17th of August. Now, The Hague and Brighton were the two places I loved most on this journey, and I am convinced it is because they’re pretty similar. They’re both seaside towns with cute houses and they both have such a nice „small town“ feeling to them, while offering all the advantages of bigger cities. I absolutely need to return one day.
Our trip there was already a bit interesting, since we got off one stop too early when going there. Fortunately, we asked the conductor and were able to jump on the train again literally seconds before it left.
Anyway, The Hague also had one of the best accommodations for us. We stayed with a lovely couple in their house. Our flat was located on the third floor and we had our own bathroom, kitchen and even a balcony! The other part of the house was inhabited by our hosts and we felt very „at-home“ and comfortable there.
On the first night, we didn’t do a lot. We cooked a simple dinner at home and then went out for a short walk.

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The 18th was Flo’s Birthday, so we stayed up until Midnight watching Brooklyn 99 (one of our favorite shows) in order to actually be awake during the beginning of his birthday. After midnight, we went to bed relatively quickly though, as the next day was a busy one.
Flo choose „Bagels&Beans“ for breakfast/brunch and that was such a good idea! I had their avocado bagel with cucumber and dill cream cheese and it was SO delicious. Additionally, they put their cream cheese in an extra glass so you can choose yourself how much you want on your bagel, which is fantastic for a picky eater like me.

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After breakfast, we took a few hours to walk to the Central train station to buy some tram tickets. On the way, we visited Paleistuin (a beautiful park/garden), Binnenhof (which has the seats of the Netherland’s Parliament) andthe Peace Palace (which has a visitor’s centre, the seats of the International Court of Justice and much more).

We also took a small trip to the beach and pier but there were so many people there, it was honestly a little overwhelming and intimidating and I was happy once we were on the bus back home.
In the evening, we had dinner at this Café near our accommodation, Café Franklin (I was excited because it had the same name as my cat haha). I had nachos, fries and falafel. The food was okay, but customer service was pretty good. We had to wait really long for our falafel since the kitchen probably lost our order or something, which would have been annoying, but the waiter noticed our long wait and told us we didn’t have to pay for the Falafel, which was so nice.
On the 19th, Flo and me spent the morning in bed since I felt a bit ill, while Kathi and Valentina went to the beach again. After napping a little, I felt a lot better in the afternoon and we soon boarded the train to Amsterdam.the hague 3the hague 5the hague 7the hague 8the hague 1the hague 10the hague 11the hague 13the hague 14

Interrail 2018: Brussels

After our stay in London, we headed back through the Eurostar tunnel and arrived in Brussels on the 16th of August. We only stayed in Brussels for one night before moving on to The Hague and even though that made me feel a bit sad before the trip, in the end I was glad we left that early.
Now, we booked this beautiful flat on airbnb, however, when we arrived, we couldn’t stay there because there was a pipe break and we were relocated to another place. It was an okay-ish flat, but in my opinion not worth the money we had paid to stay there. For one, it was on the ground floor, which left my paranoid self worrying about a break-in for the entire night. The absolute worst thing about it was the bathroom though. The shower and two toilets were located in the cellar, they all had GLASS doors and the toilet doors couldn’t even be fully closed. We had to put shoes at the top of the stairs whenever one of us was using the toilet/shower so that we wouldn’t walk in on each other and tbh, I HATED it.
Brussels itself is a beautiful city though. However, I have this personal problem with associating Brussels with danger. I don’t really know where that comes from, maybe it’s because of the different EU institutions that have their seats there but i don’t know. Anyway, this fear made me feel a little tense and scared for our entire stay, which so sad since as i said, Brussels is a stunning place.
After settling into our flat, we had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and I grabbed some Australian ice cream afterwards, which was SO delicious. We visited the traditional Brussels flower carpet twice throughout our stay and before leaving for The Hague, we obviously also had to visit Manneken Pis (which is a small statue of a peeing boy, don’t ask me why it’s such an important sight, because I don’t know). Our last stop in Brussels was the Atomium. Right in front of it, preparations for a firework celebration kinda thing where taking place and it was really interesting to see that.
The afternoon of the 17th of August was spent in the food court of the train station, where we got to unwind and relax a little bit before heading out the Netherlands. brussels 6brussels 2brussels 3brussels 1brussels 7brussels 5brussels 4