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Here are all the things that international students aren’t warned about before coming to Edinburgh


Culture shock and just general disorientation are unavoidable whenever you move to a new country. The university tries to provide a guide for incoming international students, consisting of things such as coherent lists of options for paying fees, welcome week activities and specialist supermarkets. But while there were a few pieces of information that helped with the practical side of moving to Edinburgh, there were a few things that they forgot to mention. Here's what shocked me most.

The language

This was one of the biggest things for me as an international student, not just in Edinburgh, but with the wider UK student community. Here I was, trying to be nice and maybe make a few friends, only to be hindered by the meaning of a single word. Pants.

Me: "I like your pants."

Friend: "What? How can you see my pants?? Do you have X-Ray vision????"

We get it. You say trousers. Pants are underwear. Tip to future international students: assimilate quickly. The longer you go not using local lingo, the worse the teasing gets.

The danger of cobblestones after it rains

Holy cow, was this a painful lesson learned. Never, and I repeat, NEVER walk on the cobblestones after it rains. The number of times I've felt my feet slip and I've seen my life flash before my eyes is way too many to count. When in doubt, stick to the pavement.

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Before the tragic fall. Don't even get me started on when it's icy

The public school culture

So first thing you should know, public school is actually private school. Weird, right? I remember sitting in the common room at Chancellor's being extremely confused as two of the poshest people I had ever met conversed about their public school experiences. Public school is apparently what they call private boarding school in the UK, and state schools are what you would consider public school elsewhere. Not necessarily a huge deal, but it would have saved me a couple of months of confusion when meeting new people.

Paying for plastic bags

Yes, I know, it's better for the environment. It would have been nice to know the first time I went shopping though, maybe I could have saved 20p on the four bags I ended up buying.

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I don’t think my flat will ever NOT have a reusable bag

Lack of 24/7 things

RIP 24 hour McDonald's, your chicken nuggets after a night at Bourbon have been sorely missed. I feel like this is a tip that everyone coming to Edinburgh can use: either leave the club before 3am to get yourself a kebab from down the street, or walk home in utter disappointment because everywhere is closed. Alternatively, if you're self-catered, get yourself a stash of "drunk-only" food.

Services closing on the weekends

Always, always, ALWAYS Google the opening and closing hours of shops before you set out on a 20 minute long walk to a closed shop. Most supermarkets are open everyday, but most specialist stores and restaurants are close on certain day, which means you have to eat Korean food tomorrow instead. Disappointing.

It's morally okay drink at any point in the day

To be honest, I'm not really complaining about this one. Just don't be surprised when your friends decide to go to the Pear Tree after a particularly brutal 11am lecture.

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Frozen margarita at Civerinos in broad daylight? Yes please

About 90 per cent of first-year accommodation is over 20 minutes away from central – don't even get me started on Kings

Another sort of double-edged sword of this city. Yes, you will have some swole thighs, but at what cost? There's nothing worse than showing up to lectures sweaty (and also sometimes late) and having to peel off all your layers one by one like an onion – only to have to trek back an hour later.

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Enough said

The two taps – WHY?

This was the final straw. Why on earth would I want the choice of having to wash my hands under either a stream of scalding hot or freezing cold water? The one mystery I still have not figured out – how to achieve the perfect temperature of water when brushing my teeth.

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Honestly this is the last straw