Interview: Nayna Florence on her time at Edinburgh University and what’s next after graduation
From almost dropping out to having the best year of her life
For many Edinburgh University students, Nayna Florence is a household name. In fact, her aesthetic Edinburgh vlogs and Instagram posts have no doubt inspired hundreds to apply to Edinburgh Uni with the dream of following in her footsteps.
With over 272k subscribers on YouTube and 117k followers on Instagram, it’s easy to think she’d be unrelatable to the average Joe (or in Edinburgh’s case, the average Izzy). However, meeting her at 11am in the Soderberg Pavilion, it was like meeting up with a new friend.
What makes Nayna seem so relatable is the fact that she is. After all, she’s just another Edinburgh Uni student like the rest of us.
She’s cried in the library, hates queuing for Subway, and even has a flat mouse.
Oh, and she ordered an oat milk chai latte. So Edinburgh.
Two years ago, The Edinburgh Tab spoke to Nayna Florence all about her life as a university YouTuber and turning the Edinburgh aesthetic into a career. Now, about to graduate and leave the world of Edinburgh behind, we caught up with Nayna to reflect on her time at university, as well as to discuss her plans for the future:
What has fourth year been like for you?
According to Nayna, fourth year has been her best year yet “despite all the work”. Not only has she reached a combined following of 389k followers on YouTube and Instagram, but she’s also submitted her dissertation, come first in a cheer competition, and still had time to have a social life.
However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In the run-up to her diss deadline, she tells us how she was so stressed one day that she cried in the library: “I didn’t even go to the toilets, I just cried right in the open”.
But now that she’s officially done with work, Nayna’s swapping Main Lib tears for trips to Barcelona and Berlin with her uni friends, as well as watching a lot of TV.
During exam season Nayna tells us that she loves re-watching old favourites like Friends and Gavin and Stacey, but she’s currently watching Derry Girls and Conversations With Friends, which she was “really excited about”.
Her verdict so far is that “it’s good but the casting is not what I expected”. She also adds that she likes the way its shot and edited.
The highs and the lows of university
Something that Nayna doesn’t hide in her videos is the low points of university life. She was so miserable in her first semester at Edinburgh, that she almost dropped out. “I’d be crying on the phone to my mum all the time because I hated it, and I knew that made her really sad”, she tells us. “I was so sure I’d drop out at Christmas”.
Like many of us, Nayna struggled to find people she really clicked with in those first few weeks, and didn’t gel with her flatmates. She tells us it was “kind of like living on your own, which isn’t what you signed up for”. We also agreed that seeing everyone post pictures on Instagram seemingly having the best time ever only made these feelings of isolation and loneliness worse.
Asking her why she decided to stay, she explains: “The issue wasn’t that I didn’t have any friends, I just value really deep relationships.
“I don’t like hanging out with people on a surface level, but obviously it’s gonna take time to build those relationships.”
Of course, for every low there’s also a high. Nayna tells us that some of her best moments from university include road tripping to the Isle of Skye, and “basically the entirety of fourth year”.
We ask if she’d do anything differently if she was back in first year, to which she responds: “I think I probably would have made more effort with the people that were in my halls, because I saw it as past Freshers’ Week everyone’s already made their friends and that’s that.
“I thought it was set in stone which it’s not. You can make friends at any time.
“But actually, I wouldn’t actually change anything because it got me to where I am now.”
What advice would you give to any Freshers?
With many of her subscribers watching her all the way from A Level results day to now about to graduate, a fresh new cohort of Edinburgh students are about to follow in her footsteps.
It’s no secret that Nayna balances a lot. Not only is she doing an Economics degree and making YouTube videos, she also has a podcast, does cheerleading, and even still has time to go to the gym. Asking her what her tips for organisation are, she tells us: “I’m not a perfectionist. I don’t do things until they’re perfect, and I think that helps.
“I like planning out my day, but I think because all my activities are so different it doesn’t feel like a chore. To me, cheer is exercise and seeing my friends, YouTube is more creative, and then my degree is quite mathematical. So it’s a good variety for my brain.
“If I get bored of one thing, I can move onto something else.
“But I do make a to-do list every day.”
She tells us that her main advice for any Freshers is to “try and get involved with as much as possible, like sport societies, music, drama, whatever you like”.
Nayna met many of her best friends in Edi from joining Cheer in first year, and she stresses how you can meet friends from all parts of university life, not just halls.
And as for finding a second year flat, Nayna’s main advice is “don’t get too ahead of yourself. I’ve actually found doing things more last minute is cheaper and easier.
“You’ve just got to trust the process.”
Of course, we had to ask Nayna all about her favourite spots in Edinburgh, seeing as she is the queen of the Edinburgh aesthetic.
She tells us that one of the main reasons she chose to come to Edinburgh Uni was because “the city felt like good vibes”. Coming from London, she liked how it was a big enough city but everything was still walking distance. She also really liked the idea of doing a four-year degree.
Some of her favourite walks around the city include Stockbridge, Calton Hill, and to the M&S on Princes Street, where Nayna often goes to “buy a cookie and then just walk home”.
When it comes to food, Nayna can often be found at Bross Bagels, Pizza Posto, BRGR, and Bento. A recent new favourite of hers is SEN on West Nicolson Street. Being a vegan, Nayna tells us that it’s easy finding places to eat in Edinburgh, and that she’s “not a fussy eater”.
While she might not be fussy with food, Nayna does have her favourite (and not-so-favourite) clubs.
Despite the long queues, she’s a Subway girl – and was even going there later on that night. Gari’s and Big Cheese are also favourites of hers, although she hadn’t been to a Cheese in many months.
Mine and Helena’s admittance that we were Hive people was met with the usual judgement. Nayna tells us that she’s “just not a fan of the music”, even though she is the owner of a Trash Tuesdays t-shirt (she won it).
The same night, one of her friends won a Hive condom, and we agree that anyone who whips one of those out in bed is a walking red flag.
But safety first, I guess.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt from your time at Edinburgh?
Nayna tells us that the biggest thing university taught her was how to be independent.
She shares that: “While my first year was rough, I definitely think now I know I could live alone.
“Just getting through first year means I feel like I can get through anything now.
“I was quite far from home and I didn’t go back much, so just coming here and not knowing anyone, building a whole life, I feel like that’s probably the biggest lesson I learnt.”
While she does enjoy cooking for herself, Nayna reveals that she isn’t one for meal prep.
She tells us that “I have five meals I cook that are good, but I have this weird thing where I have to eat whatever it is that I’m in the mood for that day.
“So I go to Tesco to buy things for the food I want to eat that day, rather than meal prepping.”
Because of this, Nayna also admits that her and flatmate Niamh don’t really share meals that often due to lack of planning.
“We’ll eat together maybe a couple of times a week, but yeah, it’s not that much”.
Plans for the future
It’s the question that every final year dreads, but it has to be asked. Nayna tells us that she’ll be moving back home in June, but has plans to travel next year.
Calling it a gap year, she hopes to visit Southeast Asia, India, and maybe even spend some time in Spain doing a language programme.
And of course, she’ll be vlogging the whole thing.
She tells us that being a full-time YouTuber would “stress me out too much”, but that she’ll definitely be spending a lot of time making videos during her gap year.
But for those of you who are sad to see the end of her study videos, don’t give up hope yet. A Masters degree could very well be in her future.
Nayna tells us that: “After travelling I think I might do a Masters. I know a lot of people starting city jobs and I just don’t want a job like that at all.
“I was maybe thinking about doing a Masters in International Development, maybe at LSE. It’s something that’s a bit different to my degree but still vaguely relevant.
“I guess we’ll see.”