Memoirs of an Exchange Student - part 3: Bang!

I’ve been here in Edinburgh for more than two months already and I feel like I can now really call this place my second home. I know my way around the main parts of the city and I’m beginning to have friends here as well. I mean, seriously, my social life is more than just people on Facebook and Fanni (also representing HY and SUB here in Edinburgh). I actually threw a party last Friday to celebrate my successful attempt in making salmari (it’s really yumsie, btw) and was pleasantly surprised at who showed up. Out of the guests, three quarters were people I know from the ISC (International Student Centre) and the others I’ve randomly met elsewhere. The ISC lounge has actually become my main domain for socialising. Whenever I go there, I always find someone I know who I can talk to or to play Bang! with. They also have free coffee and tea every day from 12noon to 4pm, which is nice! I have to admit that I maybe go there a bit too often... I may or may not have skipped a lecture or two or three playing board games and just socialising at the ISC lounge. Of course I’ve done some studying here as well and I haven’t just been skipping lectures at the ISC. In fact, the best and most interesting course I’ve ever had is one I’m taking this semester, Scots and Scottish English. I actually jumped up and down for a while when I found out that the course was being offered this year, which might say something about my enthusiasm. But it’s not just the actual subject or the really good lecturer that makes the course a good one. Instead, what makes it even better is that there are actual living Scottish people on the course and the lecturer often makes a use of them to prove a point. This is exactly why taking a course in English linguistics is most useful where the language is actually spoken natively. I can’t imagine that a course concentrating on a particular variety of English would prove to be quite as interesting in Helsinki as the Scots and Scottish English course is. My other courses are also so much more interesting than anything I’ve had so far and I constantly find myself learning new things about the Scottish culture and the stereotypical things often linked to Scotland (e.g. kilts and tartan). One of the best things about being here is actually studying in the country I’m studying about. I can just step outside, or actually I don’t even have to step outside since I live with two Scottish girls, and take in everything this place has to offer.

I’ve seen quite a few new places since the last issue of BTSB came out. I went to London for the first time ever to see my aunt and her family, did a weekend trip to the Highlands and visited a whisky distillery. But even though I’ve seen many of the places I really wanted to see while I’m here, there is still so much I want to do. I still have to go to Ireland, Isle of Skye and take another trip to London. Paris is also tempting me as a possible spring break destination. I’m very glad I’m not here for one semester only, because to be frank, that would suck. First of all, my English isn’t good enough yet (even though it wasn’t that bad to begin with and it just keeps getting better and better all the time) and secondly, it would just feel stupid to leave when I’m finally having people to socialise with and stuff to do.

Even though I really love it here and, to be honest, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, I’m starting to look forward to getting back to Helsinki for Christmas and already booked a flight which should get me to Helsinki on the 21st of December (unless Heathrow fails somewhere in the process). I can’t wait to squeeze my dog and see all my friends and family and to be able to get along by speaking Finnish. Meanwhile, I just have to keep Bang!ing in the backroom of the ISC with my new friends and continue making the most of being in Scotland. The writer is a third-year English philology student with a minor in British and Irish studies. She will be spending the year 2011-12 as an exchange student at University of Edinburgh in Scotland. During her stay there she hopes to get better acquainted with the Scottish culture and learn to at least imitate the Scottish accent as well as make the most of the extraordinary scenery the country has to offer.

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