Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

McLaine Beeman Edinburgh Internship Program, Scotland


January 10, 2018

I have been in Edinburgh now for a little over a week!

I arrived New Years Day at 8am, late enough to miss any lingering Hogmanay celebrations and early enough to ensure all stores were still closed following the evenings celebrations. I’m quite sure I looked like a little kid on the bus ride in, with my nose smashed against the window. We whipped past stony apartments, little primary schools, countless tesco expresses, barber shops, and cafes. At the second to last stop the entire bus got off. Assuming this was a test on my likeliness to cave into peer pressure, I stayed firmly in my seat and rehearsed my stop in my head. The bus driver quickly burst that moment of individualism.

“Lass, ya got tah get off. Streets are all closed from here!” He called back to me.

“Oh right. That’s right,” I called back in an accent very obviously conveying that this was news to me.

I quickly stumbled off the bus, complete with a tote purse, packed duffle bag and 48.6 pound luggage in tow. It all felt like the opening scene to a rom com; overpacked American hobbles off in a best-guess direction, suitcase rattling across cobblestones, a phone restricted to airplane mode. I mean, c’mon, it was even raining.

Fast forward a week and things have definitely become more settled. We had orientation for the first few days, where we covered everything from Scottish film to futbol rivalries to university grading scales. (If you’re looking for movies: skip Braveheart, watch Trainspotting). I moved into my accommodation, a student housing center where I have met many of my friends so far.

So far the culture shock hasn’t been overwhelming at all. Obviously, though, there are differences, of which I have begun a list.

  • There are so many little pop in grocery stores here. It’s really nice- you never have to go far to get groceries! It’s possible that this is how it is in other major cities and my midwest background is showing, but still, it’s new to me
  • Transportation: the bus system is so efficient and I wish America could be as well connected as this
  • Driving on the opposite side of the road has been more of an adjustment than I thought. I knew I wouldn’t be driving so I didn’t think it would bother me, but when I cross the road I always instinctively look the wrong way. I’ve taken to just whipping my head back and forth a couple hundred times to assure everyone around me I’m not a local
  • The outlets are not only different, but they have off switches too because the voltage it so high. Our stove alone has an off switch and a another button you have to touch your finger to for it to turn on, and it still turns off after 10 or 15 minutes if you don’t restart it. The upside: water takes no time to heat up in the electric kettle!
  • It took me a full week to find a hairdryer and it ended up being in a display case of a hardware store we passed. I’m not sure if this is the norm but still interesting
  • The bathroom light is motion censored, but only from outside of the shower. So every three minutes you’ll find yourself waving a dripping arm frantically outside the shower curtain trying to save yourself from showering in pitch black darkness. It’s actually becoming a little endearing
  • Class is structured very differently here. I only have two, but that equates to 10 US hours. Still, I only in total meet in a classroom for 5 hours every week!

Those are a few little first impressions. Next week I’ll have done a few more of the common tourist-y stuff, and be able to give an insider’s guide to the most common Edinburgh travel lists. Stay tuned!


Internship Scotland