Interview with Melanie: High School Friend Turned Uni Friend

It's pretty common to have a friend (or acquaintance) from high school go to the same University as you. You might be in the same business lecture, wave to each other when you cross the quad, and meet up for coffee every once in a while.

What's not particularly common is having a friend from high school cross an ocean with you, and end up at the same University in another country together. 

It absolutely amazes me every day to think that my friend Melanie and I both ended up at the University of Edinburgh. I remember when Mel was accepted, and I was still waiting on my decision and trying to decide where I wanted to go. As far as I was concerned, going to Uni in Scotland was a far off dream that I wasn't even considering very much. Mel was so excited to be going to University here, and took any chance she could to try to convince me to come with her. And I guess, in the end, she did.

In our matching glasses on one of our first days in Edinburgh. 

I can't tell you how grateful I am to have a friend here that had many of the same experiences as me in high school- from struggling through sophomore Spanish, to taking the dreaded AP journalism exam, to being on Denebola (our online newspaper) together. It's funny, because the two of us were definitely friends, and had a lot of mutual friends, but didn't exactly run in the same social circle in high school. And it's turned out to be the same way here at University too! It surprises me how many mutual friends we have in a school of 30,000 students. 

Because Mel is so awesome and eloquent, I thought I'd interview her. This way you can hear what someone has to say about going the the University of Edinburgh and living in Scotland that isn't me.

What made you want to come to University in Scotland? 

I remember vividly the moment when the thought first struck me of University in Scotland. It was actually St. Andrews first that I really wanted to go to, during Junior year. It's beautiful, it's overseas, I love the UK- like, I have a strong, really intense love for the UK- and I was like 'it costs less money- it's perfect!' I had never known that option even existed. And then I learned about Edinburgh- it's in a city, the city is literary. I totally fell in love with Edinburgh- and after that I was like 'Edinburgh for sure.'

Yup, coming to Edinburgh was definitely a good idea.

What surprised you the most about coming here?

I would say the international presence- how cosmopolitan the University is. I just take it for granted now, but speaking with some of my American friends, it's different. I mean, the fact that I'm currently in the room with another American, a Swedish person, and a Scottish person is amazing. And then I have friends from India and Norway- really just everywhere.  

What societies are you involved in? 

I'm mostly involved in 'People and Planet' which is a social and environmental activism society. And we're currently doing a fossil fuel divestment campaign that everyone that reads this should get involved in, because divestment from fossil fuels is really necessary to help transition into a fossil free world that we all can live in. And then I may become involved in an Economics magazine later on. 

What is your favorite restaurant or cafe in Edinburgh? 

There's a really nice place near the beach, called Portobello beach. I'm not sure what the place is called, but it's by the seaside. And it has organic ingredients, a friendly staff, and they even grow herbs in their garden. It has all fresh meat, bread, and cheeses, and the best hot chocolate in the world. 

What do you miss most about being in the States? 

My family and my close friends. Obviously my family will be a part of my life always. But I feel like my friends and I at home have strong bonds and I don't want to leave them for college friends. Even though I do like college friends. I really miss them- the distance is tough.

It may look like Christmas, but here we're celebrating a true American holiday- aka Thanksgiving. 

It's a Friday or Saturday night in Edinburgh- what can we find you doing?

Well, this Saturday I was partying. You know me- party animal! And on Friday I was at the theatre. I've been out for the past three Saturdays, but I'm often out doing cool cultural activities on weekends too- like dinners and theatre. On an average weekend I'm out partying one night, and doing some other activity the other night.  

How did you find the process of looking for a flat? 

Very, very stressful. Our flat is really pretty, but it's not the best price in the world. It's really hard to find anything cheaper for six people. There's also the huge drama of who to live with. I wish it was a lot easier.  

Pick one: Scottish, English, Irish, or Welsh accent? (and why) 

Irish. Welsh accents are very flat. I think I would've said in the past- like my American self- would've said English but I've kind of become immune to them. So I'd say Irish because they're the ones I see least here. Also, Irish people are adorable.

What advice would you give to an incoming fresher coming from America to the University of Edinburgh?

First, it's a little bit overwhelming at the beginning, young grasshopper. And everyone's going to tell you that Fresher's Week is the best week of the year- but it's not. Also, the people I'm living with next year, I didn't really meet them until late November. We generally all avoided each other before that and told each other we were the most anti-social floor. So be patient. It's so overwhelming because it's a new place and there's so many different people. But don't just expect that everything will be the way it's supposed to be right at the beginning, because the best things come with time. It sounds really cliche, but that's actually what happens. I would also say, don't get too drunk because alcohol is legal. It's really fun, but be careful and be safe!

Melanie says, 'Be careful with your alcohol, young children!'

Many thanks to Melanie for taking the time to talk to me! (and for giving me tea and biscuits)  


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