Monday, September 27, 2010

1 Month In

It's  hard to believe I have been here for almost a month now, and time feels like it is flying by. My flat is coming together really nicely, and every day when I come home from work I really love relaxing and just watching hikers outside of my kitchen window climb Arthur's Seat (the dormant volcano). Last weekend I decided to attempt this climb with my 20 year old RA Denes. He's from Hungary and is a rower for the University, and about 1/2 way up I realized how out of shape I was. He practically ran up the mountain, and I had to stop about every 20 feet to take breaks. I blamed it on the altitude, although I know deep down I am out of shape, which I am working on fixing and will explain later. Once we made it to the top it the view made the trip worth while and I can't wait to try my hand again at the journey on another nice weekend. I have also been making a lot of new friends including two of my co-workers Nik and Kristin. Nik is 35, from Scotland and he runs marathons. He also teaches spinning class twice a week, and has invited me to start coming to class. Hopefully he can whip me into shape in no time, however I am dreading my first class tonight! The night life here is also fun to partake in, and I have been able to get out to a few nightclubs for dancing and have been hitting local pubs right around the corner from where I live. I would have to say one of my favourite things about living here is being so close to everything, but I guess that's one of the privileges of living in the middle of a capitol city. Last week I made the mistake of going for a run after work, and by mistake I mean going without my wallet. As I ran down to Princess Street I discovered the shopping district, and all I had on me was my ipod. So I had to resort to window shopping, but I will definitely be prepared the next time I decide I need to get out, even if it's just a run! I would say the highlight of my weekend was when a tourist stopped me on the street to ask me if I was a local and could if I could help her with directions. I just laughed and politely said I just moved here, but at least I look like I fit in! The Pope also came to visit last week, which resulted in traffic, a parade with men in kilts playing bag pipes, and a day off work! Work is starting to pick up, and I feel like I get more involved every day. I love working with my RA/HA staff and look forward to the year ahead of us. Next week I am taking my residents on a trip to the Edinburgh Zoo and the Highlands, so hopefully I can post some cute pics of animals and some great scenery! Until then I will see you on the internet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Training, Moving In, and Coming Up Weekend

The past week has been a whirl wind! The week started with RA/HA training, which consisted of long days and training sessions which I helped to facilitate. I think the European students were not thrilled with my ice breaker games like the human knot or name games, but I continued to try new things with them and finally broke through on day 3. They really enjoyed learning about my on call experiences and I am really excited to be working with my new staff of 65 RA's ranging in age from 18 to 26. My favorite part about my staff is that more than 1/2 are international students, so we have students from all over the world including Poland, Spain, Hungary, Bermuda, Ireland, United States, England, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria, and of course Scotland. Once RA training ended we began our preparation for "Coming Up Weekend", or move in.  My building holds around 140 residents, and my staff of 7 and I prepared the halls for opening to welcome our students. Saturday night my RA Denes (pronounced Danish like the pastry) took all of our students on a Pub Crawl, which is something that all of the "Freshers" (aka Freshman) students are required to do! We also had a house meeting which we provided wine for our residents, and the students all seemed to be really nice and didn't cause too many disruptions. My residents also range in age from as young as 16 to as old as 28! Tonight we have a dance called a Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee) which is a traditional Gaelic dance for the students. Kilts will be present! I finally moved into my flat, and pictures will be posted soon once all of my boxes are unpacked. It is a really nice flat overlooking the dormant volcano. Since I am on the 4th floor (which is really the 5th because in the UK the bottom level is ground level) I can over look the entire residential facility, or what I like to refer to as the Pollock Compound. Although I have been quite busy it has been a great week! The picture shows a part of Arthur's Seat (the dormant volcano) with my office on the left and some of the other residence halls on the Pollock Compound in the front. Cheers and I will see you on the internet!

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Weekend in Edinburgh

Well I just got through my first weekend in Edinburgh, and I am settling into the city quite nicely. I would say that the most shocking thing thus far is the language barrier. Even though this is an English speaking country, I have had a difficult time understanding people, especially those on the phone. I am sure that this will fade with time, but I have been really trying to pick up on some on the common lingo. Last week flew by, and I was in my Warden training for my job most of the time. On Friday evening I ventured out with a few of my fellow Wardens to a few local pubs. It was nice to find some local pubs near where I live, and I will hopefully be considered a local soon! Another thing I have found interesting is the choice of snack food available at the end of a night out. Now as many of you know, at the end of a long night out back in the States we typically head for pizza or chicken nuggets. Here, the traditional thing to get, and this is gross so prepare yourself, is a deep fried candy bar and chips (aka french fries)  with mayonnaise and cheese. GROSS! I stuck with my traditional chicken nuggets of course. On Saturday I decided it was time to venture out into my new city, and started with a hike of Arthur's Seat (the dormant volcano). What was amazing is that there was the World Duathlon Championship taking place on the volcano, so as I was hiking up there were world champion athletes biking by me. It was good motivation to keep going, as I am no longer as in shape as I want to be. I finished the day with walking around High Street admiring the many men in kilts. Sunday was more wondering around of the city, walking up to the Edinburgh Castle. In Edinburgh, the Fringe Festival occurs during the entire month of August. To end the festival, the city puts on a fireworks show, so last night the other Wardens and I went to watch the fireworks. They were spectacular, and I really like to think the city put them on to welcome me as a new resident! It was a great way to end the weekend, and again on the way home came more deep fried candy bars (not sure if I can get use to those). This week begins my RA training, so with late nights and move in weekend starting on Saturday I am not sure if I will be posting a blog, but keep in touch and I will see you on the internet.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Arriving to my New Home

Well I made it! It wasn't the greatest trip, but my bags and I landed safely in Scotland around 3pm yesterday. Thanks to mechanical errors, my flight was delayed causing me to miss my connection in London, however I was re-booked quickly and took the next flight to Edinburgh around 1:30pm. Upon arriving I met my administrative assistant Dawn who was waiting for me with a giant sign that said Welcome Katie Thorne at the airport. From there we took a taxi, (a traditional cab), throughout the city to my new place of residence in the Mason House at Pollock Halls. It was quite the adventure driving on the other side of the road. Because my flat is under construction for renovation, I am in a temporary room in the accommodation hotel on campus. It is quite nice, and the view of the dormant volcano outside of my room is amazing. Then came the dining hall- and it was fantastic! Definitely not what I am have been use to at my old school, a lot fresher and too many options to choose from! This made me very excited as you all know I love to eat! Once I finished in the dining hall, I went right into my warden training which first consisted of tea and crumpets, and hearing a lecture from the Scottish fire marshal. Around 9pm we were released, and because it was the first day of training I soon came to realize that it was a requirement to head to the pub for a drink. At that point I was so tried I could hardly see, but I didn't want to be rude and not bond with my wardens staff. And the staff is great- a diverse mix of people, aging from 25 to 60. Some people have been wardens and living in for 16 years. And the great thing is the pub was INSIDE of my dining hall! And did I mention that my dining hall is about 20 steps outside of the front door to my Residence Hall?! Oh how things are different over here. I ended up heading to bed around 10pm after having been up for around 26 hours. Today I began work at my new building, which is inside of an old Church that looks like a castle. The picture attached to this blog is what I am referring too. This shows my office and the building to the right of my office which has green windows is my residence hall (Lee House). Some of you know that my most favorite tree of all time is called Monkey Puzzle. I knew this was meant to be when I noticed that right outside of the entrance to the building was a giant Monkey Puzzle tree! I won't be able to skype until I move into my hall on the 10th, and my email is limited to when I am in the office. I hope to keep up on blogging to keep everyone in the loop throughout this adventure. Until next time, I will see you on the Internet.