23 November 2021

Jennifer Mullins, MSc Human Resource Management, is originally from Dublin, Ireland. Jennifer moved to Edinburgh as she fell in love with the history and culture of the city, and she shares with us some tips for your first few weeks in Edinburgh.
A landscape of downtown Edinburgh and Edinburgh Castle

While moving to a new city can be daunting, your first few weeks in Edinburgh are an exciting period full of opportunities to explore and discover. Here are a few tips for making the most of this time.

1. Settling in

Your first few weeks in Edinburgh is the perfect time to make yourself feel at home. Whether you are living in student accommodation or you have found private accommodation, it is wise to use this time to make yourself feel as comfortable as possible in your new space.

A quick way to feel closer to home is to incorporate different aspects of it into your new place. From hanging up your dearest pictures to stocking the shelves with some of your favourite snacks from home, there are a variety of ways to make the new space feel like your own.

2. Scheduling calls with family and friends

It is important to keep in mind that moving your whole life to a new country is not easy and you are not expected to feel settled right away. It may take some time for you to feel at home in Edinburgh, but one way to keep homesickness at bay is to arrange a time for catch-ups with family.

At this stage of 2021, I am sure we are all familiar with Zoom (thank you lockdown). This is a great way to keep in contact with family back home. For the first few weeks in Edinburgh, it may be helpful to schedule daily Zoom calls with family until your schedule is busier and you start to feel more settled, in which case you can progressively reduce the number of times you call, if you prefer.

3. Plan a trip home to look forward to

Another method of avoiding homesickness is planning a trip home if feasible. Having a date in the diary for a reunion with family is a great way to stay motivated and provides some comfort in knowing that with each passing day, you are another day closer to seeing loved ones again.

4. Get to know your local facilities

Going hand in hand with settling in is discovering the facilities available to you in your local area. Your first few weeks in Edinburgh is an ideal time to identify your favourite grocery shop (although it is tough to choose a winner between Aldi and Lidl), find your nearest pharmacy, local library, and public parks. There are a wide range of facilities on your doorstep in Edinburgh and now is a great time to make use out of them.

5. Familiarise yourself with the public transport options

It is also a good idea to test out the different transportation options in your area. From trams and buses, to trains and bikes, there is great choice in Edinburgh for all your transportation needs.

Testing out your preferred route to university ahead of schedule can relieve some of the stress about your first day. It will also provide peace of mind that you are familiar with your options in case a scenario occurs where your preferred option is not available (there is no shortage of road works in Edinburgh).

6. Register with a GP

One crucial aspect of student life that we often take for granted is our health. It is very important upon arrival in Edinburgh that you register with a GP, be it the GP at the University Health Services on the Edinburgh Campus or one in your local area. While most people tend to believe they are invincible, the fact of the matter is that we are not, we are human and inevitably we all feel under the weather at times.

So, it is highly important that you have a GP who will provide care if you happen to feel ill during your time in Edinburgh. Time is of the essence in this matter, therefore it is very important to get this established during your first few weeks in Edinburgh.

7. Look into joining a gym

On a lighter note, but still relevant to health, gym facilities are available on campus and in many locations across Edinburgh. Looking after your physical health by participating in physical exercise is very important for a healthy mind and body. You can use this time to become a member of a gym, or alternatively, you could explore the different public parks in your area and discover your favourite route for running or walking.

8. Join one of the many clubs on campus or in the city

Use this time to see what activities are available to you. Physical health is crucial but mental health is equally as important and finding friends in Edinburgh can help you to feel happy and comfortable here.

If you join a gym you may find people with similar interests there, or perhaps you decided to take the running/walking option — maybe there is a running/walking club available in your local area. If chess interests you, there are public chess clubs as well as a university chess club. If musical theatre is your passion, there is a group for you in Edinburgh.

Whatever your hobby may be, there is a club/society in the University of Edinburgh eager for you to join them. The weeks leading up to the beginning of term are teaming with events designed to get you to meet a wide variety of people. My advice would be to attend as many of these events as possible.

This not only helps you to familiarise yourself with the University, but it also enables you to make friends from a range of courses.

9. Explore, explore, explore

If you love walks on the beach, breath-taking architecture, and rich history, Edinburgh is the place for you. This beautiful city is bursting at the seams with locations to explore and why not use your first few weeks in Edinburgh to explore them.

From Portobello Beach to Dean Village, from Arthur’s Seat to Edinburgh Castle there are countless things to do in Edinburgh that are not only fun but free too! You won’t have to travel very far, as there are so many attractions close to the University.

Although I recommended many public transport options earlier, Edinburgh is an extremely walkable city. Over the course of a few hours, you can see many of the free attractions I have listed above, as well as many more!

Jennifer Mullins

Jennifer Mullins is studying MSc Human Resource Management.