Readers of my blogs might know by now that I spent the first semester of the IMFSE programme studying at The University of Edinburgh. Scotland has been always on my list of “must see” places, and I was incredibly happy for the chance to study and live in Edinburgh. Within couple of months, Edinburgh with its Medieval Castle on the Hill, ancient Royal Mile, Calton hill and Portobello beach won my heart. Although foggy and rainy weather is characteristic to Edinburgh, it perfectly complies with city’s unique architecture, thereby giving it gothic and Harry Potter vibes. So, I would like to share some practical information that can be useful for those who will visit Edinburgh as part of this programme.
Unfortunately, since the university offers an accommodation only for the full academic year, IMFSE students need to look for a place to stay in private market which might be a challenge. Personally, I wanted to find a place before arriving, that is why I started seaching in June on groups such as “EdinRoom” and “Edinburgh to let”, websites like “Spare Room”, “EasyRoommate” and “Gumtree”. I think it is better to use Facebook because most of the times I did not get any reply when I used other websites. It took me almost 2 months to finally find a room. However, I will suggest you to arrive earlier and search for it when you are in the city, as you can view the place, meet the landlord and housemates, and generally have more options compared to when you look for it from home. Just do not pay anything before viewing the place. It is all I can advise, good luck with that!
Public transport system consists of buses and trams, the former being predominant. At the Project Management class taken in the first semester we studied the development of tramline in Edinburgh, and unfortunately, it was an example of failed project, as it resulted in significant delays and financial losses due to poorly defined objective at the initiation stage of the project. In particular, relocation of service lines lasted longer than it had been predicted because of the centuries old history of the city. As a consequence, the tramline extends much less than it had been planned, but you can still take a nice ride on tram from the airport to the city center.
There are several types of bus tickets such as single ticket for £1.60, day ticket for £4.0, night ticket for £3.00, and day&night ticket for £3.50 valid after 6 pm till 4.30 am. The most important thing to know is that bus drivers do not give a change, so prepare your loose change beforehand. You can also get a 1-week and 4-week card, Ridacard, with the discount for students if you present your student ID. In case you had a bad luck and lost the card, as I did, there is a good news: it is possible to get a new one at the Travelshop by paying only card issue fee of £3.00. For more details, check the Lothian Buses website.
But if you do not want to spend money on public transport and want be physically active, you can go for a bike. In that case, you should be OK to ride it with the wind and rain splashing on your face. Since I learned how to bike only in Lund, which I believe is more bike-friendly, that was not an option for me in Edinburgh.
Another practical matter is opening a bank account. Below you can find a banking comparison table which explains how you can open a bank account. Note that the information might not be up-to-date, so it is better to visit the branch. Compare the conditions and choose the right one for you. Since it is the beginning of academic year, there will be many students willing to open a bank account, so it is good if you apply for it earlier. I should inform you that in reality it may take much longer to receive the card.
So these are the things I wanted to share with you my dear readers, I hope you will find it useful. If you have any questions, you can always contact me. I also want to welcome the first year students! Welcome to the IMFSE family! I am sure these two years will be the best years in your life! Looking forward to meet you all soon!