I may not have understood half the things people said to me today, but my first day on this side of the pond has been wonderful, nonetheless.
As is (hopefully) pretty evident from the title of this post, today is my first full day living in Scotland! I arrived yesterday after spending a total of 9.5 hours on airplanes (17.5 total in airports – there were delays involved as well as an overzealous immigration officer to whom I looked suspicious – it’s gotta be my glasses – who made me display not only every form of identification a person could possibly produce, but also every plane ticket I’ve basically ever purchased and my most recent bank account statement), an hour in a taxi and every spare second in between at the British Airways lounge stealing snacks (girl’s gotta live, right?)
I got in yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon and, after my first outing to a neighborhood bar called the Mash Tun where I had a very decent dinner, I went to bed at approximately quarter to seven and proceeded to sleep for the next 14 hours – the jet lag is strong with this one, friends. This morning, with over half a day’s sleep under my belt, I made it my mission to have a productive day of cleaning, unpacking and writing. Of course, some things remain the same no matter where you are, so, first things first: I made coffee. My AirBnB hostess left a French press and a kettle, so I set about figuring out how both of those things work in my new place (buttons were pushed, cabinets were raided, switches were flicked), but less than 10 minutes later I was sitting in my very adorable living room in my very adorable flat watching BBC, sipping a damn good cuppa joe and eating a breakfast bar I’d taken from the airport lounge the day before. It was the perfect start to my first day in Edinburgh.
From there, I waded through my luggage to find clothes for the day (searching for things that you hurriedly packed the day before a transatlantic trip reveals a lot about what you thought you’d need right away – my pajamas were on the very top of the pile, so I’d say I nailed it) and then I headed out to pick up a few things for my flat. In the 15 minutes it took me to walk through to my neighborhood to TKMaxx (not a typo – that’s what they call TJMaxx here), I saw a host standing outside the Balmoral Hotel wearing a kilt, and caught a glimpse of Arthur’s Seat (a famous landmark in Edinburgh) behind beautifully kept neighborhoods lined with trees and gardens. All in all, a much different walk down the road than I’m used to – if I saw a man in a kilt on my morning commute in Philadelphia I would assume he was lost, crazy or both.
I got back to my place without looking at GPS which made me feel unreasonably good about myself (roads constructed through a town that’s been around for thousands of years don’t exactly have a rhyme or reason to their paths or patterns and I managed to not get hit by a car despite looking the wrong way before crossing the street every.single.time.) and then I set out to unpack and settle in. Tonight I have plans to meet up with a friend of a friend who is studying at one of the local universities here, which means that in T-Minus 4 hours I will have made my third Scottish friend – the taxi driver and my AirBnB hostess are my first and second friends in Scotland, respectively, which they’ll be thrilled about when they find out, I’m sure.
When I left for my flight to London on Monday night, I was feeling a little sad about leaving my friends and family and I had a few moments where I wondered whether I was doing the right thing by moving and trying to start a new life in a new country where I know almost nobody and have been only once before. I can honestly say that I don’t feel even one small shred of those feelings today. I mean, I still have no idea where I am half the time (and that’s with GPS), and I miss my family and friends, but I feel as comfortable and happy to be in Edinburgh as I remember from my trip here almost 7 years ago. I’m sure there will be moments over the next few weeks where I feel lonely and out of place, but it’s a (HUGE) relief to be starting out on a positive note, and I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks and months bring (which will hopefully include shampoo and conditioner brands that I recognize, an ability to better understand the Scottish accent and a more natural impulse to check the proper side of the street before attempting to cross it).