I’ll take you through an average few days here for me, the graduate student, in Edinburgh.
On Mondays, I wake up in our efficiency flat on the 4th floor of a row building with a massive picture window to the view of Calton Hill and the bustling city below. After breakfast of homemade oat muffins and Typhoo tea, I head out on foot up Elm Row, towards Old Town, weaving through pedestrians and construction. It’s always windy and partially sunny, and everyday it will rain, even if only for just a few minutes. It takes me about 20 minutes to get to school, most of it is uphill. I love where we live because everything is so close by, but we are far enough away from the busyness of New Town to feel comfortable.
As I cross the North Bridge, I see Arthur’s Seat lit by the morning light in the distance to my left and the Edinburgh Castle to my right. I pass the Royal Mile and all its touristy goodness, the smells of the bakeries and cafes, and the National Museum of Scotland on the way to campus and the Main library. The streets are filled with bikes, taxis and buses and so few people use personal cars. It's a choreographed ballet of people moving. I set up my space in the library for a few hours, and then grab a gluten-free crepe from Tupiniquim (Brazilian creperie) on the corner of the Meadows before heading to class at the ECA campus a few minutes up the road.
I have two classes: an internship seminar and a seminar on 15th century French manuscripts. After 4 hours of class, it’s back to George Square campus for the LAMPS lecture and finishing the evening at Andrew Usher’s Pub with the group. LAMPS is Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society, and yes, we are all self-declared geeks. I'm a general member, and hopefully, I'll be on the committee for the LAMPS annual conference next year. We go to castles, pubs, and join in the comradery that only medievalists revel in. Check out our website!: https://lampsedinburgh.wordpress.com
As the evening finishes, I walk back through Old Town through the lamp-lit streets to our flat, and after catching-up about the day, Bo and I watch a bit of TV or I catch up on my reading, sipping tea to wind down. It's a full day, but one of my more relaxing days.
Wednesdays are my unusual days, because I work at the Surgeons Hall museum as an intern before going to my audit class in the evening. As an art historian, the Surgeons Hall Pathology Gallery is not quite a perfect fit for me, but it is a fascinating place nonetheless. Yes, I work with human specimens in jars: I catalog and correlate documents, databases and physical objects on shelves. What's really funny is the challenges I face. I never thought I'd say "I've misplaced a brain..." or "I found the missing kidney!". It's like a massive puzzle I have to solve, and it's awesome. Another part of my job is photographing the objects, but for legal reasons, I can't show any of my photos on my own personal social media. If you'd like to get a glimpse of my new workplace, check out Surgeons Hall's website and blog: https://museum.rcsed.ac.uk.
I leave my internship to attend my audit class in the medieval history department where I am the sole art historian. It's a great group of people and the best part of the class is the rotating professors. Each week we look at a particular type of source for medieval history: hagiography, chronicles, charters, penitential, and heraldry. My favorite so far was the heraldry, obviously, because it was all imagery! It's a great class for understanding the benefits and flaws in using particular kinds of sources for our dissertations. Afterall, I can't just look at pretty pictures all day long, I need to use some other [textual] sources to support my evidence sometimes.
Fridays are my chill days, I usually camp out in a library or cafe somewhere I spend the majority of my day reading or writing my papers. There are so many libraries that I can choose from that I still have yet to find my perfect spot. The cafes here are fantastic: so many comfy chairs, warm drinks, and a plethora of gluten-free pastries! (YAY!) I have a shortlist of the best places (so far), but that list of my "new favourite places" gets bigger every day.
I can't believe it's the nearly the end of first term. By the first week of December, I will be a third of the way through my Master's program. Time is flying amazing fast here.
I was asked to write a small piece about my perspective on the city for the Edinburgh College of Art's website. Check it out!: https://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/news/life-edinburgh-perspective-new-postgraduate-student