Blitz caught up with Shivika Gupta who spent time on exchange in the beautiful rugged terrain of Scotland. Read on to find out about why exchange in Scotland is much more than just working up the courage to try haggis and tolerating bagpies.
What university did you attend?
The University of Edinburgh.
What’s your favourite thing about Scotland?
The ridiculous proximity to natural beauty – Eddy is the second biggest city in Scotland but I had a beautiful, unobstructed view of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano which is now a mountain of sorts, right from my balcony. Also, kind strangers who’ll let you freeload a car ride to hitch hike to Dublin.
Where did you live in Edinburgh?
I lived at Pollock Halls, which is the University’s catered dorm residence. I had a roommate from Bulgaria who did name (one of) her Bratz dolls after me… but overall she was very kind and easy to live with!
How is Scotland different to Australia?
The Scottish have curry sauce and we have chicken salt. We need to set up a trade deal to concoct the most delightful hot chip meal ever.
What did you find strange or interesting about Scotland?
People really do wear kilts as casual day wear – and also out to clubs.
Is university quite different there?
I noticed people don’t ever go on Facebook during class. I also had 10 contact hours spread over five days. In honesty, the intensity of classes (two of my subjects had classes four days a week, which is quite different to Arts subjects back home) was quite refreshing because you cover content much more rigorously which actually means less independent learning.
Highlight of your trip?
One of many – seeing Lindsay Lohan in Cannes during the film festival. She’s alive and kicking, everyone.
What was your favourite tourist activity?
Shedding a tear (of joy, surprisingly) whenever my dining hall had haggis – definitely a huge fan! I am a vegetarian so the various sheep’s-innards-free version might’ve been more palatable than the traditional cook up. They love to put haggis in everything – I came across a haggis samosa and haggis chocolate.
Any tips for students going on exchange?
Go to Edinburgh! Where else could you find Butterbeer at your local pub other than Hogwarts itself. Genuine advice: don’t over plan your post-exchange travel plans before you arrive – play it by ear during the semester and try to organise trips with your new friends. Also, the initial transition is quite hard, but remember, you are forging a life in a place completely isolated from your known, comfortable universe! So give yourself time for things to fall into place.
What football team do you follow?
Don’t quite follow it. But we should all get into shinty, the true Scottish sport.
Exchange in three words:
Ryanair, cold, hectic.
Your opinion of bagpipes?
They sound so beautiful! Definitely a mating call for all the world’s sexiest people
Favourite Scottish celeb?
David Tennant – what a man!
Next place you’d like to go?
Iceland – I actually had flights booked but couldn’t go in the end. The landscapes look absolutely insane.