… by Joan / from Changchun, China / BSc Mathematics / 1st Year (UG)
“Edinburgh is a city where time is frozen” as I heard people praise. The first time I walked on the Grassmarket, I was stunned by the sight of the lively coloured stores along the slope glazed with sunshine, and I thought: this is the city that I will never regret living in.
During the first semester I sent quite a few postcards to my friends. I really liked one of them that has a photo overlooking the National Art Gallery, the Castle and the Old Town. I didn’t figure out where it was taken until I watched the film ‘Cloud Atlas’, and realised it was taken from the top of the Walter Scott monument I see every time I shop on Princes Street. I didn’t realise it could be climbed up! In ‘Cloud Atlas’ Ben Wishaw’s character climbs up the monument every morning to watch the sunrise. I decided to climb it with a friend visiting from London during the Christmas holiday. (She says every time she travels to a new city in Britain there is a cathedral of some kind to climb, in order to view the whole city. It was York and York Minster last time, but this monument is something different). There is a little museum on the level where Ben sits in the film. The further we climbed up the monument, the windier it got. The stairs become very steep and narrow towards the top, and we had to squeeze to get out on the top level. The view was very stunning! We could see the sea very well from there. And I took a photo at the angle of that postcard picture. It was very unforgettable to watch the sunshine burst out of the clouds at such a height.
Lots of popular films were shot in Edinburgh. Not just ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Cloud Atlas’. ‘One Day’ starring Anne Hathaway told a love story between two Edinburgh uni graduates. There is scene towards the end where the two young lovers run down Arthur’s Seat in gentle breeze. It’s a very romantic thing that only us living in Edinburgh could do (:-ᗤ)…
One thing that’s very special about studying here is that we can choose to study other subjects we like with our free credits, from music to art, from language to history… basically anything taught in the uni (there are some practical limitations like timetabling however). I chose acoustics last semester, a combination of physics and music, two of my favourite subjects apart from maths. We carried out an experiment on reverb in St Cecilia’s Hall for our first project.
St Cecilia’s is the second oldest concert hall in UK and it belongs to our uni. It has a great collection of musical instruments, from ancient to modern, from those you’ve heard of to those you’ve never seen, and some of them are quite impressive! I love visiting museums and art galleries, but I’ve never seen a music museum before! I absolutely love it and go to concerts there from time to time. Many music festivals (like the International Harpsichord Festival this month) and academic conferences take place there all year round.
Usher Hall is another great place for concerts. With a much grander auditorium of several floors, the concerts are all a bit more formal. (Comparatively St Cecilia’s sometimes holds small ensemble open practice – something between a concert and a private rehearsal.) Students can always get concession tickets at amazingly low prices to concerts at both venues. And if you are into church music or in a church choir (like me!), St Giles’ is also a great venue to check out.
With all these great events going on in this beautiful old city, I’d love to say Edinburgh is the best city I’ve ever lived in!