I’ve been asked several times in the past couple weeks, mostly by hopelessly lost tourists looking for directions, whether I live here. And I’m never really sure how to answer. I mean, I do live here, at least temporarily, although I’m not from here. I’m not Scottish, I didn’t grow up in Edinburgh, and I still sometimes have trouble understanding that (sexy) Scottish brogue. But in terms of giving directions, I know the city well enough now that I can usually help them out, at least a little bit.
This always gets me thinking. When people talk about study abroad, they almost always touch on “immersing yourself” in the culture (at least they do at a liberal arts haven like Pomona). And ever since I got here, I’ve worried about whether I’m “immersing” myself, however much you truly can in another English-speaking country. I may have not adopted a Scottish accent (yet) or met the Scottish love of my life, but when tourists mistake me for a local, I realize that I am no longer just a sightseer. I’ve reached that (slightly awkward) balance somewhere between local and tourist. I know my way around, I no longer have a desperate need to see all the sights, and I can get away with hiding my American-ness, at least until I open my mouth. I’ll never be able to call myself Scottish, but that doesn’t mean Edinburgh doesn’t feel like a home.
And these past couple weeks, I’ve just been hanging around home! After two months of travel, change, and weekend trips, a few weeks of stability and solitude was welcome. But I still did things on the weekends.
On Friday, I went to *dramatic pause* the opera. Tom took us to see the Magic Flute. I loved it! It was different than I expected – so much funnier. And the sets were beautiful, with kind of a steampunk style. And of course, the singing was spectacular. Yesterday, Miriam, Alex, Cara, and I went to the rugby match against South Africa. It was a blast! I’ve always wanted to see rugby – just violent enough for my taste. We walked the 3 miles to Murrayfield stadium, collected as much free Scotland memorabilia as possible, and cheered for our team! We lost, but it was hard-fought, I swear. They played the national anthems of the two teams before the match began, and all the Scottish fans sung along, even after the music stop playing. It was a little eerie how in sync the thousands of people were. Check out the video I took down at the end!
A couple weekends ago, I went to the Edinburgh Castle (again) with the Pomona group – no one gives a tour quite like Tom. We also saw the actor who plays Lucius Malfoy doing some sort of photo-shoot on the royal mile – celebrity sighting! The next day, I visited the National Portrait Gallery with Miriam, and it was beautiful. The building itself was a piece of art, and although I’ve never been particularly moved by portraits, some of them were amazing, particularly some of the old ones of Mary Queen of Scots from the 1500s.
I’ve also taken some walks through Holyrood Park, drinking in the fall beauty, and had some sightings of my wonderful Hermit’s Croft kitty friend! He’s such a fiend. November 5th was Guy Fawkes Day (like V for Vendetta). For those who don’t know (I’ll admit I didn’t), Guy Fawkes was some guy who almost blew up the British Parliament, but they caught him and he didn’t. And now they celebrate? I don’t know, don’t ask me. But it’s their big fireworks holiday here, and a group of people from my building went up to Calton Hill to watch the spectacle. You can buy pretty serious fireworks here legally, so there were some major explosions. Safe? Who cares! This is Scotland.