BY CAITLYN PICKARD

I never moved anywhere before college. I lived in the same house for 18 years of my life. Then came college, where I realized, moving is kind of a stressful feeling. You begin to learn about the little quirks and secrets that your new community has to offer. Upon arriving, I wasn’t really sure of anything. The orientations provided by UCEAP and University of Edinburgh were beyond helpful, but there were still some unanswered questions I had. Where to buy groceries, how to explore Edinburgh, getting a new phone sim etc. Through trial, error, and some small financial mistakes, I found myself settling into my surroundings and making Edinburgh my temporary home.

THE BASICS

Phone Services

There are quite a few phone services to choose from, but the two that I researched were EE and Vodafone. EE is the UK company partnered with Orange and T-Mobile. Vodafone is a company frequently seen all over Europe. When using a new phone service while traveling for a short-period of time, it is best to use a pay-as-you-go plan. You will also need an unlocked phone. Depending on what service and type of phone you use in the U.S., you may want to check and see if they can unlock it for free. If you do not have an unlocked phone, you may want to buy a cheap phone to use for your time abroad. When you go to a phone service company, they’ll give you a new SIM card for you to use while using their company services. Below are two similar plans that EE and Vodafone provide:

EE – £15 Vodafone – £15
·      Unlimited text to UK numbers

·      500 min of calls to UK numbers

·      5 GB anything

·      Unlimited text & call to UK numbers

·      Unlimited Social Media data

·      5 GB of other data (internet, videos, etc.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t know about these different options prior to purchasing a plan. I ended up getting an EE plan (at the Cameron Toll location). I could have changed it after learning about the Vodafone plan, but I found that the EE £15 plan suited me fine and EE has better coverage. There are a few other phone services so choose the one that suits your needs! Don’t forget, there’s free wifi everywhere so you don’t have to worry too much about your data limits J

Transportation

If you are a South campus major, you’ll more than likely have a few classes in King’s Building. This is a branch of University of Edinburgh, but it isn’t on main campus. It’s actually like a 20-minute walk from main campus, so if you are expecting to have some math and/or science classes, you might consider living at David Horn House or Kitchner. If not, then you might want to pick a different accommodation. I didn’t know this so I just went for the cheapest housing. Consequently, I am approximately a 30-minute walk from main campus and city center. I considered walking to main campus every day; I mean it’s the same amount of time for me to walk from my apartment in Westwood to North campus, but I’d also skip classes because it would become an excuse. Side note, don’t skip class here, you could get dropped from a course. Not worth it! SO, to avoid that, I decided to buy a bus pass. No excuses for me. A bus pass is £45 for 4 weeks. It’s really nice because I can go to and from campus and also explore Edinburgh without worrying about paying for a single ride on the bus (£1.70 one way). Also, I can use to to and from the airport (£4.50 one way)! Definitely worth it for me.

If you don’t want to walk but still want your exercise, you could buy a used bike in Edinburgh. It’s approximately $100. One other option is Uber. Yes, it is available here! But it does seem a bit more pricey than back in LA. Each ride is about £5 or more, even if it’s a kind of close distance.

Now if you’re strapped for cash, there’s always the free option: using those UCLA-hill conditioned legs.

Groceries

There are 4 main grocery stores that I’ll frequent: Sainsbury, Tesco, Lidl, and Aldi. I usually go to Aldi at Cameron Toll because it is close to my house, David Horn. If you’re more central to campus, there is Sainsbury, Tesco, and Lidl. Normally, Lidl and Aldi have the best deals and cheapest prices; HOWEVER, it really can depend on the things you’re buying. The prices vary from place to place, or can be exactly the same. I usually avoid Sainsbury unless Aldi is closed or if I’m too far away from Tesco or Lidl. On average, it seems to have higher prices. On the plus side, it’s open later and is also in Cameron Toll (for those living in David Horn House).

Hygiene

Boots and Superdrug are the two main stores where you can grab your pharmaceutical items and also any other toiletries you may need. Both have multiple locations in Edinburgh and some close to campus. I only recently found out that Superdrug was similar to Boots. From the outside, it looks like a beauty store. Compared to certain Boots locations, it may have a larger selection of beauty products than Boots. Also, it is a little bit cheaper based off the things I buy.

Clothing and Home Goods

In general, clothing and home goods can be found in Primark and various charity shops on Clerk Street. For clothing options, Primark is a chain retail store with reasonably priced items. Think of it like a European Forever21. They also have H&M a few stores down from Primark on Princes Street. Speaking of Princes Street, that’s the perfect place to go shopping for new clothes. Now, if you’re a bit concerned about your budget abroad, the charity shops are perfect. Their items are gently used and great prices, usually £5 or under. Plus, it goes to a great cause. Feel good and look great option. Primark and charity shops do have a few home good items, but that isn’t what the majority of their products are. If you can’t find what you need there or just need functional products, check out some of the bargain or PoundSaver stores. They have almost anything you’d need and are relatively cheap. There’s a few of these near campus on Clerk Street and also one in Cameron Toll.

Caitlyn Pickard studied abroad in Edinbugh, Scotland, in Spring 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/United_Kingdom_Scotland/Pages/host_EdinburghUKImmersion.aspx