Week 1 in Dundee: Life on the other side of the North Sea

In what feels like the blink of an eye, Freshers’ week has passed, and real university life has officially kicked off with days full of workshops and lab practicals. Here are some thoughts on the first week.

I came to the university with no expectations, but to be fair I was a bit apprehensive about being a 22-year-old fresher – aside from usual “will we like each other” stress, I thought I was going to be the flat granny (admittedly, last Friday night I watched a movie in bed with a big pot of tea, but that was because I was steamrollered by freshers’ flu). Luckily when I met my flatmates, that fear disappeared into the vault of New Things Anxiety – everybody blends in together, nobody really cares about age. Then again, I still think it’s completely acceptable to have cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so maybe I’m just immature.

So how is life in halls? So far, it’s been so much better than I could have anticipated. I live on the top floor of the most unsightly building on campus (I mean… let’s be honest about that, it resembles a big concrete Lego), which means that I can perfectly see when a queue is beginning to form at the Union, but also get the most beautiful view over the river, with the North Sea on one side and rolling hills in the distance on the other. And because all of the University’s buildings are on campus, everything is so ridiculously close by that I could get up with five minutes left before a lecture and still be in time.


The view makes up for the 3am fire alarms.

Going out has never been so easy either. The Union, which was a completely foreign concept to me when I came here, has turned out to be very cool. I really couldn’t see how that would work, an enormous building that houses multiple cafes and a swimming pool but also two bars and two clubs? But it is extremely well managed and it’s literally a one minute walk from where I live. So long, cycling to clubs in the pouring rain and then trying to dry your jeans under the hand dryer.

And what about living in Scotland? Well, it’s been a surprisingly smooth transition (knock on wood). There is no haggis flying around, nobody in a kilt has flashed me yet. I’ve been outside in a T-shirt and did not freeze. In fact I’ve seen more sunshine than rain, and when it does rain I secretly love it and wrap myself in a blanket with a bucket-sized mug of tea.  Instead of church bells ringing at noon I did hear bagpipes, but other than that there has been no culture shock. However, there are some things that I will never, ever understand about the United Kingdom. For example…

– The taps in the bathroom, guys. What is up with those? It is 2017, taps that mix hot and cold water to an agreeable temperature have long since found their way into almost every bathroom on The Continent, and yet you stubbornly stick to having one scalding hot and one freezing water stream at opposite sides of the sink. WHY?

– The carpet. For some reason, the British love to have their floor covered with dust-and-other-things-collecting fabric that inevitably has indeterminable stains left by the previous occupant that you’d rather not think about. Why not put wood on the floor, or cheap linoleum, something that you can actually clean?

I look forward to a proper explanation.

Now I’m off to do some pre-reading for tomorrow. I’ve signed up for about ten societies (how could I not when there are things like Indoor Gardening and a tea society? And I can’t wait to paddle out into the Scottish waves with the surf club) and then I’m also supposed to actually study… But I’ve bought a lab coat so at least I look the part. More to follow soon as I discover this new place on the other side of the North Sea!

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