Making the most of Welcome Week…

…by Jenny / from Thailand / studying Medicine / 1st Year (UG)

Welcome Week is one of those things that feels never-ending yet brief. For me, the amount of people I was meeting seemed infinite; yet between trying to build up my confidence, grabbing freebies in George Square and nights out, I just couldn’t find the time to do it all. Yet now that I’ve finished first year with an established a group of friends, a stack of discount coupons, and a go-to club, I realize there were three events in those early days that were paramount in helping me settle in.

A very busy Welcome Week day in Bristo Square…

Saturday Night: Big Cheese

“What type?”, “how big?” and “can I eat it?” were the three burning questions I longed to have answered when I first saw the words ‘Big Cheese’ in the Welcome Week What’s On Guide. So, when I arrived to a sticky, crowded dance floor and no cheddar in sight, I was perplexed…

The renowned Big Cheese is the Students’ Association’s very own club night that takes place every Saturday in Potterrow. Its name is most likely a reference to the cheesy playlist: a collection of songs that your cool and edgy self would never admit to loving, but your mainstream alter-ego secretly belts out at home. While the Big Cheese is guaranteed to be a good night at any point of the semester, the real reason I look back on this particular Big Cheese fondly is the time I spent waiting to get in with people I had just met from my accommodation. I was never a chatty person but in a bid to ward off boredom, I found I had a lot in common with another girl in the queue and we became good pals. In the words of Shakira, making friends can happen “whenever, wherever.”

Sunday Night: International Ceilidh

Strip the Willow, The Flying Scotsman, and The Sausage Machine aren’t just potential names for angsty teenage sci-fi novels – they’re also dances you’ll do at a traditional Scottish ceilidh. Several ceilidhs (pronounced “kay-lee”) take place during Welcome Week with live bands, international crowds, and people being swung at unearthly speeds. As a complete newbie to the art of ceilidh-ing, I didn’t feel embarrassed about being unable to follow the dance steps at all as there were many other students like me. Luckily, some seasoned professionals were there and were more than happy to help me out. In fact, being pulled left and right without a clue as to what I’m supposed to do was the most enjoyable part!

Teviot’s Debating Hall plays host to a whole range of Welcome Week events

Monday: Official Welcome Ceremony

Opened in 1897, McEwan Hall is the venue for the official Welcome Ceremony. During the ceremony, we heard from the Principal and other key staff members; but the real show stopper was the range of intricate murals and adornments that cover the hall’s floor and ceiling. Other than to attend certain special events, most students will only step foot inside the hall for graduation and to do their exams. This makes Welcome Week the perfect opportunity to admire this architectural gem without feeling bad about looking away from those essay prompts!

While these three events were my highlights, the beauty of Welcome Week is that it is different for everyone. I researched extensively and wrote diligently in my planner to prepare myself for that first week in Edinburgh; but ultimately, flexibility and the willingness to try were the tools I utilized most.

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