The most wonderful (and stressful) time of the year

Edinburgh is in full holiday mode and so am I, even though I really, really shouldn’t be. My last exam is today, but I’ve spent the last week or so doing a little bit of studying, and a lot of hot chocolate drinking and Christmas market-going. It always seems cruel that exams happen at the same time that holiday excitement is ramping up. It’s almost like they don’t want you to study.

Edinburgh doing the holidays well: one of many Christmas Markets
Edinburgh doing the holidays well: one of many Christmas Markets

But I have been putting in my library time amidst all the festivity, and in case anyone was wondering whether exam season is any different in another country, let me ensure you, there’s almost no difference. The library is packed, everyone seems like they’re living off of coffee and stress, and the exam halls look eerily similar. It’s kind of cool to know that the dreaded exams are exactly the same the world over, but it’s also a little depressing.

The difference with being on exchange, though is that I’ve been making an extra effort to do things other than study. Like I said, I’ve been doing lots of holiday things, buying presents for people at home, going skating and drinking hot chocolate, and just hanging out in Edinburgh, enjoying the city. It’s kind of bizarre to me, this whole spending time not studying while exams are on, but also a fun way of getting through a usually not-so-pleasant time of the year.

Holiday lights make up for too much time under flourescent library lights
Holiday lights make up for too much time under flourescent library lights

Exams and holiday mode also mean that the semester is winding down, and I’m heading home on Tuesday next week. So between having fun and drinking up all of what Edinburgh during the holidays has to offer, I’ve also been packing my life here up. I would be pretty bummed out about this, but I’m actually really excited. I’ve missed home and my friends and family a lot over the last few months, but mostly I’m excited that what I thought would be a permanent return home is actually just going to be a fun holiday.

See, I’ve decided to extend my exchange into second semester, and stay in Edinburgh until June, at least. I don’t know whether it’s all the holiday joy and cheer getting to me, but I can’t imagine leaving Edinburgh yet. As the end of my exchange got closer and closer, I got sadder and sadder about the idea of leaving so soon. A semester might seem like a long time when you’re boarding your plane from Toronto, but it seems way too short when you’re booking your flights home. I spent a few weeks being sad about the prospect of going home (and, if I’m being honest, the idea of spending another long, freezing winter in Toronto), until I realized – I could just stay! So that’s what I’m going to do. And if that’s not a winning endorsement for going on an exchange, I don’t know what is!


So until Tuesday, I’ll be here in Edinburgh, spending my time looking at holiday decorations, listening to way too much Christmas music, and shopping for shortbread and haggis souvenirs for my friends in Toronto. I’m excited to see what it’s like to head home after all of this. I’ll let you guys know next week!

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