Exchange Diaries Edinburgh: Back to reality

I’m definitely suffering from exchange withdrawal.

It’s been just over a month since I landed back in Canada from my seven months abroad in Edinburgh. Like many returned exchange students, I wish I could turn back time.

Since I spent the winter holidays abroad and returned just before second semester started, I didn’t have much time to re-adjust. The transition hasn’t been easy, I have to admit.

My workload abroad was significantly lighter than it is at Queen’s, because the University of Edinburgh only requires three courses as a full course load, versus the five at Queen’s. I’m also more involved in extracurriculars at Queen’s, which takes up a significant amount of my time.

The Queen’s Conference on Philanthropy was set to happen three weeks after I came back and I also immediately transitioned into my role as Graphics Manager for Oil Thigh Designs. Both of these roles took up the hours that I had left after classes and homework, and I felt really overwhelmed.

To make matters worse, my time away has decreased my tolerance for the Canadian winter. The first week of school saw temperatures fall around -20 and my body rebelled. I caught a nasty cold, just like every other person around this time of year.

Seeing the pictures of all the winter exchange students on Facebook just makes me even more nostalgic. Right now, it’s not the weekend trips and frequent travelling that I miss — it’s the lifestyle I had in Edinburgh, the friends I made and the city’s lively atmosphere.

When the snow piles up outside, I wish I could go for a big latte at the nearby café or catch up with a friend at the pub down the street. Coming back from campus, I miss seeing the sunset behind the tall spirals of St. Giles Church and smelling the curry from the Indian restaurant around the corner. The highlights of my exchange I frequently go back to are the simple moments that I enjoyed while hanging out with my new friends.

Looking back, I wish I’d taken even more time to explore Edinburgh than I did. There are areas that I thought I’d explore but didn’t because I always thought I had more time. I wish I appreciated how little time I really had and immersed myself in the Scottish cities and culture even more.

Most people wish they’d travelled more, but my regret is not staying longer in the places I visited. I think each city deserved more time than I’d given it.

Needless to say, my travel bug hasn’t gone away ― it’s probably even more magnified by the winter blues. I’m already looking forward to the next trip abroad, but before that I have to survive midterms first.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.