Amsterdam: Big Hug or Small Hug?

Well it’s finally happened, I had my first twinges of homesickness. Always being the child that wanted to stay at summer camp for an extra week opposed to coming home early, I was actually pretty surprised how hard it hit me. I knew I would miss my friends and family (and in general my home country) but as naive as it sounds, I assumed that being able to keep in contact with them through FaceTime, Snapchat, calls/texts, etc it would never really make me miss home. Wrong.

Being abroad can be very stressful, difficult and at times lonely. Study abroad has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, but it definitely comes with its ups and downs. Even simple tasks can seem daunting, such as grocery shopping and trying to decipher the labeling written in a foreign language if the can you’re putting in your basket is tomato soup or just a can of tomatoes. Or trying to find out what you want to order at a local cafe with a menu that might as well be hieroglyphics and a waiter that has mastered only the words “hello and goodbye” in English. For me, this has been the most exciting yet challenging part of the experience.

But between classes that are the most difficult courses filled with such detailed information and an impossible grading scale, and trying and failing at simple tasks, it starts to get you down sometimes and all you wanna do is be surrounded by the people that care about you most. My brother always looks at me when he knows I’m upset and says, “big hug or small hug? You better pick because you’re getting one of the other.” A little less feasible when you are a 9 hour plane ride away!

So this past weekend, I went to Edinburgh to meet up with my friend Margaret from back at Ole Miss and stay with her for the weekend and cheer up my homesick blues. Immediately when I got out of the taxi (which btw was adorable) I ran to her for a massive hug and felt all feelings of missing home go away. Because my flight got in so late, we decided to grab some pizza and stay in and catch up instead of hitting up the town and stayed up talking all about our new cities and universities and friends we’ve met.

Edinburgh is such a breathtakingly beautiful city, and since Margaret had to study for one of her classes I decided to check out a few places while she was doing her work. First stop? Coffee, of course. Black Medicine Coffee was a quaint little coffee shop about 5 minutes away with Harry Potter style font, a bright green painted exterior, delicious coffee and pastries for a great price, and a warm and cozy atmosphere that makes you want to hide out there all day to get away from the cold and gloom.

breakfast of champs
Sir Walter Scott Monument

When I could finally drag myself out of Black Medicine, I head to the most popular streets in the city, Princes Street and the Royal Mile. Nothing wrong with a little window shopping right?

Ediburgh castle
Ediburgh castle
love all the gothic architecture
love all the gothic architecture

After a day of strolling around and getting a feel for the city I headed back to meet Marg and get ready to meet up with her new friends and our friend also from Ole Miss, Mary Parker, to check out the nightlife. Edinburgh is one of those places where even when the weather is gross, rainy, and cold (aka the way it was the entire trip) it is still a homey and gorgeous city. Gothic architecture that seems to pop even more against the gloomy sky, green grassy hills, and winding roads. It’s not hard to see why anyone would love living here.

reunited with Marg
reunited with Marg, my lovely host for the weekend
Mississippi takes Edinburgh  (caption creds to Marg)
Mississippi takes Edinburgh (caption creds to Marg)

After a great night out, hopping between two local Scottish bars/clubs we decided to sleep in a little bit later and beelined to Princes Street for some retail therapy, window shopping wasn’t cutting it. But first, we grabbed some Mexican food at a restaurant right around the corner from the shops. Yes, Mexican food. That’s one of the many things we both missed about home, the food and especially Mexican restaurants and their liquid gold aka queso dip. Seriously, we both agreed it was going to be one of the first things we eat when we get back, so if you see me walking out of Tequila’s with a bag of food in January  and a massive grin on my face you know what’s going on.

Next I headed to the Elephant House, most famously known for their obsession with elephant figurines. Oh and JK Rowling wrote the first few Harry Potter books there too, nbd. Like I said, the weather was definitely not the kindest, so I decided to pop in for some warm soup and of course hot chocolate. Yep, my obsession with hot chocolate continues.

When I walked in and grabbed my table, it was not very packed but you could definitely spot the tourists a mile away, iPad/selfie cam/phone in hand taking pictures like the place was an etch a sketch and was about to be shaken and disappear forever. All jokes aside it was a really great place with one of the best tomato basil soups I’ve had in a long time. My middle school self was in sheer amazement that I was in the same place mere tables away from where my favorite books were created. No shame.

dinner with JK Rowling (in spirit)
dinner with JK Rowling in spirit

Since I had to wake up so early for my flight the next morning (oh the joys of airport travel) and how tired we both were, we decided to grab some snacks at the local grocery and end the night with delicious homemade pizzas made by Margaret’s amazing flatmates and watch a movie. Pizza, junk food, chamomile tea, and the Princess Diaries? Not a bad way to spend a night in my book.

Now I’m back in Amsterdam, finishing up my readings and homework assignments for the next few days and feeling better than ever. A weekend with friends from home definitely cured my homesickness!

But I’ll still take that big hug, just raincheck it until January 5.

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