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Blog Somewhat Less Fresh 19/Sep/2005

One week on, and Freshers Week is now over. It seems that all of the false confidence I spraffed on that last post was merited, because I had a great time and met a bunch of great people. (In fact, compared to the people I met during my first Freshers Week, I reckon a far smaller proportion will turn out to be mentally unstable!)

Since I was basing the preview on almost pure bravado, it's no surprise that the week turned out rather differently. I joined neither the Indie nor the Computing Societies, endearing as they both sounded (in their different ways). In fact, it was interesting to see that a large proportion of the events were targeted solely at bands of marauding seventeen year-olds. Hence the word "undergraduate" became a pejorative for us world-weary postgrads.

The first event I attended was a "Coffee Crawl": aimed at those who didn't fancy drinking alcohol, or who weren't living in Uni accommodation and wanted to meet others in the same boat. That hardly makes a coherent purpose, and I fell squarely into the latter camp. It's a good thing the coffee shops were licensed…. Afterwards, I went with some of the postgrads I met there to Pizza Express. Sitting opposite a Pizza Hut on the other side of North Bridge, it was the perfect metaphor for the two kinds of fresher.

The following night was a Postgraduate Social in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar. It's at events like this where you realise how many things you must remember when you meet someone for the first time. There's name and face (obviously), but also their subject area, where they come from, where they're living in Edinburgh, etc. Considering short term memory is good for about seven things, I think I'm going to start carrying a notepad.

Tuesday afternoon saw a huge welcome meeting for postgraduates in the magnificent McEwan Hall, where I'll hopefully be graduating in fourteen months or so. In the evening, I attended the International Students pub night and revelled in the irony of being the least international person there. One of the afternoon's presentations indicated that over half of the postgraduate student body is Scottish, but this isn't borne out by my Freshers Week experience. Compared to Glasgow, Edinburgh feels a far more cosmopolitan place, and I think I'm going to enjoy the contrast.

After all the socialising, I attended induction meetings of my Masters class on Wednesday and Thursday. The activities were various, ranging from getting set up on the computers (Sun Ray 150 terminals with smartcard log-on running Solaris 9, for the Stu amongst you) to posing for photographs. The free buffet lunches were appreciated; the 45-minute talk on plagiarism was utterly extraneous. I'm looking forward to getting started working on the parallel machines they've got lying about, and programming Fortran, naturally.

Wednesday night was a ceilidh back in McEwan Hall. The first half of the ceilidh was spent in the Teviot bar building up courage and boasting about how I know all of the dances from school. Carefully overlooking the fact that it's been five years since I last attended a ceilidh, and I remember about as much of the dances as I do Standard Grade German. Nevertheless, it was great fun, and I wish I'd been there from the start.

If you've read this far, here's your payoff. On Thursday night, I went to a dance class and signed up for a year's worth of swing dancing lessons. I know exactly what you're thinking, and you're probably quite right. The taster session was a great laugh, and a few of us signed up (the mutual support probably did have a lot to do with it). Just wait til you see my moves!

At long last, Friday was Jazz Night at the Pleasance, and we took in a performance by the Edinburgh Uni jazz orchestra. It was grrrrreat. We rounded the week off at two o'clock on a freezing Edinburgh morning, sitting on a bench outside the Surgeons' Hall, and eating chips slathered with salt and sauce. Perfection!

Cheers,

Derek.

 
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