Highlights: I was positively surprised by Edinburgh. I did not expect it to be so fascinating and welcoming, in spite of the cold and rainy weather. All the people I met were very open-minded and always kind. In one month I visited a lot of places, falling in love with Scottish culture, and I finally realized that it was just a small piece of all the beauties that Scotland had to offer. If I had the chance, I would definitively do this again; I'm actually thinking about another trip to the Isle of Skye, one of Hebrides islands, which I had to skip this time because it takes around two days just to get there...but next time for sure!
I really enjoyed studying at SAC because of the friendly working environment and the several insights I received. It helped me make up my mind on the topic for my final thesis and improved my research skills. I particularly liked the analysis of the CAP reform, which included a comparative analysis of a change in the agricultural policy for all the European Member States, and the study of consumers` behavior linked to food expenditures. Some topics were tightly related to current policies and before publishing the results of our research, it has been sometimes necessary to ask for external advice, which I found very stimulating. I had the chance to talk to experts in environmental economics, geography, and macroeconomics and I found myself really keen on the subjects. This experience has drawn the guidelines for my future career.
Morning: Alarm clock set for 7:45. After the usual routines like breakfast and brushing my teeth, I left to catch the bus. Here comes the hard part of the day. Since there is a lot of moving construction for a new tramway going on all around the city, finding the right bus is not an easy task. It is quite difficult to catch the same bus number for two days in a row, but in this way I had the chance to see more of the city, even the parts that probably a tourist wouldn`t have. Hopefully, this construction is not going to be there forever. When I finally arrived at the college (after a 20/30 min bus ride), I went to my office, which I shared with another SAC researcher, and turned on my PC. In the mailbox, I usually found some news from websites discussing agricultural economics issues or the directions for a new research topic by my supervisor. If my advisor was not in a meeting, I tried to talk to her first and if there was not a precise timeline for the day, I could decide what to analyse first, depending on the importance of the topic or my personal knowledge.
Afternoon: At SAC there are several cafeterias, where all kinds of food are available (from just coffee and sandwiches to hot meals). Some of them might be closed for some weeks because of term holidays. After lunch (or as they call it here, dinner), I continued with the project of the day or checked with my advisor if something new popped up. I usually finish working at 5:00pm or 5:30pm. After the office, I liked taking the bus and stopping at different places every day, so that I could explore everything I want. Shops close very early, most of them around 6:00 pm., so if I planned to do some shopping I would go there first and then wander around. There are some nice walks to go on, given that Edinburgh is built on different hills and many of them are gardens. I suggest Arthur`s Seat and Calton Hill for trekking and to enjoy a nice view over the city and the Royal Botanic Gardens to relax.
Evening: There are plenty of nice pubs with local food (eg: Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with white whisky cream) and beers; the oldest ones have beautiful original Victorian ceilings and a cosy outlook. They usually have fixed days for live music or quiz nights and it`s really fun and entertaining to try them all! Apart from that, Edinburgh is a medium-sized city and it offers a good variety of restaurants and activities for all tastes, from cinemas to music halls, comedy and Ceilidh shows, theatres etc. Mind just that life is not cheap and 200£ is probably the minimum budget for a normal week and I ended up cutting a bit on the extras. If you include also some trips outside of the city (I really recommend a tour to the Highlands, which assures amazing landscapes and a dive into the authentic rural Scotland, and the evening cruises to the Maid of the Forth for wonderful Northern sunsets over the calm water of the fjord), you should consider at least 250£/week.