Coloured Confessions – Lessons I (re)Learned during my year in Edinburgh

Moving to Edinburgh was one of the hardest moves I’ve ever had to make. 

I’ve lived in Nice, Montréal and Indonesia, but this experience was something different… 

PART I: Foundations – Managing Your Mental Health 

I was in a really vulnerable state when I moved here which I will not go into, but what I will say is that I needed the love and affection that only family or close friends could bring, and that’s not something that you can typically get from people you’ve just met for the first time. 

I wasn’t the bubbly, outgoing and comedic Carmela I normally am (**if you’re reading this and we met at the beginning of the year and you’re thinking, ‘But Carmela, you weren’t like this at all!!!’, I promise you, I’m naturally way, way more bubbly than that and feelings/personal tribulations are quite easy to hide). I was a darker, more numb version of myself that was struggling to balance personal recovery and a transition to a whole new country, a new lifestyle (work life versus student life) and a new industry (politics to the marine world) all at the same time. I felt — quite literally — like a fish out of water, fighting against myself and this new environment for a gasp of fresh air. 

But in these moments when you’re presented with unideal situations, you have a choice: to continue with the way things are, or to make a change (and work for something better). I chose the latter. 

– – –

It was in October when I started looking up ways to drop out of my program while recuperating the most amount of money that I could given that I actually left my program. School was kicking my — and I wasn’t in the best mental state to handle the transition neither from a mental, social nor personal point of view. 

I wanted to go home. I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I needed someone to talk to; I needed help… so I looked for it.  Continue reading

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Where can and MSc at Edinburgh University take you?

By Celeste Kellock

In the space of two weeks my MSc has taken me to Africa and the Arctic!

One of the perks of geosciences, if you are like minded, is fieldwork and fieldtrips! I love being able to see a process from start to finish, from data collection to write-up. Being outdoors gives me continual motivation and a constant reminder of why I should keep learning and trying, even when the deadlines get tough.

You may have read an earlier blog post about a recent fieldtrip to Morocco – two weeks ago, I was there, and it was fantastic. But it wasn’t all work and no play, a few of us stayed out a little longer in Morocco, because when you’ve travelled all the way there, it is nice to explore a little. We spent the best part of a week travelling: Marrakech – Fes – Chefchaouen – Zagora. I also have some pretty great course mates so it made the field course and trip really fun.

morocco team

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Science-Policy Training Day

Every year, the British Ecological Society (BES) puts on a policy training day that is open to students, professionals, and those who are interested in learning about the interaction between science and politics. This workshop usually runs in the autumn and aims to allow participants to generate an understanding of the UK policy environment and equip them with the appropriate skills to effectively communicate their science to the policy making process. The day featured talks and exercises from a range of people with different experiences within science policy.

I found out about this experience through an e-mail from my programme director and thought it sounded like a wonderful experience. However, it was set for a day that I had 2/3 of my classes-making it a bit difficult to justify attending. Luckily, I was able to contact the organiser and over the next several months were able to set up a scaled down version aimed for MSc students. Student participants came from all across Geosciences: Environmental Protection & Management, Marine Systems & Policy, GIS, and Environment & Development.

BES Policy Officer for Scotland- Maggie Keegan, was fantastic in organising the day and brought in wonderful speakers. We had Daphne Vlastari from Scottish Environment LINK do an introduction to policy, the processes and structures in Scotland, and an overview of who makes policy. Maggie then spoke about turning science into policy at the BES, followed by Dan Barlow, the Programme Manager at ClimateXChange talking about understanding what it is like trying to get a science message across to policy makers.

in the classroom

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BEST EATS – EDINBURGH

I began writing this article as a “living on a budget does not mean you cannot eat well!” / “Let me show the world the cheap eats of Edinburgh,” but slowly I began to realize that there is just so much good food out here, and I want to share them with you all. I’ve split them into breakfastlunch, dinner, and dessert, so there’s no ranking of restaurants — only really, really tasty suggestions.

Here are my favourite places to eat centred on authenticity, uniqueness, and all-around good flavour. Enjoy!

BREAKFAST

We all know we have to start our day out right — and that means a hearty and nutritious breakfast (at least it does for me 😬). My favourite choice?

Tani Modi, 103 Hanover Street

Tani Modi Blueberry Pancakes

Tani Modi is an Italian restaurant located just north of Princes Street on Hanover. It boasts authentic Italian food complete with piadas, paninis and antipasto. But my reason for going here: their to-die-for blueberry pancakes (pictured above). These pancakes are a gift from God: they’re warm and made fresh to order. Sandwiched between two pancakes are ripe blueberries mixed with yogurt and blueberry coulis. It is an explosion of flavour in your mouth with every bite without being too sweet nor too dull. This is my absolute breakfast go-to. They also have apple cinnamon, bacon and maple syrup, nutella and banana and even spinach and feta cheese pancakes, but that’s not all: they also have smoked salmon, bacon and eggs, something savoury for every type of taste bud, AND also ridiculously rich chocolate cakes amongst other pastries. You should definitely check them out. I highly recommend. Continue reading

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My top 5 places to study (University of Edinburgh, Central)

 

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to exam season or even nearing the end of any semester, I find it nearly (basically) impossible to find a place to study (especially on campus). Hence, why I’m only uploading this blog post now 🙂 #sorrynotsorry

Here are my favourite study places that I found while doing my Masters.

*Before I continue, know that I like quiet and sterile environments (emphasis on the quiet) so if you don’t like quiet places to study (like libraries), this article is definitely not for you. However! I do make some suggestions in the end that are a ‘something for everyone’ type of thing. Let me know if I’ve missed anything in the comments below! After all, exam season is over… so no one will steal your study spots now 😂

1. Main Library

Okay, so this might be cliché but the main library was my absolute favourite place to study during the year. There are six floors where you can study (including the basement), and each floor tended to host different years (at least I thought so and found that pretty funny). I always stuck to the fourth and fifth floor: fifth because it’s meant to be for post-grads though we know you undergrads always joined us 😉 and fourth because the views from fourth are incredible (photo below).

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I always sat in the same place because this was my view on a daily basis. In the winter, those mountains were snow-covered. In the spring (as you can see), they’re lusciously green and you get a full-on view of the meadows. When the cherry blossoms come out, it’s a site to see. I loved this spot.

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Roses are red, Saltires are blue…

As summer approaches and holiday plans to far-flung destinations populate the screens of starry-eyed students on every floor of the library, I have been reflecting on my last four years living in Edinburgh.

When I first came to visit the School of Geosciences, blue skies smiled down on the cobbled mish-mash rooftops of Auld Reekie and my heart was sold. Panoramic views from the top floor Meteorology lab of multiple volcanoes deep in the city centre only served to seal the deal. Head over heels, I knew Edinburgh was the place for me.

Four years later, I still enjoy the twisting closes and the way your eyes are drawn up, down and around as you wander through the Old Town, dodging chocolate stalls and fancy dumplings on a Saturday morning in Grassmarket.

There is much more to Scotland than the surface beauty of the capital, however. Throughout my time as a student, I have regularly managed to sneak off across the country to escape the hustle and bustle of university life.

And what awaits you when you do. To step into lands carved by glaciers during the last ice age, mountain belts formed from the collision between England and Scotland (we weren’t always a union!), otherworldly islands forged by volcanic eruptions and white sand beaches taken straight from a Caribbean postcard – it is a geoscience student’s dream!

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Garbh Bheinn, Ardgour

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Ecosystem Services MSc students take on the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

At the end of April we spent a week in the surprisingly sunny Cairngorms National Park, one of Scotland’s two national parks, and the largest the UK has to offer. The week was divided into two halves, the first consisting of meeting and talking with various different organisations and stakeholders involved in the land management of the park and the during the second half we had to design and pilot a research project of our own choice. Generally quite a packed seven days!

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Day one, we convoyed the mini buses up to Aviemore, stopping in Pitlochry for lunch and a chat with the John Muir Trust. Over some classically British tea and biscuits we got our first low down of the way various landowners and organisations manage and conserve Scotland’s land. We discussed how policy makers and practitioners work together, and sometimes against together, to conserve both the natural and cultural Continue reading

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Morocco 2018

By Celeste Kellock and Chelsea Fletcher

This year the MSc Environmental Protection and Management and MSc Soils and Sustainability field trip was to Morocco. One of the great parts of an environmental degree is the opportunity to take part in field work – you get to experience data collection, analysis, results and interpretation – the full cycle! How long was this trip if we got to go through the full cycle? One week. Yes, we traveled to a foreign country and collected, analysed, and presented data all within a week. If you were thinking of starting one of these courses but are now worried about the course load- don’t worry, it wasn’t all work and no play. We had quite an exciting week with ample amounts of opportunity to experience the local customs alongside our research.

We touched down in Marrakech where we were greeted with a feast of Moroccan dishes (this was a very good start and pretty representative of the volumes of food we would be getting the whole time we were here). We spent the first night in Marrakech exploring the markets:

 

The markets are full of colour in the form of texture and food! The UK could definitely do with this bulk food/no plastic approach!

The following day we travelled up to our base location for the week, Imlil, situated in the Atlas Mountains. This gorgeous mountain village was amazing, and because our group was so large, we had pretty much had a whole riad (the Moroccan version of a hostel / hotel) to ourselves!

kasba and riad

A pretty sweet base camp, with some great spaces for relaxing as well.

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How This Sloth Could Save the World

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By 2030, we will only have 1% of the earth rain forests remaining. We are on the brink of the earths 6th mass extinction. Earth’s population of wild vertebrates — all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish — declined 58% from 1970 to 2012. These startling facts are all directly linked to human evoked climate change.
However, the depiction of wildlife in David Attenborough’s BBC series ‘Planet Earth Two’, demonstrated above, seemed to overlook this reality. Instead of a truthful overview of global ecosystem decay, producer’s sought after obscure glimpses of awe-inspiring wild-life activity in non-urbanised areas. Altogether, these images create the idea that they are common place, and therefore represent the non-human world as thriving.
Perhaps this is harmless entertainment. Surely, the publics awe at the nature on screen increases interest in wildlife conservation? Continue reading

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How my masters degree put me face-to-face with my childhood hero!

Written by Laura LaBeur

Recently the MSc Marine Systems and Policy students were invited to attend the prestigious Monaco Blue Initiative – an event funded by H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco to promote ocean awareness and action. The University of Edinburgh hosted this two-day event and concluded by awarding Dr. Sylva Earle with an honorary degree.

The first evening of the event was a formal cocktail evening for mingling and networking. Notably, one of the speeches was from a former Rolex scholar and current Marine Systems student! It was fun to get dressed up and engage with the panellists and high career professionals from organisations such as WWF, IUCN, UNEP, PEW, and many amazing more. These men and women could potentially be our employers one day!

Erin McFadden, MSc Marine Systems and Policies student and 2011 Rolex Scholar

A sweeping glance throughout the room made one thing present to me – Sylvia Earle was in this room! For those of you who don’t know of her – Dr. Sylvia Earle, or as she is affectionately called “Her Deepness”, is one of the greatest marine biologists of this century. If you want to know more about her life and to be inspired by her tireless dedication to our oceans you can watch her documentary on Netflix, Mission Blue. Or similarly you can read one of her many novels or even listen to her TED talk.

Growing up many of my peers wanted to be firefighters, lawyers, dancers, the list goes on and on. But I wanted to be Dr. Sylvia Earle – a leading marine biologist and researcher. I’m pretty sure this woman has spent more time in and under water than not (that’s not a fact – but it should be!) She has done so much for women in science and her list of accomplishments seems endless. Dr. Earle was the first ever female chief scientist at the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In case you aren’t from the USA – THAT IS A REALLY BIG DEAL! Sylvia has led some of the deepest submarine expeditions into previously unexplored depths.

Dr Sylvia Earle, MSc Marine Systems and Policies students and Programme Director Dr Meriwether Wilson

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