The University of Edinburgh has a fantastic international student body, providing a lot of inspiration to travel the world. There are signs of different cultures, countries and continents all over campus. If you are feeling tempted to take a spontaneous weekend escapade during first semester – a time when most students feel less worried about their exams and end of year averages – there is plenty of opportunity to take advantage of at Edinburgh Airport.
My first recommendation is Dublin: close to Edinburgh and reputed for its charm. Travelling to Ireland is a curious experience. Flying with Ryanair equates to nothing greater than catching a bus. The flight is so short; you don’t even have to time to impress co-passengers that you have a book and that you actually read and take an interest in things. You open the first page and before you know it you’ve touched down again. Once you’re there, there’s so much to do. The National Gallery of Ireland is a must and you can get ‘the best pint of Guinness in the world’ at any local pub.
Scandinavia is another personal favourite. There are some basic things to remember before you travel. Denmark, Norway and Sweden all use Krone (Krona in Sweden) as their currency, however, each country uses a different type of Krone, so make sure you are careful at the bureau de change! Relative to Britain, Scandinavia, as any student you will meet from the region will testify, is very expensive. Although the beer will be nice, it may not be so friendly on your wallet. If I could pick one city, then it would be Copenhagen: home of BBC4’s political drama Borgen and houses of all colours of the spectrum.
If you are looking for an exotic weekend on the coast, then Sicily might be an upgrade on Scotland’s white, but cold beaches. With beaches equally abundant as ancient and modern historical sites, Sicily offers a real mix of attractions. With return flights from the UK to Palermo from as little as £70, this is a tempting prospect. To get the most out of your visit it is worth purchasing a good travel guide with the spare change from the flights. Unless you speak Italian fluently, it is easy to miss the best places to go; unlike in Scandinavia, travelling with expectation of finding English-speaking locals to advise you is more haphazard. It also important to be aware of local customs; in Italy when making purchases in shops, or even queuing in lines, being confident and assertive is not considered rude, and it may even get you a better deal.
Probably the warmest place you can jet off to this winter for under £150 is the Canary Islands. With October and November temperatures reaching up to 26°C, the Islands offer Edinburgh students the perfect opportunity to take a short break from the double jumper, scarf and coat combination and return to the summer t-shirt and shorts look. Like any classic tropical paradise, however, there are dangers. Although mosquitoes in the Canary Islands are generally not malarial, wearing insect repellent certainly is wise.
With so much of the world at your fingertips, a carpe diem attitude is highly tempting. The allure of spontaneous travel, especially to foreign lands, is equal to the experiences gained. It is worth remembering to do your coursework as well though. However, if you have wanderlust and are a week ahead with tutorials, then perhaps you should start packing and use your disposable student loan leftovers more adventurously.