Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh’

Sharing PhD experiences in Edinburgh

My name is Alexandra Boyle and I’m a PhD student here in the School of Geography.

This summer, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh. I went to present the initial results of my PhD research ‘Exploring the emotional and spatial dimensions of communication technology use among older adults in contemporary London’.

 

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Collected my conference pack for the 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh and the conference centre

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Set against the stunning backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, the University of Edinburgh turned on a fantastic conference (and the weather!) for 3 days of interactive learning, socialising and networking and delicious food!

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Looking out over the historic city of Edinburgh.

 

I stayed on site at the University of Edinburgh accommodation which made me particularly nostalgic for my days as an undergraduate at Arana College at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand (with Dunedin coincidentally founded by the Scottish in 1848 and the name ‘Dunedin’ the Gaelic translation of Edinburgh. The two cities remain sister cities to this day!).

Although I was inevitably nervous about presenting, the conference was a unique opportunity to present the findings of my research to a community of like-minded scholars. The conference allowed me to test out ideas in a support environment and gain critical feedback that will help me to refine my research. The conference also provided a platform to meet interesting PhD students from Taiwan, Singapore, the UK and the Netherlands and share amongst each other our PhD experiences.

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Dr Joyce Davidson presenting her plenary session

With a diverse calendar of events not only were there daily plenary sessions with preeminent scholars in the field, namely Professor Liz Bondi and Dr Joyce Davidson who were co-authors (along with Mick Smith) of the seminal book ‘Emotional Geographies’ which helped to establish emotional geographies as discipline, but also the opportunity to participate in field trips, a drinks reception and the conference dinner…and I managed to find time to squeeze in a trip to the top of Arthur’s Seat!

Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands

This past weekend, I went to Scotland with my study abroad program. After class on Friday, I rushed to get to King’s Cross Station to board my train, which took around 5 hours to get to Edinburgh Waverly Station in Edinburgh’s city center. Since I arrived at Edinburgh late in the afternoon, I didn’t have as much time to look around, but I did get to see some attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, the National Gallery of Scotland, and St. Giles’ Cathedral. In general, I just enjoyed walking through the different areas in Edinburgh–both Old Town and New Town. On Princes Street, there are a lot of high street clothing stores. On Royal Mile, there are a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Edinburgh is probably one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. Many of the buildings in Edinburgh look as if they were stained with smog, and this is because, when homes were heated with coal fires, the soot and smog from chimneys stained the buildings, but the dark color of the buildings makes Edinburgh look even more historical and beautiful.

The next day we got up early for our bus tour around the Scottish Highlands. First we stopped by Forth Road Bridge to take some pictures. Then, we headed over to Blair Castle in Pertshire. The castle had large rooms with interesting displays and the entrance hall’s walls were impressively decorated with guns, swords and shields. Walking through the castle was like going through a mansion! The rooms were large, and everything looked so extravagant. After thoroughly touring the castle, we boarded the bus and traveled through Cairngorms National Park in North East Scotland. This is the largest national park in the British Isles, and it was a very scenic route. I enjoyed seeing the red deer and greenery as we drove by.  We then went to Culloden Battlefield. Here, we looked through the exhibitions, watched a four minute film of a reenactment of the Battle of Culloden, and walked around the battlefield on Culloden Moor. The tour was very informative, and visiting the battlefield was a great way to learn about Scotland’s history. Afterwards, we headed out to dinner in Inverness, where we stayed for a night.

On Sunday, we started the day at Urquhart Castle where we saw breathtaking views of Loch Ness and the Great Glen. It was nice exploring the various parts of Urquhart Castle and going up the tower to look out at Loch Ness. I was hoping I would find Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, but sadly, that did not happen! Later, we traveled through Glen Coe, a volanic glen, where we stopped for a few minutes to take pictures. Glen Coe was such a spectacular sight! There was fog circling the tops of the mountains, and there were small waterfalls scattered around the area. The area was so beautiful to look at, but it was horribly cold and there was lots of wind. However, enduring the cold wind was definitely worth looking at the wonderful scenery.

I do wish I could have spent more time in Scotland because Edinburgh was so beautiful and I loved seeing all the greenery in the Highlands, but at the end of my trip (as with all my trips, actually), I just enjoyed returning back to London.

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Edinburgh with some street construction

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Entrance Hall of Blair Castle

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Culloden Battlefield on Culloden Moor

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Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

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Glen Coe

 

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

I spent a weekend at the world’s largest arts festival and over 3 days managed to squeeze in a hilarious cross-section of the event’s 2700 shows. Across the month of August Edinburgh’s labyrinthine bars, pokey comedy clubs and shoebox theatres host an array of emerging, acclaimed and (occasionally) questionable comedy talent. The atmosphere is brilliant as hundreds of entertainers and thousands of merry-makers flock to Edinburgh’s beautiful, grey-stone surroundings.

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Our first show of the weekend, Liam Williams ‘Capitalism’, was undoubtedly my favourite. Rather than the lefty, anti-establishment polemic the title led us to expect, Williams’ self-effacing and uniquely fragile show explored themes of mental health, aspiration and England’s dwindled world cup hopes hilariously. Capitalism was one of 360 shows featured on the ‘Free Fringe’ that runs off audience donations collected at the end of the performance. The calibre of entertainment on the Free Fringe is amazing and seating space often limited, so make sure you arrive at the venue early especially if a show has been hotly tipped.

Also really enjoyed the sketch comedy duo The Pin at the Pleasance Courtyard – a bustling fringe venue with outdoor bars and seventeen stages. Ben Ashenden and Alexander Owen should win prizes for the use of an OH projector in their show (a stand-up trend that can be really annoying); they seamlessly chat to their past selves in London on a time-looped video link. The Pin is a really slick sketch comedy with some of the funniest audience participation I’ve ever seen (props to my friend Kate for narrating the murder scene like a pro) and the duo’s performance more than lives up to their long list of endorsements.

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Oscar Jenkyn-Jones’ debut solo show, Thomas Pocket Presents: Me (Oscar Jenkyn-Jones), is a bewildering, character-based lark and the only performance that made me cry with laughter. The surreal ramblings of Jenkyn-Jones’ unabashedly weird persona, Thomas Pocket, are perfectly crafted observations of not much in particular that, at the same time, seem bizarrely poignant. Thomas Pocket is the kind of show it would be great to go back and watch again, to see the level of improv involved and how much it develops over the festival.

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