After 18: Sophia McCarron

Finishing first semester

Sophia McCarron and Maddy Alley celebrate Thanksgiving in Edinburgh. — Courtesy Sophia McCarron

Every year The MV Times asks four recent high school graduates to write about their experiences during their first year after graduation. Sophia McCarron graduated from MVRHS in 2017, and is studying at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Revision week has descended upon Edinburgh University, making it impossible to find a seat in the library, and giving campus a sense of caffeine-fueled desperation. I’ve opted to study in cafes or Teviot, the student union, since you can sometimes find a seat and they are in close proximity to coffee. It’s hard to believe that professors’ and other students’ warnings about final exam season actually came true. Although the sun rises at 8:30 and the weather is distinctly frigid, it doesn’t feel all that long ago that it was September and I was trying to find my way to my first lecture.

Flashcards with political theories and Arabic vocabulary cover my desk, and although we haven’t even officially finished the first semester, my friends and I are already planning for next year. We have signed a lease for a six-bed flat in Edinburgh’s Marchmont neighborhood. It covers the top two floors of an old tenement building, and sits on a street with views of the castle. It’s a measure of bragging rights how long one can wait before turning up the heat in the flat, so I’m looking forward to some arctic months next year. It was kind of strange to read over the lease and consider budgets for my first apartment. When I was looking at schools in the States, many of them had guaranteed housing all four years, making the idea of renting an apartment something far off and obscure.

I’m beginning to count down the days until I fly home for the holidays (exactly two weeks from this Thursday, in case you were wondering). Edinburgh’s Christmas market is up and bustling; however,I’ve banned myself from it after a disastrous incident where I spent the equivalent of a week’s worth of food on socks. The whole city, however, seems to be getting into the holiday spirit, which makes the long nights a little easier to deal with when I can look at all of the twinkle lights in the windows during my walk home.

I thought that this time of year would be the hardest to deal with, with the stress of finals and not being able to spend Thanksgiving with my family, but actually it feels as though this time of year brings out a new side to Edinburgh, which has been fun to get to know. For Thanksgiving I hopped on a train up to St. Andrews to spend the holiday with one of my oldest friends from home. A local restaurant served Thanksgiving dinner, and it felt like a bit of Martha’s Vineyard in Scotland. It’s so easy to travel by train here that I was able to catch the train after my last politics lecture and be back the next day in time for my Arabic lecture.

Even though I’ll only be home for two weeks, and then I’m flying back to meet up with some friends in London, I feel like it’s a good length of time. I haven’t done as much traveling as I’ve wanted to in first semester, mostly because I underestimated how easy it would be to get wrapped up in life on campus. London will be a nice way to celebrate the end of first semester, and be, I hope, the first of many trips around Britain and Europe in second semester. I feel as though I spent a lot of time finding my feet in first semester, and I needed to be on campus to do that. I’m now more grounded in the city and university, and want to take time away to explore this new part of the world.