Radar Hill Blog

Why Scotland?

I moved to Scotland almost 9 months ago, and am now joining BNI on behalf of Radar Hill. Because the question has been asked of me many times, I thought I would write an extended post about what has led me to living in Edinburgh. Short story – it’s a beautiful city. Slightly longer story – I like Britain (despite all of its current political difficulties), and Edinburgh is the perfect city. Even longer story – see below.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

First Contact with Britain

When I was 11 years old, I began asking my parents to bring me to London. I had been reading historical fiction books about the Tudors, and another series of books set in the 17th century, and I wanted to see the castles in person. So, for a year, almost every day, I annoyed my parents with “can I go to London? Can you please bring me to London? I want to go to London. When can we go to London? Let’s go to London.”

Big Ben in London

Big Ben in London

I was very persistent. And determined. I needed to go to London. So, I looked online for flights and hotels, and found a good deal – 7 nights in a hotel and flight for 2 people, at a decent price. It surprised yet absolutely delighted me when my parents accepted! I flew to London with my dad, and we had a one-hour stopover in Glasgow. I was so tired, having been 9 hours on a plane, but felt absolutely enchanted and entertained being surrounded by Scottish accents for a brief moment, as we switched planes. At the airport I read a headline in a newspaper “Oysters to now work on trains” and it was the funniest headline to a sleep-deprived 12-year old. I didn’t understand what it meant at the time, but the visual I imagined was amazing.

We spent a brilliant week in London doing all the top tourist attractions, from the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court – all the great Tudor destinations. I later learned that my parents brought me because they thought it would placate me, feed the desire to go and then that would be it, I would drop the incessant asking to visit. But no, as soon as I got back to Canada, it was “I want to go to Europe. Can I go to Europe? When can you bring me to Europe? Let’s go to Europe.”

Europe Trip

A few years later, my uncle gifted me and my mum a trip to Europe, a 3-week coach tour where we went to 11 different countries, and then we stayed a whole week in Paris. Moral of the story being persistence and determination – it works! Also having an amazingly generous family. It was a wonderful trip, but again it did not placate me, just made me think that yes I want to be in Europe. I wasn’t sure exactly where in Europe, just somewhere on the continent would suffice.

Study Abroad in Wales

I then spent a couple years not sure exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I contemplated being a chef, but then realised that working in a kitchen is actually really stressful. All I really wanted to do was move to Europe. But I didn’t know the best way of living there. I considered being an Au Pair, or doing those One Year Working Holidays, but the more comfortable way to go was to participate in a student exchange. So, I went to college, with the intention of doing an exchange. I spent one year at Camosun College, taking 3 buses to get to it from my house in the suburbs, and then just after I turned 18, applied to do an exchange.

I ended up at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter, Wales, a teeny tiny town in the middle of the countryside. When I say teeny tiny, I mean, it had literally only 2 roads. The university itself was about as big as the town. So not a lot going on there, but it was pretty, and peaceful. I went there because that was the only place in Britain that Camosun did an exchange with. When choosing the schools to attend, I was far too much of an Anglophile to turn down the chance of actually living there.

Exquisite Edinburgh

As any good student on exchange, I travelled whenever I had the chance. A week before the second semester began in January 2013, I decided to go to Edinburgh. I had been to London of course, and I had been to Cardiff, a mere 4 hours away from Lampeter, so it was only fitting that I should go next to the Scottish capital. I had vaguely heard some good things about Edinburgh, unlike Glasgow, where I was told not to go or I’d “get knifed” – not exactly a glowing review. Not that I actually believed it, but I still decided on just seeing Edinburgh. I booked a train and a hostel, and was going to do my first ever solo holiday.

I can’t remember the exact route, but it was at least 6 hours by train, if not 8. It was January, and I was heading to a place even more notorious for having no sun. It was dark when I arrived, and all I wanted to do was get to my hostel. I walked out of the train station with my suitcase, slightly terrified that I was in a big city all by myself – and I remember thinking 10 seconds after getting out of the station and onto Waverley Bridge “Oh my god this is beautiful. I need to live here.”

North Bridge

North Bridge

I need to live here

That was it. It was instantaneous, the feeling of needing to belong in Edinburgh. I’ve never gotten that with any other city, and I have been to many places since then. Even though it was freezing cold and dark, the way the light hit the buildings, the way the road curved, it made my heart happy.

I spent an amazing week in Edinburgh doing all the touristy things, falling more in love with the city every day I was there. Pictures do not do it justice. It is simply beautiful, with its preserved Old Town, perfect cobblestones, and gorgeous gardens. There are many bridges in the city, but no actual water – just layers of buildings and roads.
When I checked out of my hostel I thought I wouldn’t mind if I had to stay in Edinburgh forever – and then when I got to the train station my train had been cancelled. However,I had school to finish, so I did get on a replacement train, but it wasn’t a quick or easy decision.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

 

Since then, I always had Edinburgh at the back of my mind as somewhere that I would like to go to. I returned in January of 2016 for a week, and again was enthralled by the beauty of the city. The architecture is simply stunning, and Arthur’s Seat is awesomely close. At the edge of the Parliament and Palace there is a huge hill. I won’t say mountain, as I am from British Columbia, but it is definitely a good hill. And there is a castle in the middle of the city!

What Now

2016 was a weird year. I spent a few months in Britain, then a few months in Canada, then a few months in the Netherlands. I worked in the summer at Radar Hill and Claire’s Accessories, not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life, thinking that there could be and should be something more, just not knowing what it was.

In 2017, I thought I should focus and concretely decide what it is that I want to do as a career. I had options – I just had to focus on one. I graduated with a BA in History, although the degree was an excuse to travel, rather than for any job at the end. So, I went back to Radar Hill. Nepotism may have gotten me the job in 2016, but they asked me to come back in 2017, so I did some things right.

Moving to Scotland

Careers are a difficult thing to choose, and I could not focus in on anything. The only constant thought in my head was “I want to move to Edinburgh.” And I kept talking about moving, and not wanting to be a hypocrite because it annoys me when people say they are going to do something and then they don’t, I decided I would just do it. There was nothing really tying me to Canada, except my cat, but I knew he would be looked after. There was no good reason why I shouldn’t move to Edinburgh, so in May I bought a one-way plane ticket and booked an AirBnB for 2 weeks.

I arrived on 27 September 2017, and was wildly optimistic about how long it would take me to find a flat and get a job. I was still going to be working for Radar Hill, although it would not be full time. Why and how I am now a Virtual Assistant is another blog post. This personal post has been to explain why I am living in Scotland: basically, I have been obsessed with Britain for far too long, and I fell in love with Edinburgh immediately when I visited it 5.5 years ago. There was just something so alluring about this city. It was my “backup” plan for a couple years until I decided that I should just go for it. And now I am joining BNI on behalf of my dad’s company. I did not expect that when I moved, but I welcome this new exciting opportunity! Stay tuned on our social media for more Edinburgh pictures.

About Caitlin O'Hara

Shawn's daughter, Caitlin has been around Radar Hill her entire life, but only recently in a full-time professional manner. In 2016 she began managing the social media accounts, writing articles and newsletters, as well as being an administrative assistant when needed. When not in the office she enjoys cooking (including those samosas that have been huge hits at Radar Hill open houses) and travelling, and has recently moved to Scotland.
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