Edinburgh Europe Expat Life Musings Scotland

On One Year in Edinburgh

May 23

Edinburgh Cherry Blossoms

On my first day back in Edinburgh last May, I took one look at the blooming cherry blossom trees – a wispy spectrum of pink and white blanketing the city – and instantly declared spring to be my favourite time of year here.

After one year, and all four seasons, I can confidently say spring is still my favourite season in Edinburgh.

A lot has happened in the past year. I fell in love with Budapest and spent a gluttonous week in Berlin. I conquered my first munro and experienced the magic of Skye. I road tripped around the Isle of Mull and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

As monumental as these experiences were, it’s the time I spent in Edinburgh, the ordinary, fleeting moments that really defined the past 365 days of my life. The afternoons spent wandering aimlessly among the city’s cobbled streets, camera in hand. Catching a glimpse of the fiery sunrise over Arthur’s Seat on my way to work, the sky ablaze with hues of amber and violet. Waiting for the bus on Princes Street beneath the imposing silhouette of the castle in the darkness.

Edinburgh Cherry Blossoms 3 Edinburgh Cherry Blossoms 2
Before I came here, I worried Edinburgh’s beauty might become typical, mundane even. But my feelings for Edinburgh haven’t waned – I’m more enamoured with it each day.

One year later and I still stand in awe of the castle, perched on that jagged cliff in the centre of the city. My heart still flutters when I walk the winding Old Town streets. I’m still captivated by the views from Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat, the city’s skyline akin to a painting. I still smile when I hear the staccato melody of bagpipes echoing throughout the city.

These quirks and sights and sounds have become part of my everyday life here. Edinburgh’s moody skies, verdant hills, and brackish seas have coloured the past year of my life, the contrasting greys and blues and greens an ever-imposing backdrop.

And yet, I can’t quite articulate what Edinburgh means to me, what it has become.

It’s a place that makes me smile and leaves me in awe. It’s a place that makes me feel alive and inspires me. It’s a place that moves me, that makes me feel so lucky to live here.

But most of all, it’s a place that’s come to feel like home.

Edinburgh Cherry Blossoms 4
As I see the cherry blossom trees in full bloom once again, I can’t help but think back to the person I was when I arrived a year ago: excited and nervous and wide-eyed, my uncertainty masked by an enthusiastic smile.

This year, however, I’m feeling a bit more assured, more confident with the trajectory in which I’m headed, and I have Edinburgh to thank for that.

Has moving abroad changed your life in any way?


  • Reply Hayley Simpson May 24 at 10:08 am

    Working abroad totally changed my life. So much so I am already planning on returning to Vancouver next year! Keep enjoying Edinburgh 🙂

    • Reply ashleywanders May 30 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks, Hayley 🙂 Enjoy your return to Vancouver! How long are you heading back for?

  • Reply LC May 26 at 10:22 pm

    Congrats on your one year anniversary, Ashley! I’m so glad to hear you’re as enamoured with Edinburgh as you were as when you first set foot there. Here’s to another year!

    • Reply ashleywanders May 30 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks so much, Laura! 🙂

  • Reply Rachel Jun 02 at 8:48 pm

    I’m moving to Edinburgh in September, so I really enjoyed reading this! It made me really excited! If I can ask, what kind of work did you end up finding?

    • Reply ashleywanders Jun 15 at 5:52 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Rachel! When I first arrived, I worked a few temporary administrative positions, and I’m now working as a document transcriber.

  • Reply Cassie Jun 03 at 11:31 am

    If you don’t mind me asking how much money did you start off with when you first moved here? I am hoping to head there next year on a youth mobility visa 🙂 so happy I found your blog!

    • Reply ashleywanders Jun 15 at 5:56 pm

      Glad you found it as well, Cassie 🙂 I came over with around $6,000 (Canadian) saved up, I believe!

  • Reply Laura Jun 06 at 6:53 pm

    Such a lovely post, Ashley. I love when a new country/city/town really feels like home. I felt that way with Sydney. I swelled with pride whenever I walked around or talked about it. It was my home and it changed my idea of what home really was I think.

    • Reply ashleywanders Jun 15 at 5:59 pm

      Thank you, Laura 🙂 I loved Sydney as well, and can see why you felt so proud to live there.

  • Reply Amanda - Lesson Plans & Layovers Jun 15 at 10:40 am

    Congrats Ashley! It seems like only yesterday I started following your blog when you first made the move to Edinburgh. I have been following you ever since, looking to your posts on Edinburgh for inspiration as I planned my own trip last summer. I still envy how your home base is this gorgeous city and wish you many more blissful days in enchanting Edinburgh! 🙂

    • Reply ashleywanders Jun 15 at 6:02 pm

      Thank you Amanda! I’m so glad you’ve been following along this whole time – it means so much to me! And I’m happy to have provided some inspiration for your visit last summer! Let me know if you happen to revisit Edinburgh sometime in the near future 🙂

  • Reply Anthony Jones Sep 18 at 2:10 pm

    Wow, some beautiful photos! I love Edinburgh! Still holds the number one spot on my list, even though I was only there for six weeks for study. Wish I could get a year in

    • Reply ashleywanders Sep 24 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks Anthony! Hopefully you can revisit for longer someday 🙂

  • Reply Brianna Jan 06 at 10:43 pm

    This made me cry! I miss Edinburgh so much… Spent 6 months there this past year, and applying to jobs to try to get sponsored. That seems to be the only option for a US citizen, my wee aching heart.

    I know you are Canadian, but if you have any advice or leads for where to look for work (willing companies to sponsor/hire Americans, resources, etc), I would be indebted to you.

    • Reply ashleywanders Jan 09 at 8:42 pm

      Aw, I feel your pain, Brianna! I’m currently in the process of trying to stay in the UK longer, but I’m not sure if it will work out. Someone was telling me that the University of Edinburgh is a good company in terms of sponsorship – especially since their salaries tend to be a bit higher. Other than that, I have no idea, unfortunately! If I happen to learn of any companies willing to sponsor people while I’m here, I’ll definitely let you know 🙂

      • Reply Brianna Jan 09 at 8:45 pm

        You’re so sweet! Yes, I’ve had my eyes on the University and may have applied to a job I want the baddest! Wish me luck :). Best of luck to you, too! When you love Scotland, certainly nothing else will do, huh? I know you know! <3 I will keep you in the loop on my travels and would love to bump into you for some Kanpai or whisky to celebrate our mutual extensions.

        • Reply ashleywanders Jan 13 at 9:00 pm

          Goodluck, I hope you get that job! You’re so right – nothing else compares when you love Scotland 😉 Definitely let me know if you’re heading back to Edinburgh so we can grab a drink!

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