When I arrived in Edinburgh, I was 18, very shy, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My mom came with me and was supposed to stay for a week, but due to a family emergency had to fly back to California the next day. Between family issues, jet lag, and being alone in a foreign country, I spent a good portion of Fresher’s week crying in my bedroom. I eventually came out of my shell a bit and joined societies and made friends with my classmates, but I definitely had a rocky start. I joined a quite a few societies but none of them seemed to click with me – I would have fun, but had a hard time making friends beyond acquaintances. My flatmate was in Create Society so I went along to a crafting session with her. That’s how I met Kate, and that’s how I found out about Roots.
What is Roots?
Roots is a charity that revolves around students – their goal is to give students a safe and fun community where you can meet new people. Roots is run by a Christian organisation, but religion doesn’t come up very often and they’re probably the most inclusive people I’ve ever met. I’m not at all religious, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable or pressured in any way – that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. However if you are Christian (or just interested in faith) the Roots team run workshops discussing the deep questions and such as well!
That still sounds weird. What do they do?
When you drop into Roots (it’s on South College Street, just next to Brew Lab) you can expect to be greeted warmly. If it’s the first time you’ve been there, one of the team members will ask your name. After that they will never ask again. They just remember everyone’s names. I don’t know how. There’s probably a game of some kind being played, biscuits being eaten, and coffee being made. Someone will ask you all about your day, and they’ll be genuinely interested. Whatever you study, there’s someone at Roots who has or can abruptly develop a vested interest in that topic. On Tuesday nights, they host a curry dinner at the Aroma Cafe, and on Friday afternoons they serve soup – both meals are free! During the week Roots is open during lunch time for you to eat lunch and chat, study, or just hang out in between classes. It’s a great place to go if you feel adrift – there’s an instant sense of community. Plus there’s free tea, coffee, and biscuits.
I started going to Roots through my friend Kate, who works at Roots. She invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, you know how important it is. It’s a time to spend with family thinking about the things you’re grateful for in your life. I didn’t think I’d be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in Edinburgh, so it was really touching to be invited. I met a lot of great people that night, but what I remember the most is the sense of family, love, and acceptance. In my first year I felt very uncertain and vulnerable, but Roots was a place I could rely on, and it still is. They’re open almost every afternoon, and often have events or activities around the city. There’s always someone to talk to, and they’re non-judgemental, open-minded, and kind. If you need someone to confide in, or you’re just looking to meet some new people, try it out!
Photo credits to the Roots team – thanks guys!