I had an amazing experience in all of the countries that I visited. From Ireland to Wales, England to Scotland, I was charmed differently by each domain. Scotland reminded me the most of Belfast, Ireland in its historic makeup as well as its urban landscape. Before I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. We have stayed in many different environments over these five weeks, and a simple google search wont usually do any city justice. Belfast, Ireland was a smaller town, but it was fairly modern, just not very busy. Moving onto the Shamrocker Tour, we stayed in Balintoy which is a very small town, with little to no form of communication with the outside world. After the brief stint in the tiny towns, we headed to Dublin, Ireland, which is one of the largest cities in Ireland. The moment that I stepped off of the bus, I knew that this was what a big city in the United Kingdom was like, but boy was I in for a surprise. Cardiff, Wales was an even bigger city, having the capacity to host the BLAH World Championship, the most watched sporting event next to the Olympics. After leaving Wales, we finally took on the big one: London. We spent two weeks in the city of London, but I feel like I haven’t seen even 20 percent of the city. In a five mile radius, there are over five million people, and that radius is only a small part of the greater area of London. Moving from that city, any one would seem small. Our final destination, Edinburgh, surprisingly didn’t end up seeming completely desolate compared to London, it was actually pretty alive!

Edinburgh is its own bustling city that is centered around a lot of media. For example, one of the greatest and most popular franchises in modern pop culture – Harry Potter – was birthed right in Edinburgh. Although the series directly references London more than it does Edinburgh, if it wasn’t for that city, the inspiration for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter would never have came to J.K. Rowling. Even Hogwarts University was modeled in the image of the Edinburgh castle, long before there was an actual visual representation of Harry Potter.

There was also an international film festival that began during our stay in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh International Film Festival, or EIFF for short, is a week and a half long festival that takes place all over the city of Edinburgh. Films from all over the world are screened to gain useful international exposure as well as for the directors, producers, actors, and crew to engage with their audience. The Edinburgh film festival had over 4,000 submissions, so countless hours have been spent on programming, or figuring what films should be screened. Every movie must be viewed twice to be properly considered, so imagine just how much work had to be done in this step of the festival. We had a talk with Diane Henderson, the deputy artistic director of the festival, and she told us about the politics of film festivals, which are much more complex than you would think. Many festivals are good for certain genres of film, but this isn’t exactly apparent. You have to really research the past winners of the festivals to know what audience your film will appeal to. And there are a lot of film festivals such as Cannes film festival in France, the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany, and the Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah. These festivals are diverse in not just nationality but genre preference as well. A film can do amazingly well at one festival but be completely overlooked at another. 

Edinburgh was a refreshing look at how a historical place can still inspire modern storytelling to this day. The events and landmarks of Edinburgh were very convincing to show its impact on modern media. If it wasn’t for Edinburgh, one of the most impactful series ever, Harry Potter wouldn’t be created!