By Jana Echterhoff
There are those cities which are simply amazing. You already know that this place is supposed to be incredibly beautiful even before you go there. Paris would be one of it, for example. Or New York. Then there are cities where you got to out of a particular reason – either because your friends ask you to or because there is a trip planned. That was how ScotMUN 2015 in Edinburgh looked like for me. UNSA is going to the MUN there? Sure, better join because it is probably going to be worth it! It didn’t take me long to realise how much worth it this trip would be. To summarise it within one sentence:
Edinburgh is incredibly beautiful and if you go there with 40 people from Maastricht, it makes it even more beautiful!
After HamMUN last December and the upcoming EuroMUN-experience, ScotMUN was the second out of three MUNs which UNSA attended with a delegation consisting out of more than 40 people. This time, the conference itself took place from Friday until Sunday of which the sessions itself occupied Saturday and Sunday. Since leaving Maastricht’s student-life behind for a bit was pretty appealing to quite some of the delegation, most UNSA-members arrived earlier already though. I was part of the group which took the plane from Charleroi to Edinburgh on Wednesday evening. This offered the opportunity to spend the whole Thursday and almost the whole Friday with sight-seeing.
Even if the purpose of the whole trip was the Model United Nations, connecting the two activities was the best thing to do. On Thursday morning, we were so lucky to actually enjoy Scottish sun at the see-side. Eating Scones in a lovely “Beach Café” with a sea-breeze accompanying it seemed almost too good to be true. Afterwards, a visit of “Calton Hill”, which offered a breath-taking overview of the whole city, and a visit of the Scottish Parliament even increased the feeling of actually being on short vacation. For those that stayed in the same hostel in Edinburgh’s city-centre, the brilliant idea to cook all-together for around 20 people rounded the day up in a perfect manner.
Friday then saw a continuity of some sight-seeing as well as the start of the conference. In the morning, a visit of the castle – either from the inside or only from the outside – or a trip to Arthur’s Hill made UNSA-people enjoy more of the Scottish experience. In the afternoon, the conference itself finally started. Even if the opening-ceremony itself didn’t offer any further insights yet, the following evening certainly did! The so-called “formal” in the Balmoral Hotel not only made us enjoy a three-course dinner and actually get to know to our committees. It also consisted of a Scottish “Ceilidh”, a very typical dance. If you don’t know where to think of – try to picture hundreds of people dancing in pairs or in groups of pairs to traditional Scottish music. What sounds a bit weird in the first place turned out to be more than just great fun. Location, music and the people – all these things taken together made this night an amazing one.
Until this point, the formal sessions didn’t even start yet. The short amount of only four sessions then led to more intense debates, however. Whether it was the World Water Forum, UN Women or Crisis, every single committee had at least one UNSA-member in it. Topic-wise, there was a variety ranging from debates about Caesar or Piracy over fighting terrorism up to equal rights of women. Especially the latter was a quite suitably chosen topic, since March 8 was international women’s day. Which day would be better to actually discuss about equal economic opportunities for women or a review on the Millennium Development Goals on education with a focus on women? Small committees, big debates – this was the slogan with which ScotMUN promoted its conference. Even if the sessions itself were rather short, the debates were indeed intense and the committee-sizes were comparably small as well. Moreover, the range of international students was impressive as well. Apart from large delegations from Greece, the English Universities were represented by international exchange-students in particular. The MUN-experience was, thus, fully ensured.
This applied to the social programme as well: Saturday night was dedicated to a club night in Edinburgh’s centre. Before, the idea to cook for the UNSA-delegation in the hostel again was clearly welcomed. I must say that I never expected that Risotto for 20 people could actually work. It did, however. And so did the night. It was a certainly a good evening to celebrate with the delegation as well as the committees. Unfortunately, this evening was also the last one in Scotland for quite some people from Maastricht. Whereas some stayed until Monday and went for some Karaoke after the closing-ceremony, others took the plane back already. And even if I was part of a group of nine people that had to sleep over at Amsterdam-Schiphol since we missed the last train due to a plane-delay, this trip was still an amazing experience! Last but not least, the successes UNSA-members could gain are more than worth mentioning: with two honourable mentions and two distinguished delegate awards, we could leave Scotland all-satisfied!