Universityland: Advice from the EUSA President that made History

“Universities can make or break us. Personally, my years at university made me, and they also solidified my anti-establishment leanings. I loved the learning, the friends and the incredible experiences I had growing up in this most magical city.”

Briana Pegado

Briana Pegado made history as the first black woman to be elected as president of Edinburgh University’s Students’ Association (EUSA). She also set up the Edinburgh Student’s Arts Festival (ESAF), which led to her being named as one of Scotland’s 30 women under 30 and one of Scotland’s top ten innovators.

On Briana’s ‘Universityland’ Trax, she retraces her steps through Edinburgh University’s central campus, covering everything from controversial architecture, student protests and the famous murderers Burke and Hare. This time, we’ve reached out to her to ask her for some advice. If you’re a fresher, a foodie, or thinking of running for EUSA presidency, then stay tuned… 

What’s your best advice for fresher’s week?

Fresher’s Ball – Image from EUSA website

“Make sure to smile and chat to people even when you are uncertain. A lot of people are in the same boat as you and are feeling just as nervous. A smile and a hello is a great way to start a conversation. “

“Pace yourself. You won’t miss out if you don’t go to everything and you don’t want fresher’s flu, so make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of naps in if you’re planning to stay out all night.”

Your favourite go-to spots to eat near uni?

“I am a huge fan of Che on Forest Road. They serve the best falafel in the city. They put lemon zest in their falafel and swear there is nowhere else like it. I am a big fan of Nile Valley cafê as well. They make the best wraps. An Africa Wrap with Fuul (these delicious stewed beans) and feta cannot go amiss!”

“Union of Genius is one of the best inventions since sliced bread. A soup café, come on! How has no one thought of that before? The Lebanese Lentil and Lemon Soup is one of my favourites. I am also a huge fan of Saboteur for their Vit Curry with Duck. It has whole lychee fruits in it and it is delicious!”

“There are too many to count but there are my tops suggestions. For some authentic Mexican Food, El Cartel is also worth checking out and Checkpoint for their thrice cooked chips.”

What advice would you give to someone thinking of running for EUSA presidency? 

Briana Pegado

“Pull together a manifesto that has an impact and is easy to communicate. You want to help with transport links to King’s Building, exam timetables or more access to counselling services – then chose those are your main focus.” 

“Assemble a team of people that believe in you to help you out. This will help with lecture shout-outs (they are key and a great way to reach big audiences of people at once), door knocking, and also use social in ways that will grab people’s attention.”

“The most important thing is to be yourself, listen to the people you want to support to come up with ideas to support them, and have fun. It’s going to be a long slog of sleepless nights, late-night discussions and chatting to former Sabbatical Officers/Staff at EUSA. Use every opportunity you can as an opportunity to listen and gather information to make sure you do something that truly benefits the Edinburgh University community.”

To any new or returning students, we hope this advice helps!

If you’re looking for more university-related content, check out our previous Guide to Edinburgh University’s Central Campus blogpost, or Briana’s full ‘Universityland’ Trax, available on Spotify and on our free app