Those are some the adjectives I’ve used in the last year to describe my summer abroad.
However, they seem misleading. One of the best things about Scotland was that it wasn’t perfect. There were horrible tales, present and past, of human society’s doings. There were some miserable, soggy days; some lonely nights. Long, bumpy road trips that we thought would never end. Realizations about our own country and people came hard.
For all it’s faults, I loved it. The beautiful land that feels so ancient. The people who carry such wonderful accents and even more wonderful stories and hospitality. The knowledge and preservation carried on, immersed into a modern, technological society.
Counting my days until I get to return. <3
It’s been over a week now since I’ve been home and I’m still not entirely sure how I want to close this blog. Part of the problem is that I don’t want to have to stop. It’s been pretty miserable and good being home.
Update: After a total of 44 travel hours, I reached Manhattan last Sunday about 11 pm. My wonderful boyfriend and a friend moved all my stuff to my new house for me, which was one of the best things ever! My parents picked me up at the airport so I at least got to see them for a few hours before they had to go back to WaKeeney.
Monday and Tuesday were spent mostly with the boy, who moved Friday. I started back to work in my new preschool classroom Wednesday. This weekend I just did errands and watched more of How I Met Your Mother. Graduate school started for me yesterday, so I feel like I’ve been going nonstop since June now!
The time change seems to still have an effect on me, mostly in the late afternoon. Hopefully in a few weeks, I’ll feel great about being home and starting grad school and everything (FOOTBALL), so I’ll just keep going. This week and next I get to go to some activity fairs and be at the study abroad booth (Service hours for my scholarship) so I’m excited to get to share my experiences with others!
Thanks for reading!
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
— Mark Twain
PS- It’s TOO HOT in Kansas.
Whew! The last week of International Summer School flew by! Wednesday was spent shopping and walking around Stirling with Hailey, while I was packing and sorting on Thursday. The farewell ceilidh was on Thursday night, it was a lot of fun to do the dancing again, even though there were ½ the people there this time.
Friday, Matt and I went to the Isle of Arran (off the west coast) for the day. After 2 trains and a ferry ride, we headed onto the island to find the Arran Adventure Company. After horrible directions from the tourist guide lady and an extra hour of walking and being lost, we finally found the place. We still got to go gorge scrambling!!! We walked up the gorge (small one) with our wet suits on, and then descending down, stopping to slide down the rocks, go under the waterfall, and even jump off 2 cliffs! It was an amazing experience!
I left Stirling at 8:30 am yesterday morning (Saturday). The flight out of Edinburgh was delayed an hour, making me miss my flight to Kansas City. All the other outgoing flights were booked, so I ended up spending the night here in the Newark airport. Today I’ll be on standby for a couple early flights to KC, while my confirmed booking is at 5 pm, going through Cleveland. Not gonna lie, there were a few tired and frustrated tears last night! I have my fingers crossed that I can get on one of the early flights, so hopefully I can be home before midnight tonight.
In the last 2 months, I’ve had many new experiences!
Traveled Alone- Scotland, London.
Navigated in large cities.
Wrote 3 research papers in 1 month.
Experienced a completely different education system.
Sea Kayaked in the North Sea.
Kayaked in the loch.
Ate raw and cooked scallops.
Fished for the first time.
Have not driven a car in 2 months.
Ate a fried Mars bars.
Walked ½ a mile to class.
Only went to school- no work!
Learned many new words!
Read 20 books in 1 summer.
Learned so much about Scotland and the culture.
Learned many things about American’s who live all over.
Want to come back.
After four days, I have access to my computer to update the blog! Quite a liberating and refreshing experience to be cut off!
Last Thursday, I headed to Edinburgh with the rest of ISS for the day. Katherine and I visited Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Not much has been changed since Queen Victoria’s days. The rest of the day was spent shopping and walking through The Fringe Festival on the Royal Mile. Undoubtedly my favorite part of the day, many people were advertising their shows by handing out flyers and doning costumes and doing antics to attract attention. So fun just to walk through! Later, we met up with Ginny, who wanted us to try a Portuguese restaurant called Nando’s. I was a little apprehensive, but was surprised! They had wonderful marinated grilled chicken with the best sauces to put on! I may be headed to the one in Stirling this week….
Before heading to the hostel, we went to one of the venues and got to go to a Irish comedy act. These 3 guys were hilarious! It made me want to go to more of the shows (over a hundred of venues with shows running about every hour for 2 weeks!)
Friday morning started out by having breakfast at the Elephant House (we went Thursday as well). My Harry Potter fans will share the joy in going to the café where JKR spent time writing. The bathroom is completely full with messages, mine now included! We then went to Mary King’s Close- a preserved building of early Edinburgh (think plague times). It was dark, damp, musty, and pretty cool down there, not to mention a little unsettling. Edinburgh is a fascinating city, built on many hills so that there were many levels. Much of this now hidden, with buildings built on top of the old structures.
Friday afternoon, George (friend of Jim Cleland’s who I’d met at several Gatherin’s) picked me up and took me to stay with him and his wife, Margaret for the weekend. On Saturday, George felt I needed to go to Rosslyn Chapel, where the Da Vinci code was filmed and a place Jim couldn’t find! He took me down to the stream where he had picked up some of the stones for Th’ Gatherin’. For dinner, George and Margaret took me down to Leith. An old sea port area, Leith is full of docked ships and restaurants and pubs. Being home to sailors for so long, this area’s reputation was pretty negative until recent years, where it’s quite a lovely area to be in.
Saturday, George took me and his 5 year old grandson down to Porto Bello, where I got to be beachside to the North Sea. It was freezing and raining. We went to the arcade for a bit and had lunch at the café. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Jack as well as watching Andy Murray’s tennis match! George and Margaret cooked a roast for afternoon tea before taking me to the train station.
I couldn’t thank them enough for the hospitality. George commented on how he had received so much when he visits Kansas and that he was glad he could respond in turn. I learned so much history and culture from talking with both of them. I do hope to get to come back and visit this wonderful couple!
Today, I went to the Bannockburn Heritage Center that celebrates the battlefield and King Robert the Bruce. A small exhibition, it detailed the Scots’ War for Independence in the 1300’s. I even got to try on chain mail- sooo heavy!
I think that’s all for now, I have several more updates coming before the end of the week (incidentally, the end of the week is the end of my time here).
After posting this, I will be on my way to submit my last paper for a class here at the University of Stirling. I’m glad that I have a week and half to just enjoy my time here in Scotland, especially since I head home next Saturday.
I got my big paper back from my witchcraft class yesterday, which was a 1C (A in US grading system). With that, I have gotten A’s on all my big papers here, which I am incredibly proud of, since the grading system here is so much harder! I also did a presentation yesterday over fairy belief. I used Prezi for the first time and it turned out great! My teacher commented that many of the Scottish student’s don’t often feel comfortable doing presentations, especially using powerpoint or technology. I have class next week, but that’s about it.
Tomorrow and Friday will be spent in Edinburgh (maybe more….). I’m excited!
Today’s August 1st. In 10 days, I fly home. This week will be about trying to ignore my sadness and just enjoying my time here!
It’s been another lazy day, which I’ve come to appreciate more and more here in Scotland! I’ve done well on my summer reading goal- All 7 Harry Potter books, plus several others (mostly dystopian fiction, often similar to the Hunger Games, favorite so far has been Divergent!) I have the Kindle app on my phone, so I read whenever I go somewhere on public transportation or have to wait.
Yesterday (Saturday), I went to the Callander Highland Games. The site was smaller than I expected, but the games were the familiar sites of Th’ Gatherin’ to me. The men and women’s strength were very impressive. It was odd though, there were also carnival games and rides, which I wasn’t expecting either. It poured on us for awhile, but Scotland had spoiled us this last week with sunny weather, so I guess it was time. It was a good day out! They said more traditional Highland Games go on, depending on the host site.
Friday was spent on my Witchcraft class excursion. We visited Aberfoyle and saw Robert Kirk’s gravesite before walking up to Doon Hill, also named the Fairy Hill. This was a place that was said to be where the fairies/people crossed over to each other’s worlds. Now, people often leave ribbons or trinkets in recognition of the fairies. I enjoyed this, like it has often happened here, I felt like I was in a timeless, old land. We then traveled to Dunning, to see a site that is a large cairn to mark the spot the Maggie Wall was burnt for being a witch. This was of interest because there are no records or stories (….Scotland has a story for everything, or so I thought….) of that name and people anonymously repaint the rocks when the words fade.
Thursday I spent in Glasgow- we just wondered around the city centre and the university. Speaking of which, I found a masters that I would love to do there! It’s a masters of education in Children’s Literature and Literacies. I feel that it would connect with my book loving side, but not be a completely irrelevant change from my education background. Since I return in 2 weeks (what?!, no…..) and begin my master’s in early childhood at Kansas State, that would mean getting 2 masters, which is a lot!!!!
During my daytrip to St. Andrews last Thursday, I had the chance to go sea kayaking. The guys who run the company Blown Away were very fun and chill! They briefly went through the safety and techniques and sent us out on to the water. The waves were huge compared to normal. The first time we hit a wave, I was terrified! Nicole and I made it through paddling for a while before tipping and going under. The water where we were wasn’t that deep- I could touch most of the time! We spent about an hour with the kayak and then the guys started to try and teach us how to body surf, which was a failure all around. There wasn’t enough wind to land yacht- we were all bummed.
This weekend was spent on a 3 day tour to the Highlands and Isle of Skye, courtesy of Wild-in-Scotland in a 15 person minibus. My tour guide, Danny, was amazing! He was hilarious and a great storyteller (he was great at both historically accurate accounts as well as the folk tales). On Friday, we made our way north to the Highlands, stopping at smaller spots like Glencoe and the Commando Memorial. The hostel we stayed at was in the wild and no food places were around, so the company pools money and we stopped at a grocery store to get food for a barbeque. This was a great idea- our execution wasn’t the best- one of the girls decided she wanted to cook and screwed the burgers up so we had to redo some, so it took forever.
On Saturday, we went around the Isle of Skye and saw many of the cool sites (Kilt Rock, mountains, waterfalls). My favorite was a walk to the River of Eternity through the Cuillin Mountains. A very detailed giant story comes from these mountains and the fairy pools run into the river! That night, a fisherman took us out on his boat in the loch next to our hostel. We fished for scallops, but caught lots of other things like starfish, sea urchins, and even a tire! I tried the scallops raw (pretty good) and then cooked with garlic and butter (amazing!).
Sunday was taken up by driving back down. We stopped by the Battlefield of Culloden- very somber experience. We spent about an hour by Loch Ness- we got to go into the tacky gift shop and then go down in the water. I wanted to swim but didn’t have enough time. :(
The last stop was to a place called The Hermitage, which was a beautiful forest area with a gorgeous waterfall!
The trip was so much fun! The running history commentary mixed with the stories and jokes that Danny told made the bus ride fun, even when the winding roads suck.
I’m gonna head back to writing my 1000 word paper over the history of Scottish fairies now!
PS- I included a bunch of links if you want to see the places I mentioned! Cheers.
I feel like there hasn’t been much to post about this past week, but here’s some updates!
Last Thursday, we had our farewell ceilidh (kay-lee) for the end of block one. A fiddle group played the music and they taught us many of the Scottish ceilidh dances. This was a blast- I finally found a type of dancing that I can do somewhat well! It was really sad to say good-bye to many of the Block 1 people who left. Some of the best people were leaving- many of my IFSA-Butler group left.
Friday night, I went with Sophie and her parents up to the Isle of Skye. On Saturday, we took a boat ride to the Cuillin Mountains and saw seals in the water. I loved it up there!
Sunday and Monday were lazy days- the block 2 people were settling in and starting classes.
Today, I had my first session of my ONLY class this block- Witchcraft in Early Modern Scotland. I was excited because I like the topic as well as history. The first couple hours of class, the teacher lectured on what witchcraft was believed to be in the 15th and 16th centuries and where those ideas came from. The last hour of class was explaining the tutorial system- having groups read documents and articles beforehand and discussing their thoughts and questions in the classroom setting. This is not completely new to me, but having it structured and having the groups premeditated is! The teacher then presented a discussion question: “How do we use magic today and who believes in it?”
Well, this led to quite an intense debate. 2 people were firm believers, while 4 said absolutely no way, with the other 9 or so people shirking back… This really bothered me, not because of people’s answers or reasoning, but their reluctance to listen to others and the need to have a retort for everything the other one is saying. The 2 who said yes were the ones listening and defending themselves, while the “Science” people had more rigid beliefs and tried to talk over. Then religion was brought up… My teacher’s point was missed on some, I think. She was trying to get us to see that people in earlier times didn’t have the knowledge and scientific base we do, so to make sure and look at the situation with what they would have known.
On my way back from class, I came up with an analogy. A child starts out being egocentric, moves to concrete operational thinking before being able to think in the abstract, logical sense.
Back in the philosopher’s days, they were a very egocentric culture, ie the sun and universe revolved around the earth. Thinking then evolved into to concrete operations in medieval times, like what they could see and do (elements, seasons,etc.) Early modern times seemed to be a transitional period between this and modern day abstract, scientific thought.