Claudia: Setting the SceneAugust 26, 2010
I know that having a blog for a study abroad trip is pretty cliche, but I’m doing it anyway. I will be spending my fall 2010 semester at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. “Why Scotland?” you might ask. Because I love dreary, rainy, cold places. I do choose, after all, to attend the University of Minnesota on a regular basis. But seriously, when I was probably in fifth or sixth grade, I read some historical fiction book about Mary, Queen of Scots. From there on out, I read everything I could find about her, and I knew one thing: I wanted to go to Scotland. I wanted to see the castles at Sterling, Craigmillar, the Hermitage, Loch Leven, and obviously, Edinburgh.
Scotland appeals to me not only because there are places of great historical significance (going all the way back to Roman times!), but also because I hear the landscape is phenomenally beautiful. I mean, there is an extinct volcano in the middle of Edinburgh! How cool is that? So, when I was looking to study abroad, I took the facts that A) I do not speak any languages other than English, B) It would really help me eventually graduate if I could take a Latin class, and C) I wanted to enter a university, not just a study abroad center, and C) I wanted to be in a city, and arrived at the conclusion that Edinburgh was the place to be.
Since I have trouble understanding accents, I figure that being in Scotland will be sort of like being in a non-English speaking country, but one where I’ll be able to read signs directing me to the bathroom. Unfortunately, I have to wake up so early for that I haven’t been able to keep up with my Late Late Show habit for most of the summer, and so I haven’t been hearing the accent every day, though I assume that 1) Craig Ferguson’s accent is not too thick, since he’s been in America for quite a while, and 2) a Glaswegian accent is far different from an Edinburgher accent. After reading American on Purpose, I’m sort of bummed out that I won’t be in Edinburgh for the International and Fringe Festivals, but at least I shall be there for Hogmanay.
Academically, I am very excited to be in Edinburgh, known as the “Athens of the North.” I will be taking an oral folk history class (hopefully, as fun as my storytelling class at Minnesota!), Archaeology of Scotland, and a Latin class in which we will be reading early Vergil. I am looking forward to only having three classes, so that I can really get into each one, and have a bit of a break from trying to spread myself thin over all my science classes. I have had so few opportunities to do real reading and writing, so it will be nice to be doing the more liberal-artsy thing again.
I am starting my time abroad with a trip to London. Then on to Copenhagen for a few days there, and then I’m taking the train to Stockholm. I will be stopping in Malmo in between those two destinations, and maybe learning a bit about my ancestry, while I am at it. I won’t be able to get all the way up to Norbotten (where we, at least fairly recently, had some distant cousins), but that’s okay. I’ll return to London on September 6, take the train to Edinburgh on the 7th, get oriented on the 8th, and then start school.