Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’


Chiyo: Every golfer’s dream

December 12, 2011

My parents raised me on golf. I can remember when I was a little girl, running around the golf course doing cartwheels, and perfecting my putt. I also remember when I went to the driving range, and a news reporter took my picture and dubbed me, “Tigress Woods.” The PGA Tour was considered a normal family activity, and so going to St. Andrews today to visit the Old Course was a given.

Today was devoted to visiting the town of St. Andrews, and along the way our bus took a few pit stops at some quaint little towns. The first stop, was to take pictures of the fourth oldest railway bridge, right on the coast. It was pouring rain, but luckily I brought my umbrella! Once we got our pictures, we hopped back on the bus and went to our next stop in a town called Anstruther. It is a harbor town, and had gorgeous views of the North Sea, and even though it was super cold out, it was nice to walk around and see how different towns are here in the UK compared to back in the states. We got to spend a good 40 minutes in this town before we got on the bus to go to our true destination for the day: St. Andrews.

St. Andrews is known for three things. Religion, education, and most importantly…GOLF. Our tour guide dropped us off at the Old Course, which is one of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, and every golfer’s dream course to visit. My parents and I spent a good hour running around the course, getting our picture taken at the famous bridge near the 16th hole, and yes…my dad and I even kissed the ground of the Old Course. I could taste the salt from the sea for a few hours afterwards. This course is known for its wicked bunkers, crazy rough, and gusts of wind that come off from the water which make it a challenging golf course.

Once we were done dinking around the course, we went to the town center and walked around a bit in search of St. Andrews College, where Prince William and Kate Middleton met, and went to college. While searching for the college, we stumbled upon a broken down cathedral from hundreds of years ago, with a cemetery next to it that looked like it was a scene taken straight from the Harry Potter movies. The history in the UK and Europe is just ridiculous, and this was a prime example of how old these towns really are. We eventually found the college and took pictures before heading to lunch at Bella Italia. Our waitress was American from Pittsburgh, who is getting her PhD here at St. Andrews College (it is very expensive, and you have to be very bright to get in), and whom she met her fiance at. We chatted the entire time and got on quite well, and it was just so random how you can be in such a small town, and meet an American where you can chat about football, life back in the states, and life here in the UK. It was time for us to get back on the bus and make our way back to Edinburgh for the night, with one pit stop on the way home.

We stopped at the Falklands where there is a royal palace to grab tea/coffee, and to take pictures of the palace. Twenty minutes later it was back on the bus, and home to Edinburgh. My parents and I dropped our things off in our hotel room, and then went for a night walk around the city, and picked up sandwiches and fruit from Tesco (the grocery store us CAPA kids swore by). Tomorrow is my last full day in Scotland, and we plan on exploring the city, and of course, doing a little bit of shopping 🙂
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Chiyo: Leaving London…

December 11, 2011

This morning I left London for good. Besides going back through via the airport, I won’t be able to walk around London until I return next. It still doesn’t feel real, and won’t feel real until I am back in the states. I feel as if I am in a dream, and I have yet to wake up from this awesome adventure. My parents and I got ready to go to the station, and made our way to King’s Cross about an hour before our train departed at 10:30 this morning. 

We were traveling First Class, and damn, did it feel good. The seats were soooo comfortable, and the food was yummy. Bonus was the free wifi that we had in our coach. The scenery was gorgeous on our way up to Scotland, and my dad and I kept geeking out over the flocks of sheep we saw. Like I said before, my dad and I are kind of obsessed with sheep now. There was only a small delay on our way up, when a herd of cattle were crossing the train tracks, so we were going at a very slow speed and had to wait for them to pass. Only in Scotland would you have to wait for a herd of cattle to pass! We finally made it to Edinburgh around 15:30, and found our way to a cash machine so my parents could take out more cash, in which they encountered a problem…

My dad was trying to get money from the machine, and it said it was dispensing our money, but then just…STOPPED. It ate my dad’s debit card. There was nothing the bank could do, and all the told us was that we needed to call our bank in the states. Being that it is a Sunday, banks are closed back home, so all we had left was to leave them a message to get into contact with us ASAP. What a “welcome to Scotland!” After grabbing a taxi, (and learning that here, they call a cow a “coo” because it is easier to pronounce), we made our way to our hotel and dropped our luggage off before embarking on finding food, and visiting the Christmas market nearby. We ate at a restaurant called Whiski, and I had nooo idea Scotland was known for Whiskey. So naturally, my dad and I ordered Whiskey drinks, and we ate traditional UK food. It had started to rain, but we trekked on and went to the market. My dad and I found a great Whiskey shop, and I got some great ideas for gifts. We picked up a few souvenirs, walked the market, and are now back in our room watching the X Factor finale. Tomorrow, we head out to see St. Andrews and other attractions outside of Edinburgh, and I can’t wait!


Jessica: Scotland and back

May 29, 2011

Scotland was amazing. It was super packed though with it being Bank Holiday, so it was a little overwhelming at times. It rained a ton which was a bummer- today was the first day it didnt rain at all. But we saw amazing art, street performers, the castle, shops, it was wonderful. I was definitely consumed with nostalgia at times, and I for some reason got way homesick during this weekend. 

We had our flight at 8 am so we left the hotel at six. For those who know me, this is entirely way too early. We got there and there were about eight others who had been there since midnight or one because they didn’t get a hotel for Saturday night—cheap but they were all deliriously tired LOL. May have been worth the money for me. 

We got home and just slept so hard. It’s amazing how we have only been here a week and it felt like coming home. There is a comfort here and seeing the familiar buildings and stores. It felt good to not be so busy. 

We officially made friends with the Starbucks barista Daryl (does this surprise anyone??) and it turns out when we made friends in Facebook that he is best friends with the two brothers Connor and Callum. Small. World. So we hung out tonight at the Eg and celebrated their football team’s big win. Can’t understand them sometimes but it’s okay—apparently they barely can either LOL.

Daryl confirms that with generations passing, the conflict is resolving and people just want to move on, mix, and be done with it. Coming from a mixed marriage himself he actually isn’t religious and in Ireland being Catholic is easy—they go to church for like forty minutes and it’s the same thing every time whereas Protestants are seen as more extreme because they go to church more and it’s different and “people were speaking in tongues and I was freaked out.” 

He coaches a basketball team for Peace—meaning he coaches a team with mixed religions and tries to bring them together through the sport. How cool is that?? Its exactly where we are going tomorrow. Corrymeela is that organization we visited that focuses on creating peace and conflict resolution amongst Protestants and Catholics through many facilitations and conversations which will be awesome to see!


Andrea: You take the high road, and I’ll take the low road…

April 1, 2011

Everywhere I have traveled thus far, I’ve thought, “THIS is my new favorite place!”, but I really mean it this time for Scotland! My friends and I were fortunate enough to have beautiful weather our first day there, the day that we spent exploring Edinburgh on foot (it’s a pretty small city anyway).

Not far from where we were staying, we found Bobby. Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th century Edinburgh after reportdedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, John Gray, until he died himself on 14 January 1842. The story sounds a little like Hachi, I think…

We visited the National Museum of Scotland which displayed the country’s past from pre-history to the present. Apparently, a Scottich lock would have had some interesting creatures 400 million years ago…

I also saw the bones of a Plesiosaur which were found at the bottom of what was once a coastal lagoon. Some people think that Nessie is a Plesiosaur.

Afterward, we stopped for lunch at The Elephant House. I’m not really a Harry Potter fan, but I guess this is where J.K. Rowling wrote some of her early novels. It’s also where I tried haggis, neeps, and tatties. I loved it.

We also visited Edinburgh Castle. Perched on an extinct volcano, this instantly recognisable fortress is a powerful national symbol and part of Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage site.


St. Giles Cathedral:

The next day we took a trip to the highlands and saw a few highland cows, or heilan coos, as they say there. I’m a sucker for anything cute and fuzzy 🙂

We also passed through Glencoe and the Inverness Mountains which were absolutely beautiful. My photos do not do them justice!

And of course, we stopped at Loch Ness.

I’m a believer 🙂

Claudia: Scotland Snow

November 29, 2010

Hey, wait a second… I thought it wasn’t supposed to snow in Scotland! Apparently, this is the first time in 17 years that there has been snow in December… So, while Minneapolis experienced its first snowfall-free March on records, Edinburgh gets a massive snowfall. The prediction is snow every day for the next week. WOOOO! I hope everything gets cleared out by the time Chelsea and I are meant to fly to London.

After a morning of steel-grey skies, the sun is beginning to peek out, and the sky has become powder blue. It may just be the fact that I’ve spent the better part of the last three days reading Märchen (international folktales), but I feel like we’ve been dropped into fairy-world. The library looks out over the Meadows, and all of the trees are covered in snow and birds and squirrels are running around inside. The way the light is coming through the trees is just lovely. I’m sure all of this sentimental blithering is brought on by the fact that I’m in an essay crunch (okay, I have to write a conclusion, but I have 4 hours til I need to turn it in, so not that bad… but begs the question, “why are you blogging when you need to finish an essay?”), and I just want to go play in the snow.

My archaeology lecturer didn’t show this morning, so we all decided to leave after waiting around for 10 minutes. Good times. I think as soon as I finish this essay, I’m going to take a break before I start on the archaeology papers. Ahhhh procrastination, why do I constantly fall prey to your wiles?


Claudia: Do you realize?

November 22, 2010

This entry will be another interruption of the regularly scheduled programming. This has been the hardest month and a half of my young life. It is not that I do not love Edinburgh with all my heart, because I love it here, and I love being here, and I love my friends here, and the way the sun shines in the late afternoon, and how the leaves are still golden, and how the crags and Arthur’s Seat stand over the city, but the distance from my home is quickly becoming unbearable.

Skype, while it solves some of the problems caused by a lack of physical closeness, cannot make up for the fact that my mom cannot give me a hug. My grandpa Richard died a few days ago, and the last month has been a roller coaster of emotion. After the first week of uncertainty and anxiety, I could breathe when he went home and he was okay. Last week, with the numbers (I hate that expression. A kidney is not made up of numbers. We are not made up of numbers. People talk about “the numbers” like they know what it means, but I am sure that we have no idea) headed in the wrong direction, he was given a very negative prognosis, and now he is gone.

It is incredibly hard for me to grasp this. When I left home, he was fine. We chatted away about the adventures on which I was about to embark, and I was certain that I would be back to see him again and share my adventures with him like he shared so many of his with me. As a matter of fact, I am taking a course called Scotland and Orality because I thought that learning about the oral tradition would help me in my recently discovered quest to piece together all of the parts of my grandfather’s life. Only a few years ago did I begin to appreciate all of his stories: from growing up, from college, from his days in the merchant marine, from raising my mother and aunts, from seeing me grow up. He saw so much, and for a very brief period, I had the sense to take advantage of his experiences and learn from him. I only wish that I could go back in time, and learn to listen at an earlier age. At least I still have our correspondence. There is not much, but it is precious to me. I have a postcard on my desk that I bought this weekend in Saint Andrews. The thought is simple, the stamp is affixed, but when I was at the post office, I didn’t know his ZIP code, so here it sits. I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t throw it away, but I don’t want it here.

My dad set up a Skype account for him so that he could talk to me. We never had the chance to use it, but somebody is still signing in on the account. That unholy notification “Richard Marcus has signed in,” is haunting me.

Jeff said that last weekend, with everybody together, was fun, and that it helped him realize how amazing Grandpa was, and how he should strive to be more like him. Yeah, that would have been helpful. The entire family was gathered together, but I was alone, and being alone, thousands of miles away, makes this so much harder. I had no idea of the situation at any given point. The last I had heard, he had one to three months to live, but here I am two weeks later, and here he is not. I can’t adjust to this idea that I will never see him again, never speak to him again, never write to him again. I take comfort in the thought that he was still lucid in our last conversation, and our last words to each other were to send love. I am reminded of the wise words of Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips:

Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

His atoms will be somewhere in the universe, perhaps mingling with those previously belonging to my grandma. They are the world, and we walk amongst them.

In the memory of my Grandpa, the caper must continue, and for the memory of my Grandpa, I will continue to make it extraordinary.


Claudia: Edinburgh at last

September 11, 2010

After spending some time in London, I prepared to train it to my final destination: Edinburgh. Getting onto the tube during rush hour was quite the experience. I was smashed like a sardine into the train, and I felt like such a jerk to be taking up as much space as I was.  I ended up getting there just 10 min before the train to Edinburgh left, but I got on and it was all okay. Leaving London was actually really sad, even though I was really excited to get to Edinburgh and start the semester.

I got to Edinburgh and hauled my crap up some giant hills to get to the orientation hotel. Straightaway, I met some pretty nice people, but I unfortunately missed the free sandwiches. Boo! We walked around the city until dinner. My camera ran out of battery for the first time on the trip, which was incredibly sad.

The hotel beds were so amazing that I slept all night and barely managed to wake up in the morning in time for breakfast. I love English breakfast. Whoever thought of eating baked beans in the morning was truly a god among men. The rest of the day was orientation stuff, the highlight of which was the Captain of Edinburgh police talking to us. He looked sort of like Craig Ferguson and pretty much spent the entire time cracking jokes about how much he liked drinking, and how much Edinburghers like drinking. But he also did have some important information for us. Today, we had another guest speaker, a member of the Scottish Parliament, who was equally as hilarious. She told a girl that she should marry her grandson, and invited a guy to come with her to an Edinburgh Hibernians football match next weekend. Everybody was INCREDIBLY jealous of the guy. That exchange led to her promising to make the attempt to get us a group rate for a game in the future so that we could all go.

When everything was done, I went out shopping with some girls. That wasn’t particularly exciting. That brings us to now… I hear people singing Don’t Stop Believin’ out the window… I bet it’s kids from this program. I think I may have a sinus infection rather than a cold, but I don’t want to see a doctor about it or anything, because I hate taking antibiotics for something minor. I haven’t really gone out at all yet, because I just don’t want to make anything worse. Tonight, I came back the early and just crawled into bed after I repacked all my stuff to move into my flat tomorrow. I just feel pretty gross, and it sucks because Fresher’s Week is a non-stop week of events and I don’t want to have to miss anything! I’m thinking about just going to sleep, and I’ll write a more introspective and less narrative entry later.


Claudia: Setting the Scene

August 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.

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