Sunday, 31 January 2010


Hey guys,

Just got back from my weekend in London...and I think it's safe to say, it was hands down one of the most incredible weekends of my life! Ah, everything went so well, everyone had so much fun together, and we couldn't have gotten luckier with the weather, timing, and life in general. I was there from Friday afternoon to today, Sunday afternoon, and we were able to pack sooo much into such a short amount of time, and do it successfully!

Friday: I ended up going down with 5 other girls all together, but on Friday, only four of us took the early morning train because the other two had class to go to in the afternoon. So, at 7am on Friday morning, Emily, Natalie, Nora, and I set off to the train station in Edinburgh and headed to London King's Cross!! We all were able to sit together for the first part of the train ride, and we were all so excited that sleeping was pretty much out of the question. The train in total was about 5 hours, and the first half of the ride was spent in complete darkness (of course). However, after the sun came up, the ride was absolutely gorgeous. We road through all of these small english towns, some on the sea, some set in the most gorgeously green rolling hills, and all just the cutest towns I've ever seen. The whole ride I just kept thinking about how I am so excited to continue to explore the UK, because as great as all of my adventure in Europe will be, I chose the UK for a's absolutely gorgeous right here!

Anyway, so the train was a success. We arrived in London around 12 on Friday, and set off into the great big city! We figured out how to get out of the train station and into the underground fairly quickly, and quickly realized we were going to need to learn the tube system as fast as possible. We got a day-traveler card and headed toward the direction of our hotel...we hoped. Once of the subway, the great big london maps came out, and the four of us stood on the street corner and tried to locate the Venture Hotel. The tubes and maps went fairly smoothly actually for it being our first day and our first time fending for ourselves in London....or any city for that matter. There was only one snag in that statement...and of course, it was my fault. I failed ot get on the subway at one stop before the doors closed, and all of the girls made it on successfully. So, after realizing that I was not getting on with the rest of them, we proceeded to make sign language through the glass door and got the message across that we'd meet up at the next stop. It was my first and only experience being completely alone in London! I survived, but didn't like it too much. It was strangely reminiscent of an experience I had in the Denver airport, when my family didn't get on the train after me, and I ended up by myself there too. Hmmmm, is it me? Anyway, the Venture Hotel....our cheap hotel that we had found on the internet and prayed it would be liveable. Turns out, the Venture Hotel was in a extremely arabic part of London, where every restaurant and store has arabic on it's sign, and if you want Lebanese food, you will be able to choose from about 50 different places. The hotel itself was very safe and pretty nice, but the part of town it was in was a surprise. We decided to chalk it up to the experience of the weekend, and realized it wasn't so bad at all.

So after getting into the hotel and dropping our bags off, we set off toward Leicaster Square, in hopes of getting half off theater tickets for the next night. Our hotel was about a 5 minute walk from Oxford Street, Hyde Park, and the Marble Arch, so not a bad location at all! Once we got to Oxford Street, we walked down and explored for a while. The walk to Leicaster Square, probably a 30 minute walk on an average day, took the four of us about 1.5 hours because we kept getting distracted by stores and things to do! We stopped into Selfrages...a smaller version of Harrods, and needless to say, got lost in there for a while. Once pulling ourselves away from the shopping, we found the most amazing waffle stand (Wonder Waffle) in the world. If I could find words to describe this smell to you, I would. It was heaven. And the waffles were even better than the smell. AH, I wish we had Wonder Waffles in Brunswick, or Aspen, or the states in general. SO GOOD. We all agreed we'd be back before the trip was over. After eating the waffles, we continued on our way, and after finding our ticket booth and realizing we couldn't get tickets until the next day, headed toward the National Gallery. The museum sits in Trafalgar Square, which overlooks Big Ben, and somehow, we timed our trip there with sunset. WOW, was that ever gorgeous. The gallery was incredible too. We saw Monet's, Van Gough, and more. I'm not a huge art fanatic, but to see the artwork there was still impressive. It's's always seemed like more of a drag when I was little...but I think now, being able to choose going to a museum, makes me appreciate the experience much more. I just kept thinking about how these artists could have created something so beautiful with paint. It's such a bummer that we don't have people like that anymore in this day and age. After leaving the gallery, we found a really weird Korean Sushi restaurant for dinner (quite the experience). The day ended with meeting up with the other two girls, Carolyn and Annie, and heading back to our hotel for some quality pillow talk and group bonding. The day was the absolute perfect start to an incredible trip.

Saturday: We woke up early on Saturday to a blue skye day (in london that's impressive!) so that we could head back to Leicaster Square and get tickets for a show for that night. Once walking back over there, we ended up getting half price tickets for..............WICKED!!!!!!!! Ah, to say I was excited to see the show was an understatement. None of us had seen the show, so we were all SO excited for that night! But, before that, we still had a whole day in front of us! So, we headed to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards...and took the tube. I'm telling you, we were pro by the end of the trip at navigating the underground city. Successfully making it to Buckingham, we saw bits and pieces of the main event. Being short in a crowd of people really limits you're line of I missed most of the show, but being at the palace was still cool. Sadly, no sightings of the Queen or either one of the Princes, but who knows, maybe next time. From there, we walked to Westminster Bridge and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is stunning....we went inside and took the audio tour....and the whole time I was just staring at the ceiling. I mean, HOW did they build a place like that? God, it boggles my mind every time. After many touristy pictures and some of us going on the Eye, we headed back towards our hotel to get ready for the show and the night! But, of course, we stopped on the way to get waffles (SO GOOD!).

Ok, Saturday night......there are no words for how perfect this night was. We got all dressed up, took the tube to Victoria Station and once we came up from the subway, we saw it....the Apollo Victoria Theater where Wicked was showing! Unfortunately, we only had an hour before the show was to start once we got over to that part of town, so after seeing that most of the restaurants were so full, we ended up at a little sandwich cafe, crowded around a tiny table, dressed up for the show. It seemed like a downer, but actually was perfect! Cheap, quick, and good! After we ate, we headed over to the theater, got to our seats, and waited for the show to start. Ok, let me tell you, Wicked was the most amazing show production I have ever ever ever seen. Oh MY GOD. It was absolutely incredible. Defying Gravity made me cry. I wish I could have rewound the show and started it over and watched it again. Best.Show.EVER. I have heard people talk about this show and listen to the music for years, and never understood what the hype was all about. But now, having seen it, I get it, and can officially say I am Wicked obsessed. In fact, the first thing I did when I got back to my computer tonight was download the soundtrack. And, yup, listening to it now while I'm blogging. AMAZING. Ok, back to the night. After the show, amazing as it was, the night just kept getting better! We thought about going to get drinks, but then decided we didn't want to be in a smokey bar in London, so we decided to walk around more! We headed back to Westminster Bridge and walked across it towards the Eye that was all lit up. Once we got to the other side of the Thames, we looked back and saw the Parliament building and Big Ben at night. Gorgeous is an understatement. It was a definite pinch-me-i'm-in-London moment. Headed back to the hotel after that for another night of pillow talk. It was so much fun being in the city with the girls I was's crazy that we've only known eachother for a month and now I can't imagine my life without them. We all get along so well. I mean, we went to London as 6 girls and didn't have a minute of drama. That's pretty impressive! Anyway, the lights and the hotel afterwards was an absolute perfect ending to a perfect day.

Sunday: Today was a girly day to the max. We started at Kennsington Palace and walked through Princess Diana's collection of dresses. God, her life was a tragic fairytale. After looking at those designer dresses, we headed to Harrod's and got lost in the amazing food collection. I made the girls go to the ice cream sundae bar and we all split the most incredible, humungous sundaes in the world! God I was full after that! That was pretty much the last thing we did in London, and let me tell you, it couldn't have ended better.

I can't believe my first European trip has happened and is over already. London was an incredible way to start off my travels, but being able to come 'home' to Edinburgh was an amazing feeling. I really feel like everyday here changes me more and more, and London definitely did that to the max. I went to London when I was 20 with 5 of my amazing girl friends, and not only did we survive, we did it in an amazing way! The trip could not have been any better, and I can't wait to go on more European adventures with these girls!

As for new things I've done this past week....WOW, tons and tons. Um, going to London by myself pretty much sums up the list, but I think going to a show that I bought for myself tops everything so far. Wicked was incredible, and I'll remember that night and this trip for the rest of my life. Pictures will be up tomorrow...for now, I'm going to go listen to the Wicked soundtrack!


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Week 4....WHAT?!?!

Wow, I cannot believe I'm starting the 4th week of being here! Time flew by!!!! And yet again, I feel like it's been forever since my last I'll make another promise that I'll try to update more frequently. Here's for trying at least, right? Anyway, life has been hectic, fast-paced, and wonderful since the last post (as usual). Classes are progressing fine...the lack of structure is starting to get to me; I have NO idea when and what I'm supposed to read out of these full text books our lecturers list as suggested reading for each class or week or tutorial, or something. Also, with things happening every weekend for the next couple of weeks, I really do need to be productive during the week. SO, let's make that this week's goal: productivity! I'm off to a pretty good start, actually. Yesterday, I FINALLY made a list, took the bus, and entered the grocery story for a full out grocery shop. I refuse to go back to Tesco, so my friend Emily and I went out in search of another grocery store and found Mark's and Spencers (I renamed it 'the greatest place on earth'). So we went there and stalked up on food for the next couple of weeks, and let me tell you, it feels great! I loved shopping for myself, which surprises me because my first grocery shopping experience was far less than good. So having gotten that out of the way yesterday, I made today laundry day! I know what you're thinking...doing one major thing a day is not that productive....BUT, before you think that, let me tell you that making 1 big project my daily activity is the only way it's going to get done. With things coming up at the last minute, friends to see, and work to do, I think doing 1 life thing a day is a good goal.

I feel like I've been mentioning goals a lot lately, and I don't know why I'm so into them here, but it's been good to have goals around to keep on track in this crazy new environment and to make sure I get the most out of every day. So, as per one of your suggestions, here's another goal list to add to the mix. Not sure if I've mentioned this already, but I'm going to try to do something new every day. This list already includes cooking, grocery shopping, taking the bus in Edinburgh, climbing Edinburgh's highest peak, ordering a drink at a bar, legally (!), and many more...and I've decided to keep slightly better track and let you know how they all go!

Ok, so since my last post, I've been taking classes, doing homework, and going out with friends during the week. 5 of my friends (Emily, Carolyn, Natalie, Annie, and Nora) and I went to the movies last Wednesday night to see It's Complicated. Not my favorite movie, but going to a movie and dinner at a famous pub, Greyfriar's Bobby, was a great relaxing night. The next night, the same group had another fun girls night, in which we drank wine, talked for hours, and then went out dancing. Daily life is settling in quite nicely. I generally wake up, go to the gym (which is really nice here, but pretty small for the size of the University, so it can get really crowded), grab coffee and study at one of my favorite coffee shops, go to class, and then hang out with friends for dinner. Not bad at all. We did start planning out upcoming weekends throughout this week, which was both fun and stressful to plan trips with as many people as we have going on them. This upcoming weekend, we're going to London (!) on the train, and I'm traveling with about 10 other people, so hopefully we'll keep track of everyone! It'll be our first real trip together, and we have soooo many things everyone wants to do. First on my list though is getting an ice cream sundae at Harrod's. If you've ever been there, you'll know, they are HUGE, and amazinnggggg. So I'm excited for that. Other than that, I'll go with the flow and see what happens! The next weekend is my homestay weekend, in which I'll go stay with a family in northern England in a small town called Shap. Then, I'll be off to Copenhagen to celebrate Gilly's 21st birthday!!!, then off to Amsterdam hopefully with some friends from Bowdoin. Yeah, crazy February coming up!

This past weekend was another amazing couple of days. Saturday, I went to St. Andrew's through our school's international program. They arranged buses to take international students there for the day, so for 7 pounds, we were able to get into the town center around 10am and leave around 4pm. We walked around the old cathedral and castle ruins, went out on the pier, and walked the golf course. The ruins reminded me of Pillars of the Earth. Actually, alot of things here remind me of that book. HOW in the world did they build cathedrals and castles like these hundreds of years ago? It boggles my mind! At the golf course, I made my friend come out to the famous Swilcan bridge with me so he could get a picture of me standing on it. I know all the golfers in my family will be jealous to hear that there were indeed golfers out playing on the 18th hole, in the rain, the cold, and the fog. We also saw the University of St. Andrews, and it was beautiful! I have to admit, the buildings and campus are probably prettier as a whole than the University of Edinburgh, but I'm still glad to be where I am. Due to the rain though, we ended up sitting in a cool pub for a while after lunch, watching rugby, and talking with the bartender about the upcoming 6 Nations Rugby tournament. I think I may be able to go to the Scotland vs. England game when it's in Edinburgh!! How cool would that be?

St. Andrew's Cathedral in ruins

St. Andrew's Castle in ruins

On top of the Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Hi Dad, Justin, and Grandpa!
Sunday, I took the train by myself (I know!!) to Glasgow to meet an old friend from highschool, Robyn Gerbaz! She's in Glasgow for 3 years studying ballet, and when I found out she was there and I was here, we decided to meet up. The train ride was took us through small Scottish towns and lots of green rolling hills, and it was only about 1 hour, so it was super easy to get to Glasgow. Once there, Robyn and I walked around, ate some lunch, and talked for hours about home, our lives, and stuff in general. It was so so so good to see her, meet her friends, and see Glasgow! After taking the train back though, I was exhausted from the weekend in general and still had work to do for classes on Monday, so Sunday night was pretty quiet and boring.

Robyn and me in Glasgow
One more thing to tell about: Last night, Carolyn's flat mates had a bunch of people over for Burns Night. Robert Burns was a famous Scottish author who is now celebrated with a national holiday called Burns Night, in which Scots drink whiskey, eat haggis, and dance the ceilidh (pronounced more like Kay-lee) which is a traditional Scottish dance. Their party was complete with all of these things, and it was so much fun! In the middle of the party, when we were all dancing and singing to popular American music, they switched the playlist to bagpiping songs and broke out in this ceilidh, in which every girl had a guy as a partner, and they were spinning around, and doing these Scottish dance moves. It was crazy! The whole time, I was sitting there trying to equate the situation to something that would happen in the States, but I couldn't! Never would a group of people break out into a traditional dance that dates back hundreds of years and do it for 30 minutes at a time! Definitely a cool part of Scottish tradition. They taught us how to do the dance, but we did not pick it up very well. So much fun though!

So, new things I did this weekend:
Saturday--talked rugby with a Scottish bartender
Sunday--took the train to a new place by myself
Monday--attended a Burns night celebration in which I learned a traditional Scottish Dance
Today--I don't know yet, but I'll make something happen before the days over!

Upcoming events:
London this weekend
Shap homestay next weekend

Until next time!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Still obsessed with the city

Hey guys,

It's been a while since my last post...and even though things have been crazy busy and fast paced, I've made a goal to update this blog more often. So, here goes! WOW, this week flew by. I am officially done with my first week of classes at the University of Edinburgh, and getting ready for week 2! (which is assured to feel more like real classes, with our tutorials starting and actual work being assigned now that everyone's classes have been finalized and schedules worked out). I have my Scottish History tutorial tomorrow morning, and already feel like I'm slightly behind on the readings, but we'll see. Cross your fingers that I won't be too lost in class. I still haven't adjusted to the British system of schooling--there is almost no guidance as to what reading you are supposed to do to prepare for classes, or when the reading should be completed by. My time management skills are not great, to say the least, so hopefully I will figure out a good system of organization to keep on top of stuff. There is one thing that I know for sure though, my overall goal for the semester is to absolutely not stress as much as I would at Bowdoin over classes. I'm not abroad to take classes, as much as I am to experience Edinburgh and Europe to its that has become my first priority (for good or bad...but I think for good). But, that being said, I'm still very excited for my classes. For my Scottish History Since 1914, my first assignment was to go to the National Museum of Scotland and check out this month's exhibit about today's modern Scotland. Not bad! And taking a Celtic Civ class where most of that history was written is a pretty cool opportunity.

I'm still a little intimidated by the class lectures though. It's tough being an international student coming in mid-year, and I've found that the overwhelming majority of my classes are filled with Scottish students, even with the University's high number of internationals. I'm hoping to meet more people in class, but I think the only way I"ll really get to know locals or at least other University students will be to join their societies. Which is why I'm going to the wine society tomorrow night (!) and the surfing and windsurfing society on Wednesday (!!). I know what you're thinking...surfing? in Scotland?...and Sara doing it??....but I guarantee you, it's going to be awesome! I can't wait to say I learned to surf in Scotland, and have the pictures to prove it!

As for my daily activities since last tuesday, life's been just as crazy since the last time I wrote. Continuing to explore and settle in is exhausting! But, I really can't complain...I wake up every morning and walk to class with a castle behind me. So really, life's not bad at all. Tuesday night we took my friend Nora out for her 21st birthday, and celebrated with margharittas and mexican food (Edinburgh's finest), followed by live music at an Irish pub, Biddy Mulligans. There, we met a group of Irish boys who, once hearing it was Nora's birthday, lined up to give her "traditional Irish birthday kisses"--or at least that's what they told her they were. All and all, not a bad birthday if you ask me. The rest of the week was good...getting used to having a class schedule again was nice, and my friends and I have definitely scoped out good lunch places near campus to hang out in during the day. I've also spent slightly too much time shopping on Princes Street at the Topshop (my new obsession), but I'm hoping the fascination with the new stores will wear off soon so I can stop spending money! Cooking has been going ok...I really just need to get over my fear of the Tesco grocery store, go in there with recipes and a plan, and make myself a real nightly PB and J's, while delicious, are getting pretty old pretty fast. Friday night we did all get together and cook a good pasta dinner, so no complaints there, but I would agree that I need to expand my cooking skills if I'm going to survive for the next couple of months.

This weekend, my first full weekend in Edinburgh, was GREAT! My friends and I decided to do the most touristy things to get them out of the way, so on Saturday, we walked up the royal mile (literally a block from where I live) to the Edinburgh Castle and toured around. Luckily, the sun was out for part of the day, so the views of the city were incredible!!! We met a braveheart warrior on our walk up the castle, which added to the whole experience, and bought some beautiful photography from a street vender for only a few pounds. Once in the castle, we were able to see the crown jewels of Scotland, the stone of destiny (where all the rightful Kings sit before they are sworn in), and read all about the history of the city and the country. Having done the tour once before, it was still so exciting to go back and see it all again. A place like the Edinburgh Castle doesn't really get old. After that, I went back to Emily's flat and watched a movie while we started planning our trip to London at the end of January! I can't wait!! Saturday night, three of us went to hang out with some Edinburgh University rugby players, and then met up with the rest of our group later. After such a long day though, we were all exhausted, so we ended the night by getting cheese fries from the chipper (a place that sells fries) that's right across the street from my flat (Zara's). I can see that being a very dangerous place for me on the weekends.

The Royal Mile!! Grandma would have loved it :)
The Braveheart. Sorry it's sideways, it won't rotate!
The group outside of the castle
One of my favorite pictures from the castle
Steeples peaking out of the city
Today, I was planning on spending most of the day in the Elephant House cafe reading for class, but woke up to an absolutely beautiful sunny day, and was convinced to go walk up Arthur's seat instead. I figured you have to take advantage of sunny days here, so about 6 of us headed out to hike up to Edinburgh's highest point, and found the most incredible 360 degree views of the city and the ocean and the surrounding mountains. It's interesting that the city has no skyscrappers, so all you see when you are above the highest buildings are old church steeples jutting up throughout the city. The view of the castle wasn't bad either. Unfortunately, my camera died at the bottom of the mountain, so I don't have pictures just yet...but luckily enough of my friends documented the whole experience, so the day wasn't all a loss. After we got down the mountain, Emily and I headed to the museum to fulfill our homework assignment, and then finally made it to the Elephant House for some work. It's not hard to tell where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration from for Harry Potter. The back room of the cafe overlooks Old Town and the castle. I absolutely love reading there.

A view of Arthur's seat from the castle. We hiked to the top mound!
On another note, all of my friends from Bowdoin are just starting to arrive in their European cities, so I can't wait to hear all about their lives and countries!!! Good luck guys and have so much fun!!! Also, I can't believe Jeremy won Nationals again!! So frustrated that I couldn't watch him skate, as I am an international viewer of NBC, but I heard it was absolutely stunning! Can't wait for the Olympics.

Things I miss about home:
My phone!! and never having to "Top UP" on minutes at home. SO frustrating
My's really bad here
That's about it...

Until next time....

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Week 1-3rd Post

And now for the new stuff

Day 4,5&6: Flats and Classes!
First of all, I cannot believe I've been here for almost a week already!!! It has flown by AND at the same time, I feel like I've been here forever! At the beginning of this experience, I couldn't understand how I was going to survive in another country for 5 months without knowing anyone. Now, I just hope it doesn't go by too quickly (although I know it will!)

So for my flat: I'm living with 3 other flatmates. 2 are from Scotland (Georgia and Cathrine) and 1 is from Canada (Lara). All seem really cool, but I have my own dorm room, so it's nice to have my own space. My dorm is called Robertson's Close and sits on the side of the Royal Mile and is about a 5 minute walk to campus. Not bad! It is also above an Indian restaurant and a pub, so I really have no complaints! I finally got settled in, but it was pretty exhausting moving bedding, sheets, lamps, mirrors, and stuff into the room because everything I bought throughout the city had to be carried back to my dorm and up 3 stories. My view is incredible though. I look out onto the side of one of the mountains that make up Edinburgh's 5 volcano peaks, and on Arthur's seat, which is an old watch tower ruin.

My room!
View from my flat!
As for classes: They started yesterday, and have been pretty good so far. I'm taking 2 Scottish History courses (Celtic Civilization and Scottish History Since 1914) and 1 Psychology class but that is subject to change by tomorrow. The school system is set up differently here though, and there is a much larger emphasis on self-teaching and self-research. Because of that, much less time is spent in class (or lectures) and more time is spent in smaller tutorials and in the library on our own. It will be a big adjustment getting used to it, and my time management skills will definitely be put to the test! Edinburgh's campus is beautiful though, of course, and the school is SO incredibly old it's hard to imagine. University of Edinburgh (or Edinburgh Uni) was founded in 1563 and so buildings like the Student Union are in buildings that look like castles! It's nice to start to have a routine here though. In the mornings, I've been going to a great coffee shop, The Black Medicine Horse, before class, and then for lunch, my friends and I have been trying out cheap cafe's that give student discounts. Two we've found are apparently pretty famous--The Elephant House (where JK Rowling wrote the 1st Harry Potter Book) and Elephant's and Bagels (their sister shop). Both are super cute, super cheap, and have free wi-fi for uni students, so I can see myself spending lots of time in there!

Adjusting to Scottish life is going pretty well. I'm exhausted all the time from all the walking, but am still going to join the gym here so I can keep up having a schedule...I like having routines and order, so that will probably help minimize all the other unknown stuff we have to face here. Also, I think my friends and I are going to join some societies (or clubs) that are run by the University, so we can meet more students and branch out. I still can't get over how lucky I've been in meeting my friends here--it feels like we've known each other forever, and not just 6 days! We were also talking about going through this experience together, and how crazy it all is. It's hard to explain to anyone who hasn't done something like this, but the feeling of being on your own in another country gives you a sense of independence and freedom that's not comparable to anything else...and again, it's only been a week! I can't imagine how I'll feel in 5 months, but I'm excited to find out!

Week 1-2nd post

Hey all!
Ok, bare with me. For my sanity, I am going to go back and organize my info into days since I've been here, just so I can add in pictures in the right order. I promise after that though, I will tell all about my flat, my classes, and how settling in is going for the first week!

View from hotel

Day 1: Arriving in Edinburgh!!
We stayed at the Apex International Hotel on Grassmarket Street. Apparently, this street is great for pubs, bars, and I'm sure I'll be back. It also sits at the base of the Old Town in Edinburgh, which is also the base of the Edinburgh Castle. (The castle is up above and the pubs line the street in the picture above)

Day 2&3: Orientation, making friends, and NOT sleeping!
For the next two days, we went on bus tours of the city, walked around (everywhere), and tried to orient ourselves with the city, all the while attempting to make new friends during one of the scariest experiences of my life! Luckily, I found a great group of girls and I feel like I've known them forever already! We went to dinner these two nights, met some cool people, and walked the most beautiful city in the world!

Views from the city
Friends! Out to dinner and pubs--and Vincenzo! Our crazy waiter from our first dinner

Sunday, 10 January 2010

My first blog post!

Hi everyone!
So, I've been in Edinburgh for 5 days now (yes, I just had to count those days on my hand), but I have this strange combination of feeling like it's been forever since I arrived and feeling like I just stepped off the plane. I think the first feeling is more prominent--I can't believe it was only 5 days ago that I was sitting in the JFK airport, meeting everyone on my group flight for the first time while internally hyperventalating and worrying that I wouldn't make any friends. As i told everyone before I left, all I was praying for was 1 friend...that's it. I figured if I could make 1 friend, I would be ok...I'd be able to conquer the city and freak out about everything WITH someone...which was a lot less scary than thinking about tackling the city by myself. Well, like everyone told me in response to my fears, I did make a friend. In fact, I've made a lot of friends through my program, and they are from all over the US. Surprisingly, there were only 6 guys on my entire program, so the overwhelming majority of my friends are girls from all different schools.
Flying into Edinburgh and going straight into orientation was exhausting to say the least. My study abroad program, IFSA Butler, set up 2 days worth of intense orientation sessions where information about everything you can imagine was thrown at us while all of us were battling jet lag and complete distress over not knowing anyone and living in a completely new city. However, the information they gave us was all super helpful, and I honestly can't imagine coming here without being a part of their program. The students I've met that have enrolled to the University by themselves amaze me. My program set up our housing, oriented us to the program, and allowed me to make friends from the states by the time they sent us out on our own into the city. Ah without the program I would feel completely lost! Thank god for IFSA Butler!!
My first night in Edinburgh, everyone was so completely exhausted that I just stayed in our hotel and watched a movie with a new friend, Carolyn. The second night, however, a group of 7 girls and I went out to an Italian restaurant, had the most incredibly hilarious waiter named Vincenzo tell us all about the city, and then went to our first Scottish pub for drinks! The third night panned out pretty much the same as the 2nd...and then on our 4th day, Saturday, we had to move out of our hotel and into our campus flats! That was the scariest moment of the trip so far. We were basically dropped off on the side of the road, and told to find our flats and move ourselves in. All of the friends I had made at the hotel were separated into different flats, so we didn't know if we were going to keep in touch, or if we were going to lose contact all together. I arrived at my flat after some searching to find it completely empty, which made the experience that much more lonely. Thankfully though, I met up with my girlfriends immediately after unpacking for lunch and room shopping, so that calmed my nerves a lot. Since then, I've just been focussing on unpacking, settling in, and orienting myself with the city.
Edinburgh is the most beautiful city I've ever been in. Every street is lined with amazing architecture, cobblestone roads, and unique pubs, shops, and restaurants. Castles, ancient ruins, and amazing buildings are everywhere you look. I just can't believe I get to walk to class with the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile as my backdrop. It's incredible!
Oh also, I cooked for myself tonight for the first time since getting here! I'm not on a meal plan here, so all meals will be cooked or taken out from the bazillion restaurants around here. Grocery shopping was super scary and intimidating, but we ended up cooking pasta (I know, easy)...we felt pretty accomplished though. Hopefully we'll be able to continue feeding ourselves for the next 5 months...I'm not so sure though. So that's it for right now...classes start tomorrow (AHHH), so I'll be writing more very soon!