It feels like it's been forever since I've blogged, and really, it has been. I cannot believe the road trip was already almost 3 weeks ago....where does the time go?? I do apologize for the lag in posts, but I promise this one will be very thorough and entertaining. So, to start with, I definitely experienced post-road trip depression. Well, depression might be a strong word, but coming down from the road-trip high was hard. It was an incredible trip, and looking through the pictures during the next week made me fully realize how amazing it was. Part of what made the next week so hard too was that I had to spend the majority of the time researching for papers and presentations that I had to due in the coming days. So, most of my days were spent in Starbucks (with the free-wifi) or in the library, studying up on the Highland land problem in Scotland, African migration, and Celtic Civilization....all not bad topics, but for some reason, I have far less patience for work here then I do at Bowdoin, so all of it seemed tedious. It was fun though in a way to be doing it with all of my friends here...we got to spend lots of quality time together in and out of our study places.
March 8th--Argyll Adventure Weekend!
The week really did fly by though...before we knew it, it was Friday, and we departed on our IFSA-Butler planned adventure weekend to Argyll--a west-coast island off the coast of Scotland. The trip was incredible. We started off on a big tour bus with a bunch of the kids from our program. Not everyone chose to go on this weekend (and if you ask me, they were crazy to miss it) so the bus wasn't completely full, but Emily, Carolyn, Natalie, and Nora were there, so the bus ride was a lot of fun. It was, of course, absolutely stunning scenery the entire drive. To get to the region we were going, we even took a ferry at one point! That was pretty cool, to be on a massive tour bus and have to take a boat out to our destination. Shortly after the ferry ride, we arrived at the big hostel we were staying at. It looked more like a castle; in fact, I'm fairly certain it was a castle at one point, converted to an outdoor center/hostel. It was huge, and it needed to be, because not only were the Edinburgh IFSA-Butler kids there, but so were all of the people studying in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Sterling. All and all, I think there were around 150 kids at this castle for the weekend! The first afternoon we were there was spent exploring the castle and being broken up into groups for the next days activities. After dinner, the heads of the hostel, who also happened to be our adventure/outdoor leaders for the rest of the weekend, gathered us all up (it felt slightly like summer camp) and told us that if we wanted to, we could go on a night walk. They did not tell us what the night walk entailed, but only told us we would not be walking a long distance, but to wear boots and a warm coat. SO, we all went...my friends and I ensured that we were in the same group, and we headed off on this mysterious walk. Little did we know what we were about to get into. About 5 minutes after walking through complete darkness, our leader stopped and told us that for the next hour, we would need to listen to our senses. He also told us to not let go of the rope. Literally, these were our only instructions. So, the girls and I, set off up this mountain that we were standing at the bottom of without being able to turn on any type of light or flashlight...we were single file, and we all had a hand on the rope. What followed was basically a test of how well we could all listen to each other, and how well we could lead ourselves through a wilderness route that took us up the base of a mountain and back down the other side. We traded off who was leading, because that was definitely the hardest job--not knowing what was coming in front of you, having to bump into branches and logs before you knew where you were going, and then relaying the information back to the girls behind you--was not an easy thing to do. The majority of the walk was a success...we all couldn't believe what we had gotten ourselves into, but it was so fun! However, mid-way down the downhill section of the walk, we hit a major mud pit. I'm talking MAJOR mud pit. We all tried to navigate it the best we could, but in the end, we couldn't tell how far the logs were apart from each other that we had to jump on, so we all ended up knee deep in this thick mud. Fortunately I was wearing tall wellies, so I survived unscathed, but I cannot say the same for Nora's tennis shoes. They are, currently, still in the mud pit, and Nora had to finish the walk without shoes. All and all, definitely another bonding experience for us, and quite the adventure.
Our castle/ hostel for the weekend
The walk set the tone for the rest of the trip--we were definitely at an adventure-outdoor summer camp for the weekend. We got our group assignments for the next day when we got back from the walk, and I was assigned to gorge climbing in the morning and high ropes in the afternoon. Having no idea what gorge climbing entailed, we decided to go to bed early to get plenty of rest for the next day, but before we did, the five of us girls sat for a while and talked about everything you can imagine. The next day, we split up into our groups, and mine set off towards the gorge. It turns out, our task was pretty self-explanitory...we were going to climb through a gorge. Basically, it's a little like caving, but outside. With a river flowing through it, we were to walk up the side rocks and walls that formed the wall climbing out of the water. We got decked out in waterproof pants and jackets, and set off into the gorge. Before we knew it, we were climbing up waterfalls and rock walls, all with the help of our guide. We did, however, slip and fall many times in our attempts to climb up the rocks, so by the end of the trek, we were all drenched with freezing cold gorge water. At one point, to ensure that everyone was equally wet, our guide made us slide down a rock slide into a pool of water! It was incredible, and quite the physical and mental test of endurance. Thank god it was sunny and warm that day, because once we were out of the gorge, it was nice to warm up in the heat of the sun.
After drying off and eating lunch, my group set off to the high ropes course. This was also pretty much what it sounds...a series of high ropes and platforms that we were to climb up. The course included a platform about 50 ft in the air that four of us were supposed to climb on at a time, and then we were supposed to hold hands and lean back as far as we could before letting go, another 50 ft. high platform that we jumped off of to grab a trapeeze bar, and a series of logs that teams of 3 had to conquer within a certain amount of time. All of them were definitely mental challenges, and by the end, I was so enthused and proud that I had done them. After the long day of adventure activities, we gathered everyone into a room and watched the movie Braveheart before calling it a day. The last hurrah of the weekend was our stop at loch lomond on the way home. It was just another gorgeous scenic view of Scotland...
Jumping off the platform and reaching for the trapeeze....no pictures of the gorge climbing because our cameras would have gotten soaked!
The girls at Loch Lomond
The weekend was incredible--all things I would have never done without having signed up for the program I did, and to say I did them in Scotland is even cooler! However, I unfortunately did not finish my essay before I went on the trip, so Sunday/ Sunday night/ and the wee hours of Monday morning turned into an all day/night writing session that did not end until 4pm Monday afternoon when I finally handed in my essay. It was worth it in the end, because I had a fabulous weekend, but an all-nighter is never fun. Unfortunately again, the rest of the next week was spent back in the library, because I still had two more essays to due before the next week. Ughhh, who knew I'd be working so much while in Scotland!! However, this time I had motivation to not have to pull another all-nighter, and to finish up the work before the coming Saturday, because that was the day of the BIG GAME!!
Saturday, March 13--The Big Game aka Scotland vs. England 6 Nations Rugby game at Murray Field Stadium.
Yes, I went to the game. Thanks to an early birthday present from my dad, I was able to get tickets to this INCREDIBLE sporting event. The Scotland/ England rivalry can only be compared to that of the Yankees and Red Sox, except this one goes back centuries, and centers around the most tradition-based sport--Rugby. Needless to say, everyone who knew I had a ticket was jealous. I've been looking forward to this game for months, and when the day finally arrived, I put on my jersey that I had gotten earlier in the week, painted my face with a blue flag on it, and met up with my friends who were coming with me to the game. The atmosphere in the city starting in the morning of the game was incredible. I walked out to get coffee on high street hours before the game started, and everyone I saw was wearing some form of a brave-heart face paint, a kilt, and a rugby jersey. The scene didn't change much when we got to the stadium. Out of the 40,000 people that had tickets to the game, I'd guess about half were in kilts and were singing Scottish songs any chance they got. Before the game started, Scottish dancers and bagpipers covered the field, and fans were going crazy for whatever song the bagpipers were playing. Not much changed once the game started...during every break, the bagpipes and singing would pick up again. It was the most unique sporting event I'd ever been to. "You take the high road, I'll take the low road" was generally the song of choice, and so we got very good at singing it by the end of the game. The game itself was incredible as well...I love love love rugby, and it was sooo cool to see some of the best rugby players in the world playing each other. It was a close one, with Scotland playing extremely well to fight off the better English team, and in the end, the score finished in a tie. In rugby, there is never overtime, so the tie was how the game concluded. Not ideal, but at least Scotland didn't get killed (like everyone thought they were going to).
Murray Field stadium for a good seats. The bagpipers and dancers covered the field at the beginning..
Not the best pictures, but that's me at the end of the game! You can almost see my scottish flag on my face
This past week has been pretty relaxing--after turning in my final essays on Monday, I have just been hanging out with friends, reading in my favorite place (the Elephant House) and getting caught up on things like laundry, cleaning, and of course, the all-stressful summer plans. Monday night we had a big dinner and a movie night with Natalie, Emily, Carolyn, Nora and I which was so good to see everyone all together again. Wednesday was St. Patrick's day, and Alice and I celebrated early by going to an Irish pub (Dropkick Murphy's) that was giving out free t-shirts. We picked up our shirts and then enjoyed the nice weather and no-stress afternoon. Not a bad St. Patty's day at all, and now I have another fabulous weekend in Edinburgh to look forward too. Spring break is next week, and my mom arrives on Wednesday, so there is a lot to get ready for and get excited about!!
New things for the past couple of weeks:
--pulling an actual all-nighter
--climbing through a gorge
--standing on a 50 ft. platform in the middle of Scotland
--going to the Scotland vs. England rugby game!!!!!
Until next time...