Sunday, July 14, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Yesterday made me never want to fly on a plane again. It may sound a bit dramatic but I had my reasons. I woke up at about 4:30 in the morning to get ready and finish my packing. I checked out of my flat and said my sad goodbyes to leave the university. A small group of us took a cab ride from Stirling to Edinburgh to catch our flights home. Upon my arrival I quickly found out that due to a fire at Heathrow Airport the day before, my flight to London had been cancelled. So, I waited in line for two hours at the customer service desk to rebook my whole itinerary. My new route was to Amsterdam and then on to Detroit. After a quick flight to Amsterdam, I wasted time in the airport to wait for my flight. When my three hour layover was complete I went to my gate only to find out that I had been bumped off the flight. I couldn't believe it, why had I been moved to a flight that was full? I stood in the middle of the Amsterdam Airport and cried. A little embarrassing now that I think about it but I was so stressed and so tired, I just wanted to get home. It didn't help that I was on my own. The airline worker told me that I would have to stay overnight in Amsterdam and fly out in the morning. They paid for my hotel room (a very nice one), my dinner and breakfast, my transportation to and from the airport and gave me 600 euros in compensation. After getting all of my paper work i went to the ATM to get all my money out since the card it was on wouldn't work in the US. As if things hadn't been stressful enough it took me a half an hour to get my money out of the machine because all the questions were in Dutch. The ladies working the bank couldn't help me because they apparently weren't allowed to leave their desk. I had to wander around the airport to find a worker that could help me get my money. I went to the hotel that night completely worn out. After a good meal, a long bath and a cup of chamomile tea I was calmed down and ready for bed. This morning while waiting once again in the airport I've never been so ready to get home. At the time I was completely stressed about the whole situation. Now, a day later and looking back, I can laugh at the situation a bit. This has been one interesting month and one very interesting trip home. I should know by now that things are bound to happen in air travel. At least I got an interesting story about it. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Farewell Ceilidh

Yesterday was our farewell ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) at the Golden Lion Hotel in Stirling. The hotel was beautiful. The night was filled with traditional Scottish food and dancing. We had the Blackford Fiddle Group there to accompany our dances. After the ceilidh we left for our last night out with everyone since we all have early flights in the morning. We also celebrated my flatmates 21st birthday--a little strange celebrating it in a country when everyone is legal to drink at 18. Today I'm packing everything up and getting ready to takeoff tomorrow. It's so sad to be leaving this place. I've seen so many beautiful places and met so many amazing people, it's hard to believe I've fit all of these great things into one month. I'm sad to leave everything behind but I'm also ready to get back home to family and friends. This gorgeous and unusual warm sunny weather we've been having all week is also making it hard to say goodbye. I can honestly say that choosing to study abroad, even for just a summer, was the best decision I've made in college. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Glasgow Round Two

The weekend was so much fun. Glasgow at night is a completely different city. We all had so much fun but were so tired on Sunday we were totally ready to be back at Stirling. The weather has completely changed. For the rest of the week it's going to be upper 70's and sun--not so typical for Scotland. We've all gotten so used to the colder weather and clouds that we're all sweating in our rooms. I only had two out of three classes today because my photography teacher didn't have any more material to cover (a great surprise). Now only one more class to go! Crazy how fast time has flown. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Home Stretch

For the Fourth of July, all the of the ISS students dressed up in our red, white and blues to have a little fun. We all hung out with each other in one of the courtyards and had a blast. Yesterday I had an excursion for my religion and conflict course. We visited Stirling Castle. The view from the hill are amazing but the inside of the castle was a bit unimpressive. It was very touristy and everything seemed fake. Today I woke up and finished my photography assignment, religion paper and headed to the gym. My flatmate and I ventured into Stirling and wandered around the mall for a bit. Tonight, a group of us decided to take a spontaneous trip to Glasgow. We heard the nightlife is fantastic there and I can't wait to go! This weekend starts our home stretch for the rest of the trip. I cannot believe I've already spent three amazing weeks here. I'm excited to go home and see my family but I'm definitely having the time of my life.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Royal Glimpses in Edinburgh

View from the top of Arthur's Seat

Queen getting into her car, she's in blue

Edinburgh Castle

Oh. My. God. I saw the Queen of England! Well, let me back track a bit. Today was our group trip to Edinburgh. When we first got there the rain was clearing up so we decided to climb up a giant green hill (in the middle of Edinburgh–a bit strange) called Arthur’s Seat. The views were amazing. As we were snapping pics on top of this mountain it starts to absolutely down pour. Since we were so high up the wind was whipping us in the face and bending our umbrellas. We decided it would be our best bet to just try and make it down the hill. After slipping on the mud the whole way down we get to the bottom and of course the rain immediately stops. Our luck. We walked back to a main street and cursed our luck. We’d only been in Edinburgh for an hour and it wasn’t looking good. We approached a large estate (we later found out it was Holyrood Palace) and saw a group of about 15 or 20 people looking inside the gates so we wandered up to see what they were looking at. And…there she was, the Queen, getting into her car. We then watched her car approach and drive away. I was so close and I couldn’t believe I was actually looking right at the Queen in the flesh! To calm ourselves down we visited the Fudge House and had the most amazing fudge ever. Highland Cream flavored and it was the creamiest fudge ever–it put Mackinaw Island to shame. Next we saw the sites of Edinburgh–Parliament (a bizarre modern building), Edinburgh Castle, walked the Royal Mile and visited the National Museum of Scotland (such a cool place). After all the walking we were ready for lunch. Since it’s the 4th, we visited an amazing pulled pork place named Oink and had barbecue Scottish style. The sauce was sweet and tangy and it was topped with haggis. By the time we finished eating we slowly wandered back to where our buses picked us up and ventured back to Stirling. My day was insane. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Misplaced Holidays and Journeys into Town

Last night was eventful, a large group of ISS students all went into Stirling to hangout at the pubs. This morning, like every Wednesday morning here, I got the pleasure of being woken up by the fire alarm tests they run. It sounds similar to an air raid alarm. After my religion class, I finished a photography assignment, did some laundry and ventured into town with my flatmate for something to do. Tonight the university is throwing us a 4th of July party…on the 3rd of July. Also ironic since Britain is the country we’re celebrating gaining our independence from and they’re the ones throwing us the party. All irony aside, we’re very appreciative of the acknowledgement of this summer holiday and I’m enjoying the excuse to enjoy a few hot dogs. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Restful Scottish Weekend

What's the best way to cure a rough six hours of classes? A pint of Ben & Jerry's half baked of course! It's hard to focus on my studies when it's a beautiful day outside and I'm in Scotland. However, by the time I left my last class I didn't have much energy to enjoy the outdoors. So, after I came home at six, I made myself a delicious dinner and sat down in front of the computer to watch Netflix. The weekend was very relaxed and I welcomed it after the busy week I had prior. I caught up on some sleep, worked ahead on my religion paper and ventured into town a few times for something to do. This week, I'm looking forward to the many excursions planned: Edinburgh, Stirling Castle and of course a few trips to the pub.