Monday, December 2, 2013

My Perfect Little Trip

Today I decided to be adventurous and leave Glasgow for St. Andrews. I left at about 9:30 am (which I thought was early), took the subway and then got on my bus to St. Andrews. The whole bus ride takes about two and a half hours, but it is a really pretty bus ride. The rolling hills reminded me of The Holiday.

Something very excited happened to me on the bus though. I was reading my book for my history thesis, Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands--written by Queen Victoria, and she mentioned meeting the leader of the McDougal clan (That's my great grandmother on my mother's side relatives...possibly!). My ancestors might have met one of my heroes! That's too much! But it's kind of funny because I am arguing that clans were an "invented tradition" and that Queen Victoria had a very Romanticized view of the Highlanders. Oh well, it's still pretty cool.

St. Andrews

When I finally got to St. Andrews it was about one, but I didn't even want to get lunch because I wanted to see the place where William and Kate met! So obviously my first trip was to the St. Salvatores side of campus.The college is kind of spread out across the town. The college is made out of pretty English stone.
I'm finally at the University!
It's so pretty
Kate's studied art history, so I am guessing this is the building where she studied it!
Where Prince William would have studied geography

Tourist Trap! 
I got coffee anyway :D
Then I decided to go to St. Andrews Castle and St. Andrews Cathedral, both of which are in ruins. They were near the sea and they were gorgeous.

The Castle
The Cathedral

I told you I'd take pictures mom!
For the second half of my day I just walked around the town. It's pretty tiny and easily walkable. And yes, I did go to the coffee shop that claimed that William and Kate grabbed coffee there (I know it's a tourist trap but who cares!). And yes, I also spent way too much money at the St. Andrews bookstore. But I also walked around and shopped a bit. They had the cutest shops, if only we had a better conversion rate!

Then I grabbed some food (because beside that pumpkin spiced lattee I drank, I didn't stop to eat all day!) and ran to the bus, because I was really anxious about catching my bus (when I shouldn't have been). It was the best trip. Even though it would have been fun to have another person with me, I felt so independent and could do whatever I wanted.
                       What traveling alone in Scotland reminded me of, minus Gerard Butler. Can I have him?

Side note: Does anyone want to move to St. Andrews with me? It is such a beautiful seaside town! When I was walking through town I saw a school I could teach at. I don't know what it is about Scotland in general that I love so much. What if I like it because I know I will probably never live here again? But I do have some strange romantic (kind of like Queen Victoria) attachment it. So seriously who wants to move with me?

The bus ride coming back seemed like a lot longer than the bus ride going there. Probably because it was dark by four, so I didn't have the beautiful scenery to keep me occupied. It was about eight when I got back to the flat. It was good to see all my friends and chat about our days. I missed that. All in all it was an awesome day. I mean, it was a day devoted to Will and Kate, which sounds like the perfect day to me.

Live While We're Young

Live While We're Young

Friday I was so tired after all of my traveling and I woke up at about 12 (That's late for me!). Then some of the guys in the flat had a football game. Them and some of their friends are in a recreational football league here. I think that is so cool because it is just so British! Julie, Eve, and I took a walk to Iceland to get food for my stay here. Then we kind of just chilled. But those are the best kind of days!

That night my flatmates had some people over and it was great to see other people that I hadn't seen in a while. It was a little get together, but it was fun. Flat parties were always my favorite things in Glasgow. Then, we went to Cheesy Pop at the QMU. Now, it's called "Snap, crackle, pop" but apparently it never caught on (Thank God--it's a mouthful!) First, we went to one of the bars. They had a kareoke machine and Lily's boyfriend sang a song to her, which was really cute. Then we went down to cheesy pop. It was a lot of fun. I forgot about John and Calum's awesome dance moves. We got home around three.

That was the same night as the helicopter crash in Glasgow. Bram and I saw a news report on it, but it didn't look like anybody was hurt so we weren't to worried. We were wrong. Many people's parents, including my mom, were trying to get in touch with there children to make sure they were ok. Even my brother and my aunt checked on me. In my defense, the pub was not near the University so I was not affected by it. Now I know how much of a tragedy it was. My heart goes out to all of the family and friends that lost a loved one. I am so thankful that my family checked on me. Family truly is everything.
My Mom told me I needed to get pictures of myself on this trip. So for my mom

The next day was fun. Cal and I grabbed coffee in the afternoon. It was nice to catch up with him. It was also fun to go to Costa Coffee again. Then we took a little walk and went to the University bookstore. In the evening Cal and I went to the Christmas market where there is tons of food. First we ran to Primark to get a few things for secret Santa. I also got Jackson and my sister a Christmas sweater. The Christmas fair was fun! I got Tikka Masala and Cal got this amazing strawberry waffle. While we were out, we ran into one of Cal's friends and her sister. It was nice catching up with them.

Later that night Cal, Bram, John and I went to their friend's birthday party. I was worried   I would feel like I was imposing but it was fun. The apartment looked like it should belong to Harry and Ron or something. It was cute, quaint, and very British. After the party we got the typical British late night snack, chips. I missed chips and curry so much!
Glasgow Cathedral

The Necropolis 
View of Glasgow from the Necropolis
Sunday I went to the city center to see the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. They were pretty cool but since I was alone, I didn't spend much time there. Afterwords, a couple of friends and I went out for coffee. Or I should say that we tried to. Every place was closed because it was a sunday! We ended up taking out from Starbucks. Then we came back and had a movie night. We watched The Vow. It was a good night and a great weekend.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Feels Like Home to Me.

I'm finally back in Glasgow! These last two days have been a whirlwind.

I left for Glasgow around four in the afternoon Dallas time. I was sad to say goodbye to my mom and worried to fly eight hours, but once I got walked onto the plane, I realized everything would be ok. You see, I was in business class. Therefore I got my own TV, my chair folded out into a bed, and I practically got waited on for the duration of the flight. It's amazing what a little airline miles can do for you.

Heathrow was chaotic, maybe because it was Thanksgiving, even though it is an American holiday. I was surprised how easy customs was. I couldn't believe that in a few short hours I would actually be in Glasgow! My short connecting flight took no time at all. But it took me a while to locate my bags and get situated before I could go see my friends. I wasn't sure if anybody was going to be home so I went where every American would go to relax and get on the internet, Starbucks. I went to order my drink but the lady behind the counter said something I couldn't understand. I asked her to repeat the question and she smiled and said "Would you like whipped cream on it", in a smile like, oh that's right, you are a silly American and cannot understand us. No! I just haven't been here for a year and my Scottish is rusty :). So I sat down to eat but it turned out that my friends were waiting for me and that I should hurry up and get there! But I was so nervous. Would I feel like a fish out of water here? Would it be like I never left?

So I hopped in the cab and went on my way. The cab driver asked me why I was visiting Glasgow. I told him that I had study abroad at the University of Glasgow and that I was coming back to see friends. He then said "So last year you came to study and this year you came to party". I guess so but I like to think that there is more to seeing my friends than just that.

 It is amazing what one cab drive can do for you. Glasgow was just how I remembered it. It was just like going to Denver (except its Glasgow). We found the flat and I got out of the cab and rang the bell as fast as I could. Cal, Julie, and Gordon greeted me at the door. It was like I had never left. It was so surreal to actually be with them rather than see them on skype.

First up was a tour of the flat. It really is the cutest little flat I have ever seen and it's so beautiful (All this is coming from an American. Perhaps British people think differently). It's so big and the architecture is so gorgeous. I feel like I am in a Bridget Jones book or something. Everyone has their own room (which is twice the size of my room in Colorado) plus a kitchen and a living room (where I am currently staying). It really is amazing.

After the tour we all caught up and then I took a little nap because I was so tired from the flight. Then I went to Cal's room to see what everyone was up to and Eve surprised me! It was so cute. She was all dressed up in America attire too. It was the best surprise.

Sense it was Thanksgiving we decided that we should have our own Thanksgiving. So at five at night we made our little trip to Tesco. It was nice to get out of the flat and see Glasgow again. Their flat is so close to everything I loved about Scotland (it's close to gym, to the University, to Tesco). I didn't think we could find all of what we needed but we did!

Julie and Eve did most of the cooking. The food was great. We started with Julie's awesome soup and a lot of bread and butter. Then we had Turkey, stuffing, vegetables, and mashed potatoes, and cider to drink. Stewart and Sorcha also stopped by to say hi. It was so good to see them! After Thanksgiving we played charades. Again, I felt like I was in a Bridget Jones book. It was so much fun. The game worked like this: Your team could chose a category to act out. If your team guessed the right answer then you got a point and were done with that category. However the other team could stop you from getting the right answer by answering before you did. Our teams were boys versus girls. We got down to one category each and the game went on forever. Finally it was my turn again and we won! We then took a little pie break and played again. This time the game was much shorter.
A British Thanksgiving

After the game I gave everyone the presents my sister wanted to give them. The all loved the Texas things she picked out. We also spent a little bit of time trying all the American candy (Razzles and War heads). Then we made my beautiful bed, two sofas pushed together. It is extremely comfortable. Then we called it a night.
The Bro Couple trying out my new bed 
My humble Abode
It was the best first day back I could've asked for. Although things are a little different, it still feels like home. Now on to today's adventures

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Return to Neverland

I cannot believe this day is happening! Tomorrow, I fly back to my beloved Scotland! I am hyperventilating!

I feel even more nervous than I was last year and that makes no sense! Last time I  was gone for three and a half months and I didn't even want to come back so soon and this time I am only going to be gone for one and a half weeks. That is no time at all. This time, I am also going back to people that I know and could could very well call family when before I had no idea what I was getting into.

I think part of it is that it's hard to come home from school to family and then to ship off to another country. Coming home makes it a lot harder to say goodbye to my family. Granted, I won't be missing too much and I will have about a month to spend with them. Also, my family will have a much better time in the mountains without all my moaning and groaning about how much I don't want to be there.

Part of it is also how easy this trip seems to be (knock on wood). Last year, it was such a big deal to go abroad. I was the little American that was over prepared. The United Kingdom was kind of a fairy tale land that I had never had enough time to spend in before. Now, I am packing the night before and my passport is this little nagging thing that I need to travel.

I guess the truth is that it will be different this time. But that is good. I want to go back to visit friends and not have to worry about school, right? It's just all so strange. I guess before I went abroad, I never envisioned myself coming back to visit. But the truth is, I left I piece of my heart in Glasgow. I might be nervous about the journey ahead but I know that once I get to Scotland, it will feel like I never left.

Seriously cannot wait to see these lovely people again!

My theme song for this trip

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Never Alone

I am scared to write on my study abroad blog because I am not actually abroad right now. However, about a year ago today I went on the most exciting adventure of my life. Now two of my sorority sisters are starting their adventures abroad in Glasgow and I couldn't be happier for them. But in a way, my heart aches because I am not in my "happy place".

A year after I went abroad, I was afraid that Glasgow might be a distant memory, but its not. I still miss it as much as that day that I cried all the way to the airport because I was saying goodbye to my family. As cheesy as it sounds the sunset at Ben Nevis, the boat ride at Lochness, the endless tours of BEAUTIFUL castles, the touristy streets of Edinburgh, the royalness of London, the huge lecture halls, the little Italian Cafe, the huge hill hike to Murano are all alive in my heart. None of it has left me.

But none of these memories are as important as the memories I have with my wonderful friends I met. First off, I gained so many new friends from DU. Although I did not spend nearly enough time with them when I was there, I am so glad that I have a whole new year with them. To my Glasgow friends, I miss you all terribly. Each one of you are the greatest friends I could have ever asked for. Each one of you impacted my life in some way and I thank you so much for that. Even though I left you a little bit less than a year ago, you are still some of my best friends. YOU ARE MY GREATEST MEMORY ABROAD and I want you all to know that. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for the other stuff too (especially my tours of UK castles) but none of them can compare to you. I just wanted to show you that even though its been a year, I still think of you every day. Even though we are an ocean apart, I know with you I am never alone.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Neverland

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened"-Dr. Seuss

This blog post is dedicated to my many friends that I made abroad. Especially my family (Cal, Calum, Bram, Julie, Eve, Sorcha, Stuart, Lily, Reece, and John)
"Auld Lang Syne" ie Remembering "Times gone by"
The next week I had exams. It was a pretty uneventful week because I studied for all my tests. My Celtic Civilization exam was ok because it was pretty much what i thought it would be. Then on Saturday I had my education final. That was exactly what I thought it would be. Unfortunately that I got really sick (there was a cold going around in my flat). My friends were going McDonalds and I asked them to bring me back a Mcflurry. Unfortunately the Mcflurry machine was broken but I was able to feel better thanks to my flatmate Julie for giving me a heating pad and checking up on me. I felt so bad though because she got really sick the next day.

On Sunday Ivan and David had their Christmas party. It was so fun. I finally was given my first British popper! There was good company and great food. Even if I was sick, it was a good party.

Ivan's Christmas Party
On Monday I had my history exam. It was very unusual because it was after dark. The exam was probably hardest but nevertheless it was my last exam and I was done! That night my DU friends and I tried to go ice skating at the city center but it was sold out! We ended up going the next day. It was awesome because they had a Christmas fair.
Ice Skating Memories
The next couple of days were really relaxed because everyone still had exams. On thursday night Cal, John, and Sarah took me out for my first last night out. It was fun. We went for drinks at the Orn Mor and then we went to the club ABC downtown. It was fun, especially with the friends I was with, but by the end of the night I was ready to go home.
Night out with John and Cal
The next day Cal, John, and I went out for a "hipster day" full of art galleries. We went to the Modern Museum of Art and the Kelvingrove museum. The modern museum of art was very interesting. I didn't understand it though. After the modern museum of art we went to the Willow Tea Room and felt very posh. We had tea, scones, sandwhiches, and dessert (I had a pecan caramel as cheesecake and it amazing!). Next we went to the Kelvingrove museum. It didn't know such a big museum existed right next to where I lived! The museum is a natural museum and an art gallery. They even had a Salvador Dali painting (which we got to see). On our way home I had to say goodbye to my favorite sandwich shop, Smile Cafe.
Room of Heads
The Best Cafe in Glasgow

That night, Ivan came over for coffee and to say goodbye. It was hard to pack and be able to spend time with him but I am glad he came over and that I was able to say so long for now (because it's not goodbye). I also gave him my favorite blanket because there was no space for it in my carry on.

Later that night, my flat and I had Christmas dinner and secret Santa. Dinner was so delicious. Eve's parents made AMAZING soup as an appetizer. For our main course we had turkey, yorkshire pudding, potatoes, and sausage and bacon. Then we had secret santa. We had two secret santa's, one for dutch Christmas (December 5th) and one for Christmas. For regular Christmas we bought things but for Dutch Christmas we made people things. Julie got eye shadow, Reece got a beer hat and meggings, John got tequila, Cal got an Amazing Race mug with sweets and a Wales flag cake, Calum got a dog calender (because he just loves dogs), games, and a letter (like the sorority letters-from me), Bram got chocolate and the Amazing Race game, Gordon got gold rocks, Rowan got a hat clip, and Eve got Despicable Me. But I got the best present of all. From Sorcha I got a book and a Shamrock key necklace. The necklace was perfect, I will wear it everyday and think of my perfect friends abroad. Julie had me for Dutch secret Santa. She had exams all week so she said she didn't make anything but she heard a song and dedicated it for me. It was really the sweetest present anyone has every given me. I don't need anything else.

That night I decided not to go to sleep so I decided to go out with my flatmates and friends. We went to the QMU Christmas party. We saw S club 7 (only two members) and danced all night. Then we went to go get chips and kebabs. Then I went to get ready to leave but I couldn't. I couldn't stop crying. They were all even sweeter when the helped me get lock up and see me off in the cab. I know that it isn't goodbye but I know it will never be the same. I know that eventually we will all go our separate ways. That's why it was so hard to say goodbye.
Christmas Party
Never Alone
I had the same flight with one of DU friends and one of my friends that I met while I was there. We were also  able to wait for our plane with another one of my university friends. Our plane was delayed but I still thought I was going to be able to make my connection. But the layover was only forty minutes and I could not make my plane. When I am flying and things don't go my way I go insane (because I hate flying). I just wanted to see my family because it was hard to be alone when I was missing my friends so much! Some people were kind to me, like the guy that let me go in front of me in line or the flight attendant that gave me a phone to call my mom, but some people were not so nice. Thankfully I was put on a one o'clock plane. That plane ride was so good. I sat at a window seat and sat next to a really nice girl that was studying abroad in Madrid for a year.

I got in at around 7 that day. The customs line was not that bad. Marley and my dad picked me up at the airport. I was so happy to see them. When I came home Leah was having her sweet sixteen party but my friends and family were there too. It was the perfect way to welcome me home.

So why is this blog post titled "My Neverland"? Because that what Glasgow was to me, my Neverland.  It was my bliss. There, time stopped and reality ceased to exist. I was able to be myself and create new friends and family. But like Wendy, I had to leave Neverland and come back to my life in the United States.

I learned so much when I was in Scotland. Most of all, I learned that the title of my blog is wrong. Although Scotland is a part of Great Britain, it's its own territory. I am not advocating or fighting against independence. But going abroad has shown me that appreciate Scotland and Glasgow as its own area. Now I can understand why William and Kate went to study there. It's a great place for lovely people. I am proud to call it one of my many homes.
Julie's song

Friday, December 14, 2012

My "Roman Holiday"

The next week was pretty average except that I found out that  I could go to Italy with my friends! They had been planning on going for a couple of months but they were coming back on Monday so I thought that I wouldn’t be able to come. However, they were coming back at the beginning of reading week so I found a ticket and was off to Italy.

Our flight left early in the morning , so we left our flat around five in the morning. We tried to take the Subway to the airport, but it was closed. Thankfully, a cab saw us and was able to take us to the airport. He was so nice that he even gave us a discount!

Amsterdam Airport Christmas Tree
Our flight was nice but we had to connect in Amsterdam. At least now I can say that I have been to the Netherlands. Our layover wasn’t bad at all but we had to go through very strict security. Our flight to Italy wasn’t bad but we didn’t have seats together. I ironically sat next to someone from California though. The flight was gorgeous. We flew over the Alps and saw the sunset over the Ocean. It was a great flight.

We arrived in Italy around four. We took a taxi to our friends flat but our friends (the same ones that visited us for Halloween) thought they were picking us up and taking the train back with us. Thankfully, their flat mate was home. We chatted with her while we waited for our friends. When they got there, they made us spaghetti and meatballs. It tasted so good! Then we went to get Gelato My sorority sister from France also came to visit a friend. It was good to see her. It was a great first night.

The next day, we had a full day of sightseeing. First, we went to get Cappacinos. They were so amazing. You’ve never tasted coffee until you’ve tried Italian coffee. Our first sight seeing stop was where Julius Caesar was murdered. Hilariously, now it is a cat sanctuary. The cats just chill outside. It was so funny. Then we went to a Christmas fair. It was awesome but pouring down rain though so we went inside an amazing Cathedral. It was beautifully carved with many stained glass windows.
Where Julius Caesar was murdered

A cat

The Christmas Fair
Next we went to the Pantheon. It is very pretty but the ceiling was the most amazing part. It was dome shaped but so intricate. Next we went to the Trevi Fountain. It is magnificent! Again, the marble is so intricate that it looks life like. Apparently, it was built to remind the Romans of their wonderful aquifers. (Fun fact: You can drink straight from the fountains in Rome because it comes from their aquifers). After the fountain we made our way to the Spanish steps. They were fun but not amazing. We stopped to get gelato and that was amazing.
DZ at the Pantheon
Pantheon Ceiling
Make a wish!

Trevi Fountain


As the afternoon wore on, we went to the Wedding Cake aka The Denchers aka the Urinal in commemeration of Italy’s first King. Many Italians don’t like it because the architects tried to make it in the ancient style and they felt it hypocritical. It is an amazing building though. From there, we made our way to the Colleseum. It was so amazing and looked just like the pictures. We didn’t actually go inside but it was still amazing that it was still standing. After that we went to the Forum. I had to go to the forum because I build it for a 7th grade history project. Exactly like the forum now, my forum crumbled the day before it was due Again, it was amazing because it is still there after all these years! 
The Wedding Cake

The Coleseum

The Forum
After our day of sight seeing we made our way back to the flat and then went out to dinner. Like I have at Momo’s I had Amatritricana. It was amazing of course. Olivia, our friends’ flat mate made us crepes for dessert. They were amazing.

Stephanie, my sorority sister left the next day, but my abroad friends’ friend had come in late that night. That day we went to Vatican City. We meant to get there for the Pope’s blessing but we had just missed him! Still, we were able to see the Vatican. The church is so grand. I can’t give it justice so I will just post pictures.
Vatican City
One of the Amazing Ceilings

My fuzzy picture of the main altar

The Pieta!

After the Vatican we got gelato and just walked around. Rome is such a cultural city so it is amazing to just walk around. We also went to the Christmas fair again and ate a huge donut. It was funny.  For dinner, we went to Fat Cat and I had Margarita Pizza and Tiramisu. The food was good but the company was better.

The next day we had to leave early again. We took the train this time, thought, it was easier to use than I thought. Our flight was good to Amsterdam but our flight to Glasgow was delayed because one of the back windows came lose. They kept us on the run way for about an hour though and it took another hour to go back through security (why, I don’t know) and get on our new plane. It was fine though because we were able to get seats together on the flight.

It was an amazing trip. I would like to thank Aspen, Olivia, Julie, and Cheyenne for letting us stay with them. I would also like to thank Cheyenne for being an amazing tour guide. Lastly, I would like to thank Aspen for being a great sister and friend. Greatest trip abroad!

My blog wouldnt be complete without an ode to Lizzie Mcguire