So somehow it’s already been over a month since my first study abroad update. Say what?
Time is flying by so fast here and I’m actually okay with that because it’s motivating me to get all my traveling done. Which I have done quite a bit of since we last talked!! I’ve also made two friends and am getting close to some of the other international students and my flatmates. Plus, I’m finally completed adjusted!! Well culture-wise, but not education system-wise. But keep reading to find out more!
My Travels so Far
I’ve explored almost all the major attractions in Glasgow, took a trip to Liverpool and Edinburgh, fulfilled my childhood dream of seeing Loch Ness, and went on two tours hosted by my university.
I won’t be talking about my trip to Liverpool or Edinburgh in this post because they were so long and deserve their own post.
First Uni Tour
I was excited about the tour because I hadn’t really gotten to go to any international events yet, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to meet people. But LOL no because I’m antisocial and just listened to podcasts on the bus there and went off on my own to take pictures.
Related: Overcoming Fear in Everyday Life
The first stop was The Kelpies statues in Falkirk. They are literally just big statues off the side of the motorway, but apparently, they are one of the biggest tourist attractions in Scotland. I loved the mythology behind the artwork and if you don’t know what a Kelpy is, then you should Google it because they are some interesting creatures. (Hint: they aren’t actually horses)
Next stop was Stirling Castle. If I’m not mistaken, this was the very first castle I had ever been too and I was in awe the whole time. I walked around the castle grounds so slowly that I didn’t even get to see everything and I almost didn’t have any time to eat lunch!
That bridge was one of my favorite pieces of architecture at the castle. The wooden ceiling in the Great Hall was also magnificent.
The last part of this tour was a visit to a famed whiskey distillery. I was tired and ready to go back to my flat by now so I wasn’t really into the whole thing. Trying whiskey was keeping me hopeful though. You see I was sick at this time, and I always heard that whiskey helps sore throats. Well, it did feel good on my throat. But it was awful. Whiskey is not my drink.
I couldn’t even finish that little cup they gave me. Everyone else was finishing their’s off, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I was so embarrassed when I returned the cup with liquid still in it in.
The tour through the distillery itself was short and only a little interesting. We did get to see the whole whiskey-making process, but the tour guide was just way too chipper.
Loch Ness and Great Glen
Oh my god life dream fulfilled!!! There are a few places in the world that I’ve always dreamed of visiting since I was younger: the pyramids in Egypt, Australia, Kansas, and Loch Ness. So you can bet I was the most excited girl on that tour bus that day.
We actually visited three of the lochs in Great Glen. First was Loch Lochy (literally translates to Lake Lakey LOL), which is where the photo above is from. I fell in love as soon as I stepped off the bus because lakes are my favorite bodies of water and the scenery reminded me so much of my childhood in the PNW.
The next loch we visited was Loch Ness!! Our tour group actually had a special viewing of the loch from a local’s farm and she let us explore all her land. I found this majestic horse and even worked up the nerve to pet it. Which is a big deal because I’m actually lowkey scared of horses.
She also had highland cows!! So I can check that off my Scotland bucket list.
This was the bull, and he spent the whole time eating and staring. There was a female nearby that some students bravely approached and petted. I worked out the courage to go up to her as well, but then she started walking towards me and I freaked.
I went down to the water next and just sat and enjoyed the view. There really isn’t much difference between all the lochs. Loch Ness isn’t better than Loch Lochy or Loch Oich (where we went last), but it was just magical to sit there and look out at the water where so many people report seeing a mysterious creature.
When I was sitting there I thought I actually saw something!!!
Then I realized they were small waves crashing in the distance. Because they were so small and the water is so dark, it’s super easy to mistake them for lumps of a slimy monster swimming just beneath the waves.
Second Uni Tour
I only went on this trip because I knew it would be prime time to get closer to the other international students, and boy was I right this time. The whole day just felt like a school field trip where you don’t really care where you are, but you’re not at school and you get to hang out with all your friends. I felt included and I was having so much with all the international students!
I ate lunch in Dunblane with a guy from Spain and three people from Greece. We talked about the different outside views of America, the party scene in Greece, and how everyone learns English as a second language in most of Europe. After eating we ran down to the riverside and they let me pose them. UGH, I miss portrait photography so much y’all!
Then they kindly offered to take my photo as well. God bless them because then I knew I could get them to take my picture on later trips. LOL
After lunch, the tour went to the Wallace Memorial. Which is a big deal if you’ve seen Braveheart. I have not and therefore wasn’t all that interested in the exhibits inside the building, but I liked the tiny spiral staircase to the top and its views.
Once it got too windy up top, I headed back down and set off on the memorial’s nature hike with two friends, only to stop at a little lookout out over Stirling to snap some pictures.
Shoutout to my new Greek buddy for snapping this one for me without me even asking!
Beast from the East
I was supposed to go on a tour yesterday, but it was canceled due to all the snow we’ve gotten here in Scotland. It’s the coldest it’s been here for 20 years!! And this is the most snow I’ve ever seen in one time. We got so much snow on the first day that the whole town was closed by 3 p.m. I also had all my classes canceled from Wednesday on so I became a hermit and just watched Netflix, edited my hundreds of photos, worked on the blog, and ate my whole kitchen.
Two of my friends here did convince me to go to a park with them Friday night to go sledding though. It was my very time ever actually sledding!! It was so much fun! We just used cardboard boxes to get down the icy hills at first, but then we found an air mattress. Four of us piled on and it was like we were a bobsled team! No way I’ll ever forget my first sledding experience.
And the “Study” Part?
Scotland’s education system is just weird.
Don’t get me wrong, I love having more than just lecture every week, but I feel like I’m spending absolutely no time in class. I’m spending my usual 15 hours a week in a classroom, but the way it’s all set up makes me feel like I’m never there or only going part-time. Especially, since there is no homework. Like that’s not a thing.
I have no real assignments I have to turn in throughout the semester. I just have an exam for each class in May, a quiz in Data Structures and Algorithms in two weeks, and “coursework” to turn in at the end of the class. And I have no idea what coursework even is!! One of my professors posted last year’s and it looks like a huge pdf of worksheets. Like why can’t I have that at the beginning of the semester to start working on, instead of over halfway through the semester?
I’m just super stressed because I’m nervous about passing my classes since they’re all computer science classes. Don’t get me wrong, computer science is cool and all, but I’m so done with Java and programming it’s not even funny. I’m glad I have at least one class that doesn’t deal with programming. I just wish I had a web development class since that’s what I really want to be doing.
Okay, I’m done ranting now. I’ll be back next month with another Scotland update!