Friday, 1 November 2013

Life Update

Yes, I am still alive and well!! It's a funny thing about studying abroad, time seems to move even faster than normal! Every day I have the intent of sitting down and updating everyone, but then life always is taking precedent. I guess that's how it is supposed to be.
So a stream of conscious update, get ready for nonsensical ramblings…

Scotland is breathtakingly beautiful, in ways so different from America. Where we have miles and miles of suburbia, the Scots have huge cities, tiny suburban areas, and thousands of acres of beautiful nature spotted with tiny little towns! While I love living in Glasgow and getting to experience all it offers (and I haven't even put a dent in that list), my heart is happy in those little towns. Farmer's granddaughter at heart - yay Minnesota!
The nice thing about going along miles of country roads before reaching towns is you can see the city building approaching in the distance. It feels like movie sometimes. St. Andrews was especially like this, as you come down the hills into the seaside town. It was adorable and the Cathedral ruins were mesmerizing. I think I like those more than the castles. You could see how their used to be walls attached to these pillars, and the history of the reformation is so poignant in these areas.
I have quickly discovered that when studying abroad, more emphasis is but on the abroad than the studying. The inner nerd in me had a hard time adjusting, but this easy academic live is something I will enjoy for now since we all know that's not going to happen again for a long time! Bagpiping is great - I'm actually not have bad at it! I can play a few songs, but mostly scales that sound like a dying cow! Yes, I will give concerts when I get back - NO LAUGHING!
Anatomy is pretty much the best class ever! There is tons of information, but let me tell you, the human body is amazing! We haven't even scratched the surface yet, and I am floored that 7 billion individuals have managed to get enough organ systems right to function! It's crazy!
It's a three hour class three times a week, but the last two hours of every class we get free reign on all the specimens. There are also three demonstrators that are essentially anatomy grad students that help us go over things, we think they are about the coolest people ever! Tracey is adorable and just got married,  WaiKen makes the greatest little quizzes for us, and Max is full of random facts that somehow help you remember everything!
Scottish Enlightenment is…enlightening. Each class is taught by an expert in the field, making me realize that I know pretty much nothing about this topic! It's still interesting though!
Study abroad is strange in the sense that I am living a life completely different from the rest of my classmates, but every once and awhile I am brought back to reality. Having to put together a class schedule for the spring, submitting my med school application, housing papers - it makes me miss home in a lot of ways. Then I remember I am in Europe and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So hence the lack of blog posts, my Scottish life keeps getting in the way. And for that I am thankful.

(If you made it this far, you deserve a cookie! Also, welcome to how my brain thinks - it's confusing, trust me, I know!)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

An Ode to Brightly Colored Doors

When you live in a country known for gray days and sandstone buildings, an alley full of colorful doors has the ability to make your day.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Isle of Skye - Day Two

After a night of spaghetti dinners and late night movies with new friends, day two in the Isle of Skye brought us to more surreal beauty. 
The first stop was Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls. Kilt Rock is such named because it looks like the pleats in a kilt, it is in distance of the first picture. Mealt Falls is one of few waterfalls in the world that fall directly into the sea. I hadn't realized how used I have gotten to living near water since moving to Newport News for college. It was great to be near the ocean again, even if it was freezing! 

Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
The other side of Mealt Falls. 
 The next was right down the road at Lealt Gorge. While the waterfall and river were gorges (yes, I am quite puny), the best part was getting to meet Niall the shepherd. He has lived on the Isle of Sky is whole life and every day he brings his sheep to the Lealt Gorge. We had a great time talking to him and telling him all about America while he told us about life on the Isle of Skye.


Niall the kilt-wearing shepherd!
The sheep in the middle of the picture is one of Niall's, the had blue spots on their  backs to identify them. 
On our way back to Portree for lunch, we stopped at another waterfall that was perfect for climbing! The sides of the hill were pretty steep and muddy, but we found our way to the top in one piece, if not a little dirty. I'm sure I could make some great leadership analogy about following in each others footsteps and working together to determine the most effective path. Yes, I exude nerdyness even while adventuring through waterfalls. To note, I did take a step back and just enjoy the beauty as well! 

The whole gang: Rachel (from Sydney), Carina (from Germany), me, Taylor (from UVA), Mansi, Barrie, and Nicki (from Centre College in Kentucky)

Taylor and I cartwheeling through the highlands. Fun fact - Taylor and I went to the same high school and randomly both joined the trampoline club at Glasgow University for the semester. Yes, it is a very small world!
Before heading home to Glasgow we stopped back in Portree for lunch. We quickly grabbed sandwiches from the grocery store and heading up to the tower over looking the harbor. I loved their was this random castle-like turret at the top of a hill. No signs or directions, just a little stone tower in the woods. The view was great!

The wind is so crazy there, that even the trees were all growing in one direction.
And with one last stop at another waterfall, we started the five hour drive back to the university. 

Just standing in the middle of a Scottish road which I did a cartwheel on - gymnast thing. 
 And with that our weekend trip to the Isle of Skye was over. We listened to more "awesome Scottish songs" on the way home and studied anatomy for our quiz on Thursday. I am so glad we had the change to see all these sights. I feel if I had to go home now, I could happily say that I have seen the real Scotland.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Isle of Skye - Day One

The International Society at Glasgow sponsored a weekend trip to the Isle of Skye in the highlands of Scotland. Of all the trips they do, this is the one that everyone I met said was a must do, and it did not disappoint! It was a jam packed weekend that hit the highlights of the Scottish highlands - I can go home a happy girl after this trip! 
We started the weekend with a stop at Loch Lomond! Our tour guide, Hoji, was absolutely hysterical and appeased our request for "awesome Scottish music!" Listening to the "Bonnie, Bonnie, Banks of Loch Lomond as we circled the loch was such a surreal moment! 

Morning sunshine over the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. 

My friends from Centre College in Kentucky - so thankful to have met them! And we've pretty much decided we go to the same schools. It's crazy how similar Centre is to CNU! 

Traditional handstand picture! For those that don't know, I have pictures of me (and my sister) doing handstands at places all over the States and now the world!

One of the coolest moments of the weekend was completely unplanned! As we crossed over into the highlands we saw a huge rainbow up ahead. This is the first time in my life I have been able to see both ends of a rainbow at the same time. It got even better when we drove right underneath this rainbow. There is no other word for it than magical!

After a wee bit more driving, we stopped briefly at Loch Trulla. Located near the Bridge of Orchy and Glen Coe in the central highlands, this loch is surrounded by remnants of the old Caledonian Forest. Hoji also taught us some Scottish Gaelic words!

 Traveling along the same road James Bond took in Skyfall, we made our way to Glen Coe. It is often considered one of the most spectacular and beautiful places in Scotland, and I completely agree. I have never seen such a ruggedly surreal place in my life! Standing between these towering moss covered moutons made me feel so small in comparison. Pictures don't even come close to doing it justice.

Back to the bus, and on the way to Fort William for lunch! Fort William is the gateway town to Ben Nevis - Britain's highest mountain.

Fish and chips with a delightful view of a loch, a very Scottish lunch!

Quick stop at Loch Garry - it's roughly shaped like the map of Scotland. 
 Before crossing over into the Isle of Skye, we made a quick pitstop at Eilean Donan Castle. Located at the convergence of three lochs, this is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. We didn't have enough time to buy tickets and look around on the inside, but we scrabbled around the rocks and tramped through the seaweed to get as close as we could.

Posing under the bridge to the castle! This is where the phrase, "Is this real life?" became the standard response to all of the amazing sights of the weekend! 

 And after six hours of driving, we finally crossed the Skye bridge to the Isle of Skye!

Before getting to the hostel, we stopped at a bridge to see the Cuilin Mountains... and play in a stream. We were all a bit wet and muddy after this trip, but all the laundry was totally worth it!

We spent the night in the town of Portree, known as the capital of Skye. It was the perfect little costal town, reminding us a lot of the pictures we have seen of Santorini, Greece. After living in the biggest city in Scotland for the past month, it was refreshing to be in this isolated yet lively place. 

The colorful houses along the harbor. 

All the fishing boats in Portree harbor, this is what reminded us of Greece. 

And then we decided to hop in a row boat. Why? Because we can! 

The hostel we stayed in! I loved all the crazy colors in the midst of the dreary climate!
 And last put not least, the night ended at the local pub with a pint of beer brewed on the Isle of Skye and a picture with a lovely Scotsman in a kilt!

Day two of Isle of Skye - coming soon!