The other day I was walking along the Royal Mile, which is the main street in the Old Town. I came along this church near the castle, and I decided to go in. It was currently not a church, it was converted into a cafe and restaurant called The Hub. It was unexpected to see bright purple and yellow walls, but I actually kind of liked it. Then I realized that there was another church about 2 minutes from that one that was converted into another restaurant. Also there is a theater near the school that used to be a church. I do not see this done a lot in the United States, but I like it. Instead of tearing down a beautiful building, they adapted it to their use.
Archive for the ‘January 2010’ Category
Every year on January 25th, Scotland celebrates Burns’ Night. This is celebrating Robert Burns’ birthday on January 25th, 1759. He was a famous poet from Scotland…one poem you might recognize is ”Auld Lang Syne.” Traditionally, people celebrate his birthday by eating Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties. (Neeps are turnips and tatties are potatoes.) And then usually people have a Ceilidh (pronounced KayLee). This is traditional Gaelic dance in Ireland and Scotland. So, I had to participate in all of these traditions while I was in Scotland. I went to an event at the University where they served Haggis and had a Ceilidh. First we ate haggis, neeps, and tatties and I thought it was good! I would like to try it again! It kind of just tastes like ground beef. Then we went upstairs to the dance. I found out that a Ceilidh is just like square dancing except with traditional Scottish music. At first, I was intimidated by it because everyone seemed to know how to do the dances. Most people in Scotland learned these dances in school. Then I just tried the dance…even though I didn’t know what was going on half of the time, and I had a great time! The band explained how to do the dances in the beginning, just like square dancing. The second dance we did was the Virginia Reel! I have done that, of course, because that is square dancing. They band made everyone say “Yee-Haw!” Is that what we say in Virginia? Well, the last dance was a huge line dance. We had to go down the line linking arms with every other person. I took a few pictures of the Ceilidh, but not a lot because I was dancing. I will definitely go to another one!
Two days ago, I was at a bookstore, and I wanted to buy all of the books about Scotland. They were really expensive…so I though, why don’t I go to the public library? I walked there (It is a 5 minute walk from my flat) and I love it! It is in a beautiful building. I took out 6 books about Scotland (Edinburgh Ghost Stories, 25 walks in Edinburgh, and a list of Edinburgh street names and where they come from). I walked out of the library, excited about finding those great books for free, and then I see the Elephant House. This is a cafe where JK Rowling wen t to write a lot of her early novels. Here is a discription from the flyer…
“Visit the ‘Birthplace’ of Harry Potter. Voted Best Coffee Shop in Edinburgh. Opened in 1995, The Elephant House has established itself as one of the best Tea and Coffee Houses in Edinburgh. Made famous as the place of inspiration to writers such as J.K. Rowling, who sat writing much of her early novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle. Ian Rankin, author of the Rebus novels, and Alexander McCall-Smith have both also frequented The Elephant House, as well as many others.”
So, after reading that, I had to visit the famous Elephant House. It is just five minutes from my flat, just like the public library. I did not go to the Elephant house that day, but I decided to go two days later (today). I was reading one of the library books about walks around Edinburgh, and I decided to take a walk to the grassmarket and then up to the Elephant House. On my walk, I went by the only remaining part of the medieval wall that used to surround the city. Eventually I arrived at the Elephant House. Imediatelly I was comforted by the warmth and the smell of coffee. I was excited to be in the place which inspired JK Rowling to write Harry Potter. I took a seat in the back room, and immediately saw why she was inspired to write those books. The windows had a direct view of the Edinburgh Castle. I can just immagine Harry, Ron, and Hermione walking around the castle just like it is Hogwarts. While I was there, I did not read Harry Potter, but I was reading Angels and Demons. Next time maybe the castle with inspire me to write a series of books. (Well, maybe not.) Even though the coffee is a little expensive there, I can definitely see myself going back. Maybe next time I will see JK Rowling there!
I am beginning to really love Edinburgh. The first week here I really liked Edinburgh, but I was unable to walk around and enjoy it because of the snow and the cold weather. This past weekend has been beautiful. I like to take advantage of any sunshine we get here! So I have been walking around the city and finding new places. This city is filled with great pubs and cafes…there are too many to choose from! It is a perfect city for me because I love to go to coffee shops, and most/all of them are in historic buildings. In America we think 100 years is old, but here that is new. I am probably going to go back to the US and wonder, where are all the historic buildings? Why is everything so new?
This city is a perfect size. There is a lot to do and to see because it is a city, but it is smaller than others. It is easy to walk around and not get lost. There are beautiful parks and gardens situated throughout the city. History surrounds you wherever you go. But it is incorporated very well with modern day necessities.
Well, so far, I have not found any major differences between Americans and Scottish and Brittish (students). (About half of the students are Scottish and half are Brittish). Everyone is extremely nice here. It seems like most people make an effort to be someone’s friend. Freshman (or First Years) here still party or go to clubs just like Americans. There is a lot of drinking here, but I think there is a lot in the US too. The only difference is that the drinking age is 18, so everyone is drinking legally. There are not as many rules here because of that.
Here in my flat, half of the time we compare how we say different words. They say they do that all the time becuase everyone in the flat have different accents. Some are from England and some are from Scotland…but even within the country there are different accents. We say oregano and they say oregano…like the state oregon with an o at the end. That is just one word I found interesting.
Well, I should probably do reading for my class tomorrow…I will post more later!
Today was actually a warmer day. The past few days it was too cold to walk around, but today I walked along the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is one of the main streets in Edinburgh. I went to the National Gallery of Art with Lindsay and Jaci. After that, we walked up to the Castle where there are amazing views of the city!
On Fridays I have no classes! So today was the weekend for me. Lindsay, 3 of my flatmates, and I went on a bus tour of Edinburgh. It was very good. We did not get off of the bus, but it was nice to see where the main attractions of the city were. Someday when it sunny I want to walk up to the Castle. It is pretty close to where I live. I am going to wait to go on the tour when my mom and my sister come (in March). I also want to go to Calton’s Hill where there is a good view of the city from up there. Tomorrow we are going to go to an art museum.
I went to the International Student Center today and had free coffee in their lounge. They have free coffee and tea every afternoon. While I was there I met people from Austria, Pakistan, and Kenya. The guy I met from Austria said that he never saw the movie Sound of Music and most people in Austria do not know about the movie! At night, I went to a pub with the International Student Center (ISC). Every Tuesdays they have pub nights at a place 2 minutes from my flat. It was so crowded, but it was a lot of fun!
Today I had three classes: Archaeology, Celtic Civilization, and Architecture. I like all of them! Most of the students in my classes are American. The classes did not seem that different from the United States. They were definitely bigger than the classes at Mary Washington. I had one class that had about 60 people (which is not a lot). Also, sometimes there are different lecturers. So I might go into class and see a different “professor” there. (They just call them lecturers, not professors). In each class we are given a reading list. Some have about 10 or 15 books, but we don’t have to read all of them. Actually, none of them are requirered, but I am still unsure what we should read. We are not expected to read all of the books! Most of the books are at the library so I don’t have to buy them! For some, I might have to photo copy them.
In between classes I found the best coffee shop! It has stone walls and wooden/rustic furniture. And the coffee is just like Hyperion! I will definitely go back there. There are also other places to hang out on campus. There is a cafe near the bookstore and also one in a very old building! There are a lot of places to read or meet with friends since it is such a big school! I like going to a big school (just for a little bit). I still like Mary Washington.
The class schedule here is different. There are no M/W/F classes. I have one Monday/Thursday class and 2 Monday/Tuesday/Thursday classes. I don’t have any classes on Wednesday or Friday. But here they call classes “lectures.” So we have lectures, and then we have tutorials. Those are smaller classes with about 10 students where we have to participate in a discussion. For my classes they are mostly once every other week. So tomorrow my first class is at 2:00! Yay! I get to sleep in!
Thats it for now! I hope everyone at Mary Washington had a great first day of classes!
Today was orientation day! We were in a lecture hall for most of the day. We learned about the classes and how to get involved. There is an international student center run by students and they have trips every saturday. The are usually day trips that cost significantly less than if we went by ourselves. This semester they are going to the Edinburgh Zoo, St. Andrews, a castle in northern England, Linlithgow, skiing trip, and white water rafting trip. There is also a weekend trip which sounds soo exciting! They are going to rent a castle in northern Scotland and we will stay there the whole weekend! They did it last year and they said it just turned into a big party…it sounds fun! Also, every day at the international student center office, they have free coffee and tea. They incourage students to stop by to meet other international students there. There are also weekly events such as movie nights, France night, Scotish night, and pub nights every tuesday!
We had a tour of the campus by a student, but it was not that helpful. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, and she did not know what to say anyways. It was also pretty cold and windy. But it was nice walking around campus and seeing the different buildings. I will definitely be outside more once it gets warmer. So far it has been exceptionaly cold here, but it is not the coldest I have ever been. I think a few times I was in NYC and it was colder. As long as I wear a lot of layers here I am fine.
After orientation day, I went food shopping with some of my flatmates! They are so nice! (I wonder if they are reading this…hmmm, whatever). They are so helpful. They pointed out all of the grocery stores other things about the city. At first when I got assigned to a 12 person flat I was nervous. But it is great! It is just a hallway divided into groups of 4. So it is not really a 12 person flat. We just all share the kitchen/common area. Anyways, I am glad I am in a 12 person flat. I can’t wait until I make my own food! Since this is a “self-catered” flat, I have to make my own food (which will be fun). They said that they will all be watching me cook! haha. The girl who lived in my room before me was studying abroad here from upstate New York. They said that she did not know how to boil water and how to make pasta! Well, they will be watching me to see what I know about cooking.
Out to dinner tonight!
So the first night here I slept 14 hours! I definitely needed that because I only got 2 hours of sleep on the plane the night before. I was planning on shopping all day, but I woke up at 1:30pm…so I just shopped in the afternoon. I got a cell phone to use in the UK and more blankets and pillows for my bed. I went shopping with a girl from UMW and 2 other girls studying abroad here from the United States. That was the first time I walked around the city. It was beautiful! It was just how I imagined it to be! Everything is so old…I love it!
For dinner, there was a pizza party on capus for all of the international students. First we went to the bar in the basement (yes, it is on campus). It had spiral staircases and the walls were wood paneled. Then we went upstairs to the pizza party. I did not meet a lot of new people, but maybe today I will at the orientation.
After that, I went back to my room. Oh, btw, my room is about 10 minutes walk to campus. So people from the hallway keep knocking on my door and introducing themselves. Everyone is soo nice! There is just one other visiting student in the hallway (there are 12 people in the hall). And about half of the students that go to the University of Edinburgh are English and half are Scotish. So one girl, who I already met the day before, said that some people want to meet me but they are too scared to. So I went into the common area/kitchen to meet more people in my hall. It was nice because there is always someone in the common area.
I am suprised that not everyone has been to the US. One person said, if they were in the US, most people would go to Florida and Disney World. If they just saw that, then they did not see much of the US at all. I thought they would go to New York City. She said that Disney World is a place that people with young children visit.
So far, I have not had a problem understanding their accent. I can understand everyone and everyone can understand me. Well, one person said “uni” (short for university), and I was confused for a second. But I just have to pay attention more.
Today is orientation day! And then tomorrow classes start!