Archive for the ‘February 2010’ Category

Possibly the best building in Edinburgh

Friday, February 26th, 2010

For my Architectural History class I have to write an essay about a building in Edinburgh. I decided to write about the Public Library because I love the library and I love the building. So today I went to take pictures inside the library. While I was taking my last picture a librarian came up to me and said that there is no photography allowed in the building. Luckily I already got the pictures I needed for my essay, but I am still a little confused why no photos are allowed. Usually people are not allowed to take photos because the flash could ruin a historic object…but I do not think that is their concern. It is probably some legal reason…maybe I will ask them. Anyways, my next stop was the Royal Commission on the Anciet and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). My tutor told us to go there in order to find plans and other photos of our building. Since I could not find any floor plans or elevations I decided to go there. It was like a 10 – 15 minute walk down Nicholson St./ Clerk St. I got there and told the receptionist that I am looking for the floor plans of the library. She told me to sign in and gave me a badge. Then she said that I have to put my coat and backpack in the coat and locker room. There was a sign in there that said NO PENS ARE ALLOWED IN THE LIBRARY. After I took my jacket and backpack off I walked upstairs to the library. I immediately walked to the person sitting at the desk because the whole library was intimidating. I just asked him how to find what I am looking for. He showed me on the computer all of the plans and pictures for the library. I printed them off and I did not even need to look at the original document because they were all digitized. I ran into another student from my tutorial working on the same project. I did also see many people who had large floor plans on big tables and were analyzing them. Then I saw rows and rows of boxes which I assumed had photographs.  I think it would be the best job ever to work there. They have all the photographs and plans of almost every building in Scotland! Ok, I might be exaggerating, but I would love to work there. I love looking at old photographs (as many people know) and digitizing them too. So after I printed off what I needed I had to go. But if I could, I would just spend days looking at all the historic photos. I guess you have to have a purpose to look at them. Here are some pictures of the Public Library in Edinburgh (Central Library)…

Hollywood in Edinburgh

Friday, February 26th, 2010

So yesterday I was walking out of the Public Library (which is next to The Elephant House) and I saw a few people across the street with lights and other equipment. I was curious, so I went closer. There was a sign that said “Filming in Progress.” I was so excited. In my head I was thinking, “OMG!!” So I calmly asked the guy setting up the equipment what movie they are filming. He said Burke and Hare. I have heard of the story of the murderers Burke and Hare when I was on many tours and ghost tours. Those tour guides mentioned that they were currently filming a film about them. So at that time, there was not a lot going on, but as I walked further I saw a few people standing outside a church dressed in old fashioned clothing with top hats. That was pretty cool. So I went back to my flat and told my flatmates. Some were interested in seeing it and possibly trying to become extras, so Calum, Harry, and I decided to go back. At that time they were preparing to film in a courtyard below the bridge. Right in front of The Elephant House there was a horse in a truck and there was someone in a top hat in the truck. As we aproached the filming location we saw a woman with a professional camera shooting pictures. We were asking some questions about who we were looking at. She seemed like she knew everything…maybe she was paparazzi. Anyways, she said that one man was Simon Pegg (who was Burke) and the other was Andy Serkis (who was Hare). Most people in the UK know who Simon Pegg is, but I have not seen any movies with him in it. But I do know who Andy Serkis is!! Does this ring a bell, “My Precious..”? Yes, he was Gollum (Smeagol) in Lord of the Rings! (He is also the boss in the movie 13 Going on 3o…good movie) It was kind of hard to see them because it was dark and raining, but I tried to get some photos. At that time they were not filming, but they were preparing to film. I am so excited for the movie to come out so I can see it! So afterwards I was curious of other movies filmed in Edinburgh…so I found this website about all the movies filmed here. They are filming Burke and Hare throughout this week, so maybe I will have othe movie star encounters. I will keep you posted.

My Flatmates

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

As I said before, I live in a 12 person flat. You may think that sounds scary, but it is definitely not! I love it here! There are always people to hang out with. So my flatmates wanted me to write a “profile” about them. So here’s a few words about each flatmate…

Sam: He is 27 and  from Peterborough, England. He likes to cook, and he cooks really well! I always ask him what he is making for dinner so I can get some ideas of what I should make.

Alistair: He is from Lewis which is an Island in the north. He has a thicker accent than the rest of the flatmates, but I have no problem understanding him. His sister goes to St. Andrews (uni. 45 minutes from here) and she is going to show me around when I visit there for a day!

Liz: She is from right outside London and she is a English Literature major. Whenever I say “basil” she always thinks it is funny, because they say it differently here.

Harry: He is from Northhampton, England and he is very sarcastic. I never know when he is telling the truth, because I always assume he is just joking.

Steph: She is from Forres, Scotland which is very close to Inverness (in the north). She and the other girls are really helpful…one of the first days we all took a trip to the grocery store! And then about a week ago some of us went shopping!

Calum: He is from Alloa, Scotland which is like an hour away from Edinburgh. He just turned 18 and we celebrated his birthday by going out to lunch and having a birthday party that night. It was fun!

Josie: She is from Newcastle, England. I would say that she has the strongest accent out of anyone in this flat. I will admit that I did have trouble understanding some words she said. I can say “Harry Potter” in a Newcastle accent! You would just say “Potter” but do not pronounce the “T”s.

Finlay: He is from London. He played tennis before he came to uni and I think he still plays sometimes here. He loves the movie 500 days of summer. I hear him whistling or singing this one song from that movie all the time.

Sarah: She is from Ayre, Scotland and she lives in the room next to me.  Some people say that she only cooks 4 (I think) different meals for dinner. I do not think that is true, and I am very impressed by what she does cook! Most students back at home would just have microwave dinners, but almost everyone actually cooks meals here!

Peter: He is from Dunfermline, Scotland. He always calls it “Scumfermline.” So his real name is Peter, but everyone calls him by his nickname “Pedro.” I don’t know where that comes from…I don’t even think he knows where that nickname comes from. People just started calling him that a few years ago.

Molly: She is from Dunbar, Scotland which is really close to Edinburgh. We celebrated Burns’ Night together. That is where I had my first bite of Haggis and then we went to a ceilidh  (traditional Scottish dance). It was so much fun! Molly had such a great time that she said she wanted to join the Ceilidh society!

(Left to Right) Molly, Steph, Sam, Sarah, Josie, Harry, Calum, Me, Peter (Pedro)

From Pasta to Pancakes

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I went to the public library…again…and got cooking books! I got a book called “From Pasta to Pancakes: The Ultamate Student Cookbook.” This has easy recipies with few ingredients, so it is perfect for students. I have already made a few things like Basil, Garlic, Feta, Rocket and olive oil spaghetti. I also made fried rice! These recipes are good to understand how to do basic cooking skills, however they need more spice. I will have to invest in some pepper and basil…the essentials. I have rosemary and cinnamon! Ooh, today I made apple cinnamon pancakes for my flatmates because I wanted them to try the thick pancakes we have in the US. (They make crepes). Anyways, so I am enjoying cooking. It is different because I have had a meal plan for the last 2 1/2 years, but I have always enjoyed cooking. It is difficult because when I cook at home I have all of the supplies and all of the spices (like pepper and basil), but here I don’t. I have to buy almost everything for a recipe because I do not have much in the kitchen. Also, at home I am used to making big portions of food and having tons of leftovers. Here I have to make small portions so I do not take up a lot of room in the refrigerator with my leftovers!

This weekend

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This past weekend, Kerry came to visit! We had a great time! 6 of her friends from Ireland came too and stayed at a hostel. We hiked Arthur’s Seat, went on a 3 hour walking tour, went on a ghost tour…and ate a deep fried mars bars! Here are some pictures…

We climbed Arthur's Seat!

Farmer's Market

Police Box with the Castle in Background

Calton's Hill

Beautiful Sunset

Tutorials and Lectures

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

At the University of Edinburgh I am taking 3 classes. Usually each class is 20 credits, so I am taking 60 credits. Most people here take 60 credits. Overall, I have less class time that at Mary Washington. The classes I am taking are Archaeology of Scotland, Celtic Civilization, and Architectural History. Here is my schedule of lectures: Archaeology is Monday and Thursday at 9:00 am. Celtic Civilization is Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 2:00 pm. Architecture is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday at 4:10. Yeah, the schedule is kind of confusing! There are no Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes! But I do have no classes on friday. These lectures last 50 minutes and they all consist of the lecturer using a powerpoint to teach. There is no student to lecturer interaction. No participation is necessary or allowed. It is just a lot of students in a lecture hall looking at a powerpoint. Our participation comes in when we have tutorials. These are classes of about 10 students. My Archaeology and Celtic Civilization tutorials are every other week, and my Architecture tutorial is every week. People usually make a big deal about the tutorials, but I think they are like most of my classes at Mary Washington. Usually at UMW we have to participate somewhat and we read a little bit before the class. That is what tutorials are. But I only have a few tutorials this semester. We are supposed to do a lot of oustide reading, but it is also unclear what to read. Most classes give us a list of 20 books that we can read, but they do not say what we should specifically read. I prefer having smaller classes and having and interaction with the professor. I expected to have big classes because this is a bigger university. Well, I do like only taking 3 classes!

The past few days…

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

While I am writing this, I am in my room being serenated by lovely singing from the drunk people outside. I hear this frequently because I live on a street where there are pubs, clubs, and student accomodations. Even though I hear it frequently, it does not bother me while I am sleeping. I usually just use earplugs and I go right to sleep.

The other night my flatmates, Lindsay, and I went on a ghost tour. It was free, but the tour guide asked for donations at the end, which was kind of weird. He said that if we give him 5 pounds, that shows that the tour was ok. If we give him 10 pounds then the tour was good. I think he should of just charged us a few pounds in the beginning because it was really awkward to decide how much to give him at the end. Well, the tour was interesting. Actually the tour was good, but the tour guide was interesting. He was this short, old man pretending to be a guy from the 1700s. He always shouted, “This way, mortals!”  I learned about some interesting ghost stories, and it was nice to walk along the Royal Mile at night. There was one story about a woman who was hanged for concealing her pregnancy. So she died, and she was put in the coffin. On the way to the graveyard, the person heard a tapping noise from the coffin. She was still alive! The court decided not to hang her again, because it was an act of god that she survived the first hanging. So she lived 40 more years and had 2 children. She became known as Half-Hangit Maggie. Apparently it is true! I want to go on a few other ghost tours. I know of one other free one, and then there are a bunch of other ones. One goes into the vaults under the city of Edinburgh…it sounds scary! After the tour, a few of us went to a pub and listened to live music.

On Friday, Lindsay and I went off the beaten track. We read both in our travel books and hiking books about this place called Duddingston Village. We walked around Arthur’s Seat (the big hill/mountain in Edinburgh) to Duddingston Village and Duddingston Loch. It took about 30 minutes to walk there. It is this cute, very small, village on the other side of Arthur’s Seat. I think it is technically part of Edinburgh, but it definitely did not feel like a city. Probably during Medieval times when the wall surrounded Edinburgh, Duddingston village was probably not even connected with the city. As we entered, we immediatelly knew we were in a village because the road turned to cobblestone and there was an old church. I read that there is a hole inside the chuch that people who had leprosy used to look through to see the service, but be separated from the other people. After we looked at the church, we decided to visit the Sheep Heid Inn. It is the oldest pub in Edinburgh. It dates back to the 1300s! It was around 2:00 at that time, so we had some tea. It was a very nice pub, and I would like to go back there again. After tea time, we continued on our trek. We walked about 40 more minutes to Portobello Beach. A beach? Yes. There are beaches here. Of course it was way too cold to swim. At that time I was wearing 4 layers and a scarf! It was kind of weird going to a small village to a beach town. This was a very long beach with a boardwalk. There was not much on the boardwalk, but we found this cute cafe that was all beach themed. It had light blue walls with beachy furniture. I loved it. That day, there were so many little children. There were a lot in that cafe. And then there were many people walking their dogs on the beach. Even though it was a cold day, there are always a lot of people outside. After we went to the cafe, Lindsay and I took the bus back into the city of Edinburgh.

Today I went to Stirling Castle with the History Society, Jaci, and Lindsay. It was my first time taking a train in Scotland! It was a good day trip. We took a tour of the castle and then had lunch at a Chinese restaurant…yummm. Unfortunately, it started to rain, so we headed back to Edinburgh right after lunch.

Bed time! Remember, it is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. I hope everyone enjoys the Blizzard back in VA!

Culture Shock

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Ok, so since I am studying abroad, I am supposed to talk about how different this country is to my experiences in the United States, right? Honestly, Edinburgh is not very different than the United States. I did not have to adjust a lot to a different culture. There is a different culture of living in a city, but I think it is very similar to a city in the US. Edinburgh is a very small city, so it is not like living in New York City. Sometimes I feel like I am back in Fredericksburg. The other day I went to the grocery store and I ran into one of my flatmates and then 5 minutes later I ran into 4 more of my flatmates!

There are small things that are different. Everyone here uses a kettle to boil their water for tea. When I had tea and put the water in the microwave, a lot of my flatmates said that they have never seen anyone do that! I do that all the time at home. We don’t have a kettle.

Clothing: generally, most Europeans dress better than Americans. I agree. Most of the girls here where a skirt with tights and boots. I don’t know how they do it in freezing temperatures outside! I do not see people wearing sweatpants. At Mary Washington, it is very common to see people with sweatpants, but not here. They do wear sweatshirts, though. Oh, and sweatshirts are called “Hoodies.” And a jumper is like a sweater.

If I would compare Edinburgh to another city in the US, I would say the main difference is how most of the buildings are very old. Everything here is so historic. There was a pub I went to that was 100 years old…the building was older, but the pub has been here for 100 years. And that is not even old here! The number of pubs and cafes here are astonishing! There are too many great pubs and cafes, I can’t decide which ones to go to!

Language: I am used to the accents now. Everyone here has a different accents because people come from different parts of the UK. There are of course some phrases and words that are different here, but I have had no problem understanding them and they have had no problem understanding me. I was talking to my flatmate, and I told her that when 2 people say the same word at the same time they say “Jinx.”  And she said that they do the same thing here!

Globalization is causing a lot of places in the world to be more alike. I know many years ago the Scottish accent used to be thicker and harder to understand because they were more isolated than today. This is still true for places in the Highlands and the islands. Soon everyone who speaks English is going to have the same accent! (No, just kidding.) Activities and entertainment is very similar to the US. Now people here watch almost the same popular television shows as we do in the US (Lost, 24, Grey’s Anatomy.) I have realized that there are a lot of comedy shows on television. This includes stand up comedy and things like “Whose Line is it Anyways.” I don’t think there are a lot of stand up comedy shows in the US, or if there are, they are not popular. The only thing that comes close is the Daily Show and the Colbert Report…but thats political comedy, so it is different. My flatmates said that it could be more popular here because there are less regulations on what you can say on TV. In the US, there are so many rules about what people can say on TV, probably half of the stand of comedy show would be bleeped out.

So that is my update on Culture Shock. I am adjusting very well to life in Edinburgh, and I will let you know more differences between Scottish and American culture.

I am going to Loch Lomond

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I have tried 3 times to get tickets for day trips with the International Student Center (ISC). I tried to get tickets to a trip to St. Andrews and the highlands for a tour of a whisky distillery. Everytime they were sold out! I even got there 30 minutes early, and the line was very long. So there is a weekend trip on February 27th – 28th with the ISC and I really wanted to go. Today were the ticket sales. I decided to go 2 hours in advanced to get the tickets. I figured that this will be one of the most popular trips. I was first in line and I waited outside for 2 hours. It was fine at first, but the last 15 minutes got really cold. Then I finally got my ticket!! I am so exicted!! I was surprised to hear that it did not sell out, there were still tickets available. So I guess I did not have to get there 2 hours in advanced…whatever.  Here are the details of the trip…

Ticket includes:

- comfortable transport “There and Back Again”

- a pair of professional tour guides
- sleepover at Loch Lomond SYHA
- dinner on Saturday night
- followed by a ceilidh [inc. live band!]
- breakfast on Sunday morning

- and most importantly – countless unforgettable memories from one of the most beautiful countries in Europe [we dare you to challenge this bit :) ]

- on Saturday you will have the opportunity to visit the Glengoyne distillery or take a boat trip on the loch – alternatively you can just relax on the bonnie banks

The best part is our accommodation. This is where we will be staying…