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Classes!

Time October 9th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I can’t believe I’m already in the fourth week of classes. I thought it would be appropriate to provide a quick summary of each, now that I’ve experienced them for a good while.

Psychology: Mind and Brain

 

This is a second year course, taught by a legion of psychology experts, each lecturing on his or her area of expertise. Though it is a second-year course, it is quite non-specific, covering a wide variety of topics in psychology. I was skeptical at first, as the course felt rather introductory during the first week. However, I am happy to say that nearly every lecture since has provided me with new knowledge, especially in the areas of psychology statistics and the psychology of language—two fields that I have not been able to study at Kenyon. The class meets for one hour at a time, three times a week, with a 3-hour practical session approximately every other week.

History of Instruments

 

This third-year music class is awesome. All lectures take place in museums containing hundreds of instruments from periods throughout history, from the Renaissance to modern times. The early keyboard collection is spectacular; it is the second largest in the world and contains several instruments worth over a million pounds. To hear my professor play a sonata on an 18th century Taskin harpsichord was absolutely breathtaking. Oh, and there are only four people (including myself) in the class. Definitely the most intimate class experience I have had to date. The class is a seminar, so it only meets for two hours a week.

Scotland and Orality

 

In a way, this is my favorite class. I am fascinated by Scottish culture, but I truly don’t know many specifics about it. I think that this class is helping me to realize why I am so intrigued. The course encourages us to explore the oral traditions (songs and stories) of Scotland from a historical and ethnological perspective. Even though it is based upon an entirely different culture, I find the material oddly relatable. For instance, we covered children’s song in week 1. Though I was unfamiliar with the songs that Scottish children sing in the playground, I was able to think of many of my own, some of which had the same melodies or stories as those from Scotland. I never thought anything could be gained from the study of children’s songs, but they really can reveal much about the traditional and popular cultures of a particular area. The class meets for one hour at a time, three times a week, with a 1-hour tutorial session every other week.

Until next time,

Marissa

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Loch Lomond

Time September 24th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and Ah’ll tak’ the low / And Ah’ll be in Scotlan’ afore ye / Fir me an’ my true love will ne-er meet again / On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.”

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to visit Loch Lomond, a beautiful lake just a twenty-minute drive north of Glasgow.  The Kenyon College Kokosingers, an all-male a cappella group, has a gorgeous arrangement of the Scottish folk song “Loch Lomond,” so it was an odd collision of worlds in that way.  The lyrics to the chorus are quoted above.  I was able to get some pretty good pictures, particularly from the cruise on the loch.  Though we were unable to enter Balloch Castle, we were able to enjoy the view from its hilltop.  I wonder what it would be like to look out the window and see this every day:

Right beside the castle were some strange trees.  Post-trip research tells me that these are called “monkey puzzle trees.”

Here are some images of Balloch Castle itself:

And the rest are from the loch cruise.  Enjoy!

 

Until next time,

Marissa

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Week One: Complete.

Time September 24th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It has been such a whirlwind of a week.  It feels like I’ve been here for so much longer than that.  Here is a brief recap:

I chose to take the IFSA-Butler group flight, which departed Tuesday evening from JFK.  Having never been on a plane for such a long period of time before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a pillow and blanket awaiting me at my seat.  I entertained the idea that I may be able to fall asleep during the flight.  Unfortunately, my seat was located four rows from the galley, and three rows from a restless infant.  I quickly crossed “get a good night’s sleep” from my to-do list.  It wasn’t all bad, though; around 2:00am EST, a full meal was served—pasta in marinara sauce, salad, a roll, tea, and chocolate cheesecake.   It was wonderful.  The remainder of the flight consisted of cat naps, watching segments of Brave (I thought it was fitting), and occasionally opening the window covering to see if we had hit daylight yet.  Eventually, we landed at London Heathrow, where we would wait for four hours until we could board the connecting flight to Edinburgh.   After a series of bus transfers, we finally arrived at the hotel in the Grassmarket.  Here may have been the first moment I began to fall in love with Scotland.

Through the window of the hotel dining room, we could see the giant Edinburgh Castle perched just above the city buildings.  It’s the most surreal juxtaposition.

I think my body hadn’t fully realized the effects of the jet lag, so after a welcome dinner, I decided to explore the city with a group of girls from the IFSA-Butler program.  We wandered about the streets for a bit, taking in the ancient buildings and cobblestone streets, before settling on a pub called Doctors.  I highly recommend this pub to anyone who visits Edinburgh—the people there are friendly and the atmosphere is quite relaxed.  It was a quintessential pub experience.

The next two days consisted of mainly information sessions, punctuated by tea time and chances to buy phones, bedding, etc.

On Friday, I finally was able to move into my flat at East Newington Place.  My flat mates are very diverse, but equally lovely.  One is from England, another from France, and the third from America.  Two know how to cook, so I hopefully can get one of them to teach me a few tips.  That being said, the self-catered accommodation has suited me well thus far; my first attempt at a lunch can be seen below.  It actually tasted pretty good!

 

The rest of the week has been very busy.  From attending various Fresher’s week events, to joining societies, to opening a bank account, to trying out different pubs, to finalizing my schedule, to grocery shopping… I’ll highlight a few of the more memorable moments:

  1. Finnegan’s Wake.  This Irish pub is hands-down the BEST pub I have visited.  The energy inside is absolutely infectious.  A live band performs every night, usually performing covers of well-known songs.  This particular band could not have been better.  They played some of the best:  Sweet Home Alabama, Walk the Line, 500 Miles, Stuck in the Middle, Folsom Prison Blues… And everybody in the pub was either singing along, tapping the rhythm, or dancing to the music.
  2. Societies’ Fair.  Coming from a small college in Nowhere, Ohio, I was shocked at the sheer number and variety of societies (i.e. clubs/organizations) that was available to the student body.  I joined quite a few, including the Music Society, the Neurological Society, the Folk Society, and the Composers’ Orchestra.
  3. Arthur’s Seat.  I climbed a mountain.  It doesn’t seem possible.  But I did it.  In fact, my hiking group climbed all over that mountain.  We must have reached the top of nearly every peak in sight!  It was an exhilarating / exhausting four-hour journey.  There is nothing like laying down at the top of Arthur’s Seat (the wind is actually less harsh closer to the ground) and opening your eyes to nothing but the sky and a scenic view of the city.  Until the hailstorms strike, of course.
  4. The weather.  I just realized that I hadn’t mentioned anything about Scottish weather.  It is constantly changing; the day of the hike, we saw sun, rain, (the tiniest bit of) snow, hail, heavy winds, a light breeze… All I can say is that I have learned to dress in layers.

Classes start Monday.  I am both nervous and excited for them.  Up until now, this whole experience has felt like a vacation.  I’m ready to finally start my life as a student.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s official.

Time September 4th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

My bags are packed, my boarding pass is printed, and I am hours away from leaving for the airport.  I can’t believe this is happening.

I have been consumed by so many different feelings this week—excitement, homesickness, ambition, skepticism…  But right now, I just feel anxious.  Not necessarily the bad kind.  It’s more like anticipation for what’s to come.

Before today, I was worried that I was unprepared to go abroad.  The more I think about it, though, I don’t think that anyone can feel truly prepared for an experience like this.  As much as I can read about a new culture, there is no way to truly understand it until I’m living in it.  By the end of the semester, I hope that I can say that I have done just that.

I will document my adventures as often as I can with photos and ramblings (and maybe an occasional video).

Goodbye, America!

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