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The Wee Differences Between “Taking the Piss” and “Taking a Piss”

Time June 15th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

 

After five awesome, hectic, and educational months in Europe, I am finally home – and it feels good. I missed my family, friends, girlfriend, home, routine, car, bed, language (I consider Scottish a unique dialect), weather, beaches, and most of all, California burritos. With that said, my time abroad in Scotland and broader Europe was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always cherish. I was constantly learning, growing, and most of all, loving life. I consider Scotland my second home and am confident that I will return in the future.

I finished my education at St. Andrews on May 13th and departed for a trip I’ve referred to as the “Victory Lap” on May 16th. I went to Dublin, Amsterdam, Ghent (Belgium), Paris, back to Scotland (to show the family Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Isle of Skye, and Glasgow), and then Italy to visit Sorrento, Minore, and Rome. The Victory Lap was filled with bucketloads of stories, sights, and awesome people, but rather than regurgitating my whole trip for you all, I’m going to focus on something else. I’m going to share a few of my cultural observations from Scotland. Now I’m no anthropology major (whatever that is anyways) and I’ve done no major research on the subject; I’m just going to share what I noticed during my brief stint in Scotland. My views may be skewed, biased, or just flat out wrong, but I hope you found my observations interesting and enjoyable.

One of the most obvious contrasts is lingo and I’m just scratching the surface. Now here are some U.S. words and their Scottish equivalents: Gas is called petrol, studying is known as revising, time is on a 24 hour clock (what we call military time), knackered means tired, freshman year is known as first year and so on, they “have a look” instead of “take a look”, cheers is a way to say thank you (and I truly felt assimilated when I mustered up the courage to say it in public), pissed means wasted (and come on, this is Scotland, at first I had no clue why every was claiming to be so dang angry at 9 AM, it turns out they were just drunk which is makes so much more sense), aye means yes (never had the huevos to try this one, my voice is nowhere near Scottish enough or deep enough), wee mean little or small amount, and my personal favorite, to be “taking the piss” means to be joking and making something less serious.

Let’s put this one in some context because it took me a while. If someone cracks a joke or says something far fetched, their pal may respond “Aye, mate are you taking the piss?” In my early days, I thought they were saying “taking a piss” so I decided to try it out one day. I cracked a joke amongst a group of Scottish friends and proceeded to say, “I’m taking a piss.” I was met with short period of dead silence and then thunderous laughter. They were kind enough to explain the nuances of the phrase me, but only after about ten minutes of gut busting. I would have done the exact same thing if I were in their shoes. Imagine how bizarre it would be to be with all your mates when some new, silly American dude comes in and casually says he’s taking a piss. Yeah…they never really let that one go.

Now, let’s get on to a few infrastructure differences. Many people know cars in the UK drive on the left side of the road and there are typically roundabouts instead of traffic lights. But, I don’t think they realize how hard this is to adjust to. It goes against everything I’ve ever known and the concept of “stop, look, and listen” gets flipped on its head and once again becomes a lifesaving device. Trust me, when you’ve been within 4 inches of those big red buses, you’ll be thanking mama for ingraining “stop, look, and listen into your brain. Also, urinals don’t flush, they constantly drip in a way that almost mocks that elderly man standing at the urinal for hours as he regrets his decision to cancel his Flomax prescription. I don’t get if it saves water or is cheaper or whatever; it just is what it is. Lastly, in the USA, I’ve mastered the art of the light switch. If you need light, turn on the switch, easy peezy. However, what I have yet to conquer is the art of the outlet switch. Yup, you read that correctly, OUTLET SWITCH. Individual electrical outlets have their own on/off switches, DEAL WITH IT. It’s no longer a simple matter of: Is device plugged in? Check. Is device turned on? Check. In the UK there’s a whole other step – checking the pesky outlet switch. My college education allowed me to determine that that’s 50% more effort! So what if this switch helps prevent electrical fires and infant electrocutions (and the occasional high schooler electrocution); it’s more work! It took way too many painful lessons of contacting the dean or warden to complain that my outlets were not working, only to have them walk in to flip the silly outlet switch on, for me to get the hang of outlet switches.

Now, culture time! I find that no one sums it up better than my biochemistry professor, Jim Naismith – the bolo tie donning, cowboy hat wearing Scotsman. He loved America, LOVED IT. (Side note: when I say America, I’m referring to just the USA. I used to believe this practice was just a self-centered tendency of the USA itself. However, it turns out that all of Europe refers to the USA as America as well.) I became the token “America Expert” in his class and was called upon anytime he wanted to know something about the USA, whether it was how we vaccinate/prevent tuberculosis or why In-N-Out is so great. He even offered extra credit (the only extra credit offered during my time in Scotland) to anyone who could deliver him Blue Corn Tortilla Chips from Texas. Sadly, I was unable to take advantage of this opportunity, but I certainly tried. Many of my Scottish and other international friends had similar curiosities. Did my high school really have jocks and cheerleaders? Were there lockers? Do I see movie stars all the time? What is the food like? While there are many wonderful UK musicians, movies, TV shows, and pop culture icons, American culture ABSOLUTELY DOMINATES the scene. Kanye West seems to be even bigger in the UK than he is in the US. My non-US pals seemed to be more aware of the current cultural and political happenings in the US than I was while I was in Scotland. Some of them could even name all 50 states.

Yet, as always, there were some conspicuous differences. I was stunned when I first turned on a TV in Scotland and heard extensive profanity. There is less (if any) language censorship on national television and drinking alcoholic beverages in commercials or on talk shows is commonplace. Also, it seems like people are less afraid of being sued or politically attacked. The Scots are more open and honest, in a refreshing sort of way. This did lead to some surprises though. During my briefing on legal differences in Scotland versus the US during my abroad orientation a police officer came in as a guest speaker and blatantly said, “Yeah, we stereotype. It’s a great way to identify criminals.” My jaw dropped at that moment, but then I remembered I wasn’t in America anymore. Yes, we know police in the US stereotype, but an officer would incite outrage if he/she were to casually say it in a public setting. Finally, I would there is a cultural difference that I would love to export to the US. When hitting the town for a night out, large groups of friends dress up in ridiculous costumes, seemingly just for the hell of it. Imagine seeing a huge group of Waldos or twenty Smerfs breaking it down on the dance floor, it’s absolutely hilarious.

Here are some highlights from my “Victory Lap”

Dublin

Amsterdam

Paris

Ghent

Scotland

Italy

And if you happened to scroll through that obscene quantity of pictures, here’s the snippet video!

As this entry brings a conclusion to my journey abroad, it also brings a conclusion to my Hilborn’s Haggis. It was an awesome experience and never in a million years would I have considered that I might actually enjoy this whole blogging thing until I tried it. I may even maintain one for some other purpose in the future. With this in mind, I would greatly appreciate some feedback on what you liked, what you bored you to death, and things that I could do to improve my blogging skills in the future. Thanks so much for staying tuned and for all of the support I’ve received for this blog along the way.

Love,

Adamthefish

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My Education at St. Andrews

Time June 15th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

While it is known as “study abroad,” you may have noticed a distinct lack of focus on any real studying in the happenings of my blog. This was done for a very specific reason that required immense foresight and convoluted calculations. Can you guess why?

Nooooo Mom, it’s not because there was a distinct lack of focus on any real studying in my actual life. It’s because studying isn’t fun and when faced with the option of discussing frolicking with sheep or the inner workings of tetrabutylammonium fluorination synthesis, I choose sheep.

However, if I were to discuss studying, I suppose I could entertain myself by focusing on the differences between university education in Scotland and university education in America (well tiny private school in California if that counts). So I’m going to do just that.

Lectures

At CMC, I’ve comfortably grown accustomed to having one professor for each of my four classes every semester. Each class has about 20 students in it and the professor is usually readily available to offer advice or arrange a meeting. The professor asks frequent questions and expects the same from his/her students. There are weekly assignments to ensure that students are keeping up with course material. I build relationships with the professor and other students over the course of the year and become very familiar and well adapted to the instructor’s style and testing. The weight of our grade is distributed over a wide compilation of exams, essays, and projects; this reduces the stress associated with the alternative of one all-or-nothing final at the end of the year.

I enrolled in two courses while at St. Andrews, organic chemistry and biochemistry. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy. They had significantly more class time and lab time than equivalent courses in the U.S. and my two courses had the same weight as four U.S. courses. They both followed the “module” system where each course features a number of professors that each give a series of lectures (4 to 16 lectures) in their area of expertise. While this has its benefits, like ensuring that professors are engaged in the material they are teaching and that the covered material is as relevant as possible. Unfortunately for me, the cons outweighed the pros. I did not have a personal relationship with any of my instructors and barely even knew most of their names. Also, notes were difficult to compile and organize because of the variation between the professors’ styles. There were no “recommended assignments” or group projects to serve as a life raft for my grade. With the exception of lab reports, the only assessed assignment of the year was the final exam.


Laboratory

Science labs at CMC are very structured and controlled. There is a set procedure for every day and everyone does the exact same thing. The professor heavily supervises the students during lab and demonstrates difficult techniques. Students are expected to take copious amounts of notes and there is little emphasis on the purity or yield of the final product. The labs are old and some of the equipment is from around the time CMC still stood for Claremont Men’s College.

Lab at St. Andrews was awesome. We received no instruction (unless it was requested) and were expected to follow a certain set of experiments from the manual at our own pace. This ability to exercise free will in lab was foreign and difficult at first, but I soon grew accustomed to the independence and my lab skills blossomed as a result. We were treated like professionals in a chemical industry. We were not required to take notes and our grades were largely based on product yield and purity. The lab was new and was filled with modern equipment.


Resources

I created this section to talk about one thing and one thing only – printing. I never knew it would be such a big deal to me. It took time in Scotland for me to realize I’ve been spoiled at CMC (or maybe just adequately compensated for the amount of money it costs). CMC has unlimited free printing. Online notes? I’ll print that, single sided if I’m feeling wasteful. Lecture slides? Got that. Important essay? How about we print 10 copies, ya know, just in case and plus, there’s no better feeling than burying your head in steaming hot, freshly printed essays. Course summary has a bent staple? Reprint. Paper used as aeronautic attack device? Reprint. Assignment crudely vandalized by a friend? Reprint. It is nice to reside in a land where the paper rivers are flowing. A misprint doesn’t end in a last minute funds transfer that leads to a meltdown.

The printer gods do not smile as brightly over St. Andrews. Printing is charged per piece of paper and it is not cheap. Printing errors can break friendships, ruin credit scores, and lead to accelerated hair loss. All in all, I miss my free printing.


Students

The students that were in my classes at St. Andrews live, breathe, and die chemistry. There is no “taking O-chem for med school” in Scotland. If you’re in Chem in Scotland, you’re a hardcore, molecule loving chemist. Also, my classmates were younger than me because they specialize earlier in Scotland. That intensified the damage to my pride as I got whooped by younglings on lab reports. Despite these differences, the students at St. Andrews were just as awesome as my commrades at CMC.

Overall
As a whole, I prefer my education at CMC more than my St. Andrews education. This may be because I am biased or simply more adjusted to life at CMC, but I attribute it to the flaws of the module system. The labs were better than my labs at CMC and the professors and students were just as sharp, but the lack of professor interaction and constant swapping made learning more difficult and class less enjoyable.

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Hiking in Fife

Time May 18th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well hello friends,

I apologize for the extended hiatus of my blog! Things have been very busy here in Scotland as finals creep closer and closer. I will be a free man again soon. As for now, I’d love to share some photos (and a brief video of course) of some of the hiking/hillwalking/exploring/wandering that I’ve done within about a 30 mile radius of St. Andrews. This place is truly amazing and packed with variety and surprises, all just an easy bus ride (or stroll) away.

And the video composed of random snippets:

Cheers,

Adamthefish

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Ostrich Burgers and Fairyland

Time April 27th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

‘Ello Govnas,

I recently realized that the focus of my blog has strayed from what I initially intended. When I decided to write a blog, I wanted to make it more than the average study abroad blog. I wanted it to be about more than just my travels and how much I missed my mommy. I wanted to write about cultural differences, interesting people, and global realizations (whatever those may be).

As I look back at my recent posts, I realize that they gravitate around the places I’ve visited and what I’ve done without much in-depth analysis. I promise that my next post will definitely break this pattern and be something fresh and new, but for now…back to my travels!!!

It’s going down like LONDON LONDON LONDON

I skipped down to London on Easter Weekend and took the city by storm with John Hyatt, a buddy from CMC, who generously let me crash at his place which happened to be a five minute walk from the London Eye. I emerged from Waterloo Station around 11:00PM on Thursday and immediately had my first London fantasy fulfilled – I look out to the street and see countless double decker red busses and black cabs, literally NO OTHER CARS. It was crazy and got me so pumped for other Londony stuff like tea and crumpets, whatever crumpets are.

On Friday, we decided to hit some of London’s top destinations and immediately headed to Trafalgar Square. We were approached by two individuals who attempted to convince us to go to some warehouse on Sunday night to “have an awesome time with great people”. We politely declined, not wanting to go to so some grimy warehouse party, but humorously realized as we walked away that we had probably just been invited to a church service. Then, we went to the British Museum and checked out the Rosetta Stone (which still didn’t reveal the secret to understanding Scottish people) and some other things that Britain had permanently borrowed (forcefully took) from other countries. The fact that most major British museums are free made our visit even sweeter. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace were cool, but I think slightly watered down in my eyes because I have seen  them so frequently in movies and such.

Saturday brought me to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. John and I realized the Tower Bridge opened as we were standing in its center and sirens started blaring. My initial terror subsided as everyone else, who happened to be far more intelligent than John and I, calmly walked to either side of the bridge. We stood there baffled for about 10 seconds before we realized what was going on and then were forcefully ushered off of the bridge as it began to open. Then we swung by Borough Market and I decided to order an ostrich burger because was feeling extra daring as adrenaline lingered in my veins from the bridge incident.

We went to Hyde Park (London’s “Central Park”) on Easter Sunday to enjoy flowers, swans (who all happened to be owned by the Queen), and the atmosphere. Overall, I had a fantastic time in London but leave you with this one piece of advice: NEVER SQUAT BEFORE TRAVELING. I found myself hobbling throughout all of London and was met with lots of grumbles (they though I was a stumbling drunk) or people asking me if I was okay as I inched down crowded flights of stairs. The saddest moment occurred when a doorman denied me entry to a restaurant because he had seen me walk/hobble/crawl across the street and assumed I had had one too many. Luckily, I explained that I was suffering from soreness due to “leg day” and he mercifully gave one of those nods that said “been there” and allowed me to enter.

Isle of Skye aka Fairyland

Last weekend I visited Isle of Skye, an island off of Scotland’s northwestern coast that is filled with amazing sights and stories. Today, you’re gonna get the sights. Hopefully they will tell the stories because words do not do them justice. I fully intend to return to this phenomenal place.

And if you can tolerate seeing a lot of my face and hearing my voice:

Cheers,

Adamthefish

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Not Your Typical Spring Break (Part 2)

Time April 13th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

Dear Closest Confidants,

I know you all have been waiting more than a week to see where the riveting adventure led us after Prague, Munich, and Vienna, so I am here to provide.

After Vienna, Ryan and I caught a train to Budapest! Read More »

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Not Your Typical Spring Break (Part 1)

Time April 1st, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

People of the world,

 It’s good to be back “home” in St. Andrews. I just returned from a two week break from class, which the Scotts call the Proper Royal Holiday Bequeathed Upon Us by Her Majesty or something along those lines. I’ll just stick with Spring Break. If I were back home, I probably would have spent my time relaxing in the sun at a traditional Spring Break hotspot like Cancun, Miami, Cabo, or Lake Havasu. This “break,” I found myself sprinting around the cities of Prague, Munich, Vienna, ********, ******, and ********* (tune in next time to see the other exciting three cities!!!!!). I can’t wait to tell you all about them, so let’s get started.
Prague

Prague may be best known for its… ummm well, I’m not really sure what it’s best known for, but now I  love it for its cheap everything and beauty. I spent the two weeks traveling with a fellow American buddy, Ryan, and we planned to stay almost exclusively in places we found on Airbnb, a hip, cool new website that lets you rent out rooms, spaces, or entire homes at fabulous prices from verified people. It can be cheaper than a hostel and definitely less sketchy than Couchsurfer. Our first Airbnb residence was right in the heart of Prague and worked out perfectly, the host was great and my favorite part was the USSR era elevator that whizzed you up and down the building without doors (Please keep all hands, arms, and legs inside the vehicle at all times).

After arriving in Prague and riding the elevator a few times, we went down for a bite to eat. I ordered goulash and a beverage and thought I might be taken out to the back and beaten because I couldn’t afford the 84Kc bill. Luckily, I looked up the conversion rate and discovered that I had just spent a mighty $2.50 at a sit down restaurant. Prague, you and I just might get along. We did some sightseeing (don’t worry, there will be pictures), determined that Prague had rightfully earned its name as the City of a Hundred Spires, and went to a basketball game. Woah, woah, woah, drop the mic. I know what you guys were thinking, a basketball game? Really Adamthefish? Yup, that’s right.

We wandered over to a big soccer stadium (Ryan plays collegiate soccer so there’s a magnet between him and soccer fields or something, not too sure how it works, just science I guess) and from there we saw an arena in the distance. I guessed ice hockey so we walked over. Just our luck, it looked like we were in time for a match. As we neared, we were shocked to realize it was a basketball game. I go up to the ticket counter and struggle for information due to the language barrier. A man heard my struggles and walked over and said “tickets?” and just handed two tickets to us. Without much of an idea of what we were in for, we walked in and were led to our free court side seats. Oh perfect, it was Prague versus some team from Estonia, my favorite teams! We were stoked for the game but I still had no idea what the game was going to be like, until it began. During one of the first possessions, one player passed the ball to his teammate, which proceeded to bounce off of his head and bounce to the other team. Other than that, it was a awesome experience and the game was interesting, to say the least. I never thought I’d find myself in a professional basketball game in the Czech Republic.

Munich

Munich was beautiful and orderly. It was also the first place I was able to wear shorts on this side of the Atlantic. The first thing I noticed was that all of the bike lanes are attached to the sidewalk and not the road. It makes so much sense! It may be a bit more expensive but keeps bikers away from cars and cars away from bikers. Our Airbnb in Munich was a bit further from the city center, but the underground system was phenomenal (modern wood seats with no gum, whaaaaaaat?) and we could get around the city with ease. We visited the site of the 1972 Olympics, the BMW factory, the famous Hofbrauhaus, strolled through some parks (including the Englischer Garden, which is known for the surfers that test their skills in the river that flows through it), and spent a lot of time enjoying the sun in outdoor “gardens”. We spent our last day at the Deutsches Museum, Germany’s museum of science and technology, where I nerded out for a few hours. I probably would have spent several days in there if most of the information wasn’t just in German.

Vienna

Vienna was GRAND. Our Airbnb was a five minute underground ride away from the main drag called Stephansplatz Square. Vienna had a great underground system as well, and our Airbnb host was awesome. He invited us to come out with him our first night there and we obliged, of course. Moments later, I found myself in Celeste, a coffee shop with a 60 year old playing dub step on the first floor and a live jazz band in the basement. Everyone was speaking German and it was EXACTLY where I wanted to be. The next day we toured “the ring,” a five kilometer look that encircles all of the main sights in Vienna. That made it pretty easy for tourists. There were many different roads like Schubertring, Schottenring, Burgring, and Universitätsring, but as long as it ended in “ring,” you knew you were on the right trail. There were city funded bike rental stands throughout the central area of Vienna and the first hour was free so Ryan and I developed a nice pattern of ride, return, and repeat. The bikes could be returned to any of the stations so we got around most of the city with that method. There were some last minute bike races to avoid paying any sort of fee once we broke an hour, but that was all part of the fun. 


After a bit of exploring we cruised over to the Naschmarkt, a lovely outdoor market. I don’t usually do the whole bread, thin meat, and cheese thing because it’s not a real meal but I decided to go for it because I wanted to be authentic and classy. After some perusing, we find a stand that looks good. I approach without much of an idea what anything is called and say, “Something cheap?” The vendor looks back and says, “Cheap? Yes!”And then he proceeds to slice me some sheep and I suddenly realize he interpreted my “cheap” as “sheep.” Ryan had a bit of fun with that one. The next day we toured the Schonbrunn Palace, the summer palace of the Hapsburgs, the ruling family of Austria and several other regions.

Then we got on a train to Tune in next time to see where Ryan and Adamthefish travel next!


And as usual, here’s a little video of snippets from all three places. For some reason I always forget to film horizontally maybe I’ll get it by the last post.

Cheers,

Adamthefish

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Argyll Adventures and Water Polo

Time March 30th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

My Dearest Readers,

 As some of you may know, I play water polo. A lot. I am a member of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Men’s Water Polo Team and will enter my senior (and final) season this fall. Water polo and the team are extremely important to me so I want to return from Scotland without the typical abroad “broadness”that one gets when they eat out frequently and consume tons of liquid calories. My goal while overseas was to stay in decent shape and swim occasionally if I was lucky enough to have a pool (other than the North Sea) nearby. With that in mind, I decided to register at the University of St. Andrews athletic facilities during my first week so I could to use their gym, or at least the outdated, crowded labyrinth of rooms that they refer to as a gym. I mentioned that I was interested in playing water polo to the staff member who was helping me register and he happened to be close friends with a member of the University of St Andrews Polo Team, whom he said he could put me in touch with. Arik the team member, reached out to me and we arranged to meet.

Read More »

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Glasgow Greatness

Time March 2nd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

Dear Loyal and Extremely Dedicated Readers (this is what I imagine so just let me be),

I apologize for breaking the tradition of posting weekly so early. I was really busy in Glasgow last weekend and blah…blah…blah… I know you don’t want excuses. You want results. So here they are.

Read More »

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The Sheep Farm and 15 Hawaiian Shirts

Time February 17th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

What’s up team,

Things are going spectacularly (except for class and alcohol prices) and this week has been awesome!

Appetizer:
On Friday I finished struggling through a tough organic chemistry assignment and was heading to a buddy’s place to unwind for a little while. On my way over, I walked by a pub that was usually occupied by locals and older visitors. I happened to notice about 15 guys wearing tacky Hawaiian shirts inside the pub and one of them happened to be outside for a smoke. As a self proclaimed Hawaiian shirt connoisseur, I had to get the low-down about the shirts. I asked the gentleman outside why they all had the classy shirts and he said it was because they all planned it and it was their golf tradition. One of them was decked from head to toe in a cowboy costume, I mean badge, boots, hat, the whole shabang but that explanation is a story for another occasion… I then introduced myself and it turns out the fellow’s name was Adam too. Due to his excitement regarding this coincidence, I was invited/forced into the pub and deemed the kid from San Diego who knows his stuff about Hawaiian shirts. After a few beers on their behalf, I insisted that I need to go to my friend’s because I told him I was going to be there in 5 minutes about 40 minutes ago and I didn’t have wifi and I don’t have cell phone service because I’m a cheap bastard. I get to my friend’s and we relax for a bit and then we decide to return to my Hawaiian clad mates at the pub. After a bit more camaraderie, I learned that they were Welsh and were in St. Andrews on a golf pilgrimage. One of them was a 60 year old coal miner who was delighted by the fact that I had family from Fargo, he loved the TV series and movie. After some quality conversation, my friend, Ryan, and I decided to hit the road and said goodbye to our new mates. By this time, some of them had been escorted outside by the staff for having invested a bit too much in the bar’s services throughout the night. Read More »

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Week Uno in St. Andrews

Time February 5th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

After a week in St. Andrews, I’m relieved to learn that all of the Scots I’ve met aren’t mad at me. It turns out that in Scotland, “pissed” means drunk and not angry! Whew, what a relief, everyone is so pissed all of the time and I had no idea what was up.

On a different note, the small town of St. Andrews, Scotland is an absolutely incredible place. The “city” is rich with history, most of it extremely violent, and other remarkable places. There’s St. Andrews Cathedral, St. Andrews castle, and a barbershop that serves free whiskey with your haircut; I’m starting to think that I might be keeping my hair a bit shorter while I’m here. It’s bizarre and awe-inspiring to realize that when the University of St. Andrews was established (1413), most of the world had no clue that the Americas even existed, it wasn’t until ’92 that Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Yet, despite all of the history and quaintness, some things still feel like home. It may be the fact that my professors are still hard to understand, or possibly the smell of fresh Subway bread on the corner, but I’m pretty sure it has to be the herds of girls on the streets arguing over which member of One Direction has the cutest sneeze.

I’ve mentioned repeatedly how small this town is and somehow I still managed to get lost. I was on my way home from Tescos, the local supermarket that is pathetically only about a half mile away from my dorm, when I realized that I had no clue where I was going. I had just completed my first ever grocery run and I had yet to get my wits about me after that stressful experience, who knew there were 100 different kinds of spaghetti? As I failed to swallow my pride and ask for directions, I wandered hopelessly about and my groceries became heavier and heavier. I began to regret my last minute decision to add a 2 liter bottle of cider and a 12 pack of adult beverages to my grocery list. I hit rock-bottom when I found myself marooned in a traffic circle for what seemed like eons. Cars were coming from every possible direction, left, right, behind me, up, down, it was mayhem! I found myself in an intense game of frogger with heavy bags and only one life. After a while, I finally mustered up the courage to cross and stood on the edge of the circle. As I prepared to bolt across the road, a truck whizzed by and squirted a horrific combination of water, oil, and trash all over me and my groceries. It was like that classic scene from the movies right after the guy gets dumped. I finally made it home, but was certainly a changed man.

Aside from that demoralizing adventure, Scotland has been glorious! I know that I will have many great stories to share as the weeks pass by. It’s bittersweet that I am so busy because I would love to update this blog everyday, but most of my free time is occupied by standing in the middle of traffic circles and talking to my mama. I will do my best to make it routine to post once every Sunday, so feel free to check this blog out then! The Chargers aren’t in the Superbowl so I know you all have nothing better to be doing tonight.

As a parting gift, I will leave you with a video of my brief experience in the North Sea.
Check that, YouTube isn’t cooperating so I’ll just leave you with a few fabulous photos instead. Video will come soon!

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Edinburrrrrrrrrrrrgh

Time January 22nd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

While departing from San Diego, I had this great plan in my head. I was going to enjoy my flight to New York City and take some time during my relaxing 3 hour layover at JFK to write my first blog post. Unfortunately, things went a little differently than I had anticipated.

During the descent into JFK, we began to experience some turbulence that was beyond the usual shudders and dips. It was SERIOUS turbulence – crying babies, screaming adults, frightened flight attendants, the whole shabang. Suddenly, as the ground became visible amongst the clouds, the turbulence became even more extreme and I felt the plane suddenly accelerate and gain altitude very quickly. I knew our trusty pilot was giving that Boeing everything she had. I realized that we were not going to be landing anytime soon. The plane continued to gain altitude and we flew in a direction that definitely seemed to be in the opposite direction of New York for about 30 minutes or so. I began to nervously check my watch and realized that my flight to London might be in jeopardy. After what seemed like an eternity, the pilot came on the intercom and brought the passengers up to speed. Our landing at JFK was too dangerous to complete and we did not have enough gas to circle the airport until the weather improved so we were diverting to Washington D.C.

I sat there, shocked. I was going to miss the biggest flight of my life. My mind was filled of images of me living in the airport like Tom Hanks in the Terminal. We refueled at D.C. and were finally back in the air on our way to JFK after several hours. This time, the landing was uneventful and I frantically bolted out of the plane. Waiting outside of the gate for me was a wonderful airline employee. In his hands was my ticket to London. During the chaos, they managed to completely reroute me and arranged for me to arrive in Edinburgh just several hours after I was initially supposed to arrive. Things were going well again.

My flights from JFK to London and London to Edinburgh went seamlessly (aside from the airplane breakfast). I was beaming as I stepped out of the plane into Scotland. I was finally in the country that had incessantly dominated my mind for the previous 4 months. I WAS PUMPED and jet-lag couldn’t scathe my adrenaline. I practically sprinted to the luggage carousel and kept my eyes trained on the portal where the bags would appear. I kept my eyes trained there until there were no more bags appearing from the abyss and everyone else on my flight had already retrieved their bags and were merrily on their way. Could this really happen to me? Where was my bag?

I went over to the luggage attendant and we looked up my bag’s code. Well would ya look at that! It’s still in New York! The attached video takes over from that exact moment. (My apologies for the vertical video, I’m new to this internet stuff)

Despite the difficulties, my spirits are still sky high. I type this happily from my hotel in Edinburgh and cannot wait to take Scotland and the rest of Europe by storm. This semester is going to be one of the most incredible time spans of my life and I am fortunate enough to have a blog that will help me retain and share every juicy detail.

Cheers! (I’ve heard that the locals actually don’t say “cheers” in Scotland, but I’m still in the U.K. as a whole so I think it’ll pass.)

 

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