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Time January 9th, 2017 in 2016 Fall, Ireland, Scotland | No Comments by

After officially being home for two weeks, I decided that it was time to write my final blog about coming home. There were many things I missed while I was abroad. The number one thing, of course, was my family. Christmas was even sweeter, especially after missing Thanksgiving. Funnily enough, the second was Dunkin Donuts iced coffee! During customs and baggage claim, I was lucky (and spoiled) enough to have my parents get me my normal Medium Iced Coffee with Caramel Swirl and Cream from the Dunkin at JFK. Thirdly, I’ve missed my friends. Many of them I kept in constant contact with during my semester away but others it had been awhile since we had talked. Either way, we fell back together like we always do and it was comforting. Read More »

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Christmas Markets

Time December 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland, Scotland | No Comments by

Since Scotland does not have the Thanksgiving marker to kickstart the holiday season, Christmas markets started in Edinburgh on November 18th. The markets are full of amusement park rides, Christmas music, festive beverages, and crafty shops. My Colgate friends, Sarah and Liz, visited me that weekend and kicked off the Christmas season with me. Liz and I had an incredible view of the city on the Ferris wheel. Sarah and I shared donuts covered in chocolate sauce.When my cousins visited, Madelyn and I braved the most intimidating ride of the markets. The “Flying-Star” were swings that went as high as the top of the Walter Scott Monument, or about 200 feet high. It was terrifying but we prevailed and celebrated this feat with Bailey’s hot chocolate and mulled cider. The Christmas markets are paradoxical in the sense that they induce a sense of homeyness and homesickness at the same time. I enjoy them but they also make me look forward to Christmas with my family.

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A Scottish-American Thanksgiving

Time December 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland, Scotland | No Comments by

November 24th was like any other day in Edinburgh. The grocery stores were not flooded with people picking up forgotten instant stuffing mixes, or that additional can of cranberry sauce, in case one wasn’t enough. Thursday classes were on schedule as normal at the university. No “turkey-trots” were closing the streets in the morning. However, for American students, November 24th meant Thanksgiving (most likely his/her first) away from home. IFSA Butler, my abroad program, threw an American Thanksgiving get-together the Wednesday night before. We had a Ceilidh, with a Scottish band and traditional Celtic dances. I got to reunite with many American students who I had not seen in awhile. However, when I got home, the worst wave of homesickness rushed over me. I come from a huge family of fifty-three (!!!!) cousins and the idea of not seeing a majority of them over this holiday was tough. I missed my parents and of course the many “dad jokes” that surface around Thanksgiving. I called my parents and they comforted me by reminding me that I was lucky enough to have two of my cousins flying in the following day to help me celebrate the holiday.

On Thanksgiving, I met my cousin Madelyn for brunch following her red-eye. We walked around the city a little and then grabbed an “it’s five o’clock somewhere” pint in true Thanksgiving fashion. When Roman, Madelyn’s brother, landed, it was time for me to go to my last seminar of the term. We met back up for dinner and although it was not a turkey with all of the trimmings, it was still an incredible feeling to be with family so far from home. After dinner, I Facetimed into my Aunt Rose’s Thanksgiving party and was promptly circulated around the gathering of roughly thirty of my family members. I even made it into a few pictures through the screen of my cousin’s iPhone. Afterward, Madelyn, Roman, and I celebrated with my American friends in our favorite pub. I am SO happy that they were able to come and spend the week with me. It was a Thanksgiving I will always remember but of course, I am looking forward to next year’s gathering surrounded by my whole family.

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A Weekend in Amsterdam

Time November 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by

This past weekend, I traveled to Amsterdam with Norah, one of my IFSA-Butler friends. On Friday, we started at the Anne Frank Huis. We waited in line for almost two hours but it was undoubtedly worth it. I felt that the museum was presented so well. Otto Frank insisted that the rooms be unfurnished, leaving only items authentic to the Frank family and their helpers to be showcased. There was a reverent atmosphere, especially in the annex of the top floor of the house.

Following the Anne Frank Huis, we walked down Prinsengracht, a scenic street along a canal towards our hostel. After checking in, we had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant and splurged on a
Rijsttafel, a rice table of appetizer-size portions of meats, seafood, vegetables, egg rolls, satays, nuts, and fruits. Amsterdam is known for its Indonesian food due to colonisation, and it did not disappoint. Following dinner, we walked through the Red Light District, the hub of legal prostitution in Amsterdam. It was a surreal, thought-provoking experience that led to good ideas and conversation.

On Saturday, Norah and I started the day with an hour-long canal ride through the city. We learned about the city and saw some of the historical sites. Next, we went to the Van Gogh Museum, my favorite part of the weekend. I loved this museum so much because it displayed Van Gogh’s pieces in chronological fashion. I absorbed his evolution as a painter and as a human. There is a room devoted to letters Van Gogh wrote to his friends and family. I watched Van Gogh dive into the world of modern art and eventually into his manic last stage as a painter. He painted 70 paintings in the final three months of his life. These paintings, showcased on the final floor of the gallery were the most poignant to me. I felt connected to his story and found them to be beautiful. I have seen individual Van Gogh works, but it was especially meaningful to see over 200 consecutively.

The rest of the weekend was spent walking around the city in different restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops! It was a much-needed break from the emotional stress of the United States election and a weekend well spent with a good friend.

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Homesickness

Time November 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by

At Colgate, I go home for a long weekend during October. This weekend gives me the perfect dose of home, filled with parents, apple cider, and radical foliage. It’s the thing that gets me through to Thanksgiving. Of course, I could not go home this year. So on Halloween, I got a tinge of homesickness thinking about all of the fond memories I have had with my brother and parents over the years. As I look forward to Thanksgiving, I can already feel the oncoming sadness of missing my loud, loving family. This is an indication of how blessed I am to have a family that I love coming home to. Additionally, I am even luckier to have two of my cousins arriving in Edinburgh on Thanksgiving to visit me for a week.

To combat my homesickness, I have been video-chatting many friends and family. I have attached a few snaps I have taken of our conversations.

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When Going Away Brings You Home

Time October 17th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by

As a part of the IFSA-Butler program, I spent this weekend at a homestay in Maulds Meaburn, a small village outside of Penrith, England. Anne and Charlotte, my host mother and sister, graciously welcomed me into their home. I ate the best food since arriving in the United Kingdom, including homemade Moussaka and a roast chicken dinner complete with Yorkshire pudding. On Saturday, Anne and Charlotte took Sophie (my fellow classmate) and I into the Lake District, where we hiked a small mountain. From there, we wandered into Keswick to look at the markets, have lunch, and walk alongside the lake. Anne’s two dogs, Isla and Daisy Lou, accompanied us during the day and provided  company and entertainment. I very much enjoyed walking and playing with them for a whole weekend, as it had been a long time since I spent time with animals. On Sunday, Anne and Charlotte gave us a short walkthrough of the village amidst impending rain. Maulds Meaburn epitomizes a traditional English village, with old buildings, small streams, and abounding character. After the walk, we visited Kennedy’s Chocolate Factory, where I purchased locally revered chocolate that lived up to expectations.

The area surrounding Maulds Meaburn, is agricultural land filled with sheep, cows, horses and other livestock. The fields were framed by cobblestone fences with rolling hills on the horizon. While driving through these areas, I admired the beauty surrounding me but was also drawn back to my home in Northern New York. I realized that perhaps I take for granted the area where I grew up. I fondly remember driving to dance practice on backroads with my mom, taking my brothers to our cider mill, and spending time with my family in the Adirondacks. When looking at the lake district, I could not stop thinking about spending time on Lake Ontario watching sunsets and drinking wine with friends back home.

Oftentimes, we must go away and admire beauty elsewhere to be reminded of the beauty that has been right in front of us. This weekend provided a step back from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. It was a time to reflect on my time abroad, but also a time to reflect on home and the friends and family in Watertown and at Colgate. A homestay is mandatory for my program and for that I am so glad. Cultural immersion is important because it provides perspective and garners empathy for those who live differently than ourselves. More importantly I would argue, time out of our immediate comfort zones also shows us how similar we are to others and how we generally share more things than we differ on. I feel connected to my host mom because as she was sharing her life with me, I continually linked her experiences and relationships to mine. I am so grateful for this weekend and the hospitality of my host family; it was a meaningful and relaxing weekend.

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Academics Abroad

Time October 10th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by

I’ve come to discover that the education systems in the States and the United Kingdom are quite different. Students across Europe begin dropping subjects and specializing as early as fifteen years old. In the States, we usually have until sophomore year of college (twenty years old) to declare a major, that doesn’t necessarily dictate which career field we will be entering. As an individual who isn’t certain about what I want to do for the rest of my life, I am grateful that I have been exposed to all areas of study. I love the liberal arts curriculum at Colgate and it has challenged me to view the world through different lenses. People are often confused when I say that I am studying Psychology at home and Politics and Social Policy in Edinburgh. It has been great being able to use my semester abroad to dabble in other subjects that I am interested in.

In the UK, courses are structured to foster independent learning more so than in the States. In each of my three courses, I am evaluated with a midterm paper worth 40% of my grade and a final exam worth 60%. There is a required reading list and a recommended reading list through which each student is urged to read what he or she finds interesting.  At Colgate, the small classes enable each professor to assess each student’s progress more closely through several assignments, participation, and exams. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages but it has beneficial for me to experience both systems.

Additionally, I LOVE all of the cafes around me to do school work in. I am a regular at the “Aroma Coffee Bar” around the corner from my flat. I even receive a discount for loyal customers. The employees here are too kind and I even just received a mocha “on the house” while writing this blog post. They even add special messages to my drinks like “Smile” or “Enjoy.” It is small acts of kindness like this that make my day.

Stay tuned for my next post about my weekend trip through the highlands and my homestay!

 

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Settling in to Edinburgh

Time September 20th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by

So I have arrived and comfortably settled into life in Edinburgh! My plane landed on the 7th of September after a very turbulent flight. I spent the rest of that week with my orientation group of about eighty American students at a hotel on Grassmarket, a street full of cafes, shops, and pubs to explore. I had a stellar view of the Edinburgh castle from my hotel room (as pictured below). Overall, orientation proved to be a helpful and enjoyable experience. We listened to many seminars ranging from the history and culture of Scotland to how to cope with “the W curve” of culture shock. The main seminar day was long; however, the organisers from IFSA Butler were proactive in planning several coffee and tea breaks into the schedule.

After orientation, I moved into my flat along the Cowgate, a popular street in Old Town. It is full of young people and lively nightlife. Although loud at times, my location is ideal because it is close to campus, social activities and even a grocery store. My five flatmates are from all over the world: England, Boston, Belfast, Los Angeles, and even India. Each one of them is friendly, kind, and respectful. We are quite a motley crew, but function well together and enjoy each other’s company. I am very lucky. Read More »

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Pre-departure

Time September 2nd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by

Growing up in Upstate New York, I was raised in a tight-knit community where I made many close friends and truly felt at home. I found leaving for college to be challenging, since I was so comfortable in my hometown. Although Colgate University is a mere two hours away, I grew to be independent apart from my parents and home friends. This summer, I spent the summer in Boston, working at a non-profit. During this internship, I learned that I am capable of acclimating to a city and living even farther from home.

As I prepare to depart for the University of Edinburgh, I am both nervous and excited for the semester ahead. I am confident that I will embrace the city of Edinburgh with its rich culture and history. I look forward to the self growth and knowledge that these kind of experiences bring. However, I am anxious about packing! My flight is in five days so I guess it is time to start…

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