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June 20th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
I’ve been back in the U.S. for a few weeks now, with a busted laptop and a ton of responsibilities concerning moving and starting a new job. I’ve taken time to reflect on the good and the bad of my semester abroad in Glasgow, and here are some tips:
- If you attend the art school, your tutors will not be around a lot of the time. If you need feedback, or advice, it is up to you to go find them and articulate what you need specifically and concisely. This, in addition to primarily working independently, can make your time pretty isolating if you don’t work to socialize. Introduce yourself to your neighbors around the studio, go to events at The Vic, go to zine fairs at the CCA and vintage sales down by the Trongate. It’s not that people won’t be friendly, they just tend to focus on their work pretty intensely.
- I might have considered independent housing after seeing some of my friends’ apartments in Glasgow. Much of the architecture is very old, so the flats had high ceilings with wide open floor plans, and could be as little as £300 per month. However, if I had done this I wouldn’t have met the close friends I was fortunate to have been assigned student housing with. (There are also security, safety, and insurance reasons associated with student housing – but ask your Ifsa-Butler representative to go over options with you!)
- Take pictures of everything!! Film things!! Especially if you attend GSA, try to draw daily! I personally entered a pretty bad rut this past semester with my work; I had a lot of trouble creating, and that made me feel useless a lot of time, cause like duh, I’m an art student, I’m supposed to make art. Sketching, filming, taking pictures – even splurging and getting yourself some really nice watercolor paper – can make you feel more productive, even it means taking baby steps.
- Yo if you’re Jewish and you miss celebrating Passover when springtime rolls around, go to Cafe Cossachok in the Trongate area and get some smoked salmon potato pancakes and borscht. I missed Kosher delis, but Russian food is pretty close. P.S. they do not call smoked salmon, “lox.” Nobody will know what you’re talking about if you ask for it.
- Soak up your time in the highlands as much as you can. The Argyll forest and Isle of Skye are really indescribable. Words will not do their beauty justice – just go.
I can say that this semester has proven to be one of my most challenging, but in ways that differ from past semesters at my host college. At a liberal arts college in the U.S., students find themselves juggling an array of subjects while trying to complete their decided major and graduate within 3-4 years. This, of course, poses its own challenges and may nudge more neurotic thinkers (such as myself) into a worm hole of self-deprecating thought processes: “I’m taking classes X, Y and Z at levels A, B and C and I’m better at Z than X – why aren’t I better at X? Why aren’t I good at everything? That person over there is great at X. If I’m not good at X I must not be good at Z either. Oh, my god I’m not good at anything.”
At the Glasgow School of Art, however, I focused on one thing: my artwork. No assignments, no exams. I had one midyear paper for a gender studies class that met once a week, which didn’t really compare in intensity to my classes back home. My hubris led me to believe that that would make things easier. However, focusing exclusively on one thing actually put more pressure on it. But, like my tarot-reading former housemate has observed in her monthly horoscopes, “calling your capabilities into question doesn’t really help anyone much. It’s very subjective.” Perhaps people should think of themselves from the perspective of cover letters that embellish our talents for the grazing hand of employment. If one exaggerates their faults, they should be allowed some self-indulgent arrogance to balance the morale see-saw. I had an incredible time in Scotland, I 3000% recommend it to anybody thinking about studying abroad, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t face challenges; I reached out to my Ifsa-Butler representative and she set me up with a therapist that was payed for with the program’s insurance. I didn’t expect to have such a hard time adjusting, but I did, and it was the definitely the right move to make. Self-doubt is an easy labyrinth to fall into, especially in a new environment. Remember to look up – there is sunlight above the hedges.
June 12th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Coming home has been such a bitter sweet experience. Towards the end of my journey I was really missing home and the lifestyle that I have. Colorado is such a beautiful state and I was really looking forward to seeing my family and friends again! I was so happy that I didn’t have to be long distance from my fiancee anymore and that we could finally be together! Long distance was one of the hardest things that our relationship has faced and I was glad to have it over. At the same time it meant that I had to leave Scotland and all of my friends there. Even though most of my friends are a short plane ride away, it’s so different than living together in the same flat. I’ve been home for two weeks now and I still feel like I should be waking up next to my friends and going on an adventure in Europe. Study abroad is such an interesting experience that I think only your friends abroad truly understand it. Of course I can describe to everybody back home how I feel but, nobody really understands it unless you experienced it.
I was supposed to return home on May 29th but my flight ended up getting canceled so I didn’t end up leaving until May 30th! Of course I was slightly sad to go home yet but, I was so happy that I got one more day in Scotland. That last day really made a difference. It felt like closure. The extra day I spent in Edinburgh with my closest friends and it felt so nice to have that last gathering together. I never would’ve thought that extra time would make such a difference but it really did! It was more relaxed and laid back than trying to pack everything and say goodbye to everybody at once.
Coming home and being able to reflect for a couple of weeks made me realize a lot of things about myself. Before studying abroad I felt like I couldn’t handle the real world. I felt so dependent on my parents that I didn’t think I could handle graduating college. Even though I’m engaged I was worried about starting a life with my fiancee. Study abroad changed my view on being alone. Of course I still missed everything back home but it made me realize that I can do it. I can be on my own away from my parents. I will be able to get married and start a life with my fiancee. I would say that my view of the world is completely different as well. Traveling and going to new places really changes your perspective on how vast and wonderful the Earth is!
If you’re reading this and even considering study abroad you should do it. It’s the most incredible experience that will impact you for a lifetime. Don’t worry about expense because it’ll be worth it no matter the cost. In retrospect study abroad really is a pretty good deal. You’re paying much less than you would to live abroad for 5 months in a different setting. The best advice I can give is to go out and explore. The world is just waiting for you to go and see it!
June 7th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
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This is one of the many cats that I saw around Glasgow. It must have lived near the Murano Street student flats because I would always see it nearby. Here, it is walking along a wall next to one of Murano's stark brick buildings.
June 5th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Our second trip that IFSA organized was to the Isle of Skye. It was a long 5 hour bus ride to get from Glasgow to the large island in the north west, but it was broken up by fun, quick stops in highland towns and continuous historical facts from our tour guide. Everyone was struck by the beauty and vast wilderness of the highlands which felt so purely Scottish. I hope my pictures can somehow do it justice.
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One of our first stops on our way up to Skye was to a working sheepdog farm. We were able to watch the shepherd's border collies wrangle the sheep at the sound of a whistle or a simple command.
May 26th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
My flatmates and I decided to take a little road trip to the northern part of England and Wales! We all really wanted to go to Wales and the only way to do that would be by renting a car and driving down. My flatmate, Julia, graciously offered to drive! She also let us stay at her aunt and uncle’s house! It was such a great opportunity so I couldn’t say no! I really love road trips and I was so happy to be going on one with my friends! We started our 3 hour journey from Glasgow! The drive really wasn’t terrible at all and to our surprise there wasn’t many cars on the road the whole drive. Of course a lot less people live in these areas than most places in the states! After our long trip we made it down to England. The house we stayed in was very quaint and it was along the shore about 10 minutes from Blackpool! We had a lovely home cooked meal and no meal is left without drinks. Without even realizing it I had a whole bottle of prosecco to myself! Luckily, it was over about 6 hours so I felt fine!
The next day we ventured to Liverpool in order to see the Beatles museum! Getting there was easy but parking in Liverpool was atrocious! We drove around the same street several times before we were able to find a parking lot! After the whole parking fiasco we walked up to the street to get to the museum and there was some type of train parade! We had no idea what we just walked into! It wasn’t too hard to navigate through the crowd but it was still strange! We saw a ferris wheel and decided that we wanted to go on it! The top was such a wonderful view of the city! We could really take in all that is Liverpool. Once we got back down to the ground it was time for the Beatles museum! The museum was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. It was one of my favorite things I’ve done this entire semester! It wasn’t set up like a normal museum. It was as if you were walking through their lives. It didn’t contain that many artifacts rather it contained storytelling and recreations of the actual pubs they played in. The audio tour provided most of the information. This is something that I would highly suggest for anybody who goes to the UK! I could really go on and on about the museum but you’ll just have to visit for yourself!
Don’t want to show too much so this is just the entrance! Read More »
May 22nd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Footage from the set up, opening, and critique for the end of the year show for GSA second year students. It was rewarding to be a part of such a collaborative production that showcased everyone’s hard work.
May 17th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
My flatmates and I looked up flights to Italy and we found some cheap flights to Milan! We all couldn’t say no so we booked them! We started off in Milan and quickly found a place to get some pizza! I think I ate more pasta and pizza than I ever have over the weekend. The second day we took a trip to Verona. Verona was very much like what I pictured Italy to be like. The architecture of the buildings was exactly what I pictured. Verona was so beautiful and it really felt like spring time! We had a funny encounter with choosing a restaurant for lunch! My friend looked up places to go and she found a cheap place for us to go. Well we walked up to the restaurant and looked at the menu outside. To our surprise there was horse and rabbit meat being served!After a few laughs we ended up choosing a different restaurant! That was one of the most culture shock things that I experienced with abroad! We climbed to the top of a tower where we could see the whole city. Overlooking Verona was one of the most surreal experiences of my life! Italy is seen as this dream destination and it was so surreal to actually be there. I honestly felt so free in that moment. I felt like I had overcome so much this semester and being in Italy made me realize how vast the world really is. It’s so much more than just picture;physically being there changed my view of the world. Read More »
May 12th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | 1 Comment by
As the semester is nearing, I’ve been reflecting on how jaded I’ve become to how many amazing things one can witness in a day just walking around Glasgow; such as performers busking on Buchanan and Sauchihall street, wandering the necropolis, or discovering unmarked book stores tucked away in a close. I’ve had to remind myself at times that even when I feel as though I’m accomplishing very little, I’m still seeing and experiencing more than I might appreciate in the moment. Looking back, I really haven’t had many dull days.
April 24th, 2017 in Scotland | No Comments by
Glasgow School of Art exchange students Eric and Rachel meet up with the Ifsa kids from Glasgow University, St. Andrews, University of Edinburgh, and University of Stirling to attend a bus tour to the Isle of Skye! Experienced demonstrations in sheep herding, a hike up the Old Man of Storr, and some faces were dunked into the fairy pools for 7 seconds to obtain Eternal Youth™.
The sprawling Scottish Highlands, with its towering snow-peaks and glimmering valleys, are sure to make one step back and consider their gratitude to play even a small part as an individual in history and on this beautiful green planet.
April 19th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
During the month of April I went to England and Northern Ireland. My first stop was London, England. I was meeting a friend who’s also studying abroad this semester; the same friend that I traveled to Amsterdam with! London is a very busy city with a lot of people in it! At times it was a little overwhelming. It was nice that the public transportation was so easy though. It was also nice that it runs 24/7! That can be something frustrating about Scotland’s public transportation. Although the public transportation was pretty intense in London, it was relatively easy to navigate! Of course I was with somebody who knew where they were but I think it would have been fine if I wasn’t. On the first night we went to a play! It was called “A Comedy about a Bank Robbery”. It was pretty funny and was about exactly what the title says! The humor was just silly and didn’t require much thought! It was nice to just relax and watch a play for pure entertainment.
The next day we went to Westminster, which is the main tourist site! It was interesting because I had been there about 11 years ago and once I walked off the tube I had this overwhelming sense of nostalgia. I was transported back to my 9 year old self. It was such a wonderful and exciting feeling! I’ve never experienced something like that before. The power of nostalgia was so strong! At this moment I captured a picture of Big Ben, which I’m really proud of! I feel like it came out so well! Read More »
April 17th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
The flatmates and I eat chicken, discuss our Argyll adventure weekend experiences, and uncover the mystery of “quince.”
April 3rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
The middle of March was the halfway point of my program and my time abroad! It’s a bitter sweet moment. I think about how I’ve had such a great time here and how I’ve made such wonderful friends but, I do miss things about home.
So far I’ve experienced wonderful things in Scotland! I’m so happy that I chose the University of Stirling for so many reasons. The campus is really great and the scenery is beautiful! My favorite thing about Stirling is how the campus is removed from the city. I like that it feels secluded. The campus really is it’s own little town in a way! My home university is a commuter campus and I live at home, so being able to live on campus has been a great new experience for me. I enjoy being able to cook for myself and having freedom to have my own schedule! I’ve been able to grow in ways that I can’t describe. Having independence abroad has made me feel more like an adult. Before I left, I felt like I was in between an adult and a teenager but, coming to Scotland has made me feel like a capable adult! Read More »
March 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Our first big excursion organized by IFSA was to the Argyll Forest, one of the oldest national parks in Scotland. We left on a Friday afternoon by taking a private bus into the highlands, including a ferry ride over the Holy Loch from the town of Gourock to Dunoon, our destination. According to our driver, we were accompanied by dolphins on the ferry ride back, but none of us could spot them.
Once arriving at our home for the weekend, the Benmore Nature Education Center, we met IFSA students from the other Scottish universities (Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Stirling) for the first time. We spent Friday night exploring the impressive nature surrounding us through an exhilarating night hike through the gardens in the pitch dark with no “torches” (flashlights) to guide us. Read More »
March 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
For the first ifsa-butler trip we visited the Argyll Forest! We left University of Stirling at 2:00pm and then headed out to pick up Glasgow students! After we picked them up we drove to the coast and then took a ferry across the water! It was crazy that the coach bus fit on the ferry! I had never been on a ferry that was able to hold an entire bus so it was an interesting experience for me! Once we made it to dry land again we had to drive to the hostel that we were staying at. It looked more like a castle than a hostel! Finally, we were able to unpack our things and get settled in our bunk beds. We proceeded to have dinner and then went on a night hike! The night hike was interesting because it was so dark so you didn’t even really know who was next to you! It was nice to be outside in pitch black and have to experience through senses other than sight! I was very happy that I brought my rain boots on this journey because most paths were pretty muddy. After a long day of travel I laid down to sleep! The next day would be action packed! Read More »
March 7th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
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The city of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands is quiet and quaint, a must-see for those choosing to study away in Scotland. A classmate told me it's the rainiest city in Scotland, but the freezing rain and forceful winds didn't stop us from enjoying as much of the city as we could. I would advise leaving early on Sunday, the town is pretty sleepy and most shops and attractions are closed.
March 6th, 2017 in Scotland | No Comments by
February 23-26 I was in Amsterdam! I have a friend from back home studying abroad in London and we met up for the weekend! It was nice to be with somebody from home! It made me forget that I was abroad for a little while! I was glad that I was taking on a new city with someone familiar! It made things easier because we could both tackle the new city together!
My friend and I
The city was so much more than I expected it to be! To my surprise there were a lot of museums! If anyone was to visit Amsterdam I would suggest booking tickets online to avoid waiting in line. I was only able to visit the Anne Frank house and the Moco museum. The Anne Frank house was truly life changing. I had never been in a country that was directly effected by the Holocaust. It made the event so much more real. Of course I’ve read about the Holocaust, but to be somewhere that will forever be impacted was an intense experience. It’s challenging to even describe the way that I felt going through the house. It made me realize that nothing is guaranteed and your life can change in an instant.
The Moco museum contains rotating exhibits! When I visited they had works of art from Banksy (the street artist) and Salvador Dali. I had only ever seen the famous painting of the melting clocks, but I quickly learned that Dali did much more than that! I also didn’t realize he was making art in the 1970’s! I thought his work was much older than that. I also didn’t know that Dali would make furniture that were works of art! Meanwhile, the Banksy works of art were very modern and he’s known for being political! Often his work is painted over because he spray paints on the side of buildings. Banksy also uses the repeated image of a girl holding a red, heart shaped balloon in much of his work! The image is supposed to symbolize hope! I really enjoyed his works of art because he’s an artist that is living the same time as I am! I usually think of world renowned artists as being in the distant past! My friend and I were planning on visiting the Van Gogh museum, but in the long run we were much happier that we went to the Moco museum!
A piece done by Bansky
I was nervous about being in a country where I don’t even remotely speak the language! Luckily, almost everyone spoke English and most signs had English as well as Dutch; other than the train system. The first night my friend and I arrived we were told that the trains were very easy to figure out. Well everything was in Dutch and the side of the train doesn’t display where it’s going! So we pretty much had to guess which train to take! We ended up getting pretty lost, but eventually we made it to our hotel room! After that, all the other public transportation was easy to navigate! I also felt that it was a safe city! There was never a time when I felt unsafe! Overall, Amsterdam was a wonderful city and I really enjoyed my weekend there! I would highly suggest it!
My favorite picture of the weekend
February 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Anyone who has studied in Great Britain knows how central Tesco, a popular supermarket chain, is to everyday life. With decent prices and locations at what seems like every corner, it is every university students go-to. I pass two on my walk home from the University of Glasgow and I usually stop in every day to pick up whatever I need for that night’s dinner. However, the smaller Tesco Metros don’t always have the selection I need, so I make the 10 minute trek to the huge Tesco nearby. To get there, I walk along a beautiful tree and apartment-lined canal, which makes every trip special.
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You can expect to see lots of wildlife while walking along the canal. Doves, ducks, and squirrels are all very common, but some have even seen foxes! In Scottish Gaelic, Glasgow means "dear green place," which still holds true given the many parks and waterways that host these lovely animals.
February 10th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
February 8th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
January 20th-22 I stayed with a Scottish family! This is one of the many cool aspects of studying abroad with ifsa-butler. I was very excited for this adventure! It brings a unique aspect to studying abroad. One of the main reasons I chose to study abroad was in order to be fully immersed in the culture. Seeing an average weekend of a Scottish family is the perfect way to experience the culture!
On Friday I was picked up and the family provided a wonderful pasta dinner! It was so nice to have a home cooked meal! I was also greeted by the most adorable kitten named pickles! I have two cats back home and it was great to actually pet and hold a cat. Surprisingly, it made me a little less homesick. After that we sat and talked with the host mom for several hours! She was engaging and had a lot of great stories to tell! We were up until 1am talking about all sorts of things! There was never a dull moment in the conversation. It felt like being at home with my mom! It was comforting to feel at home in a foreign place.
pickles the cat Read More »
February 1st, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Studying and living abroad was a dream that I’ve had for as long as I can remember, but as my date of departure for the University of Glasgow crept closer, I found that my excitement for living in Scotland was overtaken by my worries about leaving. What classes will I take there? Will I make any friends? What am I going to do when I inevitably miss home? How am I supposed to fit my entire winter/spring wardrobe into one suitcase??? For me, the best way to combat these haunting questions was to make the most of my time with my family and friends, who provided me with the comfort and support that I needed to keep cool.
Read More »
January 30th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
January 23rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
There is beauty everywhere you look in Scotland — the stunning hills surrounding Stirling, the architecture of Glasgow, and the historical sights of Edinburgh are all breathtaking during the day, but Scotland truly comes alive at night. These pictures were taken mostly on the first few nights of orientation in Edinburgh. I definitely recommend walking along the Royal Mile at night; it was surprisingly calm and it was nice to be able to explore Edinburgh Castle up close without crowds!
Edinburgh Christmas Carnival
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Even though we arrived in Edinburgh on January 2nd, the Christmas Carnival was still in full swing! There were lots of rides and food stands to celebrate the holidays and the new year.
January 23rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
My first week abroad was mixed with so many different emotions! I honestly think that I felt every emotion possible this week. I was excited to move into my dorm and see how everything was set up. I was surprised to see that I had my own bathroom and shower right in my room! I was so happy to finally unpack my bags! Living out of a suitcase was really drag and it was starting to get to me.
The day after I moved in I got to meet my flatmates. I was very nervous about this because I really hoped that I would like them all. I was so delighted because all of my flatmates were wonderful! It was amazing how all of us just clicked and instantly got along! One of my biggest fears before studying abroad was that I would not get along with my flatmates. Luckily, all of my concerns went away after meeting them! I must say that I feel lucky to have been placed in such a wonderful flat with amazing people.
Unfortunately, on Sunday night I started to feel regret. I began to feel as if I had made the wrong decision to study abroad. I kept thinking that it would just be easier if I was home in my usual routine. I could be at home with my family and friends enjoying life the way it was. I was feeling so down that I even looked up how much it would cost to fly home. I had only been in Scotland a few days and I was already missing home. Even though everything was going right, I felt that my decision to leave was wrong. I went through this inner struggle most of the day on Sunday. Then I was watching the sunset and my feelings started to change. I was walking outside and the sunset had been perfectly placed behind a tree. The branches were lit up by the sun and in that moment I felt complete peace. I knew in my heart that studying abroad was the right thing to do. In my life I will never get to experience anything like this again! I felt a type of tranquility that I’ve never felt before. It was like something was telling me that I had nothing to worry about.
Here’s the image of the sunset behind the tree
Once I actually started classes my week started to get even better! I’ve always liked school and part of studying abroad is learn things that I may not learn any other way. In my classes I was even happier with my adventure whilst studying abroad! I felt that my life began to be structured which was missing from the trip so far. Now that things were starting to get settled I’m very happy with my decision to study abroad! Even though I struggled to be where I’m at now, it was worth it.
January 11th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Fall semester came and went faster than I could blink. I told myself that I would not focus on studying abroad so that I could enjoy the fall semester! Once the semester ended, I decided to wait until after Christmas before focusing on study abroad. Since most of my gifts were focused around travel, I was forced to think about the drastic change that’s going to happen in my life. I started to think about the fact that I need to try and see everybody before I left. My schedule began to fill up. Looking back, I think I only had one day where I didn’t have plans with somebody or some type of appointment. Part of me wishes that I would’ve had more days to myself, but in the long run I’m happy that I was able to say goodbye before I left. In some ways it was easier to cope with leaving since I was able to see everybody!
I have traveled internationally for my whole life, but I’ve never done it alone. Something just seemed so ominous about doing it all on my own. Nobody to watch my things if I need to go to the restroom or quickly buy something to eat. There will also be nobody to comfort me if I get stressed out. There’s something about being with my parents that makes me feel safer. Even if they’re in an airport they’ve never been to it’s like they know their way around. I’m going to airports that are quite large and I’ve never been to them! I’m hoping that I can navigate my way through effectively.
Even though these thoughts go through my head I know that studying abroad is the right choice. I know that even though everything before seems scary it will be worth it in the end! I’m excited and ready to start my adventure abroad!