Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

A Tale of Two Weeks

These past two weeks at the University of Edinburgh have been, in order, “Innovative Learning Week” and “Week of Innovatively Bashing Your Head against a Keyboard as You Attempt to Finish Essays”. Most students prefer the former. What is Innovative Learning Week? It is a week in which students do not have class and can instead take free seminars in various subject areas, vacation around Europe, work on dissertations, or go to a local park and get chased by territorial bovines. Take a wild guess as to which activity I participated in! Naturally, I partook in the first and the last activities. I went hiking in Pentland Hills Park near Edinburgh (as foreseen in my previous post). Without even having to go to Spain, my friend Robbie and I managed to participate in The Running of the Highland Bull and the Two Stupid Americans Who Got Too Close While Taking Pictures of It. It didn’t occur to us until later that we were both wearing red, a bull’s favorite color. We made sure to keep a fence between us and that bull on the return journey. Having survived that, our next plan is to visit Loch Ness and try our luck with the monster.

Following this adventure, I went on a trip to the Scottish Highlands for Innovative Learning Week. The purpose of the trip was to discuss politics and to form a public policy plan. Many people, myself included, just wanted to go to the Highlands. A night at the hostel and two meals were paid for, so we only had to purchase train and bus tickets. We stayed in the town of Callander, a small town with some great hiking trails. There were ten guys on the trip, and they placed eight of us in one room. We went out to a pub when we first arrived, although I didn’t buy anything as we were about to eat dinner. Many of the guys there were from England, although there was one guy from New York. He was telling a story about the attractive women back at NYU, and he asked if we were all heterosexual. I told him I was homosexual, and he amended his story to include the attractive men at NYU as well. None of the guys cared that I was gay. That’s one major difference I’ve found between the U.S. and Scotland. In the US, at least in Tennessee, it’s a big deal to tell someone that you are not heterosexual, even if they are perfectly accepting of you. In Scotland, telling someone your sexual orientation is about as serious as telling someone your name. I think the U.S. has a long way to go.

Having given up on politics, everyone on the trip spent our last afternoon hiking Callander. Some people went to the additional length of getting lost while hiking Callander, but I was not one of them. The train ride back was nice and seemed to be shorter than the train ride there. Prior to last week, the only trains I had ever ridden were subways in Washington, D.C. It was nice to fly past Scottish landscapes while discussing differences between the U.S. and the U.K. with someone from Bulgaria. I also learned that Bulgaria is very jealous of its neighbor to the south, Greece, who totally stole the idea of yogurt, unfairly marketing it as “Greek” and “low-fat”. I concluded Innovative Learning Week by being lazy and unproductive, increasing the difficulty of the Week of Innovatively Bashing Your Head against a Keyboard as You Attempt to Finish Essays. In fact, the latter week is still not complete. Thus, I must leave you now to attempt to force myself to work on another essay.


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