Innovative Learning Week or Impulsive Lap around the World?
Last week the students at the University of Edinburgh had something called “Innovative Learning Week”. No class is scheduled this week and students are encouraged to participate in hands-on activities intended help connect the community and bring students and staff together. Unfortunately for the administration, but fortunately for us, most students have interpreted this week as an opportunity to leave Edinburgh and explore the world.
Nine days with no essentially no obligations is something we may never experience again, thus my friends and I needed to take full advantage and visit many cities as we could into this week.
The adventure began with a train ride from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station to London’s King Cross, famously nicknamed the Harry Potter train as it follows a similar route believed to be taken from London to Hogwarts (but of course we were riding in the opposite direction). The beauty of the Scottish and English countryside during sunset is unparalleled – it’s no wonder J.K. Rowling chose such a location for her novels.
After passing several days being tourists in London, we embarked on a flight to Copenhagen, Denmark at the crack of dawn. The air was biting but that didn’t get us down. Attempting to blend with the locals, we decided to rent bikes and explored the city on two wheels rather that two feet. We hit all the big sites including Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid statue, Glass Market, Christiania, and of course indulged in some chocolate covered waffles on a stick – apparently a Danish (or tourist) favorite.
Onto our final stop: Madrid, Spain. After spending the week in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, the 50 degree weather of Spain felt like a heat wave. We found ourselves sweating and realized that we had forgotten what warm sunlight felt like. We couldn’t be happier as we sat down to an outdoor lunch of tapas and sangria in Plaza Mayor. There were far fewer English speakers in Madrid than I expected, putting my Spanish skills to a real test.
While in Spain, I was able to reconnect with Maria, a Spanish exchange student I hosted back in 2011. Seeing her again after all these years was an incredible feeling and it was so great to see how, even though five years had passed we were over 3,000 miles apart, we were still able to connect and catch up on our lives. It’s amazing how these abroad experiences can bring people all over the world together again.
Sunday marked our return to Edinburgh, and even though we had an unforgettable week, we were so happy to return to a place that we can call home.