Oh boy have I been gone a while. Before I get into how mentally exhausting abroad can be if you’re living with mental illnesses, I wanna pump up this blog with a couple fun, exciting things I’ve done while in Scotland.
Firstly, I ventured to the Highlands with my study abroad group from IFSA-Butler and traveled to the emerald greens of hidden waterfalls to the rocky mountains up north. I discovered what whiskey smells like while distilling, and how it blackens the trees in contrast to the white of the stony factory. I watched a shepherd hand-sheer a sheep with the little squad of sheepdogs parading around him like puppies ready to pounce on each other.
Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler
I recently visited Inverness and the Scottish Highlands thanks to a group trip sponsored by IFSA Butler. We left on Friday morning and drove about an hour and a half to our first stop, a sheepdog farm. We arrived to roughly 10 dogs and two fairly young puppies running and playing. Immediately we began petting and holding the dogs, which were more interested in playing with each other than us. The man who owns the farm gave a presentation about how to train the dogs, what their job is in regard to the sheep, and the sheepdog system. The dogs demonstrated their skills and rounded up several sheep. The man grabbed one and began shearing it. I was lucky enough to get to help him shear the sheep. The wool is very thick and rough and the technique of shearing sheep is simple: hold them and cut their wool with thick scissors. After this demonstration was complete, he showed us puppies only 12 days old! They were adorable and I debated putting one in my purse to bring back to Edinburgh!
Our next stop was to go on a tour of a Glenlivet whisky distillery. It was neat to see the process that goes into making the whisky. Our tour guide told us they were selling a bottle that had been aged for 50 years for 18,000 pounds!! At the end of the tour we tried a sample, which was strong and not my favorite, but was worth trying nonetheless.
The next day we went to Dunrobin Castle, which was beautiful. Parts of the castle were built in the 1200s. It was fully furnished and helped us get an idea of what life in the castle would have been like. While we were there we saw a falconry display. The demonstration included a hawk, an owl, and a falcon. The birds soared over our heads and came so close to us that we sometimes had to duck our heads to get out of the way!
Next we went to the Culloden Battlefield, where the British army defeated the Highland clans in 1746. The markers and monuments gave us an idea of the significance of the battle to Scottish history. This was the last battle to take place on Scottish soil.
The final day we drove to Loch Ness, where I tried to spot Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately she did not want to be seen, but the views were great regardless.
Our final activity was driving through Glencoe, an area of the Highlands with picturesque views of the hills and mountains. We were lucky on the weather, as it was sunny and moderately cool all weekend, which helped make the views even better.
Our trip to Inverness and the Highlands was a great experience and I got to see parts of the country I might not have otherwise been able to visit. While Inverness is a fairly small town with not too much to do, the surrounding areas were full of history and culture, which I enjoyed. This trip provided some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in Scotland thus far.