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

Isle of Skye

Time 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.

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Travel Fun

Time April 24th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, England | No Comments by

Greetings from Edinburgh and a cozy hobbit-hole home that’s outfitted like a mansion. The next few posts might be a bit out of order in terms of temporal progression; I’ve been doing a bit of travel, and things tend to get mixed up along the way. That’s a good sign. It means I’ve been having fun.

Now, it was last Friday that my parents came to visit. I’d been expecting the visit and looking forward to it, for the simple reason that I am a very, very tactile creature and there is a necessary adaptation period before you can hug your new friends without it being awkward. No such barrier exists among family; my parents have gotten many, many hugs over the last few days. It’s been very nice traveling across the U.K. with them in a car (the first time I’ve been in a car in three months, in fact), staying at places that range from a ridiculously massive and swanky hotel by the Thames in London to a tiny little inn out in Partney, Nowhere. All of the experiences have been great, especially since I’m not the one paying. Of course, not every piece of traveling with parents is ideal. After three months of setting my own schedule and not having to rely on or wait on anyone else for my plans, being just along for the ride is a bit jarring. Getting told what to do after a time of essentially making your way in life alone takes some getting used to. I imagine this is one of these things that’s more or less tolerable depending on the sort of person you are, and the sort of relationship you have with your family. I’m lucky – as long as I have a book, I don’t really mind what it is we’re up to. And the things we’ve gotten up to while traveling are well worth any small frustrating. Read More »

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UK Travels

Time 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 »

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Argyll Blog

Time 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.”

 

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Halfway Point

Time 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 »

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Trains, Planes, and Buses that Depart at 2 AM

Time March 29th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Wales | 1 Comment by

Spring has sprung! And Cardiff is filled with blooming daffodils that are literally everywhere. Each day that I run through Bute Park (gotta counteract all of those Welsh cakes) brings more and more of the bright yellow flowers that are sprouting up everywhere. I’m pretty convinced that by the end of the month I won’t be able to see grass anymore, just daffodils. Speaking of the end of the month, it’s March. Who would have though I’d have made it this far?

Anyways; it’s March, my hair has gotten longer, I’ve turned in three essays, I’ve learned how to make a proper meal, and I’ve gotten to season six of Gilmore Girls. And if you have any intentions of watching Gilmore Girls sans spoilers I suggest that you stop reading this now because I am about to spoil the ending of season five, and I’m deeply sorry for any pain this may cause. Rory is leaving Yale. She’s dropping out. She’s having an existential crisis, doesn’t know what she wants out of life, and is making rash decisions that will have pretty big repercussions in her life.

So you’re probably thinking, Alex, why are you writing about Gilmore Girls? Well I’ll tell you: watching her make these big, monumental decisions made me feel some sort of solidarity with her. Not that I’m dropping out of Drake, or Cardiff, or moving into my grandparents’ pool house, but I’m reaching the point in my semester where I’m questioning what I want out of my time here, and if I’m getting it. I’ve blinked and suddenly I’m halfway done with my time here. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m realizing one distinct fact: four months is not enough time abroad.

I remember my first week here—I was so sick, which made me homesick, which made me wonder what I had gotten myself into. I remember talking to my mom about how many of my friends who went abroad for j-term were just getting home and getting ready to go back to Drake for the semester. I asked her, “Should I have just done that?” She told me no, I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t have a whole semester.

Mom, I know you’re reading this and so I’m just going to encourage you to refrain from jumping up and down with glee as I write these three words: you were right. A j-term simply wouldn’t have been enough time. It wouldn’t have given me a chance to get homesick every now and again, to struggle through the tough days where everything seems unfamiliar, and to learn how to be on my own. All of which aren’t always pleasant experiences, but what self-growth comes from easy days and familiarity? A j-term also wouldn’t have been enough time to travel everywhere I want, to see all of the sights that are on my bucket list (which seems to get longer and longer every time I go to cross something off), and to make the friendships that I’m finding myself surrounded by. I’m not even sure four months is enough for all of those things even with every weekend jam-packed with travelling like mine have been, which I will now segue into describing.

The other weekend I left my cozy room in Cardiff to head to the lovely town of Lucerne, Switzerland—a place I fell in love with completely. It was one of those places that make you say “I have to come back here someday.” It had all of my favorite things—mountains, a lake, and really great cheese. The weekend was magical for many reasons, but there are two things in particular that I will probably always think back on with a smile when I reminisce on my trip to Switz: Fasnacht and Mount Rigi.

Fasnacht taught me something about the Swiss people—they are doing something right. It’s a carnival that runs from Thursday to Tuesday right before Ash Wednesday that’s dedicated to eating, drinking, and dressing up in elaborate costumes that put my 20 years of Halloween outfits to shame. Confetti covers the streets where marching bands parade up and down playing music all throughout the night (and at 5:30 on Monday morning because apparently that’s part of the tradition too). Food trucks are everywhere with grilled sausages, raclette cheese, and warm wine. There were people of all ages, all adorned in costumes, and all seemingly having a wonderful time. It was amazing. It was filled with joy, and I consider myself to be so incredibly lucky that my one weekend in Switzerland fell over this carnival.

fasnacht

But it gets better. Ever heard of the Swiss Alps? That was a joke I’m sure you have. Have you ever seen them from across a sparkling lake on a sunny day? I’m bragging now but Katie, Annelise, and I hiked up Mount Rigi and had lunch on a grassy hill with a view that can only be described as a glimpse of heaven. I’m pretty sure I heard the hallelujah chorus to Handel’s “Messiah” as I took a bite out of my prosciutto sandwich.

swiss

My final note on Switzerland is the inspiration for this blogs title “Trains, Planes, and Buses that Depart at 2 AM.” I’ve decided that when I’m old and rich and much less spry I am always going to get the most direct mode of transportation everywhere I go. And I say this because Katie and I left our flats at 2 AM to catch our first bus, which took us to London. After, we took a second bus to get us to the airport. We flew. We landed in Zurich, late, and had to find our way through a Swiss train station and figure out how on earth to get to Lucerne. Our trip took 15 hours. That’s all that needs to be said on that.

Another trip that took half a day (literally 12 hours on a bus) was my journey to Scotland. Riley and I left our flat at 6:30 AM and were on a bus for pretty much the rest of the day. We ate dinner that night at a place called “The Boozy Cow” and were so hungry I think we both finished our burgers in under four minutes. On Saturday we went on an all day tour through the highlands, saw loch ness (the lake not the monster), and met a few other girls who were also travelling. We went out with them that night and on a walking tour through Edinburgh with them the following day. Then it was back on a bus for 12 hours, but Scotland was beautiful and the trip was so worth it.

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In between Scotland and Switzerland was a weekend trip to Lake District, England planned by IFSA-Butler. The food was delicious, there were mountains abound, we went Ghyll Scrambling, and most of all: it was a trip that I didn’t have to plan a single thing for. I was told when and where to be places and all I had to do was show up and enjoy the weekend, which feels like paradise after a weekend of navigating a 15-hour long puzzle of transportation.

ghyll ld

So I’m at this point in the semester where I’m halfway through and I’m wondering what I want out of my time here, and if I’m getting it. And here’s the answer: I don’t know what I want out of it anymore, but I’m getting something. When I first signed up to come abroad I thought it was going to be all adventures and wild stories but I’m finding it to be more of an educational experience than anything. I’m learning how to travel, how to interact with people who have had completely different upbringings than myself, and I’m learning what I like and what I don’t like. I’ve learned how to travel independently, how to cook a meal, and, thanks to my flat mate Katie, how to say the longest Welsh city, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

So you stuck with me through this odyssey of a post and another small glimpse of my time abroad. Enough realizations about life and such for now—I’m off to go eat more Welsh cakes.
Cheers,

Alex

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Adventure in the Argyll Forest with IFSA Scotland

Time 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 »

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Argyll Forest Weekend

Time 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 »

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Finding Nessie: A Trip to Inverness

Time March 7th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by

Inverness

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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.

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Glasgow Makes Grocery Shopping Exciting: My Walk to Tesco

Time 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.

Dove

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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.

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Home-stay Weekend

Time 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.

pic_10211070 pickles the cat Read More »

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How I Kept Cool Before Studying Abroad

Time 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.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-52-39-pm Read More »

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People of Glasgow: Hannah

Time January 30th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by

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Discovering Scotland by Night

Time 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.

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My First Week

Time 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.

16114442_1351103798243184_1814365309122428851_n 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.

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Pre-Departure Jitters

Time 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!

 

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Pre-Departure Video Blog

Time January 9th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by

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Home

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 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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Casey Finds a Cache

Time November 14th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Wales | No Comments by

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past two weeks, it’s this: if you ever want to see a part of the world—and really see it, like the locals and tourists see it—open up your geocaching app and start walking.

Cork in Ireland, Fort William, Glencoe, and Glasgow in Scotland, and soon to be Cardiff in Wales, would not have been as interesting if it weren’t for the geocaches along the way. The different caches hidden around these cities and villages tend to have a little description about the place they are hidden in, and that little description is usually pretty interesting to the wannabe queen of quirky fun facts (hey, that’s me!). For example, did you know there’s a clock tower in Cork that is called the Four Faced Liar because each of the four faces on their respective sides tell a slightly different time until the hour hits and they all read the hour correctly?? Or that the “fort” in Fort William wasn’t completely destroyed during a war or battle like most castles and forts were, but by a train company in 1894, temporarily turning the fort into a rail yard?? I didn’t think so.

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As you can see, some of the tidbits of information are a little more historical than others. Sometimes the information about the location of the cache is a memory of the person who hid the cache. Other times the descriptions are blank or don’t have any fun facts, just hints. It’s still fun looking around the area each one is hidden in. Some caches are teeny tiny, only big enough to fit a log for you to sign, while others are huge and hold neat little treasures to trade in and out.


If you haven’t been geocaching, or don’t know what it is, you totally should, especially if you want to know more about the town you’re living in! Even if you just want to pretend your Nicholas Cage, hunting for your own little National Treasure (like me), that’s cool, too! For all my E&H friends back home, there are a couple by Emory that are fun, quick finds—I’d totally recommend it.I’m looking forward to finding more geocaches in more of the places I plan on traveling to. It really has been the best way to find all of the best spots in town. Give it a try—you might just find a new hobby, too!

I’m off to find my next cache! Wish me luck!

Want to know more about me? More about my adventure? More in general? Check out my travel blog “Casey in Cardiff” by clicking here or typing the following into your browser: www.caseyincardiff.weebly.com
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Some Highland Adventures

Time October 31st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, College Study Abroad, LGBTQ Correspondents, Scotland | No Comments by

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.

Read More »

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First Week and Adjusting

Time September 19th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, LGBTQ Correspondents, Scotland | No Comments by

I’ve been in Scotland since 31 August and I’m already feeling like I can carve my name someplace, somehow. The homesickness didn’t really register to me until literally right after I gave my mom a hug goodbye and rolled my way past security check points at the airport. Everyone else (students, travelers, young adventurers) seemed to be fine with leaving, laughing and chatting with each other like the friends they’ve made on the airplane were people they’ve known for years and years. I sort of envied them, especially as I couldn’t seem to stop crying until a week had past since the plane landed in Edinburgh. I’m not a huge crier and couldn’t remember the last time I had actually felt tears before, but being away from home, and remembering how my mother, usually stoic and not privy to painful emotion, cried against my shoulder before I had to let her go.

I didn’t come out to my mother that day, or the next, or the next day after that. It seemed inconvenient in a whirlwind of new sights and sounds. I felt more vulnerable than I had ever been before, and while people around me were fresh to exploring and shopping all I thought about was how I knew I couldn’t let my depression and anxiety overcome me like it did my freshman and sophomore years of college.

Perhaps it was because I felt far too alone in a place that felt vaguely familiar, but had the blaring cultural differences when looking up close. Once I arrived in Glasgow, after staying with a host family, and settling into my day to day life, I was able to feel more balanced. Glasgow would be my home for the next four months, and I already seemed to enjoy staying here than anyplace else that my abroad program showed us. I could finally unpack my suitcase, and unpack some emotion, in a quiet room by myself. Once I was able to make my room my own, and meet my new flat-mates in our hall, I felt more secure. As of today I feel much better than the day I arrived, jet-lagged, in Scotland, and I know that even better days will be ahead.

Once I actually befriended people, both Scottish people and other exchange students, I felt safer in my travels. There were things to do and sights to see, but I never forget the times, while walking home with a new friend, of talking about our families and how we missed them, even when we came from vastly different places. It made me wonder if the people, so outgoing the first day we arrived, we also battling with homesickness, vulnerability, anxiety, or general stress of what would be a genuinely exciting and worthwhile experience.

If you’re queer like me and/or someone who might feel vulnerable in the beginning days when abroad, make sure to book a therapy appointment prior to boarding your plane. It will take so much stress off of you, as it did me, when understanding there is a safety net for days when identity and other disorders could get the best of you.

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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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