Archive for February, 2012

In the true spirit of an American Tourist I spent my first full weekend in Scotland exploring the historic elements of Stirling. Our first stop was the Stirling Castle located on a hill overlooking the town. The castle is absolutely beautiful but also large. When we arrived the sky looked very overcast and gloomy and only got worse from there. Owing to the fact that gust of snowy cold air swirled about the hill we did not stay to look over all aspects of the castle. Yet, what we did see was extremely interesting and definitely not something one could find in the US. I would encourage everyone, if given the chance, to visit it. However, plan for the castle to consume your whole day. The cemeteries surrounding the castle are intriguing enough for a solid few hours all by themselves.

On Sunday a friend and I decided to join the campus Nature Society on a hike/walk from Stirling Campus to Dun Blane about a 5 mile walk. The path followed an old road called The Darn Road thought to have been used by Romans when the country was just beginning.

The walk was quite long but also very enjoyable. But, as I am beginning to learn, Scotland is full of mud. I’m glad that I decided to bring a good pair of tennis shoes with high soles as a large amount of the mud was kept at bay. Luckily a large amount of the path was still frozen (I’ve never been so happy to see frozen mud!).

The views were phenomenal though! It was a great way to see the Scottish countryside. The trees and fields are so beautiful. We rested a bit by the edge of a stream while the sun was shining. After the walk we rode the train back to Stirling. It was the first time I’d ever been on a train and was an experience attempting to gain tickets from the terminals electronic ticket machine. All in all the weekend was well spent literally traipsing the Scottish countryside!

Does Scotland Not Have Bugs?

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

An interesting thing about living in Scotland is the complete lack of screens in the windows. Even on the fourth and fifth floors of the buildings the windows open out into the open air. As a native of the land of the mosquitoes, I cannot help but wonder do they not have bugs? Even when closed the windows feel as if made of paper they keep so little sound out. And yet, the scariest of all of is that we are warned not to leave our windows open when we are not in our rooms because the squirrels will come in and eat your food. Surprisingly enough, the idea of coming back to find squirrels in my room is not near as scary as the idea of all of my food being gone! The work of cooking for oneself without benefit of fridge space or freezer has been a most worthy adversary!

The Journey Beginning

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

After several failed attempts, and many frustrated appointments with IT I finally have internet! We arrived at Edinburgh Airport early Saturday morning. We had made the flight from Amsterdam (our initial layover from Minneapolis) along with four fellow international students at Stirling. Brecken and Brett from Wisconsin and two girls from South Carolina. We took a taxi directly to Stirling from the airport with Brett and the South Carolina girls. The trip was fairly quiet as we spent most of the trip looking at the new Scottish countryside.

Housing on campus has been a rather large disappointment. All the internationals students have been compiled into one single wing of the campus’ worst dorm, normally intended for freshmen. As we were all expecting to be in flats mixed between international students and locals. Yet, we are all crammed together in unsatisfactory conditions. The dorms are hallways of single rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens among the floor. It is difficult to make friends when so isolated. This has caused many of the different nationalities to form groups among themselves (a natural reaction to such anti-integration by the University’s housing). Housing has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome here.

Classes began today in full. I had but one lecture which is an average day of study. Surprisingly the streets are very alive for weekdays. Many of the Scottish students go to clubs during the week and go home on the weekends. This is very in reverse of American college were we anticipate the weekend rather than the weeknights.

So far Scotland has been an interesting, and often frustrating, experience. But, the school year has yet to begin so the are more adventures to be had!