Update #4

It has been way too long since I updated this, but it has been a long few weeks of paper writing and finals.  This will probably be one of my last entries from the UK, but I am debating whether or not to continue these, even if it isn’t on this particular site.  I am surprised how much I have enjoyed writing these.  So, now for updates.

Since I last wrote, I took a day trip to the Highlands with Rachel and Frida.  It was awesome!  It was through a tour company called “Hairy Coo Tours” that gives you a full day trip and, at the end, you pay what you think it is worth.  We went to so many beautiful places including Loch Katrine and the small town of Callander.  My day started at 5 am when I woke up to catch the 6 am bus (where I met a still drunk Scotsman who was talking to me and I didn’t understand him because of his accent and slurring of speech, so I just nodded and laughed) and then a train that would get me to Edinburgh by 8 am where the tour started.  From Edinburgh, the tour first stopped at the Firth of Forth to see the bridges, one of which is still functioning after over 100 years.  After that we went to Stirling where we saw the Wallace Memorial, but it was too foggy to see Stirling Castle, so we saved that for the trip back to Edinburgh at the end.  Wallace Memorial was cool, although we didn’t pay the fee to really explore the inside, but it was cool to look at through the fog.  The walk up was tough though because it was up a steep hill and it had snowed, so our feet were frozen by the time we reached the top.  It was worth it though.  From Stirling we went to Doune Castle, the site where “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was filmed.  Again, we didn’t really get to explore the inside, but it was cool to see and take a picture with the coconuts provided by the tour company.  I also got gifts for my dad there, although I won’t list them here in case he is reading this.  From there we went to Callander for lunch.  It was a cute little town and Frida, Rachel, and I got soup and half a sandwich each, just what the doctor ordered on such a cold day.  Callander is the home to award winning bathrooms, or loos, and they have the certificates to show it.  After that, we were ready to see the Hairy Coos, or Cows, that the tour company is named after and the bus (a vintage named Irene) is designed to look like.  They were really cute and I got lots of pictures as others fed them Tesco Value bread.  From the Highland Cows, we went to Loch Katrine, one of the prettiest stops on our trip.  Honestly, it was gorgeous.  On the way back we made a quick stop at the Lake of Menteith to break up the long drive back.  From there, we made a quick stop to take a picture of Stirling Castle before we ended the trip in Edinburgh.  The whole trip was awesome and came with a running history lesson about Scottish Independence and the errors of Braveheart, as well as information about famous Scots.  After the tour, Rachel, Frida, and I walked around the German Christmas market and fair in Edinburgh.  After that it was time to go back to St Andrews.  It wasn’t as simple as it should have been since Rachel and Frida had to rush off to catch their bus before I realized that buses to St Andrews weren’t coming to the bus station, so I had to ask where the new stop was.  I was given questionable directions by one of the station workers, found a bus that I thought would take me, but was told I had to catch a different one, and had to wait another hour before catching the second-to-last bus of the night.  Still, even though I got back around 10:30 pm, it was totally worth it.

Since then, I have been pretty preoccupied with finals.  I had one this past Tuesday (12/11) for my Nationalism and Unionism in Modern Scotland class.  I was really nervous for this one because I did not feel as comfortable with the material, but I think it went pretty well.  The format for exams here is that they give you 9 essay questions and you choose 3 to write in 3 hours.  Not so bad, although it is weird to be in a huge hall with several other classes taking different exams.  After the exam, most of my class and I went to the pub to celebrate, since most of them were done with exams.  It was really nice to hang out with them outside of class and get to know them better.  What I thought would only be 1 or 2 hours, ended up being 5 and a half hours.  After the pub we grabbed fish and chips for dinner and Abby, Erica, Leah, and I (all JSAs from my class) snuck into the St Andrews Castle ruins and looked at the stars and the water.  While it was probably not legal, it is definitely one of the memories I will cherish from Study Abroad and is the only real “college experience” that I feel like I have had so far here.

On Monday morning is my next and final exam for my American Metropolis class.  While I definitely feel stronger in this class, I am still nervous for the exam since, for both classes, the exams are worth 60% of my grade.  I am just a little nervous about doing well since I didn’t do as well as I wanted on my last essay.  I think it should be okay though.  My family is coming a week from yesterday (technically since it is early in the morning today) and, with their arrival, will be the end of my Semester Abroad.  I will probably write at least one more entry about a trip I hope to take reflecting on the whole experience, but, for now, I can honestly say that I am sad for it to end, but excited to get back.  Something I forgot to include before, is that, when I get back, I will be the Chair of Stimulus Children’s Theatre and I am working on both Winter TAC-e shows.  I am so excited about that.  I guess I will end it there.  Once my exam is over and I, hopefully, take my literary themed trip, I will write what may be my final entry.