Leaving America and Arriving in Aberdeen

By Allie Todd, Incoming International Exchange Student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

My name is Allie and I am a 20 year old student from North Carolina studying at the University of Aberdeen this semester. I am majoring in journalism with a minor in sociology from my home university, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I have always loved to write and take pictures since I was a little girl, even starting my own blog last year. Combining these loves of mine in combination with travel, this semester I will be maintaining a travel blog about all of my adventures overseas. My goal with this travel blog is to shed some light on what it is really like to be an American studying in this beautiful, foreign country.

I completed my first solo international airplane travel! My parents, Conor and I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and rode from Sylva to Atlanta so I could catch my first flight. Saying goodbye to them in the airport was really hard to do, knowing that I won’t see them for 5 months hit me then. The plane ride from Atlanta to Boston was simple and I slept a little bit with my comfy neck pillow! When I got to Boston, I had an 8 hour layover in which I did not want to sit in the airport by myself for that long. So, I took a water taxi out of the airport and into the harbor where I walked around the city, went to the aquarium and then ate at a decent restaurant by myself. I really like exploring new cities by myself because I can go and do whatever I want to! After my exploring Boston, it was time to head back to the airport.

This time the plane ride was about 8 hours overnight and landed in Paris. I could not sleep on the plane at all, people were too loud and light kept seeping into my eye mask. When I landed in Paris, it was 8 a.m. French time but only 2 a.m. in the timezone I was used to. So least to say, I was exhausted. I just had one flight to go! The flight to Aberdeen, Scotland was very short and sweet. Flying over Scotland was BEAUTIFUL, I almost started to cry. I was looking out the window and I was overcome with exhaustion and appreciation for the land I was about to live in. It looked so green and straight out of a fairy tale.

At this point is also when my nerves kicked in. I suddenly realized that this was not America and this was where I was going to be living for the next five months. It was such a surreal feeling and so full of excitement and awe I got off my plane.

Immediately I felt so at home! Everyone was so nice to me and they welcomed me with open arms. I met two girls from my program randomly at the airport and we shared a taxi to our school together. The weird thing was how they drive on the other side of the road, oh and, they drive ridiculously fast here down narrow cobblestone roads. It took my breath away at first and while I was a little scared for my life, it was very cool to see the city I was staying in for the first time.

I moved into my room and finally went to the store! The Scottish store was severely overwhelming – everything from finding what I need to paying for my items was a little bit different. Luckily, I had my new American friend (Hattie) with me to help me out with everything. After we spent so long at the store and found our way back home (we got lost and had to walk so long with all of our grocery items which SUCKED) we adventured out to find some dinner! Hattie and I walked to a local bar and restaurant called The Bobbin and both ate some vegetarian burgers and sipped on an apple cider. We both experienced being of legal drinking age for the first time and that is so weird!! The way alcohol is approached here is very different than it is the US. It is way less taboo here and almost respected more.

Today, 1/6/2019, was the first day that I got to really explore! I was exhausted and jet lagged so I did not wake up until 12:15 p.m. Scottish time and then Hattie and I took a bus into the city to get new SIM cards and explore the Granite City. The city is so grey and magical it looks beautiful and old, something I am not that used to seeing. We also enjoyed drinks and Thai food downtown in the most beautiful restaurant I have ever been to.

I have learned a lot in my 3 days of traveling and exploring. I learned that I really do not know as much as I think I do – I am not that good at using maps, or buses, or understanding anything other than American English. But I also learned that I am good at problem solving, good at talking to people, and good at being by myself. I am so excited for the weeks to come and all of the new things I will learn.

Thank you for sticking with me!! Safe travels 🙂

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