By Allie Todd, Incoming International Exchange Student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Usually the phrase is, “the good, the bad and the ugly.” However, I haven’t really had any bad or ugly experiences here so I switched the phrase up a little to work in my favor. I have settled in a lot over the past couple of days and this post is less a day to day account of my activities but more like an overview of the things I have seen and experiences so far – so here goes nothing!
So many things here are so wonderful, starting with the people! The Scottish people have been so welcoming to me and my fellow classmates, always giving me directions and staying patient when I simply do not understand something. A part from the Scottish people being absolutely amazing, the other international students here are too! It is amazing how fast you get comfortable and close to strangers when trying to navigate a foreign land together. I came to this country not knowing a single person and have found it very easy to make friends with people just like me! For example, the past two days I have explored the entire city with Hattie and Amanda and felt like we have all been friends for years. Learning a new city along with a new country is a lot easier when you have good people by your side to do it with.
Another wonderful thing about this place is how beautiful it is. It honestly feels like I was dropped into the middle of a mid-18th century oil painting. Everything here is so old with different architecture than I am used to. With the grey stone mixed with the blue skies and bright green grass it is hard to not get swept away in the magic of it all. Along with an oil painting it also reminds me of a Disney movie, where everything just has a little bit of extra sparkle to it.
The last “good” thing that I want to tell everyone is how easy it has been to adjust. While this city is older and not as fast paced as New York or LA may be, it is easy to dive right into everything around you. The school, city center and every place in between are so accessible by foot or bus and it never feels scary or unsafe. I was worried that I was going to need a few days by myself to adjust to the time zone, the culture, the slight language differences and everything else but this is a place where they allow you to learn as you go. No one expects you to know every single thing, and that has been very refreshing to me.
Well, I am not in America anymore so obviously a lot of things are different. Starting with the bathroom! Everything in Scotland is a lot more eco-friendly than back home, and the showers at school are the push to start the water kind that only run for about 30 seconds until you have to push the button again. The first time I got in the shower I quickly learned that if you forget to push the button, you will be cold, wet and without clothes when the water stops rather quickly. This is something I am still getting used to.
The food is different! I am recently vegetarian if you did not know, and Scotland is very vegetarian friendly but it is a little bit different than America. One of my favorite foods is scrambled eggs, so when I kept seeing “egg roll” or “egg on toast” for breakfast, I got excited! However, little did I know that no place is offering a scrambled type egg – it is all fried eggs. When I ordered this, I tried it because I was starving! But, let’s just say it isn’t for me and I will sorely miss scrambled eggs!
Traveling! Traveling in the states or from the US to different countries is SO expensive. It was $150 round way plane ticket from Raleigh to New York City in the fall. But Europe is so different! I can take a plane to Ireland for about $15, or even to Paris or Amsterdam for a little bit more. So many countries, cities, towns, castles, and literally everything else are so accessible to me here and I cannot wait to take full advantage of that!
I could honestly go on and on about all the things that are different in Scotland and Europe but I will save you the trouble. I did learn, however, that different rarely means bad. Different means learning, growing and exploring. I am very excited for all of the different things that are going to come my way in the next 5 months!
Okay so, when I first announced to my friends and family that I wanted to go abroad to Scotland, the first thing I heard was how I was going to hate the weather. “It’s so cold, it’s so rainy, it’s so dark, it’s so drab!” While I do appreciate all of the heads up about the different climate, I am very glad that I did not let the weather scare me off! The weather isn’t that different from NC in the winter. It is a tiny bit colder and more windy but it isn’t near as bad as I was expecting! It gets light outside about 8:30/9:00 a.m. and then there is a beautiful “sunrise” at about 11:00 a.m.! Part of the day’s have been a little cloudy but I have seen the beautiful sun every single day since I have been here! And it has only rained at night so far! The sunsets a little earlier than back home (about 4:30 p.m.) but each day I get a little more light! And the sunsets are BEAUTIFUL each day! The clouds turn such a pretty golden color and it amazes me every single time.
It hits the granite buildings in such a magical way that it actually stops me in my tracks. So, while the weather might be described as “ugly”, I am actually really enjoying it! The sky is beautiful all day long and the sun setting a little earlier isn’t a problem for me, especially when I know that in the spring it will be light for so long! The weather technically falls under the “different” category but I thought it deserved its own since a lot of people have asked me about the weather since I have gotten here!
I know that my last blog was a lot about what exactly I have been doing and this one was a little different but there is a reason for that! Since I have gotten here I have done more things to settle in and get ready for term to start rather than go out and do super exciting things. And while exploring the city is very exciting to me, there is only so much I can write about. This weekend, Hattie, Amanda and I are taking a trip to the coast to explore a castle and Stone Haven village so that will be a very memorable trip that will deserve its own post so look out for my next update!! Thank you all for reading!
Safe travels! 🙂