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This was a wall in the graveyard we toured. Back in the day they burned people they thought to be witches, they then used those ashes to create the motor holding these bricks together. I obviously had to touch it.

Arthur’s Seat

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This is when we climbed Arthur’s seat. The slideshow takes you from when we started our climb, all the way to the top and back down.

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As you may have been able to tell I just figured out how to post an album so here are some pictures of Edinburgh. Enjoy!

This is one of the many guys we saw playing the bagpipes. The bagpipes are also called the doodle-sack in Scotland.

Scotland!

This past weekend myself and seven of my flatmates went on a trip to Edinburgh Scotland for Niki’s birthday. We left Friday morning and arrived in Scotland around 9am. When we first got there we dropped our bags off at the hostel and immediately started our adventure to discover what Edinburgh had in store for us. We started off with a walking tour that lasted about three hours and covered pretty much the entire city, well at least the important interesting parts. We had the best tour guide I believe she was actually from Chicago and was super energetic and knowledgeable. We got to see so many cool and historical places, from the castle to the place where J.K. Rowling supposedly wrote Harry Potter. We also got to see some of the places to have inspired some of the places in the Harry Potter books. After the tour we walked around a bit more and went back to the hostel to check in. This is the first time I have stayed in a hostel and it was a lot better than I expected. It was cheap, they offered discounts for certain outings, and they had free breakfast, plus we got to meet some pretty cool people. Friday night we went out to a pub recommended by our tour guide for dinner. This is when I really immersed myself into the Scottish culture. For dinner I had chicken stuffed with haggis on a bed of mash. For those of you who don’t know haggis is made of the hear, liver, and lungs of a sheep it is then combined with oats and other spices ground and encased in the sheep’s stomach. I must say it was not that bad. We then went out and celebrated Niki’s birthday to end the night. Saturday we went on a tour of a Scotch whiskey making factory which turned out to be very educational. We then went and ate at the Elephant House, where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. The rest of the day we just relaxed and went sight seeing. That night the hostel was having a Halloween party so we decided to partake in the event and had a great night. Sunday Jeremy,Gladys, Dan (Jeremy’s mate, mate is what they call friend), and I went walking through a part of the town we hadn’t been to. After a few hours we went and explored the Edinburgh castle, which was awesome! I’m a little obsessed with castles and I have always wanted to go to one, so I had a great time. Sunday night was a relaxing night since the next day would be our last and we wanted to get out of it as much as we could. Monday Niki, Sydney, and I walked 30 minutes to Arthur’s seat and climbed it. Arthur’s seat is the largest hill that surrounds Edinburgh. It was a great hike and not the easiest I have ever done, but it was well worth the hour and a half it took. We then went to a nice little juice bar where the girls got hot chocolate and I got a smoothie. The three of us then went to the Scottish National Gallery. After a few hours of relaxing we headed off to the airport for our journey home. This past Wednesday was Halloween and it was a great experience to celebrate it here. Until next time I will leave you with this.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

 

Glaramara

Glaramara

This is the hostel we stayed in

Mountain Climber

This was at the top of our hike Sunday morning.

So nothing too exciting has happened since last post except this past weekend. School is fine, just a lot of reading. I have discovered that their Wednesday nights are like the weekend, they go crazy here. Every sports club has a party at someones flat and they are always themed. Last week for rowing it was dress like a pirate or a parrot, and they usually do things and play games surrounding theme. At about midnight everyone leaves and goes to Sports-Fed, which is at one of the clubs and all of the clubs go and interact, I have not gone. Other than that I have officially joined the climbing club and it is so much fun, I’ve even learned how to belay people. A Belayer is the guy that stand at the bottom of the wall and holds the rope and helps the climb, and makes sure they don’t fall. Friday morning Andrew, Dominique, and I left at 7 am to catch a train to London to meet up with some of the other IFSA students and staff. We then headed off to the lake district in four charter buses. The lake district is a National Park. The drive by bus is about 6 1/2 hours with a 45 min lunch break. After arriving in Keswick, which is a town in the lake district, we where split up into four hostels according to the bus you were on. Luckily we had the best hostel, we stayed at Glaramara. I roomed with Andrew, and the rooms were nice,except our view. Our view was the inside of a basement, apparently they were remodeling and adding more rooms. Each night they fed us dinner and it was delicious. The first night I had tomato and basil soup, followed by chicken with leek sauce on a bed of mash (mashed potatoes), and for desert homemade vanilla ice cream. After dinner we had a pub quiz, our name was the Pat Benatar Tactical Response Team and we did pretty well. Saturday is where the fun begins In the morning they fed us breakfast then off for a day of fun. I wen gorge scrambling in the morning, that consists of rocking climbing up a large stream in about 40 degree weather, it was a blast. I came back and had lunch, then went canoeing. The spot where we canoed was absolutely beautiful and we where out there for about four hours. I didn’t take pictures because I didn’t want to risk getting my camera wet. Back to Glaramara for dinner, this time I was a little more risky with my food choices, where I had potato and leek soup to start with then a lamb stew for the main course, and for desert homemade strawberry ice cream. I have never had lamb before but it was really good along with the soup. Saturday night they had everyone meet at our hostel for a dance party. Around midnight we were able to watch a meteor shower. Sunday morning I went on a hike and will be uploading those pictures. We headed home around noon and did not get back to our flat until 11pm. It was a long ride but well worth it.

http://www.glaramara.co.uk is the hostel we stayed at if you want to take a gander.

I will be uploading pictures soon. This weekend I’m going to Scotland!

As usual leave me a comment and I shall reply

“Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character.  Blessed is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul.” – anonymous

Cheers!

School Time…. Sort of

On Sunday, the 29th, three of us headed off to the University of Essex. The taxi ride took about an hour so Dominique and I were able to interact with the third student of our group, Andrew, who we had just met the night before.  On the ride over I learned that they are both  really into music and are probably a lot more cultured than I am. We got school, checked in, got our schedules, and received our keys to our flat. It turns out Andrew was also going to be living with us. We dropped our luggage off in our respective rooms, did a little rearranging and headed of to Tesco. Tesco is the supermarket in Colchester, but it is only a short walk from campus. The three of us decided that we would just buy everything together and split the cost. Now, I have shopped on my own many times but this, event we will call it, was pretty stressful. The store was crowded and we had no idea about what food to buy, what was good, what was cheap, nothing, so it took us about two hours to figure this place out and get a small amount of things to last us about a week. When we got back to our flat we discovered some more people had moved in. A few hours later everyone had moved in to our flat. Our flat consists of eight Americans, three English guys, an Australian, a girl from the Netherlands, and a girl from Belgium.   The flat is set up with 14 individual rooms, two toilets, two showers, and a kitchen. It is split so that there are seven people on one side and seven on the other, with a toilet and shower on each side, and the kitchen in the middle. On my side there is Dominique who is from Alaska but goes to school in Memphis, Amanda, Bethany, Steve, Niki, and Sydney, all of whom go to the same school in Chicago and are American. On the other side are the three guys from England George, Shane, and Danielle. Jeremy is from Australia, Andrew who goes to school in Nebraska, Eveline is from the Netherlands, and Gladys who is from Belgium.

Sunday night they had a social networking party at one of the clubs on campus for all of the “freshers” which are first year students and study abroad students. All of us except the guys from England went out to this party and met people and had a pretty shocking introduction to what this semester had in store for us. The first week we were here was Freshers Week and they had lots of activities planed for us. Each night there was a different themed party and during the day there were various things for us to do or we could just hang out in our flat. Some of us went to some of the informational sessions and learned some things but for the most part we all hung out in the flat. Thursday was the day when we went to class registration and were able to add or drop classes. I have learned since I’ve been here that a lot of their events are not very well organized or set up. I did not get my class schedule done because the History department was not there so, I couldn’t sign up for one of their classes nor did the Sociology department offer any help.Finally on the following Monday I got all my classes sorted out. It turns out that I do not have class on Mondays or Fridays, so I have lots of time to travel. Saturday was Freshers Fair. This consisted of all of the sports clubs, student clubs,and some businesses having tables and coths set up in the quares. I have decided that I will be joining the Rowing Club, the Climbing Club, and the Sociology Club.  Dominique, Andrew, Jeremy, Gladys, Niki, Bethany, Sydney, Amanda, Eveline, and I all decided to join the gym on campus, and it is one of the best gyms I’ve seen. From now own I may refer to us as the group, which consists of the people stated in the previous sentence, because we are usually the ones hanging out. We tend to eat dinner together and go out together.  That night following the freshers fair we went into Colchester for a few hours to a few pubs.

Monday is the day it all begins, well for most of my flat mates. Tuesday I had my first class and it went really well. All of my classes seem like they should be fun and interesting, especially my Chinese History course. Seeing as it was only the first week of classes and they were only intro classes I won’t really know how they will be until next week. Nothing else to exciting happened during the week. Today is Eveline’s birthday so last night she made all of us dinner. I know we should have made her dinner but she insisted. Her boyfriend came in on Thursday and is staying until Monday so she had his help in cooking. She made us pasta and salad, and it was delicious! After dinner we decided to take her to the Student Union pub on campus for a night out. We didn’t stay out to long because Eveline had plans on going to the zoo today. So at the moment we are waiting for her to return so that we can celebrate her actually birthday tonight.

Every week we go out to a restaurant on campus called Frangos as a “family”. Next weekend Dominique, Andrew, and I are going on a trip to the Lake District for Adventure weekend. It is a trip that was put together by the IFSA staff, IFSA is the program that I came through, we leave Friday morning and Saturday and Sunday are filled with activities for us to do. Niki’s birthday is the 26th of October and the group is going to Scotland for the weekend for her birthday. Those are some things you have to look forward to in future posts.

If you have any questions or anything ask me and I will happily answer. Also if you would like to send me packages, letters, postcards, anything that would be awesome. Just let me know and I shall give you my address.

Until next time, here is one of my favorite quotes.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson