Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 22... Edinburgh

September 22
Things to do in Edinburgh:
1. Scour the castle
2. Bask in the Cafe that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter (the second Bible)
3. Find the cemetery where names from Harry Potter are located
Today we set off on a small adventure to the town of Edinburgh just a short bus ride from Glasgow. The list from above is what I wanted to accomplish. I did the first two but will have to return to finish the second. The city was hosting a rally for the National Party of Scotland. There is a big debate going on whether Scotland should remain a part of the UK or become its own governing country. The rally was interesting to see, there were people waving flags gathered around listening to the leader of the Nationalists party. The castle of Edinburgh sits at the top of a hill type structure and you can see in every direction. Apparently, the castle is still a military base with soldiers and a governor residing in a few buildings. Today there was also a wedding taking in place in the small chapel. Edinburgh is similar to Glasgow but much more touristy. The next time that I go to the city, I think that I will plan better on what I want to do. There is a lot of interesting things to do and see in the city but I was so set on going to my mecca, the place where JK wrote, that I probably missed out on a lot. I guess that planning ahead is  going to be a good tool to keep in mind when traveling through out the rest of the term. The pictures below do a better job at describing than I do, so, enjoy.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day 18, 19, 20, and 21... Classes

September 18-21st
Unproductivity has settled in early for the semester, seeing as how I just started Monday. But in my defense, one of my classes doesn't start till October and the other has been cancelled for Friday and Monday. So, some of you may ask what I am doing with my free time. Well, the park and I have bonded after several runs and walks through. I did get my laundry done finally (pictures below), and I have officially finished every episode of Friends, not since I have been here but over about a year's span of time. Also this week I had meetings for the University newspaper and magazine. In each of the meetings I was informed that my skill level can be minimal and they will pay for any concert for me to go to and review. So when Bon Iver comes to Glasgow looks like I will be going on the University. A blast from the past, volleyball tryouts. Yes, this week I had tryouts for the University Club team. I had my tryout during the first session, the coach asked me to stay for the second session and now I have been asked back for another this coming week. I don't know if that is a good thing or what. Hopefully, I will impress them enough to make one of the two teams, they get some pretty sweet gear (sweatshirts and sweat pants, jerseys, and free pints after practice). The girls that were on the team last year are competitive but not super intense, it is similar to D3 spots in the US, I think. I am still waiting to get my books in the mail so I can't even start my homework and now that Friends is over I have moved on to British television, Sherlock Holmes. My photography class started on Wednesday. My class immediately before it is on the main campus from 1-2 and then Photography is about a mile and a half away toward city center at 2. I ran done the street for a bit and then hailed down a taxi for the rest, managing to arrive only 15 minutes late. Needless to say, I asked the professor if she could move class back 30 minutes and she agreed. No more wasting money on taxis, by walking both ways I save about 10 pounds ($16). Photography class, we are using these huge cameras that are like the one that my parents refuse to replace but with black and white film. We are suppose to come up with a portfolio by this coming Wednesday with some theme. I think that I am going to do mine on the Simple Joys in life. So feel free to email me or comment your simple joys in life. They can be as 'simple' as chocolate or as deep as watching your children grow up. You get the idea, it would be great if you could help me out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 17.. Classes

September 17th
Today I was supposed to have five classes but ended up only having two. Scottish Enlightenment and Exploring the Cosmos. Both I am very excited about. The astronomy one reminds me of my obsession with the moon in the third grade. We get to learn about the sun, solar system, and ect. The lecture hall for Cosmos is huge, there are about 200 students in the class. The boy sitting next to me told me that this was his smallest class! Not used to this coming from Augie. The other class will be a lot of reading but I will need a 'good' book to read while I am traveling. The Scottish Enlightenment is very similar to a class at Augie considering that all of the students in the class are from schools similar to Augie. I think that I will like this class. After class I booked my flight and train to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. The tickets were a little more than I wanted to spend, but you only live once and how many people can say that they have ACTUALLY been to Oktoberfest? I am excited it is not this weekend but the upcoming. Who needs money anyway? After booking my tickets I got to Skype Krista at home, which was super fun. I got to catch up on all the gossip and news in South Dakota. A good first day of class, no homework. (maybe no homework because I don't even have my books yet, oops)

Day 15 and 16... Museums and Walking

September 15 and 16th
This weekend is for museums. In two days I made it to seven historical sites in Glasgow. Saturday two girls from Kentucky and I set out on a quest to find the Science Center. There walk there was beautiful, the sidewalk lead us along the river and eventually across a small footbridge to the museum. The Science Center was more geared for an age group under 10 years but all the activities were engaging, I can pretend to be ten for a few hours. After exploring the main part we headed to the iMax theater for a showing of Sea Rex, a movie on prehistoric fish. Being partial narcoleptic I feel asleep bout half way in. The Scottish BBC building was just across the way from the Science Center so meandered over hoping to squeeze in on a free tour but the tours had been booked months in advance. We headed back across the river and downstream to the Tall Ship and the Riverside Museum. In the museum there were cars, trains, planes, buses, and so much more. The amount of history that was in the building was stunning. Walking around I was reminded of the Little House on a Rock museum in the US. There were so many things in this building. We headed back to campus for a free dinner offered by the Catholic church on campus. Little did we know that we would have to sit through a two hour meeting to get the food. The food was good and there was free wine with the meal, got to love the Scottish people. The meeting was on the long side but what Catholic doesn't get long winded in a discussion. Sunday was another long day of history, we went to a Jewish synagogue, the Glasgow School of Art, the Willow Tea Room, and a flea market. The tea room was very quaint and very English, the synagogue was beautiful and the flea market was a little dodgy. We headed back to Cairncross for dinner, since the most I ate was to small shortbread cookies and a bag of crisps (chips) since breakfast. I ate a whole zucchini and tomato fried by myself I was so hungry. I have been thinking about going to Germany with a friend for Oktober fest and tonight we looked at tickets and then headed to the pub for some live jazz. Classes tomorrow, I am supposed to have 5.

Day 13 and 14.. Last few days of Orientation

 September 13 and 14th
Wow, I am falling behind! The last couple days of orientation were pretty uneventful. More walking and getting bombarded by people handing you promotional flyers. The week is coming to a close and I still have not done laundry, maybe if I wait long enough the prices will go down? Doubtful. I am getting so excited for classes to start to finally have something to do.  Thursday night I attended yet another Ceilidh, which is traditional celtic dancing. These dances are so exciting. Partner dances and circle dances, people being wiped around the room by men in kilts while the band in the corner keeps time with an array of accordion, piano, and drums. When you add into the mix that about half of the group doesn't know the dances it gets interesting. I think that my feet were stepped on about a dozen times. On the way home I had to wobble because my feet were so sore. These dances remind so much of summer camp and the square dances with the kids. Friday afternoon there was a parade of the UK olympians that passed a street near my dorm. There were people everywhere waving Scottish flags and cheering. After the parade we headed to a pub quiz at one of the unions and then to a hypnotist. After nearly being hypnotized myself we headed back to the dorm for a night of Friends with a girl who equal loves the show. In bed at a decent time because Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to covering a small portion of the museums that will be free because of Doors Open Day. There are an overwhelming amount of museums in the city. My goal to visit half of them by the end of the semester.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 12... So Many Activities

September 12th
My dream job would be working for the National Geographic traveling around the world capturing the lives of people with words and photographhs. But seeing as my major is math and education, my mother pointed out that I should probably start practicing, which is a fair idea. So today I attended the activity fair to find a few clubs and organizations that would help me better my future. I signed up the archeology club, the school paper and magazine, the mountaineering club and of course the volleyball club. I am really excited because all of the clubs were excited to accept students that had no previous experience but were enthusiastic. In between signing up for clubs and getting a tour of the gym, where I should spend sometime, I stopped by a debate at one of the Unions.  The debate brought me back to the good old days of high school where I spent hours preparing for tournaments and weekends debating. On the way back to my dorm I took a long cut through Kelvingrove Park. This park has become my favorite place in the city, I anticipate when the leaves change from green to red, orange and yellow. I know that this is strange to say but I am very ready for classes to start, especially with the great classes that I have this semester.

Day 11... Classes

September 11
I have been procrastinating the REAL reason I am here, to further my education. Up to this point, classes hasn't been my real priority. I mean I have been trying to get a phone, find groceries, not getting lost, so on and so forth. But today I realized that I had been in Scotland for more than a week and I still don't have a plan to what as I am going to be taking or when or even where. Mission today: figure out schedule and to register as a student. I know that sounds bad but as an international student I arrived here a week before the first years and my portal for registering is giving me dificulties. So after meeting with the international student advisor I am registered for Art History, Exploring the Cosmos, Black and White Photography, and Scottish Enlightenment. I have my portal and registration partially figured out which means I one step closer to getting my student ID card. After a long day of waiting in que (line) for no lie, two hours I returned to my room and took a much needed nap. I am telling you the cycle is infaliable. Eat, walk, and sleep. After my nap, I took a nice long walk to the city center to help some friends find rain jackets and gloves. The weather here has taken a turn for the cooler and rainier, which doesn't bother me, I think that I should have been born in Portland or Seattle. I was famished after our walk so I prepared myself some delicious dinner and turned in for the night. I must be getting old, sleeping is so much more appeasing than anything else. Tomorrow's feat, signing up for clubs.

Day 10... Freshmen

September 10th
To be young again, I forgot what it was like to be a freshman. College or university was so new and so exciting. New people to meet, a roommate for the first time, not living at home. Some of the first year students here are 17!! I feel so old compared to them, I know that it is only four years but seriously.  Today was the first day that orientation for first years really started. There was an address by some faculty members and school pride chanting by the school unions, which are from what I understand bigger but similar to Greek houses. Walking up University Ave, a person could be lost in the waves and masses of people that are promoting the 'best' night club or handing out promotional coupons for Dominoes. After feeling overwhelmed by the advertisers that nearly pounce on you, I headed to one of the Union pubs for a pub quiz. Apparently these events are quite frequent here in Glasgow. It is like trivial pursuit but a little more rowdy. This took nearly all of the afternoon and then headed to a student favorite restaurant, Ketchup for 2-for-1 burgers (all those wondering, I have not stopped not eat beef). After a delicious Mexican veggie burger, we head to a concert showcasing some great local talent, Admiral Fallow. The concert was great but my feet flat completely flat after standing up for nearly three hours. I love the city here but until classes finally start I still feel like I am on a great vacation. Laundry still not done, maybe later.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 9 ...Church

September 9
Today I woke up with an usual feeling of ambition. After a long day yesterday I thought that today would be spent mostly in my bed.  However, I woke up and went for a jog through the park. Then came back and found a church that I thought was close. I was mistaken the computer said that it would take me about 30 to 40 minutes to walk there. The computer lied, it took me 40 minutes power walking like a shopper of Black Friday.  I made it to the cathedral near the River Clyde just in the middle of the first reading. The cathedral was surprisingly small in size but absolutely stunning inside.  The interior looked as if it had just opened the week before. After the service was over I made my way back to my housing and prepared myself some lunch. Notice the cycle again, walking, eating and sleeping. After lunch a nap was needed. After a quick power nap some of the girls and myself ventured out in the city in search of some Sriacha sauce. One of the girls apparently, absolutely needed it for the year... We got caught in the rain and we forced to run from one doorway to the next trying to dodge the rain. After a quick dinner I joined a girl for a comedian at one of the school's union. After a long day of walking I returned to my room and called it a night. I would say that it had been a pretty busy day. The next task I need to conquer is laundry. This task should be interesting especially since it costs 2 pounds to wash and a pound to dry. I don't know why they make it more expensive to wash, that is the one thing that absolutely needs to be done. I can always air dry.

Day 8... Highland Games

September 8

I think that I have set the world record for the most bagpipes seen in one day. We woke at the crow of the seagulls and headed to the bus station to catch our bus at 7:30 am to head to the wee town of Pitlochory. The highland games involve events that depict the masculinity of the men (and in the case of the one woman that participated) through a series of events that generally involve lifting or throwing heavy objects and sometimes both.  The day started off with 27 bagpiping groups to process through the arena, planning their own tune. The first 10 maybe even 15 were great but by the end of the ordeal I felt like I was going to rip my hair out.  The games were intermixed with the serious Scotsmen and the young boys that are going to wear the kilt next. Some of the events mirrored those of a modern track meet and others were interesting to think about how they were invented. The most bizarre event required the participants to throw a 56 pound weight over a bar similar to the high jump.  The bar reached a maximum height of 12 and a half feet! The weather for the day couldn't have been nicer, the sun was out and we were all sweating in the stands. We had prepared for a cool rainy day in the Highlands but instead got a nice sunny day in a valley surrounded by the Highlands. 14 of the Highland Games for the season had been cancelled due to poor weather but we were fortunate enough to be surrounded by approximately 2,000 other spectators. After the games we finished we had a couple of hours to roam the quaint and welcoming village before we had to catch our bus back to Glasgow. After a long day of sitting in the sun we were famished and head to a local restraunt. The bus arrived shortly after we finished and we headed back to the city. On the bus I thought that I was going insane, I heard bagpipes but couldn't figure out if they were in my head or on the radio on the bus. It turns out that a boy from our group, several rows back was watching the videos that he had taken on his camera of the procession of bagpipers. The person I was sitting next and myself were happy to discover that we were not insane and that there was really music being played. The short getaway from the city was very enjoyable. I am so happy that we got to see the Games, I think that it explained a lot about the history and culture of the people in Scotland.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 7 ... Museums and a lot of Walking

September 7
Apparently the city of Glasgow is very good at preserving their history and the history of many things because there are about a bigillion museums that are worth seeing.  Today, I notched one more off my list. Some floor mates and myself embarked on a hike to what seemed like the other side of town to see the museum called Scotland Street School. The museum housed a Petter Rabbit exhibit and the rest of the museum was dedicated to the history of school in Scotland and Glasgow.  It was very interesting to read about school at the time of WWII and the children having to be evacuate from the city.  I remember this tidbit of information from the original The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and also from the Disney movie Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks.  But to see actual pictures and read stories about children leaving their family made the situation more real. After perusing the museum for quite along time to compensate for the long walk, we headed to the underground stations (subway) located conveniently across the street (which we should have taken on the first leg). The long walk wore down the moral of the group and the search for more museums was ended prematurely. Lunch and a nap were in dire need. After a nice rest and some left-over chicken curry I hit the streets and headed to the park for a nice stroll. I don't know why, but I am oddly fascinated by the skate park and so I often pass by a couple of times on my walks. Tonight was the opening night for most of the students to head back to campus so there were some social gatherings arranged including two traditional Scottish dances.  We stayed for the tradition rug cutting and then made our way to the pub for some refreshments.  The Glaswegians (people from Glasgow) never cease to impress me. We were sitting on the patio near some   proud Glaswegians. They asked us about where we were from and told us a little about Glasgow. They were very generous and also very good at being Scottish (I hope that I don't have to spell it out).  By the end of the conversation, one of the men had to be asked to leave because he had become so passionate about every topic that was brought up. A good ending to a great day!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 6... Lazy Day

September 6
Sleeping, there is nothing better, especially when the sky is always overcast and it seems at any moment that the clouds will dump their rain.  Today I slept in until 10:00 and then feeling extra ambitious and motivated from a good night rest went for a jog through the park.  The hills here are something that I did not consider, at every turn there was another hill that seemed to be going up. But fortunately the beautiful scenery distracted me, the park home to playgrounds, gardens, and even a skate park. This morning the park was filled with mothers pushing strollers, there was even a group of moms that were doing a workout with a trainer and there small ones in strollers just watching. My phone here has been causing some problems so I had to head to the city center to see if what the troubles were. On arrival, the phone salesman informed me that the company has been experiencing some major glitches and that my 10 pounds worth of minutes and texts was still there. This is the second time in less than a week that my walk to the phone store has been pointless. Meandering around the city center my roommate and I bumped into the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art.  There were four floors of artwork ranging from photographs to videos to models of buildings.  This was quite interesting but my favorite piece of art was a video. The video was of a homemade booty-trap, like the ones you made with dominoes when a child.  The film was rather long and we only stayed a short while before we moved on to the next gallery. Heading back into the eternal mist we made our way back to Cairncross House for dinner of yet again pasta and noodles. I think that I am going to have to branch out from noodles and rice soon. International Banter, a group of students from the Uni, hosted a board game night for international students and all who wanted to join. I entered a game of poker with several other students that were of similar skill level, when I say skill I mean we could all hold our cards, barely. After a painstakingly long game we head our to the University Union to meet up with other students. The city of Glasgow seems to never sleep, there are people out and about at all hours of the night. But my eyelids grew heavy and I knew that I had to continue the cycle of eat, walk, and sleep.  After a night and restful day I headed back to my room ending yet another day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 5... Inverarary Town and Castle

September 5... Inverarary Town and Castle


Nothing like getting out of the city and enjoying some Scottish hills and castles! The group of international students broke up into day tours. I went on the tour of a very old castle that is inhabited by a Duke and his family.  The scenery is absolutely breath taking. There are lochs and mountains the whole drive from Glasgow.  My ability to fall asleep anywhere limited my view of the wondrous landscape but the parts that I was awake for were stunning! Reminded me of the east coast with a little Montana. The castle was filled with artifacts from many generations and was home to many influential Scottish members of government (a princess once lived there).  After the tour we were allowed to wander the town.  I enjoyed a basket of fish and chips (not actual chips but fries) by the loch. Then set off to the heart of town, which took about five minutes to walk to. The town was tiny but very beautiful. We stumbled upon a tiny church and some interesting shops, which were mostly generated to capture the attention of tourists. In many of the shops kilts were for sale but not at a cheap price.  Bagpipers were seen throughout the town and tour and even the local sea gulls sound more like bagpipes, maybe that was my imagination. After a long day of walking I settled in bed for a short nap, just about three hours and woke up hungry yet again.  I am noticing a pattern; eat, walk, sleep and repeat. After dinner we venture to the little pub nearby the dorm and enjoyed some local open mic.  This city is so musical and it seems that everyone and their dog can play a musical instrument. After learning my lesson the first time (malt does not mean beer but a shot of whiskey) I ordered the cheapest beer and enjoyed the talent.  The Scottish way, anything is better with a drink in hand.

Day 4... Class Sign-Up

September 4
I am a person that can fall asleep anywhere and that includes in a foreign country. Many people have troubles getting on sleeping schedule but when you sleep all the time traveling across oceans doesn't hinder you sleeping ability. So, when 8:00 comes around getting myself out of bed is a difficult task. Today, we have the option to meet with our professors and find more out about classes.  I have been approved for all the classes that I am interested in taking here to transfer back for credit at Augie.  The only problem is that I cannot get into the portal here to sign up for school and classes. We marched off to the information fair to converse with our potential professors.  I am required to take one class, Scottish Enlightenment, for my program. This leaves two openings that I can fill with whatever I choose.  I heard from a Uni student that one of the Astronomy classes I wanted to take was good and formed for international students and the other class that I am going to take is called Black and White photography (why not take a class that will force me to take pictures, since I loathe taking photos). After this I had a walking tour of the campus where I met a fellow American (surprise since half of the international students are American) who wants to travel all over while she is here for the semester.  After the tour we grabbed a cup of tea with the rest of the group and then embarked on a journey to the city center for dishes, pots, pans, and other kitchen supplies.  On the way back we stopped for dinner at a quaint pub that generally has live music and found out that some of our favorite bands will be here in the month of September!! After dinner and brisk walk back we started to scheme about traveling around Europe.  Nothing is set in stone but we are trying to find a cheap option to get us to Oktober fest in Germany... Today equals a success!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 3 Orientation

September 3
A taste of Hogwarts
Today was the first official day of orientation and I did not know what to expect. I have made friends with the people on my floor and a few other but we, the international students are so spread out that it is hard to meet everyone. We gathered a lecture hall that did not comfortable hold all 500 of us.  That being said a whopping 171 of the international students are from the US and 108 are from China.  The rest range from around the EU and many more places. The morning session was nothing but information about Scotland, Glasgow and the school itself. Background information on the school it is the second oldest school in Scotland and the fourth oldest in Europe (founded 1451). There are about 26,000 students that attend the university. Walking to and from the university is a sight that will never grow old. I feel as if I am in my rightful place amongst the wizards and witches of Hogwarts.  The main campus building looks as if it was the inspiration of JK Rowling. Before arriving at the campus I have a nice walk through Kelvingrove Park (named after Sir Kelvin and alum of the uni). After the info session we had another info session with organizations from around the campus. The culminating event of the night was the Social Event, equipped with Scottish bar dancing, a free beverage, and a free meal. Dancing was a hoot and everyone, no matter if you had two left feet joined in.  I left after the dancing just before dinner to catch a movie called Samsara (check out the link which was astounding.  The movie had no words but spoke many. To get to and from the movie we ventured in a taxi. This was the first time that I had to call a taxi and kept fretting that cost was going to be more that we could afford. I have just finished cooking a bland dinner of chicken breast, noodle, and store boughten spaghetti sauce.  Better than sandwiches I guess. By the way, there is no peanut butter in the UK!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day One and Two... Independent

The journey began with a little confusion. Most people would not be able to admit to the gigantic mistake that I made.  Apparently, my inability to pay attention to details finally caught up to me.  I arrived at the airport at 5:30 AM twelve hours early. Yes, my flight left at 6:53 PM not AM. Oops! Round two to the airport was much smother. Passed security, made it to Minneapolis and then on to Amsterdam.  Navigating in a international airport where English is not the main language is something that I can now do.  The Amsterdam airport is the largest in Europe and most intimidating airport I have passed through.  I found my gate with some guidance from an attendant and waited a couple of hours.   I do not recall much of my flight to Glasgow, at this point in my journey I had slept little and I fell asleep before we even pulled away from the gate. Getting from the airport to my dorm was a big concern that I had but I forgot about passing through customs which should have worried me more.  Apparently, you are suppose to print off documents proving you are a student at a university (or uni as they call it here). Once again, my inability to pay attention to details nearly kept me out of the country.  By the grace of the kind customs lady I was allowed in to the country but not without a lecture on how important those documents are. There were students from the University of Glasgow waiting for international students to shuttle to our living arrangements. The students that I met at the airport were from Norway, Canada, France, and Russia.  I found my room and lugged my bags up the three flights of stairs (failing to unpack). After dropping off my bags, I set out to roam the streets of Glasgow in the rain and the wind.  My umbrella turned inside out twice within 30 minutes, this made me second guess my sense of adventure and turn back to the dorm for the night. I ordered in some food with some fellow Americans and turned in for bed early. Woke up today and could barely talk my throat was so sore. In spite of the illness, I set out to find a phone and some groceries. We walked to the city center and found a phone and on the way back bought some groceries for the time being. Nothing is too different here, except that everything is much smaller: the cars, buildings, hallways, streets, and people. The city of Glasgow is surprisingly warm. When I set out for a walk, sweat rolls down my back in a matter of blocks. So far, it feels like I am just in a different city in the US not overseas. Tonight, I think that I am going to go listen to some live jazz and tomorrow International Student Orientation begins.