Six Monthaversary

So, wow. As of yesterday I have officially been here in Glasgow for six months. It truly feels as if I have been here for only a few weeks, yet at the same time for years. I think I have grown to be part of Glasgow and have fallen madly in love with the city. But most importantly, I feel that Glasgow has grown to be part of me. I hate thinking that I only have three months left. I have been planning and dreaming of my study abroad journey since middle school, and it’s almost over? I won’t accept it, and I won’t allow the time to slip through my fingers without taking in all that I can.

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A throwback of me at the airport the day I left, (we were at the wrong terminal). I look tanner.

This semester feels as if it has been going significantly faster than last. I have been studying and practicing the bagpipes for eight weeks now…..and I still am horrible. I still sound like there is a dying goose is trapped inside of my practice chanter. I have mastered the scale, but apart from that, it’s all pretty rough. Grace notes? No thank you! But still, I try to enjoy every moment playing, because when else would I get this opportunity? Apart from piping, my film theory class has gotten a lot more enjoyable, and my archaeology is as interesting as any Indiana Jones movie. The best part about this semester will be all of the traveling I will get to do. My month-long spring break will include taking the train all around Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and after school is officially over I will be taking a road trip through the Scottish Highlands. All things I am extremely excited for. The most recent trips I took were when one of my best friends from home, Cody, came to visit for two weeks and we went to Amsterdam and London.

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Me loving my Glaswegian school. Can you tell?

We first met in Amsterdam after not seeing each other since August, and had the best time. Amsterdam was such a beautiful city, with its canals, flowers, rich history, and rich cheese. On our first morning we wandered over to the Anne Frank House and had a wonderful experience. It was setup in such a thoughtful way and evoked many emotions out of us (or, me, since Cody says she doesn’t feel emotions). After the Anne Frank House, we went to the Amsterdam Cheese Museum and the Tulip Museum. The cheese museum was obviously one of the major highlights of my entire trip. After museum hopping, we actually went shopping. It sounds silly to do, but Cody’s luggage was lost by Norwegian Airlines and she was stuck in a freezing cold Amsterdam with one pair of pants and a sweater. Shopping was necessary. The next day we spent the morning and afternoon wandering around the Van Gogh Museum, which was absolutely amazing, and the Rijksmuseum, which was equally as impressive but so huge we barely saw half of it. After wandering around more, we ended the evening at the Heineken Experience, which I enjoyed way more than the Guinness Storehouse tour because I just hate Guinness, whereas Heineken tastes much better, to me at least. The next day we had no real plans except to take in the last bit of the city. We took a kind of sketchy canal boat tour, and made our way to a bar at midnight to watch the Seahawks vs. Patriots in the Super Bowl. Cody is a diehard Seahawks fan, so I made the sacrifice to stay up until four in the morning. They lost. We didn’t sleep. But we stopped at our favorite bagel shop before heading to the airport. Amsterdam was a gorgeous, friendly city with lots of amazing culture and houses. However, I still love Glasgow more.

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Cody and I loving the cheese world.

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Beautiful Amsterdam canal nearing sunset.

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Me and one of my fav guys, Van Gogh.

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Heineken Experience tour.

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Seriously, just too cute.

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Anne Frank statue near the Anne Frank House.

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Me and Cody posing with the IAMSTERDAM sign.

Coming back, Cody attended most of my classes with me and I got to show her around the city I love so much. We also took a day trip to Edinburgh, and got to see Milky Chance that same night (soooo good live I highly recommend). That Sunday, we took the train down to London. About two hours in to the five hour ride, the train got terminated and we were stranded somewhere in England. Luckily, they allowed us all to get onto the next train an hour later, but don’t worry, we got to stand in the frigid air as we waited. When we finally got to London, we maneuvered public transportation like masters. Going to London was a trip Cody and I had been talking about for a long time, and the three days we spent were not nearly long enough, but it was a great preview to the future trip we will eventually take. In London, our main priority was to leave the city and head to the Harry Potter Studios to take a tour. We geeked out the entire time, and I forced Cody into taking so many cheesy pictures. I know she will thank me in the future. My favorite thing about the studio tour was that everything displayed were real props and sets from the actual films. Not recreations, not fakes. The real deal. And that was the most magical of all. The next day we made a huge walking circle around the city to see everything we could before heading to the airport. Saying goodbye to Cody made me so sad and her two weeks here flew by but I am so grateful to have such a great friend that would fly all the way across the world just to see me. THANK YOU CODY!!!! I love you.

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Heading down to London on the train…pre-termination.

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One of the greatest days. Ever.

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See, cheesy photos. You’re welcome Cody.

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“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

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Me and Cody on our last day :/.

Next weekend, I am heading on my next adventure to Munich, Germany. Finlay and I don’t really have a set itinerary, but wandering around sounds just as fun to me. Now, here are some randomly places photos, as usual.

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Amsterdam is especially nice in the sunshine.

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Crazy beautiful sunset Cody and I saw in Glasgow.

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Same crazy beautiful sunset a few seconds later!

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The best crew around!

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Officially a Hufflepuff and could not be more proud.

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The famous entrance.

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HAGRID.

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I guess even non-dairy is cheesy in Amsterdam. HAH!

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Most beautiful morning in Amsterdam…and possibly ever.

-Atty

P.S. I know I have already mentioned it twice on separate social media sites but isn’t it so funny and awesome that Scotland has more sheep than it does people (2:1 ratio).

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Bagpiping is Not for the Weak…or the Asthmatic

Today was my first bagpiping lesson of the semester and I am so excited! It was so awesome and I feel like I have this completely hidden talent that I never knew about!

That’s what I would have said if today had been great. But it wasn’t. Bagpiping, ladies and gents, is so hard. I know it doesn’t look easy, so I never assumed it would be, but the simplest things, like keeping your hand in the right position, is somehow impossible for me to do. If I try to adjust one finger to the correct spot, another one moves out of place. Like really, hands? Why are you doing this to me and making my instructor hate me.

We use a double reed practice chanter, which is essentially a bagpipe for beginners that looks like those recorders we played in the first grade. It comes with a practice book filled with different tunes and exercises and we are supposed to practice about ten minutes each day to develop a sort of muscle memory for our hands.

The biggest obstacle for me and the chanter is not having strong enough lungs to hold the notes for an extended period of time, like pipers do. Asthma was useful in P.E. class when you wanted to get out of running, but it’s times like right now, where I want to successfully be able to play the chanter, but it interferes. After certain amounts of time I have to pull away and take deep breaths before I can continue on. I really never considered how asthma would impact learning to pipe, but I do feel a bit discouraged after today’s lesson and feeling how difficult it is. Even though I’m disappointed at the start, I end up hysterically laughing each time I have to gasp for air because I realize how lucky I am to be trying such a ridiculous thing. I love it.

It was only the first lesson, and hopefully, I’ll actually progress each week. Whether it’s gaining the muscle memory for my finger placement or strengthening my lungs, I know it’s going to be an interesting journey.

-Atty

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A Wee Update

It’s been a month since my last post, and a pretty decent amount has actually happened since! So, I’ve decided to close Netflix– I mean, my textbook– and write.

I wrote my previous entry after one of my best friends Norah came to visit me for 10 days. We took a day trip to Edinburgh to experience their famous Christmas market, headed to the highlands to see Loch Lomond and other nature-y things, and experienced torrential downpours. We had way too much fun, and it’s hard thinking I won’t see her again for another year (she’s heading abroad in the coming fall for a semester) but then we will be reunited and all will be fun again. After Norah left, finals began. Blech. I only had two exams, one for my film course and the other for Celtic Civ. My art classes just had final reviews where we examined my photographs and sculptures. It was just a discussion really, and made me realize how much I loved those classes and the Glasgow School of Art in its entirety. After finals were done I packed my suitcase and went off to Rome, Italy for the next 10 days.

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Me and Norah at Loch Lomond, snuggling up in the cold.

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Edinburgh Christmas Market.

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On top of the ferris wheel in Edinburgh, right before being puked on! Good times.

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Last sculptures of the semester :(.

Rome was amazing. I was there with my parents, aunt Stacey, uncle Jim, and two of my cousins, Bailey and Andrew. We had the best time, I don’t even think I could sum up the trip in a blogpost. Some of my favorite things we did were walking around the Roman Forum and Colosseum, touring the Vatican (because this new Pope is awesome), and seeing the Trevi Fountain (Lizzie McGuire moment NOT fulfilled because it’s under construction). It doesn’t feel real standing under something that’s older than anything you could imagine. Another one of my favorite things, other than eating gelato whenever we could, was coming across this cat sanctuary in what felt like the middle of Rome. It was situated underground in the Large di Torre Argentina, where it was recently discovered is the same place where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death! Fun! The cat sanctuary was run by just a few people but they took care of so many cats. Healthy cats, adoptable cats, disabled cats. Each and every one of them were adorable, especially some of the disabled ones that were being helped by the healthy ones. I know that sounds fake but I promise you it’s not. We made a donation and my cousin actually adopted one to sponsor monthly. As much as we liked it there, it was frustrating (and funny) whenever we would be trying to get somewhere new and somehow, we ended up at this sanctuary. All roads lead to Rome, and apparently all Roman roads lead to this cat sanctuary. Of course, the food we ate in Rome was amazing. All the pasta. So much pasta. It was heaven. Another thing that was heavenly about Christmas in Rome was the warm weather. I love Glasgow, but this weather is really rough at times. Here, I want to just stay inside all day and watch the horror outside happen to other people. Having the warmer weather made it feel a little bit more like being home.

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Favorite meal from the whole trip was on the very first night. Just yum.

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View from the top of the Vatican.

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This is NOT what dreams are made of, Trevi Fountain.

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One of the super adorable disabled kitties.

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Of course the best part was being with my amazing parents!!

When it was time to leave Rome, I knew coming back to Glasgow it would be colder than when I had left it. We landed in the afternoon and could barely see what was directly ahead of us. The fog was wild and it was about twenty degrees colder than it had been in Italy. My parents were shocked and probably ready to step back into the airport and board the next flight home to Los Angeles. My parents rented a small, cute apartment in the West End about a ten minute walk from my own apartment, and it was such a blast having them close to me. We went to lots of museums, ate at all of my favorite restaurants, and had a really fun New Years Eve celebration at their apartment with drinks and board games. For New Years, my cousin Bailey and aunt Stacey (who had traveled a few other places after Rome) came to Glasgow to ring in 2015 with us. My parents coming was one of the highlights of my year abroad so far. Rome was lots of fun, but getting to share this amazing city that I love with two of the best people in my life made it a very special break. They would have enjoyed their time here regardless, but I know it was made perfect by having the best tour guide, my boyfriend, Finlay (is this enough of a shoutout for you). Props to Finlay for putting up with my insane family.

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Several competitive rounds of Pub Scrabble with my parents and Finlay.

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New Years Eve :). Hi Finlay.

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Hated having to say bye :/. 5:30 AM at the airport.

After my family left, school approached really quickly. The second semester has officially begun and, as I promised, I start bagpiping lessons this week! I am taking the second part of the film course I took first semester and an archaeology class as well. Sixty hours of credits will definitely keep me busy, but I am hoping to do more traveling this semester. One of my best best best friends from home Cody is coming in just TWO weeks and we are going to Amsterdam and London, and of course I’ll be showing her around Glasgow. I am dying of anticipation for her to come and to have another California girl I can freeze with.

Thank you for tuning in to this wee update. Until next time, here are more random photos.

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Get it, “Us” awww cute.

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Nature being beautiful in the highlands.

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Took Norah to one of my favorite places in Glasgow, the Botanic Gardens.

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Bye, Norah :(.

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The intimidating hall I took finals in.

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Lighting the Hanukkah candles via FaceTime with my family!

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Some amazing pizza. You know, the usual.

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Another early morning view from the top of the Vatican.

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Merry Christmas from the Colosseum!

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Another sweet, disabled cat.

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The Pantheon is so ridiculously old.

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Cousin pic!

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Bailey, Jim and I went to the Rome Zoo and saw the cutest smiley blowfish.

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DIPPED coffee gelato. Aka heaven.

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Pope sighting! Christmas afternoon blessing. Such a cool experience.

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View of Rome from the top of the Castel Sant’Angelo, right across from our apartment.

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The Vatican was so impressive the closer you got.

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Bailey and her new cat she sponsors!

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Mhm, dad got a selfie stick.

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Goodnight from the top of the Spanish Steps.

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Finally got to play with Highland Coo’s on New Years Day! My coat still stinks. Worth it.

Cheers,

-Atty

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An Excuse to Miss Class

For most, studying abroad is an excuse to cram as much traveling as you can into a semester. However, one of the reasons I wanted to go abroad for a full year was because I knew that half of me just wanted to constantly travel anywhere I could, and the other half wanted to develop a closeness to the city I would choose to study in. I didn’t want my school and new home to be just a base for all of my other travels, I wanted to become fully immersed in the culture and be, as much as I could, a “local.” Because of this, I ended up spending the majority of my first semester exploring Scotland, with the exception of two other trips as well. Since the semester is winding down (this is my last week before winter break and I feel like a total failure for not blogging as much as I wanted to) I thought I would take a wee bit of time to reflect on some of the trips I took over the semester. Because I was one of several unlucky students that have class every single day this past semester, outside travel typically meant I would have to miss Friday and Monday courses, if I wanted to get the most for my money. Ah darn, missing class for traveling. Bummer.

The first trip I took outside of Scotland this semester was to London. That seems like a very typical place to go, and I’ll admit– it is! And I enjoyed every minute of it. I went with one of my great friends here, Lizz, who left to go back to America on Saturday and I am still bitter about it. Anyway, Lizz and I went from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, a whirlwind, exhausting, awesome trip. On Friday, when we got to London and to the part of town we were staying in (we stayed with my family friends in Camden) we made our first stop for dinner…yes you guessed right, Chipotle. We had been missing and craving Chipotle for as long as we could remember and as touristy as it may have been, it needed to happen. After savoring our sweet, precious guacamole and burrito bowls, we made our way to the house. Their house is off of Regent’s Park, across from the London Zoo. Very central and beautiful, perfect for our short trip. Lizz and I both consider ourself to have old souls. And I don’t mean that in a cute, endearing way. I mean we actually feel like the elderly and like to be in bed early. But Friday night we were encouraged to at least go out to get the feel of the city before heading to sleep. So we hopped on the tube by the house and went to Leicester Square. There we walked all around the shops and street performers, ending up strolling through Chinatown and getting to Piccadilly Circus. From there we walked down different side streets to see various christmas lights and fun storefronts, and gave our feet a break in a Starbucks. After this we went back to the house and fell right to sleep, knowing we didn’t want to waste the next day. Saturday we woke up and took the tube to the other side of the River Thames. There, we walked through the Borough Market on our way back to the other side of the river to see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. The Tower of London was having the last weekend of their beautiful poppies display in full effect. The poppies were an art installation by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper running from August-November. Titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, it consisted of 888,246 red ceramic poppies marking 100 years from the start of World War I, filling the moat surrounding the landmark. It was truly a beautiful work that I was so excited I actually got to see. Not far from there was the famous Tower Bridge that is…uh…really cool and seen in post cards and stuff.

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Tower of London poppies display in honor of WWI.

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Tower Bridge, lookin’ mighty.

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After that we took a water taxi to the London Eye– super overpriced, but something I’ve admittedly always wanted to do. Our “eyeball” (that’s not what they are called that’s just me) was packed which sometimes made it hard for photo-ops, and it was quite gloomy during the afternoon, but it was still such a cool sight. After the eye we walked across the river once again, stopping to take pictures of/with Big Ben. After walking along the Parliament building we paused at Westminster Abbey and admired the stunning architecture. After which we walked to Buckingham Palace, pretended to be royal, then got caught in a complete downpour on our way to Harrods and dinner. For dinner we ate at this random, yet super amazing, restaurant called Rocca in Chelsea. All I can say is my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. After Rocca we were so exhausted from walking all day we took the tube back to Camden and just hung out at the house, falling asleep shortly after our arrival home.

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View from the top of the London Eye.

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Westminster Abbey.

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Buckingham Palace through the gate. Honey, we’re home!

Because we were leaving Monday morning, this meant we had all day Sunday to explore, which was a really great feeling. We spent most of the morning getting lost throughout Camden Market. It was really bustling and I felt I could get lost for days and still find new things to look at. After the market we took a beautiful walk through Regent’s Park to the other side of the city, where we had been the day before. We decided to do some shopping off of Piccadilly Circus at stores we missed from home that they didn’t have in Glasgow. I cried floating through Anthropologie and Lizz felt at-home in J.Crew. It was really just a super relaxing day that resulted in stopping at Laduree for amazing macarons, some asian-fusion restaurant for dinner, and the Haagen-Dazs cafe for ridiculously amazing dessert. After pushing ourselves into this food coma we returned home and slept like the big babies, well elderly people, we are inside.

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An overhead view of one of the many food sections of the Camden Market. 

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Stroll through Regent’s Park.

Monday morning came and we had a super early flight home so we could make it to our afternoon classes…I didn’t go.

Friday once again rolls around and it’s time for me to go on my next adventure. This time, I’m off to Dublin. The University of California (UC) schools set up a program for their abroad students in Ireland and the UK to meet in Dublin for a pre-Thanksgiving celebration all together. Now, I’m not a UC student, so I wasn’t able to get the dinner, but my friend Tailour (who goes to Dartmouth) and I decided to tag along to Dublin with our friends who do go to UC schools. Why not?

Friday evening I arrived and met Tailour at our hostel. We stayed in a ten person all-girls room. The hostel was clean enough and comfortable enough, not that we spent much time there anyway. Tailour and I grabbed dinner and then head to the hostel the UC school was putting students in, then after meeting some of our friends we all went exploring. Dublin has amazing nightlife full of super fun pubs and live music and friendly people. To me, it felt like a more condensed Glasgow. It really was beautiful, even at night, and especially in the rain. Saturday morning we woke up and met my great friend from home Erin at the farmers market and went out for brunch. Seeing Erin was so amazing since I don’t think we’d seen each other since high school graduation. She was abroad this semester in Galway, Ireland studying through her UC school and was in Dublin for the Thanksgiving dinner. After we left Erin, we met back up with our other friends and did a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. It was really cool looking and had fun activities, plus the Gravity Bar at the top had amazing views, but I discovered I really am not a fan of Guinness, it’s too…smokey? I guess? Regardless, it was cool to do and something I would suggest to anyone going to Dublin. After the tour, Tailour and I took a self-guided walking tour of the Cathedrals around Dublin, ending, of course, with St. Patrick’s. We unfortunately couldn’t go inside because one of the colleges in the city was holding a graduation ceremony at the time. After a nice break for our feet, we made our way back for an early dinner of pad-thai. We then decided to go back to the hostel and recharge our phones (and ourselves) before meeting our friends to go out once they returned from their Thanksgiving dinner. We didn’t leave the room the rest of the night.

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Reunited with the lovely Erin Chan, South Pasadena hero.

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Entering Guinness Storehouse.

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Ew.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

We decided to sleep early on Saturday night so we could wake up early and take a day trip to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs were absolutely breathtaking. Every angle you looked from, something beautiful could be seen. The cliffs are on the other side of Ireland, closer to Galway, so it was a long journey, but well worth it. When we returned home from the cliffs, we found this very random “American” restaurant that was open late and had a large menu. We sat there for a long time giving our tired bodies a rest. Dublin was way more than I expected and I am so happy I chose, last minute, to make the trip.

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Cliffs of Moher!

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So surprised and excited that the sun came out for us. 

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Me and Tailour at the Cliffs :).

Other than these two amazing trips, I’ve gotten to adventure around Scotland as well, although it feels like there is always more to see here! One of my first trips was to Edinburgh, which I already talked a little bit about before. That was my second time going to Edinburgh in my life and it looked and felt exactly the same. After being here for several months I feel I can confidently compare the two and say I like Glasgow more. I really enjoy Edinburgh for a day, possibly a weekend at most, but after that I feel a bit bored. Glasgow always excites me, and it has a much younger vibe to it. There are also so many universities here that it is such a student-friendly and livable (*cough* cheaper *cough*) city, while Edinburgh is a bit more posh.

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Cheesy picture at the birthplace of Harry Potter.

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Unlike me, Lizz prefers Edinburgh to Glasgow.

My next trip was to Loch Lomond, Oban, and Isle of Seil. There are over 30,000 loch’s in Scotland…did you know that? I didn’t. But I think that’s incredible. A very famous, and conveniently located loch, is Loch Lomond. Lomond is large, but we stopped in the village of Luss for some early morning views of the water and mountains behind with fog. After Luss we continued on to Oban. Here we got lunch and explored the city, which is known as the seafood capital of Scotland and, apparently, gateway to the Isles. It was a really beautiful, sunny day. After walking around Oban, getting great views of the waterfront, and of course stopping at their chocolate factory, we moved on to Isle of Seil. The cool thing about Isle of Seil, other than the fact that it’s in Scotland so it’s automatically great, is that it touches the Atlantic Ocean. It was basically like waving hello to my family and friends on the East coast of the US while there (except, you know, not really).

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Loch Lomond early in the morning.

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View from McCaig’s Tower at the top of Oban.

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Me and Lizz on the Atlantic Bridge entering Isle of Seil.

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Isle of Seil looking at the Atlantic Ocean.

The next Scotland trip was to Glen Coe and the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter Bridge). I loved this trip because I got to see some of the most beautiful scenery ever. Glen Coe was cold and breathtaking, and the piper standing in front of the rolling hills sure did a great job setting the scene for us all. After Glen Coe, we spent a while at the viaduct just hiking around and going to the water. By the viaduct was Loch Shiel, which is used as the Black Lake near Hogwarts in Harry Potter. It also is the loch with the tall monument in front of it seen in Maid of Honor when McDreamy is riding a horse around the island to stop the wedding ceremony of his best friend. This was definitely one of my favorite trips around Scotland, seeing things I never thought I would get to.

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First stop, Glen Coe, to make my new best friend (this piper).

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And hangout with friends I already had (Emily and Lizz).

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Harry Potter bridge!

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Turn around and there’s Loch Shiel.

The next trip I went on was outside of Scotland in Northern England. It was to Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh. Alnwick castle is actually where a lot of Harry Potter is filmed and where inspiration was drawn from. Walking around, even taking the tour, it was evident that Hogwarts drew so much of its character from this castle and the grounds where they filmed. Bamburgh was a cool little detour, an old castle along the sea. It was really beautiful with nice pathways to the beach and views all around.

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Alnwick Castle aka Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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They filmed here!

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I tried.

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Bamburgh Castle.

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Because it’s one of the last weeks, I don’t have much else to do other than study, so hopefully I will get to post once or twice more before I leave for Rome on Friday to finally be reunited with my family! I am so excited about seeing them, and being in Rome, I’m not sure I’ll remember to study.

Random burst of photos, commence:

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England being beautiful.

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Me and Tailour being freezing cold together– it was crazy windy.

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See…windy!!

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Up in the eyeball.

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Our amazing Laduree macarons.

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Cliche, I know.

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This smile is fake because I really hated that Guinness.

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CHIPOTLE.

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Shh…I sneakily took this photo while Lizz distracted them with questions.

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Awkward with Ben.

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Me, Lizz, and Emily at Loch Shiel.

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Same loch, semi different crew…Jacob, me, Emily.

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Atlantic Ocean beauty.

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1…2…

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3.

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Mattie, me, Harper, Sydney, and Emily on the Atlantic Bridge.

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Me and Lizz representing Scotland :).

And most importantly…

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A HEDGEHOG WE FOUND ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. In love.

I’m truly sorry for how long this post is, I hope the amount of photos makes up for it.

-Atty

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Land of the Free, Home of the Free Bread

For a while now, I’ve had random spurts of homesickness. Nothing major, and nothing a bit of chocolate and Gilmore Girls couldn’t fix, but homesickness nonetheless. It’s not so much on the level of “I need to be home right now,” but more of an “I wish my parents  were here to laugh at this joke I just told so we’re not sitting in complete awkward silence.” You know the type.

I blame my lack-of-blogging (holy cow October 1st was my last post? I suck) on being homesick. I was having trouble finding inspiration in my daily life. I haven’t felt homesick in a bit so I am attempting a new post. A post about some of the things from home I miss that make me happier when I think about them. Many people I know would be embarrassed to admit they were missing home, but what is my life if not a long string of many embarrassing, super awesome moments?

  1. My Family: For no reason other than sheer laziness, I haven’t put this list into any specific order. However, I feel I must put my family at the top of the things of things I miss. Not only because it’s true, but I also fear they’ll “forget” to give me a Hanukkah gift if I don’t have them as number one. The most noticeable factor that allows me to miss my family is the time difference. Currently, eight hours in the day separate us. I still get to talk to them when I need to, but when I’m free to talk in the morning, they’re sleeping. Or when they have some time to call in the afternoon, I’m usually cooking dinner with flatmates. I feel very lucky having a family that I love and miss so much, but I know they think about me (stalk my pictures) and talk about me (send out weird update-y emails to extended family and friends). My family has always supported me in everything I have ever wanted to do and I am beyond grateful to have them. I am so excited to see them next month to spend Christmas in Rome and New Years back here in Glasgow. I’ve already compiled a full list of places I want my parents to see and restaurants I want them to pay for my dinner. Sidenote: I have no idea if my brother reads these because I think he is super confused about Viber and where I am. If you do see this… love you Zacky!!!!
  2. Mexican Food: It’s not that Mexican food in Scotland is the most disgusting thing ever, I’ve eaten some enjoyable things, but it’s nothing like home. Seeing several restaurants dispersed throughout the city is nothing like having a Roach Coach on every corner. Growing up in Southern California, we are completely spoiled by the amount of fantastic Mexican places around. I realize Scotland’s proximity to Mexico may have something to do with it’s lack of deliciousness, but I truly think every British citizen hasn’t lived until they’ve had tacos from a truck or stand given a “C” rating by the Health Department. In light of this, my flatmates and I have created a “Mexican Monday” tradition that we partake in together every Monday night. Quesadillas, guacamole, salsa, beans…It’s the highlight of our week. Sidenote: Glasgow may be lacking in Mexican yummy-ness, but there is an abundance of heavenly Indian restaurants everywhere.  My tummy is happy.
  3. The Sun: If you know me even a little bit, you know that rain is one of my favorite things. In the entire world. However being here has helped me realize that it’s due to my rain-deprived childhood in Los Angeles that I love it so much. Being here for only over two months, I am still loving the rain. I bought my own first pair of “wellies” and am in pursuit of a nice coat (it’s so cold here oh my gosh). Each day that the rain gets more brutal, I can see myself slowly starting to resent it. I’m sure by February I’ll curse the sky when I feel water dripping down on me. Random days will come and go in Glasgow with sunshine, and those are the best days. You can walk around in sneakers instead of boots, sweaters instead of flood gear. When I head home for the summer I will make it a point to truly appreciate the sun like I never have before, but I know the moment my plane takes off I’ll miss the rain.

There are so many other things I miss about home. My bed, my friends, guacamole (my life really revolves around it), warm beaches, and the Rockies. I especially miss LEMONADE (it’s so different here it’s bubbly and annoying) and FREE BREAD at Italian restaurants (hence the title). I’ve never been extremely patriotic but being away allows me to appreciate things about the States I never considered, and even though I miss all of these wonderful things from home, I’m settling in here and I love it. It’s really true when they say that studying abroad for one semester just isn’t enough. Just now settling in after two months and only having one left would be extremely disappointing for me. I’m so excited for the rest of the year and for getting homesick again. It just means I’m living an awesome adventure.

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I thought this post was boring without a photo so….here’s me living it up in Scotland. Homesickness and all. This is on a day trip I took to Glenfinnan. Behind me is Loch Shiel, aka the Black Lake from Harry Potter (whaaaaat).

-Atty

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Paperback Raita

The title will kind of, sort of be made clearer in a later part of this post.

I know I haven’t posted in a while, I wanted to wait until I completed my first week of school so I had something actually important to write about. Of course it’s now halfway into the second week of classes so I think it’s a good time for an update.

To be considered a full-time student at the University of Glasgow, you must take at least 60 credits per semester. The week before courses began, I signed up to take Celtic Civilization (praying this counts as a history credit), a Film History course, and two classes at the The Glasgow School of Art: Black & White Photography and Figurative Sculpture. So far, after this week and a half, I have realized that the two classes I am taking here at the university are hard, sometimes boring, and the lecture halls are way too hot. The classes are split into two sections: lectures and seminars. The lectures are huge groups of 100 or more students, something I am definitely not used to at any school I’ve been to, where the professors just stand at the front and talk at you for an hour. Yay! You don’t have to read! Right? Wrong. That’s where the seminars come in. Seminars are basically hour-long meetings made up of ten or so students from your lecture class, run by one of the TA’s where you have discussions on the reading. Already I am behind on reading, lord (Lord? Capital “L”? I’m not religious, I don’t know. Or maybe Lorde) knows how much I love to procrastinate. In addition to lectures and seminars, each Thursday night I have a screening for my film class from 5:00-8:00 PM. Oh, no, film school, it’s okay, I didn’t want to socialize with anyone anyways.

Aside from those classes, I get to spend every Wednesday in the City Centre of Glasgow at the world renowned Glasgow School of Art. Honestly, it’s the coolest place I have ever been and I feel so hip just standing outside their main building. Last May, the extremely famous Mackintosh building built by Charles Mackintosh, caught fire and part of it burned. Fortunately, no one died and they have been given a lot of money to rebuild and restore. Unfortunately, they will not complete the repairs for about four to five years and no one is allowed to go in until it’s completely done. Sorry, dad, I know getting to see this was the only reason you guys agreed to visit me. Building drama aside, the classes I am taking there are so awesome. My photography class provides us with our own film camera for the semester and film! I have almost no experience with film photography so I’m excited about working more in the dark room. My sculpture class is great as well. I have never in my life sculpted anything more than pinch pots at summer camp, so I went into this completely blind. Which made it even cooler. The class, being figurative sculpture and all, has a nude model each week that we get to sculpt. My great, dear, wonderful (hope you’re reading this you jerk) friend from home Melissa asked how I’ll be able to keep my composure when I can’t even keep it together whenever I hear the name “Jim Bob” (‘sup Duggar family, you do you), but I would like to announce that I totally kicked butt on the maturity thing. Haha, Jim Bob.

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Damaged Mackintosh building under construction at The Glasgow School of Art.

Our first class we had a woman about 50 years of age sitting in front of us for three hours. As someone with ADHD, watching her keep so still was like the sound of nails on a chalkboard to any other normal human. Didn’t she just have the urge to get up and dance?? At all? I struggled with the clay for most of the class, and my result was pretty much the worst out of everyone’s, but I don’t care. It was so much fun. Oh also we had a break halfway through for afternoon tea (the professor provides the tea and biscuit’s isn’t life grand).

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Before I started sculpting.

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The finished product of my first ever sculpting experience! Be nice. 

Oh crap, just realized I never talked about the title! Classic. Well, last Monday some friends and I went to the baking society meeting (yes because there would be cake) and befriended some girls from Bangalore, India. When they found out some of my friends had never had Indian food, they decided to invite us over to their flat for a home-cooked Indian meal Friday night. We went, it was amazing, it was spicy, I used a lot of raita (a yogurt type condiment used to cool spices down in dishes), and I sang that joke all night long. Paperback Raita, ya know…like Paperback Writer…the Beatles song…no one got it…except for Harper (hi Harper). I hope you guys get it too. I’m funny.

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Some vegetarian Indian rice I ate for dinner, before putting raita on it.

Tomorrow I have my seminar for Celtic Civilization and of course I haven’t read anything for it yet. I’ll read after this post, promise. The past three weekends I have gone on some really cool trips that I have yet to really post about, so I’ll do that soon, mostly so I can post pictures and geek out about how ridiculously gorgeous Scotland is. Honestly, why is it so pretty here? There’s nothing like it. A few other parts of my week that are worth sharing: Discovered that our neighborhood cat is a huge bully that chases dogs away from it’s Hillhead turf. Jordan amazingfriend Berry sent me an awesome care package all the way from Pembroke, MA! I went to the pubs the night before my 9:00 AM class. I went on a pretty walk down Kelvin Way. Oh and I ate crepes.

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Bully cat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jordan amazingfriend Berry’s fantastic package. You da best.

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Post-pubbing it with my soulmate Harper (Lee). 

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My nice commute along Kelvin Way with a view of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

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CREPES.

Tomorrow my friend from DU, Gini, is coming in from Wales for the weekend and I am so excited about it!!!!!

-Atty

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They Can’t Keep Us From Trying Again

These past two days have been quite incredible and eye-opening here in Scotland. Yesterday the polls opened and the voting began for the referendum, and as most of you probably know by now, the pro-Scottish independence side lost (45% voted “Yes”, 55% voted “No”). While most of us here felt that realistically the “No” side would win, it was still so amazing to be in Glasgow where 53% of the city voted “Yes”. It was an overwhelming experience to be in the city centre as all the tallied results came in. The night started off with lots of singing, dancing, drinking and bagpiping, but as time went on reality began to hit. But the most amazing part is that the people never lost hope. “Hope not fear” was a huge slogan for the “Yes” campaign this election and it was truly present in them. Even when they knew they had lost, they were hugging one another, still cheering and explaining how proud they were to have made history.

A specific moment that truly stood out to me occurred at 5 o’clock this morning in George Square. I was wandering around taking photographs of anything I could when a man, who looked to be about 52 years of age, approached me and said, “They can’t keep us from trying again.” He had tears slowly rolling down his cheeks and had wrapped himself in the Scottish flag. We were reminded that a similar quest for independence had occurred 30 years ago in Scotland, but back then the “Yes” group only had 26% of the population’s support. I chose this quote as the post’s title because with everything I have learned here, it truly embodies the spirit of their movement.

Another part of this referendum that blew me away was the fact that 97% of the population in Scotland registered to vote, and 85% actually voted. To me this is unbelievable, and I wish the number of American’s that voted in important elections were this high. Typically I would post several photos from my time in the city centre, but I instead decided to just post the one photograph I took that really impacts me. I have uploaded the rest to the “Photos” page on my blog.

IMG_4026 3A young man drops to the ground after hearing the upsetting news that the “No” side has officially won the referendum.

Today, the city felt weird. It was extremely gloomy which aided in the sense of mourning that rushed over Glasgow. It was weird walking down the street unbothered, not being handed any flyers or stickers or buttons (for both the “Yes” and “No” sides). I felt sad seeing the abandoned posters getting stepped on or swept into the dark corners of an ally. There’s a different feeling than when I first arrived, but people will go back to being their same friendly selves in a matter of time. History was made this morning in Scotland, and I have no doubt that the people’s fight for independence will make a return in the near future. Possibly before another 30 years goes by.

-Atty

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Independence, or Naw?

Please forgive me and let me explain. It may seem like I am making an obnoxious reference to the charming, eloquent and popular phrase “or nah”, however, this is not exactly the case. Maybe it gave me a little inspiration, but I have used “naw” because this is a very common word that the anti-Scottish independence side of the referendum vote uses. I’ve seen it on posters, shirts and buttons all over Scotland. So..it kind of worked, and that’s my reasoning, I thought it was funny, don’t hate me.

Before leaving the United States, most people I talked to had no idea of the upcoming referendum here in Scotland. Admittedly, I had no idea until late last year. Being here now, living in the West End of the largest city in Scotland (Glasgow, for those of you who haven’t been paying any attention to what I’ve written) has been completely surreal. As a girl (or woman, I did have a Bat Mitzvah, you decide) who has passionately studied history her whole life, this is a big deal. Like, a huge freaking deal. For a while I was hoping that the pro-Scottish independence side would pass because of how monumental that would be, but I’ve realized that no matter which sides wins, it’s history. History happening right before my eyes. And as my film professor here wisely said “Regardless of what happens, one half of the population will be partying really hard. So enjoy it.” For my dedicated blans (blog fans haaa I just came up with that…hi Mom and Dad) I will explain to you just a very basic summary of what each side is hoping to get out of this referendum.

The majority of people I have seen throughout Glasgow have been on the  “Yes” side of the population. Windows, shops, pubs and people all supporting this with signs and shirts. Here are just a few reasons Scottish people are hoping to gain independence:

  1. To create a more democratic Scotland, granting more powers to the Scottish Parliament.
  2. To create a stronger economy.
  3. To develop their own taxation system.
  4. To be in charge completely of their own education system and continue to guarantee free access to higher education for Scottish students.
  5. To freely run their own welfare system, which would be “support for people who
    work; a safety net for people who cannot work; and a climate of social solidarity.”
  6. To have a fairer society regarding health care for all citizens.
  7. To continue their membership in the European Union.
  8. Removal of nuclear weapons.
  9. Utilize the opportunities to become a major player in Europe for energy resources.

IMG_1518(“Yes” drawn on part of the bridge crossing from New Town Edinburgh to Old Town)

Now, those are all facts I pulled off of the official Scottish referendum website, but there are many more, and I encourage everyone to do their own research! As I said before, I see mostly “Yes” propaganda being in Glasgow, but spending the other day in Edinburgh (the capital) I was taken aback by the “No” support I witnessed, which inspired me to research that side as well. Here’s a look at the “No” side’s reasoning:

  1. To remain part of the United Kingdom’s historically successful economy and keep the pound.
  2. Many jobs in Scotland are with companies based in the UK (1 in 5, apparently).
  3. Benefits from sharing taxation throughout all of the UK rather than only in Scotland.
  4. To keep under the protection of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces.
  5. Sharing welfare resources with the UK.
  6. Lower cost of living.
  7. Benefits from the UK’s renewable energy resources (less expensive if they stay together).
  8. Sticking with the UK means having major influence in the EU (part of the “Big Three”).
  9. Universities have big funding from across the UK.

Again, these facts were taken from the official referendum website directly, so if I have any wrong information…contact the Parliament, or someone.

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To be honest, I am not sure which side I would vote for if I had the opportunity to vote. Maybe I see the validity in both sides, or maybe I am just super confused and feel too much pressure choosing one side. Regardless, there is history being made right now and it is important for people to know about it. Read this, read something else with much more depth and reliability. Whatever you do, learn about what an important thing this is not only for Scotland, or the United Kingdom, but for the entire world. It’s history guys, it’s awesome.

The vote takes place tomorrow, Thursday, September 18th, 2014 (although if “Yes” wins independence wouldn’t go into effect until 2016). I am so, so excited and anxious for the results I could faint (friends if you’re reading this I’m serious so be prepared to catch me).

-Atty

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I’ll Think of a Title Later

It has officially been one full week since I first arrived in Glasgow. I’m still here! It still hasn’t rained! Surprisingly, the weather has been extremely warm. Although I am semi bitter it hasn’t rained yet, (I really love the rain), I am trying to take advantage of the nice weather while I can because I know once it stops, it won’t be back for some time. In this post, with such a brilliant title, I will talk about what I have gotten to do during my first full week here in Scotland.

After two days of sleeping in way later than planned, (thank you, jet lag), I finally realized I needed to leave my apartment to get some water, since I was told not to drink the tap yet and hadn’t gotten any water since my flight. I left my room, walked down the four flights of stairs, and confidently stepped out of my building thinking I knew where to go. I didn’t. I ended up getting lost, but luckily for me, I got “lost” only two minutes away from my apartment on the campus of my university. While it all could have been a beautiful mirage caused by my dehydration, I wandered around my campus for an hour or so realizing that this is the most astoundingly gorgeous school ever. And it also looks like Hogwarts, so that doesn’t hurt. By the way, I have been told by many people and read online that this school was actually one of the inspirations for Hogwarts, looks about right to me.

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As you can see, or as well as you can see from my iPhone pictures….it’s totally badass. The University of Glasgow, founded in 1451, is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world, and the second oldest in Scotland. I am sure these facts are just so interesting, so you will learn more as time goes on. But for now all you need to know is that this school rocks. After realizing I was close to fainting on University Ave., I went the only direction I knew was sure to get me to food and water, and that was down to Byres Road. It was there that I saw the gloriously lit-up sign for “Little Italy” and of course I ran. I waited in line for a while because the guy in front of me wasn’t ordering, he was yelling at the manager. I couldn’t really understand it all through his thick accent, but it had something to do with serving alcohol to a minor. Uh oh. Finally it was my turn. I got a cheese pizza with olives and onions and a huge bottle of water. Very authentic Scottish meal! It was super delicious, (they put full olives on the pizza…mind blown), and it was during this meal that I heard my first live discussion about the Scottish referendum that would be coming up in just two short weeks from that night. Two women, one not originally from Scotland but who is now a Scottish citizen, asking her friend about being on the “Yes” side for the vote. After thirty minutes of her rambling, they ended the conversation and I felt more confused than ever. With that, I left. I stopped at the M&S market on the way back and got three more bottles of water and a chocolate bar to congratulate myself on an evening pretty well spent. At this point, I met the nasty hill again. This I guess would officially be called Great George Street. I climb to the top, then back to the top of my building, and eat my chocolate.

I woke up the next morning at a very reasonable hour, and decided to take a walk to Kelvingrove Park and try to find the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It’s free, yay! On my way, I ran into someone from DU. I ditched my plans and joined her to meet other DU kids for lunch. It was really great meeting a bunch of new people I have never met before, and most of us went out later that night. We first went to Cooper’s Bar to watch the Scotland vs. Germany soccer, excuse me…football match. After that we went to Jinty McGuinty’s for some live music, which was super awesome. The singer was extremely talented and performed mostly oldies, my favorite. Jinty’s is located on Ashton Lane, which FUN FACT alert, was apparently J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley! Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. Debate about that somewhere else, here’s what it looks like.

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The next day, orientation week began. Not much happened, aside from long, boring meetings that only stressed me out further. But Monday night we went to the social, where we got free drinks and learned traditional Scottish dances. Throughout this week, I also had my walking tour of the area surrounding campus (finally found the film school, yipee!) and my bus tour of Glasgow. The bus tour was a lot better than I expected and I learned so much about Glasgow’s history, and how to get around! For a history nerd like me who loves to explore, it was definitely worth it.

Other random things that happened this week that are of no interest to you but I’ll share anyway….I found out film majors aren’t allowed to register until later next week (cutting it close much??) and so far the only class I’m actually enrolled in is a Black & White Photography class at the Glasgow School of Art in the City Centre. Also, I can’t have a monthly plan for my phone until I open a bank account so Bank of Scotland, here I come! And there’s a store here called Poundland, yes, like the Dollar Store, and it’s awesome.

Things coming up I am looking forward to….Saturday I am going on a school sponsored trip to Edinburgh for the day! Monday, my friend Liz and I might check out Loch Lomond (hi, Liz) and next Thursday is the referendum vote for Scottish independence! I am sure you will see me post more about that, so…get pumped, get excited, ce-le-brate good times come on!

Here are some random photos from this week.

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1. A view of the school tower from Kelvingrove Park. 2. Glasgow’s wee little subway. 3. Walking through Kelvingrove Park. 4. Glasgow’s town hall in the city centre. 5. ICE! It exists.

-Atty

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Three Bags and a Fourth Floor Walk-Up

Gazing out a rainy window, I land at Glasgow International Airport. I wasn’t actually even in the window seat, I just viciously sprawled myself out across two strangers to get a peek from the aisle. Sheep, green hills, and wetness, that’s what I saw. I fell in love. Once the plane had stopped, everyone immediately stands up, and it’s then I asked myself “how did all these tall Scottish people fit on this tiny plane?” I’ll never know the answer, mostly because I stopped thinking about that moments later when I noticed one extra tall man’s thighs several rows ahead. Naturally, he was wearing a kilt.

After that distraction, I exited the plane and made my way through the airport to baggage claim where thankfully all my bags came ’round the conveyer belt like little ducklings in a row. I dragged two big suitcases, my backpacking backpack, and both carry-on’s to the curb and waited for a taxi. When one finally came, I tried helping him load my luggage into the back and he yelled at me. This reminded me of one of the first things I had heard about Scottish people: they’re grumpy, but they’re nice! After convincing my driver to wait for me while I picked up my apartment keys, and by convincing I mean crying until he said fine, he dropped me off with all my bags and said goodbye (although he probably meant f**k you). I pulled out my keys, trying all five before choosing the right one, and started my trek up to the fourth floor – and no, there’s not an elevator. It was a serious struggle having to climb the stairs with all my stuff, and thankfully an RA heard me panting and came down to help. We finally got it all upstairs and into my apartment, but my room key doesn’t work and that can’t be fixed until later in the week. The RA helped me break in and went her own way. I then dropped everything off and ran to the closest market to get fixings for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I climbed up the nasty huge hill, back up the four flights of stairs, re-broke into my room, and put on a movie. I ate three pb&j’s. I am still the only person to have moved into my apartment, and it’s really quiet and pretty lonely. I don’t really enjoy how empty it is, but I’ll live.

-Atty

(Update: I haven’t seen a single kilt since the one man on the plane)

Update 2: (It hasn’t rained since I landed…I’m upset)

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Above is a picture of the outside of my apartment!

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