23 October 2010

Sunday, October 24

Ikea is perhaps the most magical place on earth. Screw Disney! I made my second voyage to the motherland this week. After spending far too much money, I awkwardly made my way home on the bus ladened down with brand new pillows, candles, cooking pans, lights, and a potted plant. To top off a wonderful day of shopping, I came home to my brand new posters that had been delivered while I was out. In just a few short moments, I was able to set up my new room once and for all.

(View from my window. Hello, Arthur's Seat!)

Besides the move, I've been busy with classes. I have my core class, which is my entire program...of 2 people. Since it is so small, it is an obviously much more intimate setting. It is essentially impossible to hide, so I have to make sure I am really on top of my work and am fully prepared. Bad news for my productivity: I have discovered that all of Boy Meets World is on youtube. I constantly fight the urge to revel in my childhood and to instead tackle my huge stack of reading.

This is compared to my class of 8 people, which seems huge in comparison. I have been really enjoying the reading for that class. It focuses on Latin American, Chicana, and Native American female authors. Without this class, I would perhaps never know about many of these books and some have piqued my interest enough that I would consider them for my dissertation.

When I look up from my books, I realize that I have a lot of visitors and trips to look forward to. Over Halloween weekend I have a couple of sorority sisters coming to stay. I am beyond excited to show them around and give them a taste of why I love Edinburgh so much. Just one week later, I am flying off to Dublin. Having been to Ireland once before, I am excited to once again experience the culture and beautiful scenery. And again, one week after that, I have another trip to the Highlands to look forward to. This particular trip is being operated through my building, so I have the wonderful opportunity to visit yet again and instead enjoy the fall colors this time around.

Beyond that, I have big Thanksgiving plans with Elizabeth. Barcelona, here we come! I cannot even begin to comprehend how much fun we're going to have. It seems absolutely surreal that I have the opportunity to do this kind of traveling with one of my best friends. We both somehow managed to move from our small town in Illinois to the UK, and we get also get to experience these places that we've only read about and seen in travel books. Whaaaa?

18 October 2010


How can a place this untouched still exist in this world? With the massive influx of technology, the world seems like such a crowded place. In the shortest moment you can find someone new online, in a completely new unknown corner of the earth. And yet, there are still places like the Scottish Highlands. Scotland has a population of 5 million people, and only 1/4 of that population is centered in the Highlands. To put that in perspective, that's only about 21 people per square mile. Think of the open land! No wonder there are so many sheep roaming around.

There is no cell phone signal, so your only form of entertainment is the physical world around you. And man oh man, the vistas are out of this world! The mountains are, in a word, majestic. The lochs are so still that they provide a perfect duplication of the horizon, and the grass is so green it looks fake. This day in particular was a gorgeous day. We don't get many of those too often, so it was particularly unique that I got to enjoy a blue sky while in the Highlands.

Look at that amazing blue sky! This was the view from the parking area for Kilchurn Castle.

Kilchurn Castle
This picture basically defines the Highlands for me. Kilchurn is situated in the center of Loch Awe, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Can you imagine living here?

Doune Castle
This castle is just inside the Highlands. This is where the majority of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed. It was all I could do to not constantly quote the movie or sing "Knights of the Round Table" for all to hear.

Invararay Castle
This is where the Duke of Argyle lives - still! This looks like it was ripped straight from a Disney movie. All it's missing is a princess and her trusty animal sidekick.

O ye'll tak' the high road and I'll tak' the low road
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will ne'er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

10 October 2010


-The keyboards here are just different enough to really screw with my mind when I'm typing quickly. For example, the quotes are switched with the at sign, and obviously there’s no dollar sign. When I get done typing a letter, it looks like I dictated it to a 5-year old.

-Banks are frustratingly nonchalant. It took me 3 weeks to fully set up my bank account, complete with them misplacing my application for a solid week. The one pro? They sent me flowers as an apology when I complained about the lost application. I’m not sure an American bank would do that if they messed up.

-It’s only October 13th, but already the stores are packed with Christmas decorations and candies and pubs are already advertising for their Christmas parties. This is not to mention the year-round Christmas stores – hell yeah, Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe! Hallmark could really learn something about marketing from Scotland.

-I’m amazed with how cheap cell phones are. For only £15 a month, I have 600 minutes and unlimited texting.

-UK loves them some techno and mayonnaise.

-Cars will hit you, so stay out of the freakin' road, moron!

-Watching a group of Scottish men attempt to play football in the park may be the most hilarious thing you will ever see. I stopped and watched a group of men argue for about 5 minutes over what the difference is between a 2nd down and a 3rd down. Just wait until the safety comes up.

07 October 2010

28 Days

Today marks my one month anniversary. 28 days ago, I was dragging my 110 kg of luggage through O'Hare. Having just said a tearful goodbye to my parents, I was guaranteed nervous glances from my fellow travelers. The woman behind the check-in counter shot me furtive glances as I attempted to stealthily wipe my blotchy face clean. Nervous that I would start crying again, she hustled me through the process. No need to worry, lady -- I hate my crying just as much as you do.

Now, I'm sitting in my room and thinking about the month that has passed since I left. Classes are now well under way, and I have returned to life as a student. It's strange, but I'm not finding grad school too much harder than undergrad. The focus here is so much more on independent learning. When not in class, a student is expected to be reading and researching on their own. Class time is extremely minimal. With class only 2 days a week, I am learning how to pace myself and find my own direction in the program.

View of Calton Hill from Waverly Bridge.

View of Old Town

View of Walter Scott Monument.

Moving to a new city is an entirely new experience for me. Yes, I've been away before, but not like this. My undergrad was only an hour away from home, so that never really felt like I was far away. When I came here before, it was only for a few months. Now, though, I am here indefinitely. At the moment, I am still unsure if I will be staying overseas when I am done with my masters. Heck, I still don't even know if I'll be home for Christmas. It could be a full year before I even set foot in the good ole USA.

This past month, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with the city. Two years ago I fell in love with this city. The moment I left, all I wanted to do was come back. Now, I'm here and I got my wish. I knew that it would be different, but that's what I love about it this time around.