Climbing Mountains and Diving out of the Direction of Mountain Bikers

The second week of being on campus was my first week of full classes. In the week I have three classes that I meet for three times, which is by two large lectures and one small group seminar. So total, I have 9 hours of class time a week (not a lot whatsoever). The class size for lectures are the farthest you can get from St. Norbert. I have about 150+ students in lectures, and it is solely the professor talking with no student-professor interaction (misses my linguistics class where she asks us questions now and then). Although the small group seminars are just like St. Norbert classrooms. There are about 18 students and we have class discussions on certain topics for the week and everyone puts their two cents in the conversation. So there’s two ways to learn for people who learn best in different ways!

With lots of time in between classes and not any work to do for classes, I decided to take a nice walk on Tuesday, the 20th of September. I decided to go on this path that you are able to get to when you walk on the side of the road in back of all the living accommodations and find a hole in the stone wall. When you go through the wall you immediately are in a forest with a path created by many others who decided to walk in the forest as well. It was such a beautiful day with the sun shining and just the tiniest bit of cool in the air. It was noon and I didn’t have class until 4, so I decided to walk as far as I could until it was time for Linguistics.

The first was so green, with moss covering almost everything. There were old stone walls the plants growing out between each stone, fairy spots, waterfalls, buckeye trees, and quietness only interrupted by the sound of birds and the crunching of leaves as I walked. The scenery was exactly what I dreamt of when I imagined being back in Scotland. It was a special time that I did not want to end. I walk as far as I thought was good for that day, not wanting to go too far while alone.

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When I decided to head back closer to campus, I still had two hours to spare. So, I decided to talk to the Wallace Monument. It is actually not far from campus at all. About a 20-minute walk from the main building on campus and a bus ride up to the top (that was optional, I could have walked but wanted to save time to spend longer at the monument). Once I got to the monument and paid to be able to go to the top, I started my journey up the very long spiral staircase that had tiny slits as windows that did not have glass, which I found you were able to put your hands through them as a type of railing if you wanted, which I as I began to remember I have a bit of a fear of heights. There are three floors in the monument. One about the Battle of Stirling in which William Wallace fought in, one about different lords and other popular people from there throughout the years, and one about the making of the monument in the 1800’s. After you look at those floors (and really catch your breath) you can make your way up to the finally floor, and the one that made it worth all the climbing and the price of the ticket; the top of the monument.

There on top of the monument you truly feel like you are on the top of the world. The air is so cool and clean and you can see miles and miles of landscape and cities from every angle you look. This is a spot that I want to go back to and would be willing to pay again to go back to (as I would pay to go back to the castle so I could spend as much time as I could again in the garden next to the castle). There are so many beauties here that are so amazing and new to view. It was so peaceful being on the top of that monument which is also at the top of a high hill in the middle of the city. You feel all the history of Stirling and can’t believe you are looking down and just experiencing being there. You can really meditate on life and feel completely right being there, with the cool breeze hitting you and the sun shining on you at the same time with no sounds at all. I was able to see all of my campus, I was able to see the castle, the town, old town, all the many farm lands with miles of planes, cattle feeding, and the many mountains circling the city of Stirling. As large and spacious it is, being there made it all seem connected and united. I believe that if I could feel that, then that monument really was special and had a great purpose for the town of Stirling. I left only when a couple came up, ending me being alone there for 10 minutes, so I could let them experience what I did in peace.
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I them made my way back to campus with just enough time to have lunch before class.

 

The next day was a beautiful cloudy day. I did not have class and was planning on spending the day as a lazy one. When I came into the communial kitchen, some flat mates invited me to climb the mountain, that is outside my room window, with them. I accepted right away, never going to give up a chance for adventure and got ready. The cleaning maid told us before we left how to get up there (which we found just made us get lost) but she also told us a great saying they have, “If you can see the mountain, then it is going to rain. If you cannot, then it is already raining!” which was very funny and I believe her way of warning us it was going to rain soon. But, we set out and tried to find a way to start our journey up the giant hill. We spend maybe half hour trying to find a starting point, but soon found a way to go. We made our way up a road in between two old stone walls up a hill and soon found a small path through the wall that made its way up the hill.

And a steep hill it was! After many attempts to find a path that would bring us up to the top, we finally found a very narrow path, but since it was a path at all, we followed it. We soon found ourselves up and one of the tops of the hills and were right under the giant power lines that stretch from Stirling to Inverness. We stopped and took in the scenery for a bit. We then started to make our way back up the narrow path further up the hill. But, about a few seconds in we all had to literally jump into the bushes along the path. We found out why the path was so narrow; it was for mountain bikers! And two were coming straight at us at a super-fast and dangerous speed, but we luckily got out of their way just in time. We then started to walk, but one of the girls, very funny looking back on it now, said, “Can we take a minute, I just almost *F* died!” so we took a moment to realized what happened. It’s amazing how mountain bikers can descend a mountain and almost 90° at like 60 miles. It is really a skill to be able to do that and concentrate so hard, or may not think at all, so that you don’t fall or injure yourself in any way. But, we made our way up the path with more caution for if we would have to jump again. We walked through a cave made out of bushes that all shaped into a tunnel which was very intriguing and then next thing we know we are at the top. It was a very magical moment that I took in, and not more than a minute after I start taking in what I am seeing, I get a message from my greatest friend back home saying good morning. So I send him a video of where I was and was happy 1, I somehow had signal at the top of a mountain, and 2, that I was able to share that experience with him at least a little bit.

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We saw the clouds of the rain were beginning to form again and very close to us, so we made our way down the hill and wandered more around the town and ventured into graveyard from the 1600’s and saw a miniature castle that had all the doors and windows cemented shut. We then made our way back to campus, in which the group got split into two with two girls walking much farther ahead, and my friend and I taking our time. Charlotte and I decided to go into town to return somethings and get some groceries. On our way to the bus stop, we had to walk through the atrium of the college center, and there we saw a booth for 35 pond tours. We decided to spontaneous and signed up to go on the weekend tour through the highlands at that moment for the upcoming weekend. It was very exciting and very spur of the moment, which what traveling is all about.

We made our way to the town and decided to have a taste of home, so of course went to McDonalds to get big macs. I also got a KitKat McFlurry and a very nice friend from a class gave me a banana shake (yeah, the McDonalds here have many different flavors for things!) she tried and decided she didn’t want.

We then ventured back and the rest of the week was class and relaxing inside away from the rain. I finally was able to do my laundry Thursday (how to be able to do laundry is a long and different story). But, I did something I thought I never would have to do in my life, and that was to ask a person by me to please get the socks from the back of the dryer that I couldn’t reach. Luckily the people here are like De Pere and very helpful and cheerful. The rest of what I could say for the second week was just holding in my excitement for the tour Charlotte and I would take for the weekend.

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