After the long travel here, I woke up three hours later than I hoped. The night before was too rainy and dark to be able to see what was outside my hotel window. But, that morning the sun was shining and was so beautiful as my first site of what Scotland is and not a sleep deprived zombie. That moment I felt I was where I belonged. I shared a taxi to the Uni with another student who stayed at the hotel and would be studying abroad for the semester too. She was from the Philippians and gave me advice that I would soon wish I didn’t take. I thought I would go to the building I would be staying the whole semester but she, very kindly, said that I should go to the main building to get my key, as she had to for the building she is staying (which is a much older building that didn’t have a main office in the lobby) So, I went with my huge suite case and bags up the stairs to the main atrium of the student center, finding out I indeed should have just gone to my building. So, I made my way across the very large, compared to St. Norbert, campus up the hill that my building was resting on. But new student helpers saw me and took my bags for me and helped me settle in (which if you girls read this at all, THANK YOU!). I then was introduced to my room that I will soon make home for the semester and was completely happy and excited.
A little while later two other girls from St. Norbert, Charlotte and Kelsey, settled in. We met two other girls living in the flat and all went into the town on a bus for lunch and to get a few supplies for the flat. The town is a perfect example of a small town filled with centuries of history. The town is full of shops, cafes, pubs, and other attractions, but all settled in buildings from the 1700 and 1800’s. We had lunch in a little café that had an ice cream shop attached to it. We learned all about each other and I enjoyed some fish and chips as my first meal in Scotland. There is a mall right in the center of town called The Thistles where we were able to get some groceries and bathroom supplies. We then made our way back to the beautiful campus and spent the rest of the night getting settled in and decorating my room with the photos I printed out before I left.
The next day, Sunday, we had an orientation for new students and studying abroad students. During it I saw the girl from Germany I met on the Shuttle to Stirling. I also ended up winning a paid trip around Scotland for a weekend that all study abroad students put a ballot in for and two were chosen! It was a tremendous start to the adventure of Scotland! After Charlotte, and flat mate named Jess, and I received our IDs, we ventured back into town to get some more things at the store and decided to go to a pub called Molly Malloy’s for dinner. There we ordered very Scottish dished, such as shepherd’s pie, Haggis, and steak pie. We also all got beer on tap, although I was only able to take a couple sips of it (not the best taste to me). Practice, practice!
My first Monday there was no class, only settling in still and choosing what seminars I would like to take outside of the lectures (lectures are the 150+ people classes we just listen, seminars are small groups of 15 students the class gives which work is done, one on one time with the tutor is given, and attendance is mandatory). At night my flat mates and I decided to out to the town at night and see what attractions there were for the night life and ended up sitting and talking for hours at Molly Malloy’s talking about life and each other. A very comfortable and enjoyable night with new friends. The next couple days were stayed on campus and mostly doing work and relaxing in my flat.
Wednesday I decided on a whim to head to Edinburgh to visit a friend, Maggie, from St. Norbert who was visiting the town for a few days before heading to school in London for the semester. I was able to take the train by myself without any issues (yes, trains here are very much nicer than back in the States). When I got into the town, I was able to find my friend right away and we made our way to T.K Max (off brand of T.J Max here) so that she could get a coat since here bag was lost while flying into Scotland. We got coffee and talked about how everything was going and then ventured to Royal Mile (part of old town that had all the main shops and attractions). There we were able to meet and hold a beautiful owl named Hazel. We then were able to go on a walking tour around the town that was for 18+ aged people (mostly because of the swearing, but a few very racy stories). It was very funny though and actually very informational. The tour guide was very nice and was very easy to know he loved his job.
After, we got dinner at a café that I sadly forget the name of. We then went into a pub called the Filling Station and talked more about life until I made my way back to the train station that started a new adventure. Apparently there was an issue with the train I was going to take, so I had to take a bus about two hours out to another train station, where I made my way back to Stirling, and then took a taxi back to my accommodation building.
Thursday, September 15th was my 21st birthday. I had a nice day keeping busy with classes and watching a movie in between them. After my last class my friend I visited the day before came to spend my birthday with me. My flat mates and I all went out into town and went to a restaurant called City Walls which was very, very nice! We had very interesting talks and I had my first drink at age 21 by having Kopparberg wild berry cider (Hoping I can find this brand when I come back home in winter!). We then went to Molly Malloy’s again and listened to someone sing there for the night. We decided it was too loud to be able to talk so decided to go to the pub on campus, so got Indian food we get every time we leave Molly’s and called the taxi we have managed to get the same driver for every time. When we got back to the flat we found out the bar was only open for freshman that night, so decided to have the night end there. It was a very nice Birthday being able to spend it as a relaxed night with new friends. I then was able to video chat the rest of the night with my boyfriend, Johnny, which completed the day.
The rest of the weekend flat mates and I decided to be tourists and explore the town of Stirling, where we visited Stirling Castle, walked the streets of old town, and enjoy and take in the stunning sights of the mountains and miles of farm lands of the city. We managed to have great weather every day and were able to make every minute count. We tried new restaurants such as Papa Joe’s and No. 2 Baker Street, which had the most excellent food! All in all, this was a very special and wonderful first week in Scotland. I cannot wait to see what else will be in store this semester.