Hello readers! Today marks the (almost) 2 month anniversary of living in the land of Scots! It feels like I’ve been here for a lifetime. All the things that plagued my first month (learning how to get around, locating where everything is, and learning how to kick my Nutella addiction) have become child’s play, except the Nutella addiction because that is still something I’m working on. Here’s another monthly update of how my October went, I hope you enjoy!
Traveling Around (Cork, Ireland and Paris, France)
I was lucky enough to bop around a little this month, visiting and travelling with some of my best friends. In mid-October, my friend Casey (who also happens to be my flatmate and fellow ‘Sader) visited the beautiful country of Ireland, a first time for both of us! Even though our Ryanair flight was delayed an hour and we almost missed our 3 hour bus to Cork, the Irish gods were smiling on us that night when we pulled into Cork city centre at 2 am. The occasion was to celebrate our mutual friend Megan’s 21st birthday. Thanks to the Cork kids’ hospitality and adventurous spirit, we had one of the best weekends abroad! Highlights include experiencing an Irish gaol (jail), falling in love with the lead singer of an Irish cover band, attending the Leits version of Oktoberfest, exploring the beautiful campus of UCC, and catching up with some of our favorite ‘Saders. Miss those guys already, but we know we will be reuniting soon 😉
Just as I was unpacking my backpack from Ireland, I was booking my next flight. The jetset life is so hard! (haha I’m just kidding, if anything it would be the cheap-commercial-airline-that-seats-me-next-to-wailing-newborn-infants life). A couple of weekends later I joined my one of my best friends from high school, Samir, and some of his friends in Paris!! Samir is studying in Valencia, Spain and graciously extended an invite to join him in the city of love and lights. We spent 3 full days exploring one of the most BEAUTIFUL cities I’ve ever laid eyes on. It was a mad dash to try to hit every major point (i.e Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, etc etc), but we did it! Samir, being the great planner that he is, got us discounted tickets to the top of the Eiffel Tower, a boat cruise on the Seine, and the Louvre – he is a true MVP. Highlights included everything I mentioned before, midnight fondue in Montmartre, drinking French wine out of baby bottles (yes, this happened), and fulfilling a childhood dream of eating a crepe at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Also, I tried to use 7 years worth of my rusty French, which actually came in handy when I got stranded a few hours before my flight home in a little town in the suburbs of Paris where no one spoke English (merci Madame Zuclich!)
For those who read my first post (aka Mom and Dad), I talked about being adopted into my academic family and how the pinnacle of our family bonding culminates to Raisin Sunday. Well, it definitely met the hype. At 8 am Sunday morning (2 hours before I was supposed to go to my dad’s house, might I add), I had a surprise visit to my flat by my moms (yes, I have 2… it’s 2016 people!), my dad, my uncle, and a nice glass of Guinness and milk which I had to finish in 20 seconds. Great start to the day. At 10, I finally made it to my dad’s house for an afternoon of fun and games. My siblings, cousins, and I all took part egg races, eating donuts off a string, and a scavenger hunt across town. It was a long day, but it was the most fun I’ve had at St Andrews so far. My family is super cool and really fun to hang out with, so I lucked out in that department. Luckily, the fun didn’t end when Sunday turned into Monday. Monday marked the end of Raisin with a classic foam fight, a tradition that has been going on for over 600 years. (Don’t quote me on that). Our parents dressed us up in funny costumes (my family’s theme was Emojis) and we ran onto Lower College Lawn with foam (shaving cream to Americans) in hand. It was soapy, sloppy utter chaos. To get a true feel for what Raisin Weekend is like here, this video does a pretty good job, even though it was taken 6 years ago. I love that St Andrews students have such reverence for tradition, it’s definitely an aspect that drew me to studying here.
Getting #cultural at Crayfish
How does it feel to be Swedish for a night? Jättebra! (This supposedly means “Awesome!” in Swedish. Apparently Norwegian and Swedish are very similar, so I just asked my Norwegian flatmate Emilie how to say that, it’s legit everyone!) My super cool and super Norwegian aforementioned flatmate Emilie tipped me and Casey off to a cool event the Scandinavian Society holds called “Crayfish Party” and said we should go. Naturally, being a 1/6 Norwegian, I felt it was my duty to attend and represent my heritage!! (Another side note: Em laughs when I mention I’m a 1/6 Norwegian like it doesn’t count!!! Bye!!!) The ladies of Blackfriars 12 got all dolled up and were ready to show these crayfish who was boss. Highlights of the night included learning that crayfish are literally BABY LOBSTERS, trying Swedish vodka and an Edinburgh fizz for the first time (one was amazing, one was not very pleasant, your guess), and getting behind the DJ booth to help DJ do his thang. It was a great night and definitely worth the 55 pounds.
Crashing computers and deadlines
Life isn’t just sunsets on the East Sands and Malteasers. I want to keep this blog as real as possible, so that means not only sharing the amazing/fun/exciting things that happen but also the stuff that isn’t as amazing/fun/exciting. So, a large part of study abroad is the study part 🙂 and I take my studies very seriously, both at HC and St Andrews. A little bit of pressure is good, but I prefer to write my papers and do assignments in little chunks over a large period of time rather than the night before. That’s how I work best. When I found out I had 2 very important papers due within 24 hours of each other, I was very adamant to start them as early as possible. This meant my first 12 hour marathon in the library, which was quite productive given that I eventually finished both before the night bus came to pick me up. I wanted to do some final superficial changes like adding a cover page and the like right before I submitted it, so I waited until the day of to submit my paper. As a little break between editing, I decided to upload my Paris photos to my computer. I guess the photos were too spectacular and my computer could not handle the sunset over the Eiffel Tower because it decided to crash and not turn on. Let the freak out commence. Of course, 2 papers, one worth 100% of my final course grade was stuck inside a hunking piece of metal that had no use to me if it could not turn on. Luckily, this story has a happy ending. By the grace of god, for some reason I saved my essays to Google Docs, fully edited and formatted. I submitted both papers without a problem, but did have to pay 80 pounds ($110) to get a new hardware installed. Students reading this (if any), if you get anything from this silly story of heartbreak is always upload your papers to Google Docs or some random cloud so you can access them anywhere. You’re an independent student who shouldn’t depend on one computer for the rest of your life.
Wow, this has been a long post. I honestly can’t believe that a whole 60 days has passed already. I’m trying to keep a “one day at a time” mantra going, but it’s hard when you have to plan trips, juggle papers, do club work, and integrate as much as possible into the fabrics of St Andrews. It’s not a bad problem to have. Looking forward to November, where I have some fun things I’m really looking forward to. Curious? I’ll update you in 2 weeks 🙂 Talk to you soon.
PS: The national animal of Scotland is the unicorn, so that says a lot about where I live. A smart guy explains why here.
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