Studying away for only a semester is an odd feeling. I am in Scotland for that short amount of time that warrants enough of a glimpse of the history and culture, yet not the full immersion that I would expect of living in a new country. I’m here for only three and a half months. I guess it takes a while to get to know a new culture, just like meeting new people.
Despite the pretty pictures of food and places, the life of college students still exists. It feels like a delicate balance which I try to constantly travel to explore Scotland, yet have to keep convincing myself that every day is not vacation. I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch almost every day to save up a few extra dollars for transportation costs. I chose to walk fourth-five minutes to the far end of town instead of paying £2.50 in bus fare. It’s still the same old college lifestyle, but with the added bonus of being in a unique environment.
I finally feel like I am settling down into my college routine of studying and exploring Scotland on weekends. I’ve been to quite a few places already, but I’ve been trying not to post about every single place I’ve been.
To be honest, I am not a fan of writing where I’ve been, but rather what I’ve learned. As a typical self-absorbed writer, I like to write about the little moments that made my brain spin with ideas for the future, brought back memories from the past, and help me get a better grip of imagining the bigger picture of society. I like to ask myself abstract questions like: How did that experience happen? Why did you feel that way? How does this experience relate to my other past experiences? Who else is involved and did they react the same way? And the list of questions can go on and on.
Don’t worry, I will be writing about those moments and learnings on my study abroad experience. But for now, I will write for those who are curious about my travels and where I’ve been. Here is my list of places I have traveled so far (with my added notes):
It’s a small town about thirty minutes south of Aberdeen by train.
– hiked to Dunnotar Castle
It was incredibly beautiful and I was lucky to have warm sunny weather. Towards the castle, there was sparkling ocean and jagged cliffs. Facing away from the castle, there was farmland with bales of hay and cows. Nature was everywhere. And to my surprise, near the beach there were tidepools with little creatures swimming about.
When I visited the castle area, I had the option to enter the castle and touch the walls, but I decided to stay back and enjoy the view. I felt far too overwhelmed by the nature around me. It was all so breath-taking and I didn’t want to forget things by seeing everything at once. Don’t worry, I will definitely go back- it’s only a £3.20 train ticket away.
– ate coffee ice cream from Aunty Bettys
If you ever go, eat this ice-cream. It was so very delicious, I would definitely come back in a heartbeat.
– witnessed others eat fried mars bars at the Carron Fish Bar
Since it was a 75°F day, it was too hot outside for me to want to eat hot chocolate, despite chocolate’s alluring tastiness.
It’s a three hour scenic bus drive south of Aberdeen.
– Went to the Discovery Museum
The Discovery Museum was one of my favourite museums so far in Scotland. As a student of the humanities and social sciences, I wouldn’t say that ships are my thing. However, I really enjoyed learning about the history and science of the making and expeditions of the Discovery. Basically, it was a boat that made an expedition from Dundee to Antarctica in 1901 for a couple of years to gather scientific information. Quite fascinating history, and if you are curious to read a little bit about it, click on this Wikipedia page . This museum had the restored ship, which I got to go in, which was pretty cool.
-Hiked to Dundee Law
Dundee Law is a giant hill, or to be more exact- it is the hardened magma on the vent of an extinct volcano. I started from the very bottom of the hill near the water and it definitely looked like an intimidating hike to the top (which is the tall WW2 memorial). After a twenty minute steep walk uphill, I reached the top and was greeted by a view. You can judge for yourself if you think it was a good view or not.
– Ate a fabulous fudge doughnut at Fisher and Donaldson
I bought the doughnut, put in my bag, then hiked to the top of Dundee Law. It was definitely worth the wait.
Its only a twenty-five minute walk from the university campus.
– history tour from a local
It was led by a recent university graduate who lived in Aberdeen her whole life. I learned so many cool facts about the development of the city and some of the unique traditions. Aberdeen was first granted a charter in the late 1100s, so the city has been around for a long time. In the past, Aberdeen has had tremendous wealth, especially due to its harbour which makes trade accessible, the abundance of granite in the land, and the oil industry nearby. With great wealth came a strong infrastructure, and those who committed a crime would receive hefty punishments. There are quite a few stories that I could share, but I figure if you want to learn about the dark times, you could google “Aberdeen punishment” and you could read some stories for yourself.
– Maritime museum
The Maritime museum, also known as a museum filled with boat replicas, was quite interesting if you like boat replicas. It was a great free museum, but I was not so keen on learning about the differences of the construction of different boats.
– Tolbooth museum
This museum is an old jail from the mid-1600s, where they specifically held prisoners waiting for their court hearings. The Tolbooth in Aberdeen is quite small, so it did not house criminals for long periods of time. They would either be shipped to other jails or sold to the U.S. as indentured servants (only until 1776- then they switched to Sydney, Australia). The museum is quite creepy. As a person who adores Halloween and horror novels, I was pleasantly surprised (pun intended) to see wax figures of some prisoners in the rooms.
Also, I had the privilege to hear a talk from the curator of part of the Tolbooth exhibit about the 400th anniversary of the building, which was quite interesting!
– Walked along the beach
What more can I say, I love the ocean!