One Student. One Semester. One major life experience.
Julie Smith studied in Edinburgh, Scotland through the Design Your Own Study Abroad Option.
I had the opportunity to go to Ireland last weekend and it was such an amazing trip! I went with my Canadian travel buddy Emily. I suppose I should start at the beginning because it was an adventure from the very start. Emily spent the night in my room so we could go to the airport together in the morning. We had an 8 am flight so we were leaving for the airport at 5:30 am to get there by 6 am. We woke up to no power or water in my building, but we managed to get dressed and gather our stuff together by the light of our phones. We then went to the reception center for my res hall buildings to call a taxi. As we were walking up I thought I saw a cat which would not be that unusual because there is one that hangs around. As we got closer it got taller and its tail became bushier. Emily and I realized at the same time that this was no house cat but a fox. That’s right, a fox! As we carefully walked past it to go inside it followed us inside as well. We noticed that it was limping and seemed to be just as scared of us as we were of it. However, nothing eventful happened with the fox and our taxi came to bring us to the airport.
Turns out we were a little early and sat for a bit. I got some coffee and Emily took a nap. She wasn’t feeling well which ended up being more than just a cold. We flew to Dublin and made our way to our hostel. What an experience staying at a hostel! I think everyone should do it sometime in their life. Once we chilled out for a little bit we went on a free walking tour to see the highlights of Dublin. Our tour guide was a history student so we got to see the main sites and also learn a lot about history. We saw the Dublin Castle and Queens College along with some interesting monarchs. Then that night there was free BBQ at our hostel through a local pub as long as you bought some sort of drink. It was a really good deal.
The next day we woke up and Emily was really sick so we found a clinic for her to go to but she told me to go to the Guinness Museum with some friends that we had made at the hostel. She already knew she had strep throat, she just needed the medicine. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to actually use my day instead of just sitting around in the hostel. We went to the museum which was really interesting. It is somewhat of a requirement if you are in Dublin so I went with my new friends Josie, from Austria, and Georgea, from Australia. It was a good museum day because it was pouring down rain. After the museum, we headed back to the hostel and watched some movies in the entertainment room. Emily had been camped out there all day! She said that she was starting to feel better which was good because we had our big Northern Ireland day trip the next day. We had to meet our group and bus at 6:30 am.
We woke up the next morning while it was still dark and made our way to the meeting spot. Our bus was somewhat small, more like a shuttle bus. There were 13 people on the trip. We made our way to Northern Ireland which really didn’t take that long. We learned some more history about why there is a Northern Ireland in the first place. Ireland is its own country but Northern Ireland is part of the UK. The main reason for this is that Northern Ireland is made up of mostly Protestants while Ireland is made up of mostly Catholics. That division made the Northern Irish want to stay a part of the UK since it is also mostly Protestant. Our first big stop was the Carrick-a-Rede bridge which was a bridge that fisherman used to use to catch salmon. They strung up their nets between the main land and a small island. It was really high up! We spent an hour or so there and continued along the coast of Northern Ireland. It was beautiful! I want to move there. No lie!
We then stopped at a coastal town for lunch real fast before we continued to make our way to the natural phenomenon the Giant’s Causeway. It was such an amazing day to visit. Our bus driver who has been there a thousand times actually walked down too since it was such a nice day. I can’t explain the peace that I experienced there with the ocean crashing against the huge pillars that had formed naturally. If you have a chance you should read the legend that our bus driver told us about how the bridge was formed by a giant called Finn McCool. I love legends! We need more legends in America.
After our amazing stop at the Giant’s Causeway we stopped at Belfast, which is the capital of Northern Ireland. We spent a few hours there walking around and doing some shopping. My Northern Irish friend Rachel (from my small group) had given me a list of things I had to try while I was there. That is what the first picture in this entry is of. I was trying the popsicle, or ice lolly as Rachel calls it, and chips, or crisps, that Rachel told me I had to try. We left at 6:30 am and got back at 8:30 pm so it was a full day of traveling and seeing. The next day was our last day and we decided to just walk around on our own doing some more sightseeing. We then got on our one hour flight back to Scotland where we both had papers to write. Besides Emily getting sick, it was such an amazing trip. It was so amazing and I loved Northern Ireland so much that I am going to go home with Rachel to her house, outside of Belfast, for a few days in December. I am excited about seeing a Northern Irish Christmas! I can’t believe I only have 5 more weeks here! It is crazy how time has flown!
After our amazing stop at the Giant’s Causeway we stopped at Belfast, which is the capital of Northern Ireland. We spent a few hours there walking around and doing some shopping. My Northern Irish friend Rachel (from my small group) had given me a list of things I had to try while I was there. That is what the first picture in this entry is of. I was trying the popsicle, or ice lolly as Rachel calls it, and chips, or crisps, that Rachel told me I had to try.
We left at 6:30 am and got back at 8:30 pm so it was a full day of traveling and seeing. The next day was our last day and we decided to just walk around on our own doing some more sightseeing. We then got on our one hour flight back to Scotland where we both had papers to write. Besides Emily getting sick, it was such an amazing trip. It was so amazing and I loved Northern Ireland so much that I am going to go home with Rachel to her house, outside of Belfast, for a few days in December. I am excited about seeing a Northern Irish Christmas! I can’t believe I only have 5 more weeks here! It is crazy how time has flown!
P.S. If you can’t tell I loved taking pictures on this trip. Natural beauty and history make picture taking so easy!
This will be a quick one but I didn’t want to not write about the amazing weekend I experienced. I went on a weekend away with the Christian Union (CU) and it was AMAZING! We studied the book of Hosea and the remarkable example of Hosea and Gomer’s marriage. It really put into perspective how my sin affects God. I am married to God as a Christian, and when I sin I am being adulterous to God. Wow, just wow!
We had a bonfire, set off fireworks for Guy Fawkes Night, and had lots of tea and biscuits! It was splendid! There were so many lovely people that I got to know this weekend, and it was a perfect mid-semester weekend away. It truly lifted up my spirits to be surrounded by Christians. It reminded me of the community that I am so blessed with at LeTourneau. I think I truly took it for granted. At the same time though, I am loving my time here!
Recently I went on a weekend trip to Loch Tay with a group through the University. We stayed at a lodge owned by the University called Firbush. The food was so good because it was home cooked and there was SO much of it. I was actually full. This was important because we were spending all day doing outdoorsy things. I went with my close friend Emily who is from Ontario, Canada. There was a morning and afternoon activity for Saturday and Sunday. We voted before each session to choose the different activities for that time since some of the activities required staff. Saturday morning we (Emily and I) went sailing which was interesting. When we were making one of the first turns the wind hit us really hard and caused half of our sailboat to dip into the water. Fortunately we were on the dry side and did not get drenched. Overall it was fun despite it being very wet, but I can now say that I have gone sailing in Scotland.
For our afternoon activity we chose to get road bikes and ride down to the village which was about six miles round trip. It was still raining so when we were going downhill the rain hit us in the face.
By the time we got to the village we were drenched even though we wore waterproof pants and jackets. It was so much fun though. When I was pedaling uphill I felt like I was going to pop a lung, but once I started going downhill it was so worth it. You have to love gravity and momentum.
Sunday afternoon we had limited time for the activity because we were leaving right after tea time. I had promised Emily that I would swim in the loch with her because she really wanted to. Her winning argument was that if I did it I could say that I swam in Loch Tay in Scotland with NO wetsuit. So we went on a little hike and ended up on the edge of the loch and took a little dip. I’ll just tell you now that it did not last long, and that it was insanely cold! But hey, now I can say that I did it :)
It was a really fun weekend! School is about to get really crazy because all of my essays are coming up along with presentations. At the same time I have a lot of weekend trips planned, so I better start managing my time better! I’ll let you know how it goes!
You know the saying, ‘When the rubber meets the road’. Well I have reached that point. It has fully set in that I have been here 6 weeks and will be here for another 9 weeks. Vacation time is over. This is reality. I do not mean to sound so down, but this is my reality.I am both excited about it and sad. If you do not know me personally one word that people tend to describe me as is honest. For that reason, I decided to be honest about how some days are when you are studying abroad.
I love being in Scotland, I do, but some days I really miss my friends and family. On top of normal homesickness I happen to be engaged as well. It is hard being away from my fiancé long term for the first time in our 6 year relationship. On top of that, I am having to do some minor wedding planning while I am over here. Wedding planning from across the pond is rather difficult.
This is also the time when I have to seriously remind myself that my strength does not come from myself but from God. I have had the blessing of finding a good group of Christian friends through a small group for my res hall. However, it is very different for me to be at a school that is so different from LeTourneau. LeTourneau encourages their students to build their relationship with God and seek His will. The University of Edinburgh encourages their students to go out clubbing and partying to experience life. (Keep in mind that the legal drinking age is 18 here.) With such a different culture and atmosphere I have to admit that my relationship with God has been better. However I do realize now that my strength is not going to be enough to get me through the next 2 months. I am going to need to seek the Lord’s strength. I never realized that studying abroad would have such an effect on my faith. It is somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Although I may be homesick at times, the Lord is always with me and His presence is all that I need. Also, the fact that I am here at all is a blessing, so I should not take that for granted.
So there it is the whole truth, at least from my experience. I just thought it would be beneficial for some people to read about the internal journey that some experience while studying abroad.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Part of the reason that I chose to come to Scotland was because I thought communication would not be a problem since they spoke English. I knew that the accents would take some time to get used to, but I never realized how many words did not mean the same thing over here. For example, our chips are called crisps here and our fries are called chips here. Somewhat confusing at times. Here is a list of some other new words I have had to learn.
American Word = UK word
- Popsicle = ice lolly
- Toilet = loo
- TV= telle
- Pants= jeans
- Underwear = pants (or knickers)
- Class = lecture
- Band aid = plaster
Keep in mind these are just the general miscommunications. Whenever my friends from Northern Ireland start telling a story, no one else understands a lot of what they are talking about (even the Scottish and English). That is always comforting to know that I am not the only one with odd words. They also say the word proper A LOT! I, on the other hand, have realized that I say “holy cow” A LOT and they always call me on it. It has become a new joke where they use it sometimes but always in an exaggerated Texan accent. Of course, I have also caught myself saying y’all which they never miss either. What a learning experience! That is all for now!
I have been in Scotland for three weeks now and meant to start journaling sooner, but I am just having so much fun! Before I get into what I have been doing these past three weeks, I thought it would be beneficial to give some background as to why I am even in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I am a senior Accounting major who has known other students to study abroad and come back telling great stories. I realized last fall that the time I had left to study abroad was ticking away. I started looking at some options and asked myself, what foreign place would I like to live in for over three months? I spoke with a friend who was also wishing to study abroad and she mentioned Edinburgh, Scotland. She went there the past two summers for mission trips with her church. She explained that she knew of the University of Edinburgh and their amazing program for international students. I decided to apply to the international program and found out a few months later that I was accepted!
I flew out of Houston, Texas on Saturday September 10th and landed in Edinburgh the next day. I even managed to make a few friends on the flight with some girls that were visiting exchange students at the University of Edinburgh. All my bags made it safely, and I split a taxi with one of the girls that I met.
I arrived one week before classes started so I could participate in ‘Freshers Week.’ This week consisted of several fun and diverse activities for the students to participate in. The interesting thing about the University of Edinburgh when compared to LeTourneau is that the campus is spread out all over the city. There is a twenty minute walk from my dining hall to central campus and another ten minute walk to the School of Divinity where my class is located. I had to get used to walking a lot more and planning my time accordingly.
To summarize the last three weeks, I have joined the Christian Union and gotten involved in a small group in my resident building. I have a solid group of friends from my small group that I hang out with most of the time. Their names are Helen, Rachel, Kirsten, Andy, and Tom. Helen is from London; Rachel is from Northern Ireland; Kirsten and Andy are from Glasgow, Scotland; Tom is from England. I have also gotten involved in the International Student Centre (ISC) which organizes all sorts of weekend trips for international students. I have gone on two weekend trips so far and also a short trip within Edinburgh. I have made a close friend named Em (Emily) who is from Canada. I have visited the Balloch Castle and Loch Lomond during one trip. Last weekend I went to Stirling to view the Stirling Castle and the William Wallace Monument. I have three classes that are all interesting in their own way. Classes here are very different than classes at LeTourneau. There is not much assigned homework but more reading assignments that students are responsible for doing to keep up during lectures. Also, there are no general Education classes required, so I am taking three very different classes. These classes are Scottish Literature, Earth Dynamics, and Old Testament.I feel as if I am running all over the city for my classes since they are located in three different departments.
That is the general catch up journal. I know it had a lot of information and not a lot of detail, but now that I have started I know I will make sure to write more often.