Great Scot!

I’ve officially settled in.

I can find my way around campus without having to stop and look at a map. I’ve gotten accustomed to only hearing British accents and seeing “fire exit” signs on every door. I know which days I’ll make breakfast, which days I’ll work out and which days are completely packed. I know to tell people which “modules” I’m in and have started swapping “thanks” for “cheers.” I’ve chosen my grocery store (Tesco all the way).

So now that I’m comfortable in my surroundings, it’s only fitting I start exploring elsewhere.

I took my first trip out of Manchester two weekends ago, when some fellow exchange students (including some from Mizzou) and I went to Scotland. I had no idea what to expect.

One of my good friends from high school is from there, and when I asked her for suggestions, she prefaced by saying, “Well, Scotland is kinda amazing, you see.”

It surely didn’t disappoint.

We started the weekend in Glasgow, where we first walked through a scenic park to get to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. I was bummed the ancient Egyptian exhibit was temporarily closed, but the museum had so much more to offer — including works by Monet and Dali. The Dali work was one we studied in my Context and Culture class last year, so it was especially cool to see that.

After that, we visited the University of Glasgow and crashed wedding pictures in front of the cathedral there (whoops). Then, some of us took an hourlong trek to the Necropolis, a place my friend recommended. It didn’t register that it would be an old graveyard, but it was such a pleasant surprise — the graves were more than 100 years old. And when you walked (and climbed, in our case) to the top, you got a gorgeous view of Glasgow.

IMG_8771The Necropolis entrance

IMG_8788The top level of graves, where you could see all of Glasgow

We took an evening train to Edinburgh, where we had a bit of hostel trouble (apparently, management had changed a few days before we arrived, and we weren’t on the new management’s guest list, among other things), but the city nightlife made up for it. The Grassmarket district contained pubs and shops that were hundreds of years old (one of which, The White Hart Inn, was a favorite of literary greats), so we explored that while our beds were being built. (Also, I tried vegetarian haggis — delicious!)

We started the day at Edinburgh Castle, which is at the top of the Royal Mile, a long, slanted street of shops, museums and cathedrals. We didn’t get to tour the castle, but even just being up there was great — we got a beautiful view of the city from there.

IMG_8806Edinburgh Castle

IMG_8807The view of Edinburgh from the top of the castle

We spent most of the rest of the day walking up and down the Royal Mile. We stopped in a beautiful cathedral for a bit, then went to a museum in the area. I was engrossed in the art and design exhibit until the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate. Then, a few of us walked around some more and went to the massive art gallery until we left to go to the train station. The exhibit we saw held 18th- and 19th-century work practically stacked to the high ceiling.

Scotland was beautiful, and I’d love to make it back again before I leave!

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