Showing posts from 2012

When One Door Closes...

The last week of the program was just as filled as the rest of the semester. Tuesday night a group of us went to a Ceilidh dance at the University of Edinburgh's Bongo Club. Several of the dances were familiar from our first Ceilidh at the beginning of the semester and quite a few were new to me. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I got to participate in a "real" Ceilidh during my time in Scotland.

On Wednesday I got my final dose of Edinburgh as Gabby and I spent the afternoon shopping. Thursday was spent cleaning the Palace. Everyone helped clean the kitchen areas, servery, and dining hall, then we split into our house jobs, so I helped clean the ballroom. After lunch we had the opportunity to see the attic of the Palace. It's very run down and we had to watch where we stepped, but it was cool to see the graffiti left by Polish WWII POW's on the walls. It was then onto cleaning our rooms and checking out. That night we had an end of semester/program party. We…

The Making of an Unforgettable Weekend

May 4-6, my last weekend in Europe. We made sure we made the most of our time and went out with a bang!

Friday, May 4 had been eagerly anticipated for a majority of the semester. This was the day Gabby, Courtney, Kathy, and I went to Watford, England to tour the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios!! We flew into Luton, England and took a bus to Watford. After lunch we still had quite some time before our tour time, but we couldn't wait any longer and got on the shuttle bus early. 

After perusing the very extensive gift shop we got in line for the tour. We began the self-guided tour a little after 2pm and came to the end a little before 5:30pm. During the nearly 3.5 hours, we walked through the actual studios where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. We walked through the Great Hall and saw the sets for the Gryffindor Common Room and Boys Dormitory, Dumbledore's Office, the Weasley's kitchen, Diagon Alley, and so many more! The wigs and costumes used for various characters …

"My Heart is in the Highlands"

For our second and last extended travel weekend we took a house trip to the Highlands of Scotland. The Highlands are what most people think of when they think of Scotland: mountains, rugged, not very populated. After traveling this area for four days I know why Robert Burns wrote a poem confessing that his heart is in the highlands.

Our trip started with a short stop in Stirling to pick up our Scotland: Society and Globalization professor, who would be our "tour guide" for the weekend. It was then off to Doune Castle (where parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed) before heading into the Highlands. We stopped in the beautiful Glencoe and had an opportunity to take a wee hike before we headed to our hostel. Our youth hostel was at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles. We explored the river at the base of the mountain before watching the sunset and calling it a night.

 The next morning we were off to Glenfinnan to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct…

Visit from Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad came to visit me April 19-25. It was their first time overseas and Mom's first time flying. I enjoyed showing them around Dalkeith and Edinburgh and we had some fun adventures!

I met them at the airport just after noon on Thursday 19 April and we took the bus back to Dalkeith. That night was Host Family Quiz Night, so they got to meet my host parents and our team took second place! After a day of flying and being jet-lagged it was then off to bed for them.

Friday, we joined the rest of the house on a trip to Bowhill and Melrose. Bowhill Estate is the seat of the Buccleuch Family (if you remember, the Duke of Buccleuch owns Dalkeith House). A lot of the original furniture from Dalkeith House is now in Bowhill. After touring the Duke's Estate, we stopped at Melrose Abbey and explored the ruins. Our final stop was Scott's View, where we could see for miles and adore the Scottish landscape.

On Saturday we took a day tour to Loch Ness! We stopped in Dunkeld and drov…

Alnwick: A Magical Weekend

This weekend (April 14-15) we had an optional house trip to Alnwick. Alnwick is a small town in Northern England and home to Alnwick Castle aka "The Harry Potter Castle." Parts of the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed there. Considering how many people in the house love Harry Potter, I was surprised only 10 girls signed up to spend the night in the castle.

We took a train on Saturday morning and arrived at Hogwarts (Alnwick Castle) before 10am. After settling into our rooms, we had the rest of the weekend to explore the castle and town.

First we walked through the small town and visited the market before heading to Barter Books, one of the largest used bookstores in the UK, housed in an old train station.

Back at Hogwarts we took advantage of the "From Battle-Axes to Broomsticks" tour which pointed out all the places and scenes that were filmed at the castle. We also took our first flight on our broomsticks where Harry took his!

St. Cloud State has a study …

Easter Weekend

On Friday 6 April our British History class had a field trip to the National Museum of Scotland. After our tour and group work, Gabby, Courtney, and I headed across the street to Greyfriars cemetery. J.K. Rowling got some of her character names from tombstones in the cemetery. Also, on the other side of the cemetery is a private school that was the inspiration for Hogwarts.

Saturday saw a group of us WIS students at Murrayfield again for rugby! Edinburgh, Scotland took on Toulouse, France in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final. It was a very exciting game and this time the team from Scotland won! Edinburgh beat Toulouse 19-14 and will be going on to the Semi-finals!

Easter Sunday Gabby and I went to a service at Rosslyn Chapel. We arrived well before the service so we had time to tour the chapel for free. In size it is nearly opposite of all the other cathedrals and abbeys we have visited, but not in impressiveness. It is quite small, but the interior is stone and every surface is elaborat…

Highlights of Paris: Part 2

Day Four: March 30, we took a tour of the Grand Masterpieces in the Louvre Museum. Our tour guide pointed out the Three Ladies of the Louvre: The Venus de Milo, Nike, and the Mona Lisa. We were glad we took a tour that highlighted the most famous works because if you were to look at each piece in the Louvre for 7 seconds, it would take you 80 years to see everything.

That night we took another New Europe Tour, this one of Montmarte, "the art capital of Paris." The tour started across from the famous Moulin Rouge. We saw where Van Gogh lived and Picasso worked. The highlight of the tour was Sacre Coeur, a Basilique overlooking all of Paris. When it was first built it was very controversial for several reasons, one being it's Romano-byzantine architecture, an usual mix-match of architectural styles. It combines, Gothic gargoyles, mosque-like domes,
Greek and Venician styles, among many others.

At the end of the tour we each received a free glass of wine.

Day Five: We strol…

Highlights of Paris: Part 1

After Ireland, Gabby and I flew to Paris to continue our spring break adventures. Six days in one of the biggest cities in the world makes for a multitude of memories and stories. To save time (and your eyes from staring at a screen) I will relate the highlights.

We arrived at our hostel at about midnight on Monday, March 26/Tuesday, March 27. We were then told they booked us wrong and we had no room. They called another hostel for us and around 12:30am we were lugging our luggage through the streets of Paris to this second hostel. We finally got to sleep around 2am.

Day One: Tuesday, March 27 started with a trip to the market to buy cheese, fresh fruit, and a baguette for our picnic lunch in the Jardin du Luxembourg park. We then headed to the Eiffel Tower. We reached the second level of the Tower when it was still bright and sunny out and stayed until the lights of the city became illuminated.

 Day Two: We took another New Europe Free Walking Tour and learned a lot about the history…

Paddywagon of Southern Ireland

Our second morning of spring break was much less chaotic than the first and we set off at 8am for our 3-Day Tour of Southern Ireland. (The tour company, Paddywagon, is the same company that owns the Paddy Palace, our hostel in Dublin). We got on a big green coach bus with an Irish bus driver and tour guide who took us all around Southern Ireland. We saw a lot of the countryside, as well as some cities and "tourist traps," and I fell in love.

We saw more than I could relate in 10 blog posts, but I'll share some of the highlights:

Day One: Kylemore Castle & Abbey. It was built by a young couple who fell in love with Ireland. The man built the Castle and gave it to his wife as a present. It was absolutely stunning and the lake at its base added to the picturesque scene. The Abbey is set further back in the woods and is still used by nuns today.

 That night we stayed in Galway. We had supper in a pub as a tour group and Gabby and I tried our first half-pint of Guin…

The Spring Break that Almost Wasn't

The morning of March 22 didn't go as planned. It was the first day of our 10 day spring break. Gabby and I had been planning our trip to Ireland and Paris for weeks. A taxi was going to pick us up for the airport (along with a group of other girls who were also flying to Dublin) at 5:30am. I set my alarm for 4:45am. At 4:00am our roommate's alarm went off and I laid in bed trying to get 45 more minutes of sleep in. Apparently I managed to fall asleep because I woke up to the sound of Gabby's ringtone. I checked my phone: 5:22am. The time didn't register until Gabby whispered, "Hannah! It's 5:22!" I ran to the door, turned on the light, and we scrambled. One of the other girls knocked on our door and told us the taxi was waiting. I threw on my clothes, put on a hat (no time to brush my hair) and ran down to the front door. We pulled out of the driveway at exactly 5:30am. If we hadn't been traveling with a large group, and if one of the other girls hadn…

St. Andrews for St. Patrick's

Although I did not spend my St. Patrick's Day weekend in Ireland, it was still full of new experiences and places!

Friday night Gabby and I went with two girls from River Falls, Courtney and Whitney, to Hard Rock Cafe and a ballet in Edinburgh. Gabby and I used the stressful homework-filled week as an excuse to have our first alcoholic drink at Hard Rock. Before you get excited, the legal drinking age is 18 in most of Europe (including the UK).

After Hard Rock, the four of us ran to catch a city bus to the Festival Theatre for my first ballet! We saw the Northern Ballet perform Beauty and the Beast. It was a cultural experience; there is no dialogue in ballets - the entire story is told through the music and dance/body language. The storyline in this version of Beauty and the Beast was a bit different from the Disney version I have grown up with so at times it was confusing (luckily I bought a program that had the story written out in it!) Even when confused, I still marveled at t…

Storming the Castle

The weekend of March 9-11 was a mix of exploring new places and homework. I'll save you from reading about more homework marathons and relate the exciting parts of my weekend. 
Friday started with a train ride to Stirling, where we walked up...and up....and up to the Castle.

We walked through an exhibit of the Kings and Queens of Scotland's past and through the "Queen Anne Garden" where the royalty would have played yard games. We then joined a tour and visited the Great Hall (the largest Medieval Great Hall in Europe) where we got to sit in the King's and Queen's chairs. We learned that theses thrones also served as "thrones" for the royalty. Sessions of Parliament could last hours on end and no one could leave until the King or Queen left (otherwise you might be plotting against them). So while the sovereign could 'relieve' themselves and never leave their seat, the nobles were very uncomfortable  by the end of the day!

After the Great Hal…

Holyrood and homework

This weekend I had two goals: visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse and get some homework done. I just didn't realize how much time I'd be spending on the second one....

After breakfast on Friday morning, Gabby and I set off for Edinburgh. We had several items are our 'to do' list, the first being to interview someone in the field of CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) for our Stress Management class. On our bus ride into town, we saw a "Health & Diet Store" and decided it would do just fine. CAM is basically all the other methods of being healthy/getting better besides our normal Western Medicine. We asked the owner our questions, and set off again for Edinburgh.

Our next item was to buy train tickets to Stirling for our house trip next weekend. We ended up not checking off this item, however, because we could only find where to buy same-day tickets. So, we proceeded to our next activity: lunch! We ate lunch in the cute, busy, and crowded Elephant H…

It's a Palace, not a Castle

One of the first days of orientation we learned the difference between a castle and a palace. A castle was built for protection; a palace was built to show off your wealth. My current home away from home, Dalkeith House, was built as a palace.

It was built on the remains of Dalkeith Castle in 1701 by Duchess Anne of Monmouth and Buccleuch (pronounced: "buck lew"). Anne's is a very interesting story. She married the Duke of Monmouth, but he got greedy and tried to steal the English throne. He was put to death, and Anne could have been too, but she proved that she had nothing to do with the revolt and her life was spared. She went on to build Dalkeith Palace and be quite successful - quite a feat for a woman of her time! Her personal crest can be seen throughout the interior and exterior of the palace. The palace has been host to visitors such as Queen Victoria and Bonnie Prince Charlie. 

The palace is currently owned by the present Duke of Buccleuch, Richard. What exact…

Glasgow, and Carlisle, and Rugby. Oh My!

This weekend (February 24-26) was filled with new cities and new experiences. Lots of traveling and lots of sports.

Friday was a mandatory house trip to Glasgow, another city in Scotland, for our Scotland: Society and Globalization class. We left on a coach bus at 7:30am and met our professor in Glasgow at about 8:30am. As we drove through the city, our professor pointed out buildings and gave us some history and information about this very different part of Scotland. Where Edinburgh is very 'old' with the castle and other historic buildings and monuments, Glasgow is very industrious and modern. Glasgow has a population of 700,000 and is the biggest retail center in the UK besides London. While it used to be very industrial (and parts still are) many parts of the city are run down now and many people have moved away.

Our first stop was the Celtic (pronounced like Boston Celtics without the 's') Football (what Americans call soccer) Stadium. The Celtic Football Club was …