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 House. If you remember from an earlier post, this is where J.K. Rowling scribbled the first chapter of her famous Harry Potter series on a napkin. If the sign in the front window didn't clue you in on this fact, the ladies bathroom surely did! The walls were covered in handwritten notes from her fans, thanking her for writing their favorite books. Above the toilet was written: "Flush twice for Ministry of Magic."

It was then off to our main objective of the day: the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Across from the Scottish Parliament building and at the base of Arthur's Seat is the official residence of the Queen when she is in Edinburgh. 

Included in admission was an audio guide that took us through the forecourt (pictured), quadrangle (open, grassy courtyard surrounded by the inner walls of the palace), and the state apartments. There are three floors to most of Holyroodhouse. The top floor is where the royalty lives when they are in town; we saw the second floor. Pictures were not allowed (as always in extravagant palaces) but we walked through the dining room, throne room, and gallery with portraits of all the Kings of the past, all which are still used today by the Queen for various occasions. We also toured the bedchamber of past Kings and all the sitting rooms leading up to it.

Our final stops inside the palace were Mary, Queen of Scots' bedchamber, outer bedchamber, and personal dining room. Our audio guide told us of how Mary's second husband got jealous of how much time she was spending with her male secretary and stormed in on her and her servants eating dinner one night, dragged her secretary out, and eventually killed him.

We then walked out into the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, a highlight of the tour. The roof is long gone, and there are pebbles where a stone floor should be, but the majestic beauty of what once stood there remains.

 Saturday was a British History marathon. For our British History class we have to write a report on a historical place we have visited (Gabby chose Holyroodhouse Palace; I'm writing about Carlisle Castle). Our day played out like this: breakfast at 9am, work on paper, lunch, work on paper, supper, work on paper until about 8:30pm.

Sunday was a similar story. In the morning, we checked out our first church in Scotland. We went to a traditional service at St. Nicholas Buccleuch parish, a church we pass every time we walk into Dalkeith. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland, so there were differences between the service and our Lutheran church services back home, but nothing too drastic. The building was, of course, elegant. It was much smaller than the abbeys I have visited, and less adorned, but was a simple elegant. The walls and columns were made of stone, and the windows were stained glass.

Back in our own palace, Gabby and I again settled down to work. I spent the majority of my afternoon finishing scholarship applications while she worked on homework.

This weekend proved that there really is more to studying abroad than the stereotypical traveling and site seeing. Just like in the States, you have to balance the work with the play.


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