Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Final Reflections

I am now settled in at home and not feeling the jet lag too badly. It is time for my final reflection on my experience of studying abroad. I am going to make a list of all the things I'm thankful I got to experience and see while studying abroad in Scotland.

1. I definitely did a lot of growing up while abroad. There were a lot of little things that I had to deal with that I'd never had to deal with before. Worrying about all of these things while being a student and trying to get the full "study abroad experience" got stressful at times. I learned how to handle the stress, get things done, and enjoy myself all at the same time.

2. My classes. Not going to lie, they were difficult and really frustrating at times, but I learned more about theater in those two modules than I have in a long time. I basically got a crash course in 20th century theater. The lectures were fascinating and the essays were harder and more thought provoking than any I have ever had to write. I don't know if I would want to write them over again, but I'm glad I was given the challenge.

3. Flatball. I am so glad I decided to join the ultimate frisbee team at St. Andrews. I think I improved an incredible amount by training with the team. I got the chance to go to different tournaments and meet ultimate players from all over the U.K. The frisbee team was like one big, happy family and I'm so glad they welcomed me with open arms.

4. Theater at St. Andrews. My final project for my Twentieth-Century British and Irish Drama class was to put on three one acts by Beckett and keep a production journal of the process along the way. I got the chance to act in one of the plays and direct one. I had never directed a play before so it was a bit of a learning curve but an experience that I think was very valuable to have. I really hadn't gotten involved in theater at Knox and participating in this class project made me realize just how much I missed the world of theater.

5. Traveling. Although I didn't travel  as much as some of my other classmates abroad, I got to go to all of the places on my list. I got to travel all over Scotland through ultimate frisbee, which was a pretty unique way to travel. I got to see the inside of a lot of different sports centers. I must say, they were all lovely. I also traveled to Dublin. It was wonderful to see my cousin and have her show us around the city. I had been learning a lot about Irish playwrites like Shaw, Beckett and Wilde so it was exciting to see their city and the mark they've made on it. I also got to go to London. I'd been wanting to go to London since I was little so it was the fulfillment of a childhood dream I guess. Thank you again to my wonderful hosts, it was amazing to see friends while abroad.

6. The friends I made. Like I said, I am so happy the frisbee team welcomed me with open arms. I became close friends with a lot of them and they really did shape my study abroad experience. Because of them I have so many stories to tell and so many amazing memories. I miss them so much already! I plan on making a special effort to stay in touch with them. Hopefully I'll end of up in Scotland again and I'll get the chance to say hello.

There are more than just six things that I got to experience while studying abroad, but these are the ones that came to mind first. I'll write more as I think of them. Below are some pictures highlighting some of my fonder memories while studying at St. Andrews.

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The academic family on my dad's side. We're pretty cool. At least we think we are.
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Glasgow One Day. My first ever Scottish frisbee tournament. It was a blur of 16 minute games and cheering on the other Flatball teams.
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Fancy social. I love the DRA frisbee ladies (plus Eva).
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Edinburgh Beginners. To many good memories. So much silliness. 
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Night out in Edinburgh. 
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Raisin Weekend.
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Our wonderful Tesco Value Thanksgiving Dinner.
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RAISIN REVENGE!!!!
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Ooooh Flatball Christmas dinner. So many fantastic Flatball ladies, I will miss them all.
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Wishing lantern. I hope every single one of my wishes come true.
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Christmas Market. Best last day I could possibly have in Scotland.
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Trip to Dublin.
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Trip to London/Stratford Upon Avon. So many childhood dreams fulfilled. 

I'll probably write more about Scotland as I think of things. It was such a life changing experience and I feel so lucky that I chose to study there. I miss it tons and tons already. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas in Scotland

First order of business, I'M HOME!!! That being said, I still have some photos and posts left before I reflect on my time abroad. Let's start with Christmas. I've never felt more in the holiday spirit in my life. I know I don't celebrate Christmas but while abroad it really has felt like the most wonderful time of the year. It all started with our Flatball Christmas party. We got dressed up all fancy, had some delicious food, there was wonderful chat and a very embarrassing Christmas present. I do believe we all clean up quite well.
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Next we had a wonderful Christmas party the Thursday before I left. It was a potluck dinner, complete with a whole turkey! I stuffed myself until I thought I was going to burst! It was a great way to spend one of my last days in Scotland. I was surrounded by delicious food and good friends. After the dinner, Annie (a girl from Flatball) and I went and decorated a wish lantern. We wrote down all of my favorite memories from studying abroad and all of my wishes. Then we went to the beach and sent it floating away. The problem was, the wind was coming from the wrong direction so instead of ending up in the sea it might have ended up on the golf course. I'm sorry to any golfers if it ruined their game. I hope it made for some good reading.
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I spent my last day in Scotland in Edinburgh. My friend Camille was kind enough to let me stay there with her and then she drove me to the airport the next day. When I arrived in the city her parents took my bags and Camille and I walked around the Christmas Market. There was a Winter Wonderland full of rides for the kids, The German Market had all sorts of yummy food and mulled wine, and there was even a ferris wheel. Before going to the market we got lunch and did some shopping on Princes street. Then we took a ride on the ferris wheel, ate some chocolate covered fruit and ended the day with some mulled wine. We stayed until the sun went down and let me tell you, the Market was beautiful with all of the Christmas lights. 
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

REVENGE!!!

One of the traditions that goes with Raisin Weekend and Academic Families is Raisin Revenge. This means that you can do to your parents everything they did to you...but worse. So we surprised our academic dad and got to work. Normally academic children revenge their parents at the next Raisin Weekend, but since there are a bunch of study abroad kids in our dad's family, we decided to get it done before we left. Below are some pictures of the madness. We started with some harmless drinking games and ended up at The Lizard. It's the only club in St. Andrews, and it's not a very good one. One rarely goes there voluntarily.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For our final day of British and Irish Drama our professor put us into pairs and gave us a forty question test. The highest scorers won a bottle of wine. Happy last day of class!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

St. Andrew's Day

On November 30th I didn't have classes because it was Saint Andrew's Day. It was a wonderful surprise considering I had no idea this was the case until the day before. Here is a description of what St. Andrew's Day is. Basically it means that most historical attractions in Scotland have free admission so Eva and I took complete advantage of this and were tourists in St. Andrews for a couple of hours. We started at the castle. There was a wonderful display about the history of the castle but honestly it went in one ear and out the other. Suffice it to say that the castle is important to St. Andrews history.
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Next we went over to the tower in the middle of the graveyard. I don't remember its name or why it's important, but it is, I promise. It also had a spectacular view of St. Andrews.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Raisin!

Raisin Weekend and Monday is a long standing tradition at St. Andrews. Here is a link to the St. Andrews Raisin Guide explaining all the traditions. They explain it a lot better than I would. To be honest, in a nutshell, Raisin Sunday is a day when academic parents get their children really drunk (sorry Mom). I explained academic parents in this post. My Raisin Sunday began at noon. I went over to where my academic mother was hosting her Raisin party with some other academic mothers and the games began. We started with a game of shot roulette and things got rolling from there. The academic mother's party consists of cute tea party games, except the tea is probably alcoholic. We went on a scavenger hunt around St. Andrews, did an obstacle course, played chubby bunny, and much more. Our mothers were even nice enough to make us lunch. Below are some pictures of the festivities from our academic mothers' party. Some of these pictures were taken from Facebook since I didn't take that many photos during Raisin. So thank you to all of my friends who were taking pictures!
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After the party with our mothers, we walked on over to our academic dad's place. This is more of a party than a gathering with planned games and events. It was loud, rowdy, and full of drunk academic children. Not exactly my thing but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I ended up leaving a bit early (it was a long day) and got some rest before Raisin Monday.
On to Raisin Monday. This is actually the only school sanctioned event and I had no idea what a big deal it was. Basically there is a huuuuuge foam fight in St. Salvator's quad. There were cops all over to direct traffic and make sure students didn't get hit by cars. Before going to the foam fight your academic mother dresses you up in some sort of costume. My mother dressed my brother and me up as pac man and the ghost. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it but it was an incredible costume. She had worked so hard on it and I looked quite adorable if I do say so myself. Then you walk on over to the quad and laugh at the silly things other academic children got dressed up as. There were french maids, astronauts, Little Bo Peep and her sheep and much more. It was awesome. Then you get in line for the Raisin processional. Everyone comes out to see it. Parents bring their kids to see all the silly costumes the St. Andrews students get dressed up in. I dropped off my costume with my academic mom so it wouldn't get ruined and went into the foam fight. It was CRAZY. You can hardly recognize anyone because we all all covered in shaving cream but I eventually found other frisbee kids and it was a blast. It really reminded me of Flunk Day at Knox. Except I was getting foam shoved in my face instead of mud. I really can't decided which is worse. Here are some pictures from the foam fight. Check out my hair do.
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After the foam fight I got to make the long walk back to DRA covered in shaving cream. At one point I was stopped and asked "what's the occasion?". I think I smelled like shaving cream for at least two days after the foam fight and I've washed the clothes that I wore and they still smell. Oh well, what can you do?
So that's Raisin. It was absolutely insane and I am proud to say I made it through alive. Flunk Day trained me well. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

This post is a little late but I thought I'd share how I spent my Thanksgiving. Since there are so many Americans that attend St. Andrews it was surprisingly easy to put together some plans last minute. I went over to St. Salvator's Hall (that's where Kate and Will lived and met btw) and had a Thanksgiving dinner with some friends from frisbee. Since we weren't going to make a whole turkey we went with the classic Tesco Value meal. Turkey sandwiches, microwave stuffing and mashed potatoes with some pie from a box. Classy, I know. After we ate ourselves into a food coma we sat and watched American football, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

"I've been mixing up the names of A Street Car Named Desire and Death of a Salesman since I was ten.  I don't know why.
 ~ My professor

Since he was ten???