Olivia in Sweden: Joining a Nation!

February 13, 2017

I joined a nation!

As a student attending Uppsala University, it is crucial to join at least one.

Nations are made up of students, and the organizations hold events and offer a large variety of clubs so one can get involved with other students.

There are 13 nations, which are named after regions in Sweden. They have been around for centuries, and while previously students were only allowed to join the nation that represented their region, now the rules are much more relaxed.

I joined Södermanlands-Nerikes nation, nicknamed Snerikes. Founded in 1595, it is the oldest nation of Uppsala University.

I attended the Recce Reception where there was a mini fair with tables promoting the activities they offered, followed by an informal dinner.

 

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Shown above is the appetizer provided before our dinner. Some crackers with the option of butter or cheese as a topping! By the candles were some mustard, rosemary, and oregano to have with our yellow pea soup.

 

During the dinner, they showed us their choir, their improv group, and their band. All three are open to any students, regardless of the nation they chose to join!

 

Here are two videos of their band because I couldn’t pick between the two:

 

 

This song may sound familiar for any Aladdin or Broadway fans!

 

 

This is more of a traditional song played by the Swedes. It’s also common to start ball-room dancing while they play!

 

This week I went to two activities sponsored by the nations.

Kalmar nation holds a mixtape circle every other week. For the mixtape circle, the group picks a theme. For the next meeting, each person has picked a song that they feel goes with that theme. We all share and discuss the music. Because we are all so different, the mixtape circle is a great way to discover other music that maybe you wouldn’t usually listen to.

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To the right is a journal that is passed around as each person shares a song. We all write down the name of the song and the artist, and this list is then shared through a Facebook group. The big sound system to the left is the magical box that we hear it from.

 

I’ve also started attending an improv group hosted by my very own nation. I fell twice during the acting exercises and am currently recovering from the pain.

 

I have to bounce back quick because there’s so much to do!


Naomi at Akita Week 16: Finals

December 29, 2016


Isabella invited a couple of us to come over around 10pm since she was making a huge pot of stew. The stew came out soupy but it was still super 美味しい (delicious). It was a very chill night. We became pretty nostalgic knowing that it was the last week of classes. Isshin started playing the guitar and we sang some songs together, including Sorry by Justin Bieber and Closer by The Chainsmokers. I found out that Isabella bought the guitar on the “AIU Buy & Sell” Facebook page for only ¥1000. I was surprised considering Isabella doesn’t play the guitar; she said she always wanted to learn though which is why she bought it. Turns out Isshin wanted the guitar too but someone had beaten him to it. He found out it was Isabella when we got to the room HAHA!


I’m really going to miss my Japanese classes – JPL300, Reading, and Kanji. We all had such a great time joking around and attempting at understanding Japanese grammar. Our JPL300 teacher never spoke English so it made us try harder in speaking Japanese. We all struggled together with the exams, ポスター発表 (poster presentation), and endless amount of homework. I’m feeling sentimental just writing this all down. I’m most likely never going to see any of these people again but we all became a family. It was nice meeting so many people that shared the same interest as me in learning Japanese. Man, what a great semester.


Isabella and I decided to get dinner together at the AEON mall as a goodbye, although I’m going to see her again next week before I actually leave Akita, thankfully. We got McDonald’s for dinner…I was planning on getting the エビフライ (shrimp burger) but when we got up to order Isabella pointed at the Mega Mac picture. She told me I should get it and I felt up to the challenge so I ordered the burger with four patties in it…oh man, I was so full. And to top it all off, Isabella practically forced me to help her finish her food. I ate four more chicken nuggets and finished up her fries. I couldn’t walk afterwards. After McDonald’s…oh, by the way, I don’t know what it is exactly but McDonald’s in Japan is so good. Compared to the states, it’s more flavorful. Like I said, I don’t know what it is but man, I love Japanese McDonald’s. Okay, so after McDonald’s, we took プリクラ (sticky pictures) together! I look so funny in the pictures with my big eyes and weirdly shaped heads. I love taking these pictures though because you always turn out looking super girly. Also, you get to design the pictures and write/draw whatever you want on them. We walked around the mall some more, looking in shops, and ended up buying some Mister Donut. Oh, and Isabella asked a random mom to take our picture in front of the Christmas tree. We’re trying to get in the holiday spirit so you know.

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This is a funny story. Annabelle found a bug in her room; apparently it jumped on her hand while she was writing her paper. She immediately freaked out and started messaging everyone to come to her room and kill it. No one was willing to do it because everyone else is also afraid of bugs. I asked her if it was a cockroach before going over to kill the bug for her because if it were a cockroach then I wouldn’t want to kill it. Cockroaches creep me out…along with centipedes. Anyways, when I walked in her room, I found her standing 6 feet away from her desk (where the bug was), staring at the bug to not lose sight of it. I immediately started laughing. I took some tissue and killed it. I held it up to her to show her that the bug was harmless but she started trying to get into the suitcase and wow, I laughed so hard tears started rolling down my face. Turns out the bug was a stink bug and it actually started smelling a bit.


This past week has just been snow…everywhere. I don’t have boots so walking around has been quite the struggle. To top it off, my shoes have holes in them so my toes are basically frozen by the time I get back inside from walking outside. The snow looks very beautiful though. I couldn’t believe it when I woke up one morning and walked to my morning Japanese class. I was in awe.


Sandy and I got lunch together at the restaurant near campus as a goodbye lunch (I’m also going to see her again next week before I leave though, thankfully). I never thought to go to the restaurant because I have a meal plan on campus. All students from AIU get a discount from this restaurant though so that was nice! Sandy was craving meat so she got pork cutlet with a small bowl of udon. I decided to follow and ordered pork cutlet with egg. The egg was still bubbling when it got to the table and it was absolutely delicious. Sandy enjoyed her meal so much she literally said “yum yum” after every bite. You know, after knowing her for this long, I still don’t know her age? She won’t tell me. She said she’s going to wait until we say bye to each other to tell me….oh brother.

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Well, this post isn’t as eventful since it was just finals week. Many people are leaving tomorrow to go back home or go on trips before they leave Akita. Next week is finals week but many students were able to get their finals pushed up, like me. I was able to move up my International Trade final to this week; thankfully all of my other classes had finals scheduled for this week. Since I have another 6 days till I leave Akita, Isabella and I decided to take a trip to Osaka! We leave tomorrow morning and will be there till the 21st. We come back to Akita on that day and leave the following morning. So, I’ll still be able to see my friends when I get back on the 21st. I can’t believe this semester has come to an end. Time flies when you’re having fun, huh? I’m trying not to get to nostalgic and upset about leaving Akita…yet. I’m going to enjoy my time in Osaka – sightseeing, shopping, and eating good food! I’m super excited! I also definitely have to buy some birthday and Christmas gifts for my mom, Tyler, and Patrik. Like I said, Patrik is going home to Okinawa with me this winter break. They all have December birthdays….can you believe it?


Clara in Italy: A Concert at an Agriturismo

December 15, 2016

It’s not exactly Italian, but earlier on in the semester, I got to go to a little indie underground (like, super underground. If you didn’t have insider information that this was happening you wouldn’t have any idea it happened at all sort of underground) concert at this guy’s house/farm/concert hall/????. Dino’s place defies description. He has a lot of gnarly olive trees, three donkeys, and an absolutely absurd number of beds. Here’s a terrible photo of his fireplace area:

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And here he is, pre-concert at the massive dinner he cooked himself:

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He’s the dude standing in the brown sweater and the flyaway grey-white hair. Very eccentric and very nice.  Unfortunately, because the place had terrible lighting (seriously terrible), I only have a few not-so-great photos of the event. Here’s another of Dino, introducing the main acts.

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Very lopsided and blurry, sorry. But hey, anyways, who was playing anyways?

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Kelly Halloran and Rachael Sage! Kelly used to WWOOF for Dino some years ago, so that’s how she knew him. They’re also both American, which was kind of funny since we were in a weird underground Italian farm place in the middle of nowhere. Literally, there’s no address. He lives on an unnamed road off another road that has barely any streetlights. It’s not hard to get to, just… terrifying. At night. By yourself. (I went a lot.) Also, unseen dogs will bark aggressively at you from their yards.

Kelly opened the show with a few songs on guitar and fiddle, and let me tell you, her fiddling is bomb my friends. Super bomb. I wish she had played more songs haha. Oh well.

The she and Rachael played for a set, and then the whole thing repeated.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it for the semi acceptable photos I managed to get. 😦 The lighting, as aforementioned, was terrible. There was only light on stage left, so Kelly was in darkness for a lot of the show, and I was sitting far back and trying to shoot between some a lot of people in front of me. The woes of being short and socially anxious!

But anyways, thought I’d leave you with some videos of the two of them from youtube that I found. Here’s Kelly with a different band:

And here’s Rachael and Kelly together:

Admittedly with another dude and with a significantly different vibe from when we saw them, but I thought this was one of the better songs in the set we heard. 🙂 Stay determined!


Week 14: 東京 and Owls

December 12, 2016


For our JPL300 class, we have to create a poster and present on any topic that interests us for 5-7 minutes in Japanese. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty nervous about this because speaking in only Japanese for that long of a period…man, I have to start practicing soon. Patrick is presenting on テレビゲーム (video games) and I’m presenting on 沖縄 (Okinawa). We worked on our posters in Isabella’s room Tuesday night. We started at around 9:30pm thinking it would only take an hour but ended up working on it till 1am. We didn’t mind though because we enjoyed working on it and listened to some music on the speakers – hip-hop/rap, hard rock, and EDM. We all have very different music tastes. In my presentation, I’m talking about Okinawan foods (goya chanpuru and Okinawa soba), the pretty beaches, and the Orion Beer Fest. I had some extra white space so I decided to draw on my poster. I was really proud of my Shisa dog that I drew (on the right of the title). I did copy it off a picture on my laptop but considering how horrible of a drawer I am, I thought I did pretty well.

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I’m not 100% sure if this is correct or not but Patrik told us that Pac-Man originated from a missing pizza slice. Apparently the man who created Pac-Man was out eating pizza, took a slice, and thought of the character’s shape right there. Patrik also said the man said to himself, “everyone likes pizza!” so everyone would then like Pac-Man. I couldn’t stop laughing when Patrik was telling us this because he sounded so animated when imitating the creator of Pac-Man. Like I said, I don’t know if this is true or not so don’t take my word on it. I still think it’s pretty cool and worth mentioning though since I didn’t know about this.


I mentioned earlier that Patrik and I went to an elementary school in Omagari to play with the kids. Well, this past Wednesday morning, Patrik and I went to a kindergarten in the same area. We each had to introduce a game to play with the kids. Patrik chose musical chairs and I chose Duck, Duck, Goose. There was one girl who was chosen as the goose who could never run fast enough to get into the new sport. After about the fifth time of her being tagged, she started crying. She cried later on as well when she couldn’t get a seat in musical chairs. Poor girl. After we played our games, the kindergartners showed us their own game. The all sat in a circle with cards sprawled out in the middle. Each card had a hiragana character in the corner. The kids would have to grab the card with the hiragana character the teacher read out loud. It got pretty intense. The kids would all just jump into the middle of the circle looking for the correct card. I was afraid some of them would bump heads. Sometimes multiple kids would jump on the correct card at the same time and because the teacher couldn’t tell who got it first, the kids did Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would rightfully win the card. With every disagreement, Rock, Paper, Scissors was played. I thought it was adorable and smart. I think even older kids play this game to come up with a settlement.


When Patrik and I went to the elementary school, we were given the same small lunch as the kids. We were expecting the same thing again this time but in kindergarten, instead of the school supplying the food, everyone brings a bento box from home. In Japan, making bentos is a hobby. Many people, usually mothers, get very creative when making bentos. For example, one girl had a bow shaped sausage and another girl had a crown shaped boiled egg. Patrik and I even got our own bentos and wow, they were delicious. It had a variety of vegetables and meats in addition to the rice topped with an umeboshi (dried sweet plum).

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We headed to Tokyo this past weekend and before doing so, Patrik wanted to bleach and dye his hair gray. I helped him bleach his hair Wednesday night and dye his hair Thursday night. There was some leftover bleach so Patrik and I decided to put some in my hair, only a little though. It didn’t really do anything; I guess my hair is too dark. My left hand is a bit purple from the dye. Weird, huh? The hair dye also came out purple on Patrik’s hair instead of gray. Well, some parts are gray and other parts are purple!

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So, this past weekend, Patrik and I went to Tokyo! I told my mom that Patrik, Isabella, and the CO crew were all heading there to visit for the weekend. My mom then offered to buy round trip bus tickets, just as long as I don’t miss class! I took the bus with Patrik to and from Tokyo. We both couldn’t sleep on the 10 hour bus ride both ways. I just listened to music and practiced memorizing my speech for Japanese. There was a guy on the bus who talked to us during the stops. He was visiting his grandma in Akita and going back home to Tokyo. Of course, Patrik and I talked in our broken Japanese. At our last bus stop, the guy asked us for our ages and he was surprised that I was 20 and Patrik was 22; he thought we were older. I asked him for his age expecting to hear 23. Instead, he told us that he was 19! I was shocked. Right before we got back on the bus he took off two bracelets and gave one to Patrik and I. Now we have matching bracelets! I was so happy.


Patrik and I arrived in Tokyo at around 6am. Patrik had to go to the NHK TV Station at 12pm because he was invited to participate in a shooting. So, I decided to hang out with him till he left then I would go and meet up with Isabella and everyone else. We walked all the way to the Shinju Shrine (Sandy told us to not come back to Akita unless we go to this shrine). I was very shocked when walking to it because we were just surrounded by trees and green. I didn’t expect there to be so much nature in the middle of Tokyo. It was a pretty big shrine as well. There were tourist groups walking around and people taking pictures everywhere. Patrik and I threw our coins and prayed. Then we washed our hands with the water scoop. Afterwards, we walked to Harajuku and looked around. Patrik tried Mos Burger for the first time – Japanese chain fast food restaurant. Many Americans don’t try it because the name sounds unappealing but the Mos burger is actually very delicious. Anyways, Patrik ended up leaving and I walked all the way from Harajuku to Shinjuku instead of taking a train. It was about a 45-minute walk. My feet were in so much pain.

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Isabella and Annabelle were keen on going to the Owl Café so after I met up with them at H&M, we made our way to the café. It was ¥1800 for an hour…I thought it was quite expensive but these goofballs really wanted to go. When I walked in I was surprised to see 10 owls, all different kinds. The guy working there spoke broken English so I was able to hold a conversation with him with my broken Japanese as well. He put owls on all of our heads, hands, and shoulders. One of the owls looked so animated – you can see the owl on Isabella’s shoulder in the picture above. It’s eyes were just beads…Isabella kind of looks like it in that picture! The guy working there told me that he had never been to America but was going next summer for his wedding. Vegas!


On Sunday, we all slept in a bit after a night of going out so we woke up around lunchtime. Isabella found this recommended ramen restaurant called Ichiran so we made our way there. There was a line outside but we didn’t mind waiting. When we finally made it inside we were shocked to see that each chair was closed off. You basically got your own stall to eat your ramen; if you’re anti-social this place would be perfect for you! When ordering our ramen, we were asked what spiciness level we wanted. It went up to 20 but 10 was the recommended high. Isabella LOVES spicy food so of course, she put down 10. I saw Patrik put down 10 as well so I had no choice but to put down 10. Patrik likes spicy food but he doesn’t handle it well. Patrik and I were seated next to each other but Isabella and Annabelle were seated elsewhere due to lack of seating. I’m not kidding when I say Patrik and I were breaking a sweat. We stripped our jackets and hoodies off. Patrik drank 4 cups of water within 2 minutes. It was pretty great. He couldn’t finish so I finished the rest of his ramen for him. Afterwards, we waited outside for the girls. It was freezing outside but we were still so hot from the ramen that we just stood outside in our T-shirts.

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After Ichiran, we decided to go to Asakusa. I know I’ve gone there several times but Patrik, Isabella, and Annabelle had never visited before so I insisted on taking them. I didn’t think it would be difficult to figure out the train system but it was…it took us a good 30 minutes till we could figure out where we had to go. Please, never rely on me for directions.

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We were so relieved when we finally made it to Asakusa! Annabelle was so happy to see all of the shops. She wanted to buy all the souvenirs she could find. Isabella and Annabelle both bought some snacks while walking down the street. Patrik and I split a 6-pack of postcards. It was nice just walking around. Diane, the friend I visited the last time I went to Tokyo, met up with us at Asakusa. I was extremely happy to see her again, especially since the next time I see her will probably not be till later next year. We walked up to the temple and threw our coins and prayed. Afterwards, we stopped at a convenience store to buy some drinks. I was in desperate need for coffee and Isabella was in desperate need for a warm drink. Unfortunately, she has been sick for the past coupe of days – sore throat and runny nose. Hopefully she gets better soon, especially with finals coming up!

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After Asakusa, we headed to Shibuya to show everyone the Shibuya crossing. We weren’t hungry for dinner yet so we shopped around. Diane ended up buying some yoga pants from Bershka – she’s starting to work out more at a gym near her apartment. Isabella and Annabelle didn’t find anything. Patrik and I don’t care to shop as much so we just talked and walked for the most part. It started raining a bit so we decided to look for a restaurant. Again, we are an indecisive bunch so deciding on a restaurant took a while. Diane found a building with restaurants on three floors so it was easier for us to choose from that.

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The five of us had to squish into a four-seater booth. It was pretty tight but we all wanted to sit next to each other. I was very happy that everyone had the chance to meet Diane. It’s funny thinking that I have friends from study abroad that have met my high school friends AND my mom and brother. Sometimes I feel like study abroad is such a temporary thing and you meet people that you will never see again. But, for me, it’s more than that. I know that Patrik and I are going to be friends for a looong time. I mean, he’s coming to Okinawa with me this winter break. He’s going to see where I grew up and meet my friends from high school. It’s like my study abroad life and my actual life are coming together? I don’t know…it’s hard to explain but it’s a very nice feeling. I’ve made friends that I know I will see again and meet up with. Even Isabella and Annabelle. I’m sure I will see them again in the states. I do have an aunt living two blocks away from their school.

Well, there’s only two more weeks left of school. Time is ticking.


Naomi at Akita Week 9: 漢字漢字漢字

October 31, 2016

This past week has been pretty slow. People are getting sick and wearing masks to avoid the sickness spreading. It’s getting super cold. I ended up facetiming my mom who was sleeping in my room. I asked her why she was in my room and she told me the AC works better there…I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard that. She’s still using the AC while I’m over here freezing my butt off!

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I went for a walk after my classes since I had some free time. A couple of my friends told me that there was a dam about a 20-30 minute walk away so I decided to go find it. I listened to music the entire walk. Only about 5 cars passed me. I ended up finding the dam but didn’t take pictures, as it was already getting dark. There was a small green frog chilling on the fence blocking the dam.

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You know how Patrik always gives me coffee in those cup noodle containers? Well, I went to AEON (the mall) this past week and ended up buying some paper cups from DAISO (100 yen store, basically the dollar store). I also bought my own mug since I get coffee from him that often. I went to his room about 5 times this past week just for coffee. While we waited for the coffee to brew, we showed each other music that we recommend. Me with my hip hop music and him with his metal core music. It’s funny how close we are but how different we are, especially when it comes to music taste.

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I forgot to mention but last week, Patrik was showing me some Japanese music he listens to and he ended up playing a song by a band named FAKY. I started freaking out because my friend, Diane, the girl I recently visited in Tokyo, used to be in that band. She ended up leaving it because she wanted to do something else I showed him one of their music videos and pointed out Diane and he started freaking out. We both started singing along to the music video and wow, it was such a surreal moment. If you want to check out one of their songs just type in “Better Without You FAKY” and you’ll see Diane with her long red hair.


There was a Halloween party at the Student Hall Thursday night. Isabella and I decided to stop by because my friend was performing. We thought we were going to be late so we ran all the way to Student Hall but ended up being early. We watched the costume competition and two guys dressed up as Cup Noodles won! Patrik was there as well with his skeleton face paint. Jay ended up performing and blew us all away. It was Isabella’s first time hearing him sing and “wow” was all that came out of her mouth.


Most of us went out Friday night for a Halloween party and ended up pulling an all-nighter since we were unable to get back on campus till the next morning as we had to wait for the trains to start running again. We slept all of Saturday and woke up around 4pm! Since we practically wasted the day, we decided to all cook dinner. Isabella and I went to AEON first to get the ingredients. She bought spaghetti and Carbonara sauce. I decided to make Goya Chanpuru, an Okinawan dish, since my mom sent me Spam in that care package she sent me last week. I bought tofu, eggs, and goya. Isabella already had salt and soy sauce so I was set. I had to call my mom before I started cooking to make sure I was doing everything correctly. She also sent me jushi, Okinawa style rice seasoning with vegetables and meat, so I had to make sure I was using the rice cooker correctly.


We had so much food. I made rice and Goya Chanpuru, Isabella made her spaghetti, and Annabelle and Kevin made chicken with some sweet chili sauce. Patrik was the only one that actually enjoyed the Goya Chanpuru; everyone else thought it was too bitter, which didn’t surprise me. Tristan actually said that we should all eat a mouthful of just Goya. I didn’t do it because I didn’t count, as I enjoy the bitterness. So, Tristan, Isabella, Annabelle, and Patrik all took about 5 pieces of Goya and stuffed it in their mouths. It was great. Annabelle made the weirdest face and immediately ate chicken afterwards to get rid of the taste. This makes Goya Chanpuru sound bad…I promise it’s actually delicious.

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This upcoming week, we have to give a 3-4 minute speech in Japanese class. We can’t have any notes or anything so we basically have to memorize our speech in just Japanese. I’m actually pretty nervous. For this speech, we had to decide to talk about either something that surprised us, saddened us, or excited us about Japan. I wrote about the vending machines in Japan and how the abundance of them surprised me.


I’m not kidding when I say you will find at least three vending machines on every street corner in Japan. It’s unbelievable really. They have vending machines with hot foods, like hot dogs and cup noodles. They’re everywhere. Back home in Okinawa, right outside of our apartment, there are seven vending machines lined up outside, side to side. Even outside of convenience stores, they have vending machines lined up outside, despite the drinks they have right inside the store.

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I appreciate it though because these vending machines sell iced black coffee. It’s a struggle for me when I go back home to the states because the only way to get iced black coffee is if you go to Starbucks or to some other chain store. It’s not as easy, common, and cheap as Japan.

img_0927In addition to the speech I have to memorize, I also have a 漢字 (kanji) midterm to study for and its just line after line after line. I’m even studying for it right now. I’ve been doing well in the class so I’m not too worried about it but this is an exam on ALL of the 漢字we’ve learned so far this semester…wish me luck!


Olivia in Scotland: Easy as 1, 2,3

October 28, 2016

Hello again!

So, it may not sound like it from my previous posts, but I’ve actually been going to classes while I’ve been here! Shocking, I know. It’s definitely a lot harder to focus on them here than it is when I’m at UR, but I’ve enjoyed them and learned some cool things about Scottish culture and how their universities work.

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Jumping into classes at Edinburgh! #badpun #notasmanycoolpicturesforliteraturecourses

Class #1: Early Modern Tragedy. This is a 3rd year English seminar with a very depressing title. Luckily, our tutor (they don’t call them “professors” here) has that wry, Scottish sense of humor that can find something to laugh about even in the darkest of texts. Like my English courses at home, this class is largely discussion-based, but it only meets once a week and each student has an assigned Autonomous Learning Group (ALG) that you have to meet with outside of class as well. It’s definitely a lot of independent learning, but thankfully you have a group of people to talk through the texts with when they get confusing. One cool thing: I went to see Macbeth at the Globe Theatre a few weeks ago, and while we didn’t actually read that play in this course, I felt like I had a much deeper understanding of the genre and themes because I’m taking this.

Class #2: Edinburgh in Fiction/Fiction in Edinburgh. In this English seminar, we read novels from various time periods that are set in (or partially set in) the city of Edinburgh. This course can be really cool because you can actually picture the places that they talk about in the books; in one novel we read, the characters actually lived in my neighborhood! I love getting to hear different authors describe the city in different contexts and learning more about its evolution over time to where we are today. There’s only one problem with this course: there’s more reading than just about anyone in the class can actually finish. One of the big things I prefer about UR is that the professors tend to split up texts between different class meetings whenever possible so you get a deeper understanding of fewer texts. Here, it feels like you tend to get a shallower understanding of more texts. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the essay will pan out because of this. And yes, as you may have heard, nearly all your grade is determined by an essay at the middle of the term and another one at the end of the term. (Keep your fingers crossed for me please.)

Class #3 (my last class because the courses are worth more credits here): Scotland and Orality. This is a course I’m taking just for fun because I can’t really take it anywhere else in the world. We look at Scotland’s oral tradition—that means ballads, fables, myths, legends, songs, children’s games, and lots more—past and present. One of the strangest things about this course for me is finding out that some of the things I think of as distinctly American are actually Scottish things. In our first course meeting, we listened to some fiddle music, and it sounded pretty much exactly like Appalachian fiddle music in the US. This made sense to me since I myself have Scottish ancestors who immigrated to those mountains, but I just hadn’t thought about it before. There have been lots of moments like that here—for instance, when I realize that Americans and Scots are both famous for frying food or that ceilidh dances here are a whole lot like square dances—but this course has given me a closer look at some of those things. Another cool moment in this course was when we talked about children’s games. A Scottish student and I tried to remember the words to the old game Miss Mary Mack together, and we knew all the same words except for one: I said “50 cents” and she said “50 pence!” Some things aren’t so different between the two sides of the Atlantic.

Those are my classes! Things are a lot more independent here and I definitely miss the more direct access to professors that you can get at UR, but it’s a good learning experience.

To close—living here longer makes me appreciate this city’s beauty even more. I can’t believe I’ve only got a little less than two months left!

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The view of Prince’s Street and Edinburgh Castle from Calton Hill. Gorgeous, right?

Till next time!


Olivia in Scotland: The Deep Breath

September 9, 2016

Hello, everyone! My name is Olivia. I’m a junior, I’m an English major with a minor in Film Studies, and I am about to leave to study abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland for the fall semester!

A little bit about me and things that drew me to Edinburgh: Like pretty much all English majors, I love reading great books. My reading is part of what led me to apply to study at UoE (University of Edinburgh). Three of my favorite authors studied there: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the Sherlock Holmes novels), J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), and J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series!). Imagine getting to write in a coffeeshop where the author of Harry Potter often wrote. In preparation for my journey, I watched all eight of the Harry Potter movies again, this time paying special attention to the scenery. Most of the film locations are in Scotland so I am really hoping to go to some of these places!

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While there’s no castle up on the hill, the Black Lake in Harry Potter isa real place in scotland called Loch Shiel. 

Two of the other biggest things about me that will likely influence this blog are my identities as a musician and a Christian. Beyond analyzing literature and film, these two things are my life, and they greatly determine what I am drawn towards in my travels. I am very interested in the music and dance of Scotland and I plan to attend a ceilidh, or Scottish folk dance, during UoE’s Welcome Week. I have no idea how to do those kind of dances yet, but we’ll see if I can learn it! Scotland was also historically a stronghold of Presbyterianism; it was a place where Christianity informed the lives of every person and sometimes inspired uprisings, particularly towards the English when they tried to alter the way the Scottish Kirk, or Church of Scotland, operated. While much less of the Scottish population attends church today, this colorful religious background may still impact their culture today. I am excited to see how the churches in Scotland differ from my experience in American churches and to see how my own faith develops during my Scottish sojourn.

If you’re a student considering studying abroad at University of Edinburgh or many other UK institutions, be forewarned: the semesters start a few weeks later than the semesters at University of Richmond do. That might sound like an ideal situation to you; you get a longer summer that way, right? That’s certainly true, but I can now personally attest to the fact that a summer that is three weeks longer than everyone else’s can feel pretty strange. I’ve mostly been at home with very little to do for the past few weeks. Like many students in today’s world, I thrive on being busy and making sure that I’m not missing out on anything, so it has been a weird feeling. I have seen all of my friends, UR and otherwise, posting pictures and talking about their new semesters, whether they’re going abroad like me or just being back at their colleges with their friends. While I have treasured the extra time I was able to spend with my loved ones at home, I have also really wanted to be out there doing something with everybody else. I actually went back and visited UR for a day last week to help out with the activities fair; again, it was wonderful seeing my friends, but I definitely felt out of place.

Now, I’m going to very briefly quote from Lord of the Rings, but don’t let me lose you if you’re not a Tolkien fan!—In The Return of the King during the silent period before the big battle starts, Gandalf says to Pippin, “It’s the deep breath before the plunge.” That’s what the past few weeks have felt like to me. I’ve taken in a lot of information about Scotland, I’ve gotten plenty of lazy days, I’ve said goodbye to so many people multiple times, I’ve packed my suitcase so many different ways.

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Yes, I said “suitcase,” singular. Because I’m bringing my ukelele with me, I have to bring my backpack as my carry-on and fit everything else in my larger checked bag #thestruggle #musicianlife

The good thing about the extra time for a deep breath is, I think I’m ready to breathe out now. I’m still really scared about navigating a new place where I don’t really know anyone and I’m sad that my loved ones won’t be with me, but I’m excited, and I’ve done about as much as I can do to prepare. The next time I post, I will finally be in the city of Edinburgh and experiencing their orientation week. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. —now it’s time to dive into my Scottish adventure!

Wish me luck or keep me in your prayers!


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