It’s been 10 days since I first left America to begin my summer adventure abroad, and I have loved every second of it! My mom surprised my sister and I with a family trip to Scotland, Ireland, and England before our actual study abroad session began. I feel like I have not stopped moving since I left, but it’s been worth it.
Our trip began in Edinburgh, Scotland at 9:00am after a full day of traveling and no sleep. The hotel we stayed at was by far my favorite. I was blown away by the attentive and welcoming nature of each of the staff members, the high quality of food and amenities, and the stunning view from my balcony. Despite our lack of sleep, we wasted no time getting out and seeing the city. We only had one full day in the country, so we took more of a self-guided tour approach. Stops included visiting a Scottish whiskey shop, touring the Edinburgh Castle, dining at a true Scottish restaurant, and exploring the highest point in the city, Calton Hill. The people of Scotland were some of the friendliest and open hearted I’ve encountered, and my only regret is that we didn’t stay longer.
Our next stop was Dublin, Ireland, which is a bit more urban but just as incredible. Dublin is an incredibly historic city, and trying to fit everything into just two days was a challenge. However, we took advantage of the “hop-on, hop-off” bus tour and managed to fit an incredible amount of historic and popular culture in the limited time we had. One the last day, we took a day tour by train to Cork, Blarney Castle, and Cobh. We were able to learn about the rich history of these seaside towns, see the most amazing landscapes in the Irish countryside, and of course kiss the Blarney Stone in hopes of gaining the gift of eternal eloquence.
Since we knew we would be traveling some in England, my family decided to rent a car. Attempting to navigate through a country that none of us had been to, follow road rules we are not used to, and conquer strange roundabouts, all while driving on the opposite side of the road caused a major amount of frustration, but we got eventually got the hang of it (maybe). We spent a full day visiting my Grandmother’s best friend and her husband at their home in the tiny, beautiful village of Eaton (Nottingham). They gave us a tour of the entire village, as well as the full British house guest experience, and I cannot remember the last time I felt as content as I did that day. For the Fourth of July, we took the car up to Birmingham, England to see Fleetwood Mac live in concert. The show was one of the best ones I’ve ever seen, and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to see such a big name in such as amazing country.
My parents left and I moved into my ISA apartment, or “flat” as they call it here in London, yesterday and I’ll start my class at the University of Westminster tomorrow. Before coming abroad, I was most nervous about making friends and finding people I could truly share this experience with. However, after spending just one day with my roommates and a few others, I have no doubt I am about to have the best three weeks of my life. More updates soon to come!