A Bit of a Somber Note

Hey, everyone!

I haven’t been able to post recently due to homework assignments, and for that, I apologize. I have another post about the places I’ve visited soon, but for now, I should update about my status and something that I have been thinking of. It’s a bit of a downer, but I feel like it is relevant in relation to recent events.

As many of you have likely heard, last Friday, a helicopter fell out of the sky onto a night club on the Glasgow riverside, killing 9 people. Of course, I was not involved in that accident, but regardless, my heart goes out to the families affected by the incident.

I, myself, had only heard about it when I arrived in Dublin for that weekend (more on that another time), but I was obviously in shock over the crash. I try not to let things like that get me too upset, especially since I was traveling at the time, but obviously, death is something that is upsetting, especially when it is completely unexpected. At the same time, it makes me appreciate a lot of things in life: friends, family, my skills, my ambitions, and even this semester abroad. In a way, it kinda made me think about Thanksgiving, which I was unfortunately unable to celebrate properly here due to homework and the trip.

People lost their lives in that accident, but it’s hardships like this that bring people together to overcome such hurdles. Many businesses came to the aid of the emergency response teams that were working on the crash, and celebrations for St. Andrews Day (a Scottish holiday) across Glasgow were canceled. It’s tragedy where true altruism in humanity shows, and it makes me feel slightly better about humanity in general.

I know that this is probably not something that many of you would want to hear, especially after a period of inactivity, but since I couldn’t experience Thanksgiving in a more traditional way, my thoughts about this event were pretty close to what many people felt during last week.

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. And good luck for those who have finals in the coming weeks.

-Danny

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Photos!

As promised, here are some amazing photos of my trip to Scotland/Europe so far!
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The Skye’s the limit! (also, photos!)

A few weeks ago, I was able to visit two of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenes: the famous Highlands, and the beautiful Isle of Skye. Being able to go on this trip and take pictures of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world is exactly why I am extremely glad that I decided to study abroad.

One the way to the Isle of Skye, we got to see a lot of cool places, including Loch Lomond (again), where I got some nice shots with the sunrise in the background. Afterwards, we rode into the Highlands (although there was a point where our bus had to navigate around a bus going the opposite direction because the road on the way was so narrow) and got many amazing photos of lochs as well as some of the world famous Highlands. Even though I have taken many good photos, some of what I thought were great photo opportunities were obscured by the trees that were along the road. We got some great photos of Lake Tulla

Unfortunately, a car accident had happened on our way to Glen Coe early on in the day, so we had to take a detour that significantly cut our time in part because of the length of the detour (there aren’t that many roads in the Highlands) and a traffic jam, which while I am tempted ┬áto wonder how the Highlands can have a traffic jam, I wouldn’t blame so many people for wanting to see them all at once.

We also got to visit Fort William, the second largest settlement of the Highlands, Loch Garry, which looks like a map of Scotland in a certain view, and Eilean Donan Castle, which is in the middle of three sea lochs. Even though we got to the Isle of Skye much later than scheduled, the quiet atmosphere was very inviting, and it made me more excited for tomorrow.

The next morning, I was able to get a great view of the ocean from the front door of my hostel, but the sights only got better as we got to see the Sligachan Bridge, which overlooked the spectacular Cuillin mountains, the Old Man of Storr, which was used as a location for the filming of Prometheus, but also had an amazing view of the ocean, Mealt Fall, a waterfall that empties into the sea, and Lealt Gorge, which was an amazing site that also had a waterfall. Unfortunately, because I had a problem with my charger, I couldn’t get any of my own photos at the last two stops, but after a lunch of fish and chips in Portree, the capital of Skye, and a short charge at a pit stop in Fort Williams, I was able to get just enough charge to take photos at Glen Coe, the stop that we had to miss yesterday, and got some more amazing photos of the place where part of Skyfall was filmed.

The Isle of Skye was an amazing experience. It is the first of many trips around Europe that I will have while I am here. Speaking of which, on Wednesday, I will be taking a trip to the port town of Oban to get some great pictures and even taste their reputation as the seafood capital of Scotland, and this weekend, I will be on an ISA excursion to Edinburgh and Loch Ness, the capital of Scotland and the infamous stomping (or rather, splashing) grounds (or rather, water) of the elusive Loch Ness Monster respectively. I will be sure to take lots of great pictures of those places as well!

Speaking of pictures, I know what many of you are thinking: Where are some awesome photos of your experiences? While I apologize for not posting any pics sooner, I want to figure out a way to post my photos en masse and without spending large amounts of time doing such. Even though I cannot post a bunch of pictures with this option, I have decided to set up an Instagram account with my favorite photos from my Scotland experiences. You can check out some of the ones I’ve posted right now here, but that said, I will post some photos in another post.

Until next time,

-Danny

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Oh, the things I will learn!

Feasgar math!

It has been three weeks since classes have started here at Glasgow, so I wanted to take a moment to talk about them as well as post some photos that I have been neglecting to post.

Because of how the university is set up, I do not have to take as many classes as in the states; as such, this semester, I am only taking four classes. However, that does not mean that I have a whole lot of free time, as all but one of my classes have seminars or tutorials, which is where I get to apply many of the things that I learn from the lectures. Meaning that it is probably smart to read over things that you learn before a seminar.

The particular classes that I am taking this semester are:

Celtic Civilisation: This class is about the Celtic peoples and how they lived, particularly their relationships with other civilizations, namely the Roman Empire. Because the Celts did not have as much of a written history as many other civilizations, much of our knowledge of them is based on what Rome, which has had a particularly complicated relationship with the Celtic peoples, has written about them. Consequently, this has lead to many stereotypes and misconceptions about the Celts that require analyzing. It is incredibly interesting because it gives a different perspective about the Celts that many people are not aware of. It tells of how the Celts are way more complex than the fierce warrior stereotype that they have been given.

Gaelic: This class teaches Scottish Gaelic, one of Scotland’s languages (alongside English and Scots). It is a very challenging language to learn as far as pronunciations are concerned, but learning the language of the country (whether or not I will get to use it very frequently) is still a very exciting experience.

Exploring Scottish Culture: In this class, I learn about the culture of Scotland and how England has played a direct influence in their development. Aspects such as national heroes and how they are portrayed vs. how they actually were (ie. William Wallace) and the prominent literary figures of the time.

Professional Skills: This class is about utilizing the things that I have learned in Psychology, namely the ways I can sell my qualities for a job in Psychology. It involves writing a portfolio where I examine myself and figure out how I can improve my career prospects. (Hey, I had to have one class that was busy work!)

So those are the classes that I am taking right now. It is a huge variety (although most of them are relevant to Scotland in some way), and I am really interested in seeing all of these classes through and what I can learn through them. Even though going to class every day may not be as exciting as traveling across Europe or the UK, having some great classes should be a good consolation.

Until next time,

Danny

P.S. My next blog entry is going to be about the Isle of Skye trip from this weekend. I will post about that later this week. :)

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Arriving in the UK/Orientation!

First of all, I would like to apologize for not posting sooner. In between the large amount of jet lag that I had and the different things that I have been busy doing, I’ve been finding it hard to update this blog recently. Because so many things have happened within the last few days, this post will have what I did over the past few days.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday – Arriving in London

On Friday, at 6PM, I left Atlanta, Georgia for London, where I was supposed to meet the ISA contact. I was not able to get that much sleep because I couldn’t really incline my seat. I sat next to a nice lady from North Carolina at least.

When I got off the plane, I soon met with my coordinator, Tom, who told me general things about London and Glasgow. I stayed in a flat owned by ISA for the next few days. I was given a tour around certain parts of the city and got to see plenty of cool places like Parliament, Big Ben, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge. I got to see the changing of the guard and the Crown Jewels (which I don’t have any pictures of because photography isn’t allowed in that building), but probably my most favorite thing about the Tower of London was the dragon that was made out of weapons and armor.

Even though London was a great city, it has made me even more excited for Glasgow.

Monday – Friday – Coming into Glasgow and International Orientation

Early Monday morning, we boarded a train to Glasgow (getting up was not a fun experience since I did not get any sleep the night before). On the way, we got to see a bunch of the cool landscape leading to the country that I will be living at (even a double rainbow!). When we arrived in Glasgow, we took a taxi to my flat that I would be living in for this semester. I had met one of my roommates, but he was leaving for France right as I arrived, and he isn’t going to come back until this Saturday. I have had the whole room to myself up until a few days ago when my other roommates moved in (all of which are full time students).

The first event that I went to was the international orientation, where we were told much about the school, the city, and the country. It was very informative, and it only made me more excited to be here. However, as I was incredibly jet-lagged, I did not do that much that day.

That whole week, however, I have been doing a lot of things, such as a walking tour of the campus, a bus tour of the city, a day trip to one of Scotland’s lochs, Loch Lomond, and Dumbarton Castle, which had been used as a defensive outpost, and ceilidhs, which are Celtic dances involving large groups of people. I got to meet a bunch of people from other countries, including Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Poland, France, Greece, Finland, Spain, Germany, Turkey, and many other places. Everyone was very friendly, likely because we were all in the same position of being in a foreign country. Meeting other people who were in the same position that I was in was definitely helpful in adjusting.

Saturday – Present – Fresher’s Week

This week is Fresher’s week, which is a combination of new student orientation and the involvement fairs along with many things to meet other people. Here I have been able to meet people from Scotland and the rest of the UK. Even though there were a lot of clubs that were similar to the ones at McKendree, having them around is always a good sign because it helps me find ways to connect with other people, and I hope to make many new friends from these groups.

Because the rest of Fresher’s week is undefined, I think I am going to stop here for now. I want to figure out a routine for posting, but it’ll probably be difficult right now because of the events that are going on, but I should be able to figure it out when classes start up. In the meantime, feel free to ask me anything about my experience so far. I will be happy to answer them!

Cheers,

Danny

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Anxious Excitement: Looking Forward and Back

On September 6th, or next Friday, I will finally be leaving the States for Scotland in what will be the most exciting part of my last year of college. I am beyond excited to go on this trip, but it’s almost a bittersweet feeling in a few ways. Continue reading

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Prologue: Welcome to my Glasgow blog!

Hello everyone! As you can see, this is the blog that will document my study abroad in Glasgow, which I will be leaving for in only 2 months. I am very excited about this trip, and I hope that I can document all the fun things that I do while I am overseas. I also will want to tell you about different aspects of Scotland and other parts of Europe that I get to visit, just so you can learn while you read up on my experiences; on top of that, I’m also going to give tips and advice, both based off of my experiences and from other sources, about studying abroad and traveling to different countries for those who are interested in studying abroad.

I’m probably not going to be able to post very often up until leaving in September just because I don’t really think there is a point in writing a blog about studying abroad when I haven’t left the States yet. Having said that, however, I will post once or twice before I leave; one of those posts, I want to hear from you, the readers (as well as my friends and family) about anything that you want answered before I leave.

I will answer some questions that I have been getting from numerous people over the past few months right now, though. The first question I have been getting a lot is how long I will be gone for, or rather, when will I leave for the United Kingdom and when will I be returning? The answer is that I leave on September 6th, and return on December 21st (right on the Winter Solstice!). In other words, my semester proper begins later than at McKendree, but ends later as well, which means little because it’s going to be awesome!

Another thing that I will say is that I am doing this from a different institution than what McKendree has done for a long time, and that is that I am traveling through ISA (International Studies Abroad). While I am not the first person from McKendree to go through ISA (that would go to Caitlyn Jacober, who is currently studying in Valencia for the summer and currently has a blog that you should definitely give a visit), I will be the first to use them through a full semester. They have been very helpful in answering my questions (of which I have had very many) as well as with other arrangements.

Again, remember to send me any questions that you have, and I will answer them in the next blog that I post before I leave. Until then, I will be continuing to make arrangements for leaving, and I hope to see most of you before September!

Until next time,

-Danny

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STUDY ABROAD TIP

Deciding on a country and school of study - So you’ve made the decision to study abroad and likely have a country where you want to study in mind as well, but if you are like me, you probably had quite a few places in mind, and believe me, it can be difficult to narrow it down when there are a lot of places you want to go. So here are some questions you can ask yourself while you are contemplating where you ultimately want to go:

  • Can you/are you willing to speak/learn another language for the majority of your trip?
  • Is your country in the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere? (From my experience, universities in the southern hemisphere are structured differently, meaning that the “Spring” semesters begin in July and the “Fall” semesters begin in February)
  • Are you comfortable leaving and returning by the program’s dates?
  • What kind of classes do you want to take while abroad? (if you want to take classes within your major, it might narrow down your search)

You obviously don’t need to follow this list completely, but my biggest advice is that you think long and hard about what kind of experience you want to have, what each country can provide, and anything else that might be a deciding factor on where you want to go. In other words, don’t make a final decision until you’ve considered things such as cost, location, climate, location of the university within the country, etc.

Sometimes two places can seem almost equal to where you want to go and making a final decision can seem like the hardest thing to do (I know because I’ve experienced it). I personally ended up nitpicking both of my top options before I made a final decision, but ultimately, it’s your call on which country you want to go to. Anyway you look at it, it will be a life-changing experience!

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