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Week 8: The End is Here

This has been my last week abroad in Scotland. The time has just flown right by, I don’t know where it could have gone. This past week has been a bit stressful with things like packing, buying last minute gifts, and realizing that I will soon have to say goodbye to the people I have met and befriended while here.

The ISS Group in front of Broomhall Castle

The ISS Group in front of Broomhall Castle

This week my program, the International Summer Session, at the University of Stirling put on another farewell ceilidh (a fun get-together with a band and traditional Scottish dancing) to say goodbye to everyone and look back on all of the fun we have had. This time, the ceilidh was held at a local castle (how many times do you ever get to say that!), Broomhall Castle, which was a beautiful castle on the top of a hill where we could see the entire town of Stirling. It was a pretty amazing sight, and a little sad when I realized I wouldn’t be seeing this again any time soon. The ceilidh itself was a lot of fun, I danced so much, I was a bit sore the next day. When it was over, it finally hit me that I would never see some of these people ever again, which was a bittersweet thought.

At the Ceilidh

At the Ceilidh

Then, on Friday, which was the day before I left for home, me and two of my roommates went into Stirling to do some last minute souvenir shopping and to go to Stirling Castle (since one of my roommates STILL hadn’t been to see it). It was nice to spend some time with them because I had gotten really close to them and we were all n our separate ways the very next day.

Me and two of my roommates at Stirling Castle

Me and two of my roommates at Stirling Castle

Overall, this week has been a pretty calm and laid back one. It has been filled with tons of packing and hoping that everything will fit back into my suitcase!

Cheers!

Natalie

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Home sweet home!

Hello!

I have made it back home safe and sound! The layover was brutal and long, but at least I was in the same time zone as my family and friends! It was so nice being reunited with my parents and being able to share everything that I had done while I was abroad to my family and friends. I will miss London but this was such an amazing opportunity and experience!

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Going Home

London was not what I expected, but at the same time it was also so much more. The history is mind blowing and it’s people are interesting. And the landscape is simply breathtaking. I expected there to be a mixing of different cultures, but I was not expecting so much of an Indian influence. Everywhere I turned was curry or a worker with a Indian-British accent, which is very hard to understand. I knew that there was going to be a bit of a backlash at us being American, but I never expected so much. It’s very frustrating knowing that people are judging you for your accent. I eventually began telling people that I was Canadian. I also didn’t expect to feel so safe in London and I only had two scary experiences on the bus and was completely comfortable with the tube.

I’m looking forward to going home and seeing my family. This is the first time I’ve been away for home by myself for so long. It was truly a growing experience, I don’t know how, but it was.

~Kallan

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Pre-Departure

Leaving London is so bitter sweet for me. On one hand I’m devastated to be leaving such a beautiful country, but I’m really excited to go home and see my family and friends! I also have to admit I’m looking forward to getting back to work! I’ve felt like such a lazy bum not working for so long! In a perfect world everyone I loved would just move to England. However, that’s not really reasonable. So it’s cheers to England for now, but i know I’ll be coming back.

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Portland bound in the Morning!!!!

I haven’t been able to keep up with my blogging over this trip due to technical issues with my internet connectivity and ability to download photos, plus I’ve been having a fantastic time in London and the rest of the UK. I’ll post the rest of my weekly adventures when I return to the US and have fully functional internet access so that you all can see what I’ve been up to on my adventure!

This trip to the UK has been one of the most life changing experiences of my life. Over the course of this trip, I was implanted in a foreign metropolis and expected to be able to navigate the streets of London without looking like a helpless tourist. While I was not able to meet expectations the first few days (with my nine hour trek back to campus), I ended up mastering the art of navigating London without looking like a helpless foreigner. In my time here, I have been able to go to several London landmarks, from the Globe theatre to the British Museum and the British Library (my favorite place in the world, which you’ll hear about in my week 4 post), and have also had many opportunities to travel throughout the country and see the countryside and more picturesque areas of Britain. I’ve been to Scotland, Wales, York, and Stratford-upon-Avon during my stay in London, and have enjoyed nearly every place I’ve traveled. While I’m excited to get back home and start real life again, I’m going to miss my time as a fly on the wall in London. I plan on coming back here someday, and I hope I’m able to do so. While I’ve been to a great many places here, there are still things that I wanted to do but wasn’t able to (The London Eye, Canterbury, Bath, Dover). While it saddens me that I was not able to get to these places, it gives me more motivation to come back, as there is still plenty of stuff available at my disposal. London is a city of endless opportunity, and it’s impossible to see everything you want to see in any allotted amount of time. Here’s to hoping I’ll be coming back to London in the near future, and here’s to hoping you all enjoy my further posts going into more detail about my experiences here!

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Week Four: London

It’s Sunday of my final week and I fly back home tomorrow morning. I’m sad to see London go, but I can’t wait to be home. Of course this past week has been my best week in London. Last Friday I went down to Cardiff to see the Doctor Who Experience and what an experience it was! I loved every minute of it and cried the first 25 minutes because I was so happy to be surrounded by fellow Whovians and experiencing something so beautiful together. And Cardiff was lovely; the weather reminded me of Newport, Oregon and that was wonderful. On Saturday I went to see the Crucible staring Richard Armitage. That was amazing! I had read the play back in high school, but before I learned about The Red Scare, but this time I found a greater appreciation for the play and it’s historical and political significance. Also, it was interesting listening to the Brits in the audience talk about the play and totally missing the point. Following the play I went to the stage door hoping to meet Richard, but sadly he left right after the show to catch a plane. I later went back on Wednesday and got a photo with him!! Furthermore, on Friday, some of us went to the stage door or Richard III and I got aMartin Freeman’s autograph!! It’s been a star-packed week.

Class also ended this week and finals were on Friday. In Shakespeare, we visited a couple museums before heading to the Globe to be groundlings for a performance of Antony and Cleopatra. The play was amazing and well acted, but it’s mighty painful being a groundling. After dinner, we saw the new play Shakespeare in Love. It was wonderful. Many of the students in my class didn’t like it, but I loved it and it was really funny. In my WWII class, we didn’t do much, but we did visit The Tower of London to view the poppies that are being installed in memory of WWI.

I really enjoyed my classes and my time spent in London, but I’m really glad to be going home.

~Kallan

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Pre-Departure: Until next time London

Hello everyone!

I cannot believe that this trip has come to an end! I am really excited to be back at home with my family. I cannot wait to see them. There are many things I will miss about London, but I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to take a course abroad and explore a new culture. This has definitely been an amazing experience! I learned a lot about myself while being in my leadership course, and also during the times I was exploring on my own which I had no idea I would ever be traveling anywhere without someone else. The fact that I felt so comfortable and safe made me be more open to try new things and not rely on someone else to enjoy the time I have free to myself. Especially being able to do that in an unfamiliar place made me feel that I could do that anywhere. There are so many memories that I will never forget and experiences that I will share with other people who decide to study abroad. It was definitely difficult to leave my family behind for a month with minimum communication, but it did not turn out as bad as I had thought. I am so happy to be going home tomorrow, but I will definitely miss riding the bus and tube to the grocery store or downtown.

As for my last weekend here, it was the best time of my life! I went to the beach on Saturday and it was absolutely gorgeous! I had such a blast and did not want to leave. This was by far my favorite thing I had done in London. I went to church at St. Paul’s for the last time, and it was truly amazing being able to attend church while I was abroad. I lit a candle this last time because I had done it the firs time I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I will miss that beautiful architecture, artistic building.

Now off to the next adventure, back to Oregon!

Beach 2   Beach 3   Beach1

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Home to Portland!

When I arrived in Portland I was so excited to be home because I had missed my first plane.  I had gone through customs in Texas and been so frustrated that we had missed our plane and when I arrived back in Portland I was so relieved.  I was kind of overwhelmed when I got there and like I felt when I got to Mexico City I was excited and the airport felt huge.  I was happy that I was home and all I could think about was seeing my family after almost six weeks of being away from home.  I couldn’t believe that I was back in a country where I was again in the majority it felt so surreal.  I also could not believe that all the languages spoken were English and I kept reverting to my non native language because I was so used to speaking Spanish.  Like Mexico City the airport was bustling but it was quieter because it was late at night.  In the end when I saw my parents I was so relieved and overwhelmed with emotions.  I almost kissed the carpet but all in all I was also sad that I was home too because I missed my host family and my host country.  I look forward to talking to them soon.

http://www.cp-africa.com/2010/04/06/head-south-africa-world-cup-discount/   File:Portland International Airport Concourse D - Oregon.JPG

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Prior to Returning Home

My experience in Mexico has turned out to be exactly what I expected to be.  I learned a lot about myself and the others that I met along the way.  I have experienced the language and have learned more about the culture.  I have learned more about the stereotypes that Mexico has about the United States and did everything to disapprove them while I was here.  I learned more about the country of Mexico and about the people who live here.  I never expected that I would ever feel extremely comfortable talking to people not from my culture and I have learned to be able to talk to my host family and the people here in Mexico.  I had a lot of fun getting to know the culture and learning about the customs that are not know about.

I learned that burritos are an Americanized food and that Mexico is a lot more safe than people think.  Also there are many different colors of tortillas including red, blue, orange, and green.  I also learned that it is common for Mexicans to use their knowledge of English by changing their words.  They will change the words goodbye for adios and goodnight for buenas noches.  All in all I learned a lot about the culture and I was very surprised about what I learned and I feel prepared to teach others about the truths of Mexico.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gtKTMcUkPpk/TuKFWRiFJ3I/AAAAAAAAGCU/Gl4eRbZMCGk/s1600/sun-dried-tomato-chipotle-tortilla.JPG

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Pre-Departure: Bittersweet

So I have less than 24 hours left here in Scotland. While I am super excited to see my family and my dog, I really don’t want to leave. Scotland feels like a second home now, it’s so familiar. I never expected to love it as much as I do or have as much fun as I did. While the first couple of weeks were the hardest for me, now life here has become like second nature.

I'll miss seeing this view everyday!

I’ll miss seeing this view everyday!

Tomorrow I leave the University of Stirling at 7:30 am for the Edinburgh Airport. From there, I will fly to Newark and then after a four hour layover, finally to Portland. While I am excited to see my family, I am not excited for the super hot weather that we have been having in Oregon, I will probably melt as soon as I step off of the plane.

And the beautiful Scottish highlands (the favorite part of my trip).

And the beautiful Scottish highlands (the favorite part of my trip).

I won't be seeing any castles like this back in Oregon.

I won’t be seeing any castles like this back in Oregon.

I know that this post is pretty short, but that’s really all I have to say at the moment. I will still post about my last week and my arrival home later this week. Now I am off to finish up packing my stuff and enjoying these last couple of hours I have here in Scotland. There are still so many things that I want to do and see but they will just have to wait until I come back!

Natalie

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