People Make Glasgow

People Make Glasgow. This phrase has been showcased on billboards and taxis all over the city since I arrived in January. At the time, this phrase didn’t really mean much to me. Now after being here for four months, this phrase means everything. The people I have met while in Glasgow have absolutely made my experience and without them I know that I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time here nearly as much as I did. I find it absolutely amazing that I have become so close with people from all over the world in a matter of months, which is exactly the beauty of exchange. Even though I was nervous to arrive in Scotland many months ago, the transition was very easy because everyone was so eager to make friends. Who knew that first night at an exchange student mixer that I would meet my best friends for the semester?  I am so thankful that I went to the mixer rather than sleeping after being up for over twenty-four hours!

Saying goodbye to my friends and this city has been more challenging than I thought. After living in Glasgow for four months, this place has really become my home. To celebrate my wonderful semester, I hosted a big going away party at my flat. It was so wonderful to have all of my friends in one place!

My amazing roommate and our wonderful friend Helen

My amazing roommate and our wonderful friend Helen

Three Americans and a Kiwi

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This entire weekend has been filled with goodbyes and lots of long walks around the city so I could appreciate the streets that called home these past few months one more time. I even took one of the tourist bus tours around Glasgow just for fun! I really am going to miss this place. Choosing to go on exchange in Glasgow was the greatest thing I could have ever done for myself. As someone who enjoys being in her comfort zone, it was so exciting and refreshing to travel to an unknown place and start a new life for a little while.

I absolutely loved all of my adventures and feel so lucky to have seen the some of the world. I never dreamed that I would get to see so many places throughout Europe. I have been lucky enough to visit Dublin, Paris, Barcelona, London, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, and countless places all over Scotland. From staying in sketchy hostels with twenty strangers to living off of bread and Nutella to save money, I have loved every second of this journey. I think it is safe to say that I may never get to live this carefree lifestyle with few responsibilities again, so I am so excited that I made the most of it. Thank you to everyone that has supported me and followed my journey along the way. It makes being away from home so much easier when you know there are people in America cheering you on, so thank you so much for that!

I am leaving Scotland with a new perspective of the world and the wonderful people who make each city unique. This semester abroad has definitely given me the travel bug and I can’t wait until I can travel again. Scotland will always have a special place in my heart and I know I will be dreaming of my amazing times here once I am home. To end my final blog post, I’ll leave you with a quote from a an old Scottish song about missing Scotland, which I know I will absolutely relate to once I am settled back in the states:

“So let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time. Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home. If I should become a stranger it would make me more than sad. Caledonia’s been everything  I’ve ever had”

Thank you for following my blog! Ascott out. Cheers!

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Coming to a Close

The past few weeks in Scotland have been very relaxed in comparison to my two weeks of spring break travels. It seems so weird to finally have everything calm down! My friends and I have been enjoying going to different events around Scotland to keep busy and to distract ourselves from studying!

Recently my roommate and I have been quite the sports fans! We went to a Glasgow Warriors rugby game as well as a Celtic football (soccer) game. Both of our teams won and we had a great time! It was so great to be at a sporting event again since I had to miss the end of the IU basketball season!

Glasgow Warriors Game

Glasgow Warriors Game

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Celtic Game

Celtic Game

 

My roommate Mari, her friend Hannah, and I also made a spontaneous trip to Edinburgh! We spent the majority of our day hiking around Arthur’s Seat, which is basically an area with beautiful hills/mountains that give you an amazing view of the city. While I have been to Edinburgh before, the weather was so crappy the first time so I was so excited to go back on such a beautiful day!

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Loving the beautiful weather!

Loving the beautiful weather!

Since we are all away from home, my friends and I decided to do a potluck dinner for Easter! I made cupcakes, which were a huge hit! It was so nice to celebrate the holiday with all of my friends!

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That pretty much sums up my life right now! I have two weeks left in Scotland and I know it is about to fly by. This week is going to be pretty boring since I will just be studying for my finals.  My last week here I plan to host a big get together so I can be with all of my friends one last time. I can’t believe the time has already come when I have to think about leaving and bringing an end to this amazing experience. That being said, this will probably be my last post until a day or two before I leave. As always, thanks for reading! Cheers!

Spring Break Stop #4: Prague

After about a week and a half of traveling, it was time for my last stop of spring break, Prague! Kelly and I chose to take a 5 hour bus to Prague from Vienna and I am so glad that we did. The drive throughout the Austrian and Czech countryside was beautiful! Prague is such an adorable city. Kelly and I stayed right in the middle if old town so there were so many different things to explore!

The first day was spent simply walking around and getting familiar with out surroundings. The roads of Prague are beyond confusing! Rather than having roads designed like a grid, the streets of Prague are very random and start and stop in weird places. We got lost many time as.. But a least we got lost in such a beautiful place! Later that day we had our first Czech dinner of sausage, bread, and potatoes with cabbage. The dinner was great and exactly what we needed to end our day of traveling.

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YUM

YUM

The next day we woke up bright and early to go on a free tour around then city. Our tour guide was hilarious and had a wonderful time learning what the city is all about! After the tour Kelly and I did a good amount of shopping. In the middle of the town, Prague has an adorable Easter festival with a lot of fun trinkets and food. We had a great time shopping and simply people watching in this area! One of my favorite stops of the day was visiting the John Lennon Wall. This is simply a random wall in Prague where people have written notes all about peace and love, and how they feel inspired by John Lennon. It was very cool to read all of the different things that people from all over the world have written.

John Lennon Wall

John Lennon Wall

Later that night we decided to treat ourselves to a typical Czech dinner. We went to a local Czech restaurant where we had beef goulash and dumplings and a tasty Czech beer. The whole dinner was amazing and I would definitely eat it again!

Tradtional Czech Goulash

Tradtional Czech Goulash

The rest of our trip was spent wondering the streets and people watching. One of my favorite parts was going up into the astronomical tower to get a beautiful view of the city. I could definitely get used took looking at the beautiful view every day! I also had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend, Rachel, who is studying in Prague this semester. Rachel and I met in a hostel in Dublin so I was so excited that I could see her again!

View from the top of the tower

View from the top of the tower

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Looking back on these last two weeks, I can’t believe I traveled to so many places. While most students my age go to Florida for a week, I was able to travel to London, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague for two weeks. Traveling by bus, trains, and planes while staying in different hostels has definitely been an adventure. I have met so many people from all over the world and have seen so many places that I will never forget. I pretty much feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Thanks mom and dad! As for the rest of my time abroad, I only have one month left! I can’t even believe it. I plan to hang out with my friends the most that I can and make the best of the time I have left. And I suppose at some point I could maybe think about studying for my exams! Here’s to one more month of great times and wonderful friends in Scotland! Cheers!

Spring Break Stop #3: Vienna

Vienna is quite possibly my new favorite city. The city has a feel of elegance and sophistication that I absolutely love. If given the chance, I would go back in a heartbeat!

Our journey to Vienna started by taking a twelve hour overnight train from Berlin. This was quite an interesting experience. The twelve hours consisted of making small talk with strangers, snacking, and half-sleeping in awkward positions. It was a long ride but we didn’t have to pay for a hostel and made it to Vienna eventually! Once we were all settled in we decided to go to a market right in the middle of the city. One side of the market had good while the other was more of a flea market with interesting trinkets. Throughout all of my travels, I have noticed that Europeans love their markets. I can hardly walk through the center of a town without seeing a market of some sort!

The rest of the day was spent roaming the streets and taking in the culture. The buildings are gorgeous! After our fair share of walking, Kelly and I headed back to the hostel to get ready for the opera! With Vienna being home to many famous composers, we absolutely had to make a visit to the opera house! While the opera normally costs hundreds of euros, they offer a cheaper option where people can pay three euro to have a standing spot to watch the show. Obviously as college students on a budget, we were all about this deal! We arrived two hours before the show in order to buy our ticket and claim our territory in the opera house. The opera we saw (Madame Butterfly) was wonderful and the building itself was stunning. I still can’t believe I saw an opera in the famous Vienna State Opera House!

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Inside the opera house

Inside the opera house

The next day consisted of more roaming the streets and people watching. During our stroll we came across a beautiful park with an adorable cafe where we had the typical Austrian dish, weiner schnitzel.

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After lunch, we stumbled upon a few bike festival! The festival had great good, entertainment, and lots of locals. It was really cool to hang out and feel like we actually belonged in Vienna, rather than feeling like a lost tourist!

Bike Festival

Bike Festival

I somehow manage to find food everywhere I go..

I somehow manage to find food everywhere I go..

After all of that walking around we made it back to the hostel to rest and eat some dinner. I use the term dinner very lightly.. As college students we are on a budget, which means we can’t eat out very often. Our dinner this night and most every other night during our travel consisted or a Nutella sandwich, an apple, and maybe some pretzels. I’m pretty sure this is the only time in my life where I will be happy eating like this. But hey, that’s all in the fun of being a young traveler! After our gourmet dinner I decided to return to the opera house to watch their production of the ballet Swan Lake. Instead of paying to see the show inside, I chose to watch it on the huge screen outside of the theater. Every night the theater displays the show on the big screen so the public can watch too. I thought this was such a brilliant idea! Many people came early to grab a seat while others simply watched as they walked by. Watching the ballet on a beautiful evening was the perfect way to end the night.

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On our last day we visited the Schonbrunn Palace, home of the Habsburgs. It’s not quite Versailles but it was still beautiful! Following the common trend of this trip, the rest of the day was spent walking around and exploring the city. It never gets old! The night ended with Kelly and I sharing a bottle of wine and talking about what a wonderful spring break it had been. We truly are the luckiest people in the world for having his opportunity! Vienna was so amazing and I really hope that I will have the chance to return later in life!

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Ready next blog post to read about my fourth and final stop of spring break, Prague!

Spring Break Stop #2: Berlin

After London, Kelly and I flew to Berlin, Germany. The city is very unique and has a very edgy feel to it. Our first day in the city started out as usual, with a tour of the city. The tour showed us all of the main tourists stops like Brandenburg Gates, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Berlin Wall. I love started with a tour because it is a great way to get aquatinted with the city I’ll be calling home for the next few days.

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

Later that afternoon I met up with my friend Theresa who is living in Berlin. She spent hours taking me to different parts of the city and really gave me a good perspective of what it would be like to live there. She also showed me a really cool part of the Berlin Wall and even took me out for gelato! Later that night we decided to go to a beer garden, because what’s more German than a beer garden? I normally am not a fan of bratwurst but this one was fantastic and so was the beer!

Theresa and I

Theresa and I

My amazing bratwurst and beer from a local beer garden

My amazing bratwurst and beer from a local beer garden

The next day Kelly and I went to visit the concentration camp. We spent hours walking around and learning about what happened there in the past. I won’t say much more about my experience because I really feel that a concentration camp is something that everyone needs to see for themselves. If you ever get the chance, please go visit.

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The rest of my time in Germany was spent wondering the streets and taking in the culture. Due to it’s rough past, Berlin is still a relatively new city. Over the past twenty five years, the city has seen many changes and developments in order to rebuilt the city into a better version of itself. I think it’s safe to say that Berlin will be an even more exciting city to visit in the future.

Follow my next post to read about my third stop, Vienna!

Spring Break Stop #1: London

My trip to London began with an overnight bus ride. After 8 hours of being cramped on a hot bus with hardly any sleep, I was thrilled to finally get to my hostel. One of the first things we did when we arrived was visit the Natural History Museum. This place was massive and had so much to see. I felt like a little kid all over again! I loved looking at all the different animals and how they have developed over time. Later that day, my friend Joe and I decided to walk all around London to see all of the tourist spots! We saw everything including London Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, and so much more!

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

London Tower Bridge

London Tower Bridge

Classic London Tourist Picture

Classic London Tourist Picture

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

One of my favorite things we did while there was visit two different markets. The first market was the Borough Market, which was right by our hostel. The market had really great food from all over the world! It also had lots of gourmet candy, bread, and cheese. While there were
many great ethnics food options, I choose a burger like a typical American. This burger was absolutely perfect. Just look at the beautiful picture of it below! The next market I went to was in Camden. This market was huge and had so many random things. I don’t really even know how to describe it. We walked around for hours admiring all the different stands. Per usual, the best part was the food. I used my fantastic bargaining skills to get a lot of Chinese food for a steal. I also had one of the most massive and best doughnuts of my life. Needless to say, the market was a great decision!

My amazing burger front the Borough!

My amazing burger front the Borough!

One of the best parts of the Camden Market

One of the best parts of the Camden Market

We also spent a lot of time simply walking around and enjoying the city. London has many beautiful parks that are just begging you to walk through them! During our trip we walked through Hyde Park, Kensington Park (where Will and Kate live), Regents Park, and the Queen’s Royal Park. I loved strolling through these beautiful gardens and enjoying the beautiful weather. Aside from all of our trips to the park, we also made a stop at Abbey Road. We did everything we could to get a good picture of us walking on the crosswalk but we had little success. The street is so busy and cars basically make it their goal to hit a tourist and ruin their perfect picture. While our pictures didn’t look at all like the Beatles album cover, it was still very
cool to visit.

Our failed attempt

Our failed attempt

Hands down, the most amazing part of my London trip was visiting the Warner Brother’s Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour. For all of you potter fans out there, yes this place is even more magical than you can imagine. Joe and I spent over three hours admiring all of the different sets, props, costumes, special effects, and just literally everything else that went into making the movies. I could honestly talk to you for hours about how amazing this tour is. Instead, I’ll just let you look at a few of my many many pictures. Seriously, I went a little picture crazy! You can see a few of my many pictures below. After the tour I am now convinced that I should be receiving my letter to Hogwarts any day..

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The Great Hall

The Great Hall

Griffindor Common Room

Griffindor Common Room

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As you can see, my time in London was full of fun activities and sightseeing.

Follow my next blog post as I talk about stop two of my spring break, Berlin!

Scotland Shenanigans

Since my last trip to Barcelona I have been taking it easy and hanging out in Scotland. This past weekend I made a day trip to Saint Andrews. As most of you probably know, Saint Andrews is home of the very famous Saint Andrews Golf Course. While I didn’t get to see much of the course, the parts I did see were beautiful. I now understand why the waitlist to play on this course is years long.

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While in this quaint and beautiful town, I also walked all along the beach and visited the University of Saint Andrews where Will and Kate met. Pretty cool!

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Yesterday my friends and I all got together to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. While I won’t go into the details of everything we did, just know that is involved five pubs, a club, and quite a few beverages. The night was an absolute blast!  I am so lucky to have such great friends to hang out with over here. It’s kinda crazy how close you can be with people who come from a completely different place than yourself. I absolutely love it!

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Well that’s basically all I have to say for now! My next trip is my two week spring break where I will be traveling to London, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague. I can’t wait! Cheers!

Sunshine, Sangria, and Spain

The title of this post pretty much sums up my weekend in Barcelona. The city was everything I imagined it to be. It had amazing architecture, delicious food, and beautiful scenery. It also had one of my best friends from home, Erica. What’s not to love?

My trip began when my friend Andrew and I began the adventure of finding our hostel. Along the way we randomly ran into Keeler (also known as Erica) so it was perfect! After getting settled into our somewhat sketchy hostel, Keeler took us to La Boqueria. La Boqueria is a large market in Barcelona. This market has everything! For lunch I had the most amazing ham and cheese crepe. Throughout my trip I also spoiled myself with a smoothie, quiche, fruit, and candy from the market. With the market right down the street from where I was living, it was very hard to resist going in to buy something every time I walked by it!

My wonderful crepe

My wonderful crepe

Just a taste of some of the amazing fruit!

Just a taste of some of the amazing fruit!

La Boqueria

La Boqueria

After our wonderful lunch we decided to do some exploring and walk over to Park Guell, a park designed by the famous Antoni Gaudi. The park was huge! We had such a great time taking goofy pictures and walking enjoying the beautiful weather!

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After we managed to find our way out of the park, we walked for what seems like hours to get to the Bunker de Carmel. Basically this is just an abandoned bunker with a beautiful view of the city. It was a great way to relax after our long day of walking.

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After the bunker, Keeler and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner of tapas and sangria. The food we had was so authentic and amazing that I could have eaten it all night! We ate toasted bread with garlic and tomato, peppers stuffed with cheese, and croquettes. This will definitely go down as one of my favorite dinners!

YUM

YUM

The next morning after stopping at the market for breakfast (duh) Keeler and I went to visit Gaudi’s most famous masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. I’m not sure I have ever seen a building with so much detail. Even though the building won’t be finished for quite a few more years, it was stunning to look at.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

After La Sagrada Familia, we visited the gothic area of town which was built on old ruins. There were many winding treats and little alleyways. It was so cool! After all that walking, we decided to pay a visit to the beach. This was probably one of my favorite parts of my Barcelona experience. Keeler and I picked up some bread, cheese, and sangria and headed for the sand and sun. We met up with a few friends and sat there for hours just enjoying the good company and weather. It was truly a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

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That night Andrew, Keeler, and I all went out to dinner and dancing. At dinner I had seafood paella and it was wonderful! I know I keep raving about the food but everything I had was so good! Just look at how happy I am in the picture below..

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Needless to say, I loved every second of my trip to Barcelona. Between the weather, food, and great friends I’m pretty sure that life couldn’t have been any better.

I should also give a shout out to the time I spent in London on my way to and from Barcelona. My friend Andrew was nice enough to let me stay with him so I was able to hang out with all of my IU friends in London! It was so great to be with all my friends again. While I will be returning to London at the end of March, there was one thing I had to do before I left..

Off to Hogwarts!

Off to Hogwarts!

That’s all for now! Cheers!

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. The island is so calm, peaceful, covered in beautiful mountains and lakes. On Saturday my friends and I decided to go on an overnight trip to this beautiful place. Lucky for us, we had perfect weather and we were really able to enjoy the outdoors!

Our first stop on the way to Isle of Skye was Loch Lomond and Glencoe. We didn’t get to stay in these places long but we made the most of our time there by taking quick hikes around the area! We were also able to stop at Eilean Donan Castle, which is one of the most photographed castles in all of Scotland!

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

I realize that I am not really showing you a picture of the castle.. Sorry! You can google it!

Around dinner time we finally arrived to our hostel in Isle of Skye. While we weren’t able to go exploring in the big mountains yet, my group decided to make an adventure of our own. Right by our hostel, there were the ruins of Castle Moil. Lets just say that it was incredibly hard to get to the ruin, and we were very proud of ourselves when we got to the top!

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The next day we were finally able to explore Isle of Skye! We saw so many different things so I will give you the highlights! The second stop we made that day was to Old Man Storr, which is Isle of Skye’s most famous landmark. Here we were able to go a a big hike up the mountain! The view from the top was amazing and well worth the hike! It’s amazing how small you feel when you are high among the mountaintops!

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Another stop we made was to Lealt Gorge and Falls. This place had beautiful waterfalls and lots of green landscape covered in sheep! What was really neat about this stop was that we were able to meet a really old shepherd named Neil. He sits out on the hill in his kilt every day to watch his sheep. He was such a cool guy to meet!

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That pretty much sums up my weekend at Isle of Skye! As for my next trip, this weekend I am going to London and then Barcelona to see all of my friends from Indiana. I am so excited! Cheers!

The Highlands

As far as beautiful sites are concerned, Scotland does not disappoint. In the past week I was able to go on two amazing trips that explored the Scottish Highlands. The Highlands are known for showing the true beauty of Scotland. This area is also famous for being home to movies like Bravheart, James Bond Skyfall, and Harry Potter.

My first trip was on Wednesday with a company called Timberbush Tours. The tour took me to places like Glencoe, Inverness, Fort William, Loch Ness, Fort Augustus, and the list goes on.  You can see how much ground we covered by looking at my map below!

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 7.43.19 PMBy far my favorite place on this trip was Glencoe. Glencoe is an area were there are so many beautiful mountains everywhere you look. Some are covered in bright green grass while others are covered in snow and ice. It truly is amazing to see. But rather than me describe it, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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One of my absolute favorite parts of the trip was feeding all of the animals! When you are away from your dog for so long, you basically start to adopt and fall in love with any animal you meet over here! While it was cool to feed carrots to the wild deer, I absolutely well in love with the highland cows. They are the sweetest and most adorable cows ever!

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I mean how could you not love him..

I mean how could you not love him..

The other main stop worth noting was Loch Ness! Unfortunately there was no sign of Nessie, but I did get to see some really beautiful views! I guess I’ll just have to come back to Scotland so I can try to see her again!IMG_0840

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Follow my next blog post to read about my adventures in Isle of Skye!