Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Scotland & The Highlands

This last week has been crazy. We celebrated St. Patricks day, went out for Varsity, and I ended the week with a 3 day trip to Scotland and the Highlands. Tuesday Emily, Caitlynn, Deanna, Toni, Chrissi, Jo, and I went to the SU for a few drinks in honour of St. Patricks Day.

Me, Toni, and Chrissi

Me & Deanna

Deanna, Emily, Me, & Caitlynn

Friday morning I had to leave early to catch a train into London where I met up with a tour company to take me and 40 other study abroad students to Scotland. The trip started with a four hour train ride up to Edinburgh. Once we arrived a tour guide met us at the station, and took us to our hostels to drop off our bags. Next was a tour of the city. The guide took us through the city explaining the history and significance of certain places. We ended the tour at the castle and then we had the rest of the afternoon and night to ourselves. A group of us then decided to explore a bit more, eat dinner, and head back to our hostel. That night me and Rachel decided we had walked enough for the day, so we went and saw Insurgent. The next day we had a long day of traveling to the Highlands, little did I know how amazing it was actually going to be.


Where Harry Potter began

Street in the city

Castle in Edinburgh

Saturday was probably the most amazing day of traveling I have ever experienced. We started by visiting Stirling castle for a while and then started our trip into the Highlands. It was pretty cool having the opportunity to explore around a castle, but the best part was yet to come. A couple hours of driving and we were surrounded by mountains. The views were amazing, pictures will never do it justice. I definitely think everyone needs to visit the highlands once in their life. We were able to stop a couple of times to take photos and look around a bit. We ended the days traveling in Lochness where we stayed in an new hostel. Once we arrived we were taken to a shop where a man explained how highlander people use to live and what their houses would look like. Then we got all checked in and Deanna, Rachel, Jess, and I went into town to eat dinner. After eating we decided to walk down by the water and sit for a while just talking. This is when I finally realised how amazing this experience is and how much I am gaining from it. 

Stirling Castle

Never want to leave

In the Highlands

The tour guide had brought flags for us to take pictures with, this is me & Deanna

Rachel, Me, Una, Deanna, & Jess in the Highlands

Just a view out the bus window

Sunday would be the longest day of travel yet. We had a long drive back to Edinburgh and then the train ride back to London. On the bus ride back we made various stops so it was not as bad. We first stopped to see cows, which I thought was pretty stupid. Next we stopped off to take some pictures of Lochness, it was crazy windy, but another amazing view. One of the last stops was The Hermitage, which was a wilderness park with various hiking trails. Once we arrived in Edinburgh we hopped on the train for another 4 hours, at this point I was so sick of traveling. I arrived back at school that night around 11:30. This trip was definitely one of my favourite ones that I will always remember. I have class this week and then two weeks off where I will do more traveling. 

The highlander cows

Me & Lochness

A waterfall at The Hermitage

Sunset on the ride home

Me & Rachel on the train home

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Here For A Good Time, Not A Long Time

Nothing to exciting has happened this week. Just class and a little work, but only one week until Scotland, two weeks until Budapest, and I think me and Sarah are going to try and go to Ireland after Budapest to visit Annie!! This week I only traveled to Notting Hill with Haley and Sam, the rest of the time I just hung out around here.

Colourful houses in Notting Hill

Some more colour

Just some street art

I have come to the realisation this week that my time here is going so quickly. I feel like at times, especially these last couple weeks, I have taken for granted my opportunity here. I have so many things I still want to do and see. I am truly grateful for being here, this experience has already shown me that there is so much more to life than what I thought and that taking chances are a good thing. This has been one of the biggest choices I have made and would not trade it for anything. The people I have met and the memories I have made will be with me through the rest of my life. Sarah this last week kept telling me that "I'm here for a good time not a long time," and she was so right. I shared this with some of the other girls and we have decided this is a pretty good motto to live by for the next two weeks. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Two Months In

Well this week has been one of the crazier ones since I have been here. I had my first few deadlines which was very stressful, we celebrated a few birthdays, and then had a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge. My first essay of the semester was due on Tuesday and it was a very stressful process. There is so much more to do in order to hand in a paper than at home. For example I had to print off all the articles I referenced and turn them in. Once I had it handed in there was a big weight lifted off of me. Then on Wednesday night we celebrated a few birthdays by going out. It was a late night, but very fun.

Me & Caitlynn

Me & Chrissi

Just waiting for the bus in the telephone booth

On Friday I went into the city with some girls and we visited some book shops and platform 9-3/4.

The next exciting thing didn't happen until Saturday when I went on a bus tour to Bath and Stonehenge. I was not really sure what was in Bath, but I loved it. We had an hour to visit the Roman Baths and then an hour to explore and get lunch. I definitely wish I had more time to explore this town. After spending two hours there, we got back on the bus for an hour drive to Stonehenge. Before going here everyone asked me why I would want to go look at rocks, although it sounds boring I really enjoyed it.

 I now have an easy few weeks coming up which will be nice again. I do have a few deadlines that I have to work on. My next trip is in two weeks when I go to Scotland and then I am headed to Budapest for 5 days with Sarah. It is hard to believe I have almost been here for two whole months. It feels like i just got here last week, I never realized how fast my time would go.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Place Beyond Belief

These past few weeks have flown by and have been pretty busy. I have deadlines fast approaching and have done a little traveling. At this point I am adjusted to living here and loving it. Leaving here to return home will definitely be an emotional experience. Last weekend I took a train up to Sheffield to visit Sarah. It is nice sometimes to be around familiar people, it makes me feel like I am at home. We just hung out the first day, went out for dinner and drinks, and then Saturday we met up with Megan and ate lunch. After lunch we got to watch her swim, it was pretty sweet, the pool was much bigger than any I have been to at home.

After returning form Sarah's I had a very easy week, since it was reading week for my course I had the whole week off of class. Wednesday night I left for Amsterdam with Deanna, Sam, Haley, and Emily. We took a 12 hour bus journey all the way there. The way there was not as bad as the way home. Along with the bus ride there was a ferry ride to get across the channel, this was a surprise and was pretty cool. Once we finally arrived in Amsterdam it was 9 am and we were all tired and crabby, but we still had to find our houseboat. We took a train to central station and then another ferry to get to the location of our house. It was cold and rainy through this entire process, but finally we made it there. Right away all we wanted to do was sleep, and the weather wasn't helping us, but we all got ready and headed back into central. Once there we just did a little wandering around and then got dinner and headed home to rest up for the next day.

The Ferry we took to get to central Amsterdam
The pier the house was on

Outside the house

The pier sign

The inside of the house
The next day was the busiest one, we had a lot of things we wanted to do, but limited time. We headed back into central and decided we needed to try the pancakes that we could always smell. They were delicious. Next we got on the tram that took us to the Van Gogh museum, we spent a few hours here and then decided we needed to spend the rest of the day outside because it was so nice. 
Outside the Museum

The next place to visit was the iamsterdam sign. It was so crowded so getting a good picture was pretty much impossible, there was also a ice skating rink there, that we later went back to skate at. It was so cool skating in Amsterdam with everything lit up. It made me really appreciate all of the support I have from everyone and how lucky I am to be here. After skating we all got chinese food and went back home.

The rink we skated on

The next day would be the last one and the only things we had on our list was the Anne Frank house and to find the bench from the fault in our stars. We accomplished them both. After an hour and a half long wait to enter the house, I was about to experience something I have always thought about. After learning so much about Anne Frank and her life in hiding I was ready to actually see what it was like. Experiencing the annex in person does not compare to just learning about it. For me actually seeing it all, it put it all into perspective to how hard her life was. It amazes me the amount of hope she had to get out of there. After this amazing experience we started to search for the bench. 

Waiting to enter

The house in colour is the Anne Frank house

One of these benches has to be the right one!

Unfortunately we had to start our journey back to school, which little did we know would take much longer that expected. The ferry we had to take back across the channel was two hours later than the bus company thought so instead of arriving in London at 5:45 am we arrived around 7:30. It was a long exhausting night of travel and as happy as I am to be back home, I wish I would have had more time in Amsterdam. This week I have three deadlines and then a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath on Saturday!!

There were surprisingly a lot of cheese stores in Amsterdam

The group on one of the many canals

The city is made up of so may beautiful canals!!