Thankfully, I’ve mostly been able to avoid homesickness while in Scotland. A large part of that comes from good friends and the recognition that if I were back at BW, I wouldn’t be going home very often anyways. I’ll be the first to admit though I’ve had moments of missing my piano, all of those clothes I had to leave behind, and even Mom and Dad. Modern technology has been great in helping me keep in contact with loved ones, but singing the song “Wide, wide as the Ocean” this morning in church gave me a friendly reminder that some things reach beyond skype and facebook. The lyrics to the song are as follows:
Wide, wide as the ocean / High as the heavens above / Deep, deep as the deepest sea / Is my Saviour’s love / I, though so unworthy / Still am a child in his care / For his love teaches me / That his love reaches me everywhere
Next week is my mid-semester break, and in preparation I was purchasing some train tickets. I’m going to be traveling up to the Isle of Skye and I’m looking forward to the time I’ll spend there, but I have to admit, I’m looking forward to the journey as well. Why? Because trains in Scotland sometimes look like this:
Trains just aren’t something we do well back home. I’ve been on subways and buses, even an airplane ride or two, but unfortunately I don’t have the option of hopping on a train to get from Cleveland to PIttsburgh. As it is something new to me, I’ve rather enjoyed my train rides here so far. So yes, I’ll enjoy getting to my hostel and settling in and exploring some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. In the meantime though, you’ll find me happily clutching my window-seat tickets.
It’s been a month since I’ve arrived in Scotland and I’m happy to report I have not blown my food budget on clothing purchases. Yet.
The good news is right in Stirling there are at least 5 different thrift stores where I can get my shopping fix without breaking the bank. Here they’re classified as charity shops (how appropriate for all of you who know my sister!) and usually have a tie to a wider charitable cause, like the British Heart Foundation or Cancer Research UK.
Yesterday I decided to allow myself a little bit of shopping after spending a productive afternoon essay writing; here are some of my finds.
Yesterday, seeing as I had no class, I had the chance to explore around the immediate area of the University. First, I wandered up to the lookout by the Wallace Monument with Patrick and then later in the day up the cliffs behind my flat for a bonfire with a bunch of new friends. It was a long day full of steep hills. But, as evidenced by the photos below, the view upon reaching the top was more than worth it. Looking out over Stirling made me incredibly thankful to be here.
If you’re one of my American followers the phrase “Banana Flapjack” might make you think of breakfast pancakes, like the ones Jack Johnson croons about. Here in the UK, a flapjack is a dessert bar primarily made out of oats, something I discovered after enthusiastically interrogating the Scottish host of the church group I was attending about what exactly I was eating. It didn’t take me long to try and recreate these delicious treats, something I did with great success today. I’m posting the recipe for you to try out with a few words of caution. First, I converted all of the measurements myself and therefore cannot vouch for complete accuracy. Second, the recipe generally calls for golden syrup, something easily found here but not as available in the US. You can try and substitute honey or some other kinds of syrup but it may not be exactly the same. I would suggest looking for golden syrup first in the international isle at your local supermarket.
One and a half sticks of butter (or margarine equivalent)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 or 2 bananas
about 4 cups of oats
1. Put the butter, golden syrup, and brown sugar in large saucepan. Melt together on a medium heat. Then add a mashed banana (or two!)
2. Gradually add oats until all are covered by mixture. (This is the point where you can really check how my conversion has worked out. Use your best judgment!)
3. Put mixture into a shallow baking pan.
4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until top is brown. Don’t overcook as burnt oats are not pleasant!
Most people know cars drive on the left in the UK. So, I was prepared for the switch and although it is a bit unnerving, I don’t flinch every time a car comes barreling down the left side of the road anymore. What I was not prepared for was this:
The roundabout. I’ve encountered a small handful of these back home, usually to great enjoyment, but being here feels like this. They are everywhere.
As I’m told, however, people from around here would be just as confused about the myriad of intersections, jug-handles, exits, and other various traffic constructs I’m used to back home. And the internet tells me roundabouts are both safer and more efficient. America, take notice. Plus, they can be used as a source of entertainment. You could circle around for hours.
Today was the first of classes here in Scotland, starting a little later than my friends back in Ohio. I always like the beginning of semesters when everything is new. Blank notebooks, books that haven’t been opened yet, and freshly sharpened pencils are all to me signs of a good thing.
Before I left I didn’t consider that studying abroad would mean in many ways I would revert back to being a first semester freshman. No matter that I’ve been in college for going on three years now. Being on a different campus and meeting lots of new people takes me back to what we called at B-W “awkward freshman moments”. For example, wandering around buildings having no idea where your class is located is a clear sign you’re new. Pushing on doors when they clearly say pull is another dead giveaway. And don’t even get me started on how confusing it can be to try and go through an unfamiliar cafeteria line.
But, with all of this I remember that it’s these awkward moments that helped me make some of my best friends back home. Here’s hoping Scotland will be the same. Cheers.
I’ve been listening to this, as well as a variety of other BBC Radio Scotland programs, to prepare for departure in less than two weeks now. It’s quite lovely and a friendly reminder that no matter where I go, some things stay the same.