An American in Scotland


My name is Jada, I’m an American, and I’m going to Scotland for six months. I’ll be studying at the University of Glasgow and hopefully living like any 20 year old Scottish college student would. But of course I’ll be American, not Scottish, and the culture shock is sure to be insane. So I’ve decided to document my insanity, starting from about a month and a half before I hop the pond until I return. I hope to share photos and snippets from my daily life with y’all. So this is going to be, starting around January first, a travel/photo/journal blog-contraption. Until then its most likely to be pre-planning blog which will focus on preparing to study abroad for six month and planning travel to several other country’s in Europe as well. Enjoy.

Questions?

Random

But there are three train stations in Edinburgh. Coming from Glasgow this is how you will encounter them:

  • Edinburgh Park
  • Edinburgh Haymarket
  • Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Haymarket is usually just called ‘Haymarket’.

This can be confusing for non-natives. If you want to go to downtown Edinburgh, when the castle and Royal Mile is (you know the tourist area) then you want to go to the Edinburgh Waverley station. If you want to go to the airport then there is a bus link at Haymarket. I’m not sure what Park is for, the train rarely called there actually… So, now you know. 

Tagged: trainEdinburghEdinburgh WaverleyEdinburgh HaymarketEdinburgh Parkhow to get to the castle

swingingchandelier said: Hello! I love your blog! I'm traveling to London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow with a friend for two weeks! We leave a week from today! We're planning to do a lot, but want to fit as much in as possible. Do you think it would be sensible to take the train one day from Glasgow to Stirling and one day from Edinburgh to Dunbar? Are these places we should definitely see? Do you have any other suggestions for us? Thank you!

I so recommend taking some day trips! They will help add to your overall experience!

Glasgow to Stirling is only an hour each way and around £7 return on train, I would so recommend doing it since the castle is walking distance from the station. Plus I love Stirling, I think its a great town. I thought it was really beautiful. It makes a great day trip and if you have time I would really try and do it.  

Honestly, I would stick with Stirling for the Glasgow leg. You really can’t go wrong there. But you could go out to Loch Lomond, it is really beautiful but there isn’t as much to do there as there is in Stirling. But if you must see a loch this is going to be the easiest one to get to. Another alternative is the Isle of Arran, it is really beautiful but a two-hour trip from Glasgow (with a ferry ride) and in my opinion you really need a car to get around the island safely. There are buses but I was always afraid I would get stranded as some buses only come once every two hours and ferries don’t run all night. Stirling is much easier to navigate, you can do it on foot (except for the monument but if you do the castle and town you probably wont even have time for that). Plus Stirling is a great town, and a great way to spend your day. I highly recommend it for someone in the UK for just two weeks.  

Edinburgh to Dunbar is 19 minutes on train (yep, quick) and about £6. It is absolutely beautiful, and if you want to see a lovely harbor and some stunning sea views or are a huge John Muir fan I would do it. And I really did love the little town to pieces. However I didn’t see too much to do in the town while I was there other than see the beach, John Muir house, and harbor with ruined castle. It could, could, if planned right be a good half day trip for you and your friend. I really do recommend seeing the seaside because it is so rocky and different from American beaches. But, you might want to feel it out. If you think you won’t have time to do everything you must do in Edinburgh then you might want to skip it, because there is so much to do in Edinburgh. Dunbar is a hard place for me to recommend on such a short trip but it is also hard for me to say don’t go, I loved it but I also love seeing little interesting new places. I think I was there about five hours and I walked up and down the main strip about four times and almost took a nap on a cliff. No joke.

Hum, I’ll put it this way. Have you read Europe through the Back Door? Its about seeing Europe in little local towns where few tourist go. London, Edinburgh, and Stirling are going to be pretty darn touristy. Glasgow not so much - its not built for tourist, its not easy to walk from one side of the town to the other and the bus system is a nightmare. Dunbar is also, from what I saw, not a tourist town. Sure you might get Brits coming on a weekend beach holiday to Dunbar but I don’t think you will see any/many Americans. It could change in the summer, but I doubt it, there just weren’t many tourist attractions. So if that is something you are looking for then by all means I recommend going for it. Even for a half a day. 

If its not, and you would still like to get out of Edinburgh, might I recommend St Andrews. I know, it seems like I like St Andrews an awful lot. I do. Its an hour from Edinburgh. You will probably have to take the train one stop to Haymarket, change for the train to Dundee, ride it one hour to Leuchars station (St Andrews does not have a station!) get on a bus to St Andrews. This should take about an hour and fifteen minutes. It seems complicated but I promise you it is not, the train station can print you a train ticket and bus ticket all in one and everything is timed to go off without a hitch. The bus station has maps, but it is just steps away from the main street. Anyway St Andrews is the home of golf, has a lovely ruined castle and cathedral, has a wonderful but less rocky beach area, maybe less stunning than Dunbar, but the entire coastline is beautiful. Plus if you are into the royals Will and Kate met and went to college here, the University is the oldest in Scotland. There are some neat shops and some good places to eat. It makes a lovely day trip from Edinburgh. And all in all it is probably one of the ‘must visits’ in Scotland, with several important attractions. Also Scotland’s flag has the St Andrews cross on it.

But don’t think I’m trying to talk you out of Dunbar, I’m not. Just trying to provide alternatives if Dunbar isn’t quite what you want.

So there are some suggestions, hopefully you find something you would like to do! Oh and I would recommend buying tickets AT the train station, you can buy them online (scotrail.com) but the ticket masters at the station will know what ticket you need and stop you from overbuying. Also always buy a return ticket, some tickets are only an extra 10p more. I never had a train ‘sold out’ or ‘full’ and there are multiple trains everyday, but you could probably buy the ticket the day before if you wanted. And this would offer you more flexibility on the day trips if you decide you would rather stay in Edinburgh that day. Note! This does not apply if you are on a sleeper train from London to Glasgow or Edinburgh, you should book that ahead.

 

Hopefully this helps. If you have any other questions feel free to ask! Navigating Glasgow perhaps? And do please let me know what you decide! 

Tagged: ScotlandGlasgowEdinburghStirlingDunbarSt AndrewsLoch LomondIsle of Arrantraveltips

Stirling Castle wall, this castle was particularly hard to take in a siege because of its steep walls and good vantage point of the surrounding area. 

Stirling Castle wall, this castle was particularly hard to take in a siege because of its steep walls and good vantage point of the surrounding area. 

Tagged: StirlingcastlewallBlack and WhitephotographyScotland

This was, I think, a restaurant in Rothenburg. I saw it while I was ‘walking the wall’, a three mile long medieval wall that encircles the entire town. 

This was, I think, a restaurant in Rothenburg. I saw it while I was ‘walking the wall’, a three mile long medieval wall that encircles the entire town. 

Tagged: Rothenburg ob der Tauber

St Marks Basilica in Venice has some of the most amazing mosaic work that I have ever seen in my entire life. The entire ceiling inside is tiled with hundreds of life sized figures. It is amazing. 

St Marks Basilica in Venice has some of the most amazing mosaic work that I have ever seen in my entire life. The entire ceiling inside is tiled with hundreds of life sized figures. It is amazing. 

Tagged: St Marks BasilicaVeniceItalymosaictileamazing

St Andrews, Scotland. 

St Andrews, Scotland. 

Tagged: St AndrewsScotlandsunsetnaturelens flare

Anonymous said: Why are american students going to Glasgow alot?

Are they? The majority of any study abroad class (I was told at orientation in Glasgow) is usually American because America was the first to start sending their students abroad for a semester. So study abroad is still more common in America, its ingrained in our psyche I guess. However I’m not aware of any substantially larger number of Americans going to Glasgow than any other comparable program. I just don’t have those numbers. I could guess that the UK in general is popular because of the common language. 

Here is how my program worked. I’m a biology major. Study abroad schools are categorized by majors they cater to or excel at. I had a choice of Costa Rica, Australia, and Scotland. I wanted to be in Europe. Choice over. Go to either Glasgow or Dundee. I chose Glasgow. 

At other schools you apply for a part of the world, ie Europe. Then Schools in a country you like, ie Edinburgh University. Well Edinburgh does not accept you, they have a better applicant and only one spot left. Well your school looks for an alternative, Glasgow offers a place. Your school offers you Glasgow or nothing. 

So sometimes you have some choice, but with my school we were only contracted to two Universities in the UK for biology majors. I can go to any uni in the world, as a transient student, but then it can be a headache to get credit hours and transcripts to transfer. Plus my Uni handled the fees and paying of the fees for me and my financial aid and scholarships were usable. Since I’m still a student at Berry. Better to go to a contracted school. However some students have no choice in study abroad, they choose a country (or maybe even a region in the world) and are offered a school on a take it or leave it bases. An by leave it I mean no study abroad. 

Glasgow just happens to take a lot of study abroad students each semester. A lot. 

Does this help answer your question? I know you didn’t ask about study abroad procedures but I feel like its fundamental to understanding why Glasgow gets so many study abroad students. If you have any more questions feel free to ask! 

Since I’ve came back from Scotland my grandmother and great aunt have both come down with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized, they live together so anything one gets the other gets as well. An aunt and uncle have had it as well but they, being younger, have been able to avoid the hospital. My grandmother was able to come home but my great aunt is in I.C.U. - I’m awfully worried about them. 

One of my cats died while I was away, the cat with half a mustache Luna. Also my other cat, the youngest one named Darwin is sick/injured. I’m very worried about Dar. 

I think I’m just a bad luck charm and should go back to Scotland. Everything was fine then. Or I was just on the other side of an ocean and no one told me bad things. Who knows. 

Tagged: sickpneumoniacat

Steak and Ale Pie.
A meat pie served in the UK made of steak and beef gravy. 
It is inside a pastry shell of some sort.
It may have vegetables inside of it, however this one has them on the side. 
It is normally served with chips (fries).
It is a traditional ‘pub food’.
And it is traditionally eaten on Hogmanay (New Years Eve) or Ne’erday (New Years Day).
This was actually pretty good. I totally recommend this to anyone who wants to try something traditional but may not want/like/have already had fish and chips or shepherds pie. It was a really rich dish and I particularly liked the sauce. 

Steak and Ale Pie.

  • A meat pie served in the UK made of steak and beef gravy. 
  • It is inside a pastry shell of some sort.
  • It may have vegetables inside of it, however this one has them on the side. 
  • It is normally served with chips (fries).
  • It is a traditional ‘pub food’.
  • And it is traditionally eaten on Hogmanay (New Years Eve) or Ne’erday (New Years Day).

This was actually pretty good. I totally recommend this to anyone who wants to try something traditional but may not want/like/have already had fish and chips or shepherds pie. It was a really rich dish and I particularly liked the sauce. 

Tagged: Steak and Ale PieScotlandUKmeat piepub foodtraditionallyHogmanaytraditional

illbeastonishing said: I love scotland I cannot wait to go back and i am SO jealous. How did you get this opprotunity?!?

This was a study abroad. Most colleges and universities in the US offer study abroad opportunities for their students. Mine groups universities from around the world into categories based on your major. I’m a biology major and I applied for the Uni of Glasgow and got accepted into the program.