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Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

So I had this whole post written about my first week of classes, and how ridiculously stressful this last week has been, but I decided to skip over all of that mumbo jumbo and just get to the good stuff.  So on Saturday there was another International Student Center trip to Lindisfarne, and Berwick upon Tweed. The day started out pretty poorly, we had to meet at the ISC at 8, and somehow I woke up at 7:47.  I managed to get there at 8:04, but the bus was an hour late, so it didnt even matter. It was particularly windy and cold that day, which kind of sucked, but we were happy to get on the bus.

Our first stop was Lindisfarne. This is a small island off the coast of the English/Scottish border, but *currently* it is considered a part of England. I guess which country it belongs to changes every once and a awhile.  So the population of this little island is 160, and there is no bridge to get to it.  During low tide, there is a little road that connects the island to the mainland, (and I’m using the term “road” loosely) and you can drive on and off the island.  However, if you miss this window, you could end up getting stuck there overnight.

We got there when it was low tide:

This is the outskirts of the Lindisfarne castle, one of the islands main attractions

I felt like by the time we drove to Lindisfarne, the temperature dropped by 20 degrees.  It felt like a chilly/windy fall day in Boston.  This would be a cool picture, if it werent for the silly tourists in the background…

The castle was pretty cool, it is much more like a castle than Edinburgh or St. Andrews Castles, there were actual bedrooms and living spaces and stuff, instead of a fort (Edinburgh) and ruins (St. Andrews)

This is the view of the center of town from the top of the castle:

as you can see, Lindisfarne is very rural. Those little white specks are sheep!  We got to go to a free Mead tasting, which was interesting. I dont know what I was expecting for  a taste, I didnt particularly love it, but I didnt hate it either:

After we had some good lunch and met a nice man from Wales, it was time to get back on the bus and head to Berwick Upon Tweed.  In the 30 minute bus ride, the weather managed to change from awful wind to mildly warm and sunny.  It was a nice change. Berwick Upon Tweed is one of the oldest walled cities in England, and was a very quaint town. The view from one of the hills was amazing.  The waves were crashing a lot, but it was hard to get a good picture.  The bridges to get into the town were beautiful.

This is one of my favorite pictures 🙂

It took us a LONG time to find the castle, which you can sort of see just behind this bridge on the right hand side. Its in ruins, and looks like it was very small.  We had to go on a trek through the wilderness just to find it.

After we walked around some more, some of us had to use the bathroom. We ended up finding a “public toilet” on the outskirts of town, and needless to say a lot of hilarity ensued.  Basically, it was like you were entering something on the starship enterprise.  This futuristic British woman barked commands at you the entire time, informing you of what the bathroom was doing.  It was giving instructions the entire time we were in there.  It also made a lot of noises like it was going to take you to another dimension or something, it sounded like there were a lot of hydraulics or pneumatics to open and close the doors.  Oh and I forgot to mention that it cost 50 pence. We definitely got our 50p worth of entertainment! lol. I think the entire town could hear us laughing.

I think its pretty cool that the International Student Center hosts trips every Saturday.  So far they’ve been 8 pounds, which is a pretty good deal in my opinion.  Its a great way to see the subtle beauty of Scotland/England, and each trip so far has been a lot of fun.  I’m not going on the trip this weekend, theres a lot of homework to be caught up on, and by the way, did I mention next weekend I’M GOING TO DUBLIN? We got flights for 40 pounds, RT, can’t beat that! 🙂

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My apologies for the lack of posts, its been quite the adventure over the last 5 days, and I am finally having some time to settle down and write all about it! I’ll start with my trip across the pond. I was privileged enough to fly Virgin Atlantic from Boston to London (Heathrow) and then had to make my trek through the largest airport I’ve ever seen, and then take a short connecting flight from London to Edinburgh.

So I’ll begin with my flight out of Boston. I was on a Boeing 747, which sat almost 400 passengers, with an upper deck and a full bar! Its the biggest plane I’ve ever seen. Let me just say, Virgin Atlantic is the most accommodating airline I’ve ever flown on, and my experience is great. I had a free blanket and pillow, they gave us a little bag with an eyemask, socks and a toothbrush (which I didnt realize until the end of the flight) and they served both breakfast and dinner.  Not to mention there were free booze. I didn’t feel the need to drink, but it was interesting being offered a free full bar service on a plane. The entertainment on the plane consisted of this interactive list of movies, tv shows, radio stations and games, which were all very recent.  The movie selection wasnt gigantic, but I was able to find 3 movies to snooze to during the duration of the flight.  The only drawback was that I was sitting next to the little kitchen for the beverage and meal service, so during the flight they had the lights on for the majority of the time, and it was difficult to sleep. The visibility was pretty low when we landed in London, so I couldn’t really see far. The only taste of England that I got were those red double decker busses driving near the airport!

And then the fun began.

I trekked for what felt like an eternity until we got to the main staging area for heading to either baggage claim, or other terminals for connecting flights. My plane ticket said that I was flying Virgin Atlantic from London to Edinburgh, so I looked on a map were Virgin Atlantic was (Terminal 3) and proceeded to go through terminal 3s security. By the time I got thru security, I had about 30 minutes till boarding started on my next plane. Plenty of time, I thought. I found another student from Northeastern, Jess, and we walked around terminal 3 trying to find our gate, gate number 8. Turns out there is no gate number 8, and since we were on a domestic flight, we were actually supposed to be in terminal 1.  Even though our tickets said Virgin Atlantic, they were actually Virgin Atlantic operated by BMI.

So as we were heading out from terminal 3, I spotted 3 more Northeastern students, Andy, Andy and Charles. Jess and I informed them of the misleading ticket, and we all headed out to terminal 1. 20 minutes till boarding. We took a shuttle bus to the terminal, which took about 6-8 minutes, and when we got there, we had to wait in the customs line. Again, I thought customs was done upon landing in Scotland, not in between terminals in Heathrow. After struggling to find the correct line to get in (there were at least 5), here is where we stopped to wait. And wait. And wait. There were probably 80-100 people in front of us, and the line just didnt move. As time ticked and our time to board the plane came and went, and we asked about getting expedited to the front (with no luck), I soon realized we may be in London for the day. Our plane was supposed to depart at 8:50, and by the time all 5 of us got through customs, it was 9:00. I was pretty upset. After going through customs, we had to do the biometric body scanner, then get in another queue for security. After getting through security (for the 3rd time this trip) I looked on the board and saw that our flight status was “Closing” not “Closed” not “Departed”. Here is where the running started. We ran all the way from security, through another ticket checkpoint to our gate, and I’m pretty sure it was a funny sight. 

Needless to say: we made it.

Apparently since all 6 of our bags were on the plane, they held the plane for us, for 30 minutes. I’ve never heard of anything like that happening before. I had to store my carry on in the very back of the plane, while my seat was in the front, but I didnt care. I was sweating so much by the time I got to my seat, I was giving Rocky a run for his money. Some guy was in my seat, so instead of making a fuss, I happily settled for the window seat in the row before it.

The flight to Edinburgh was very quick, helped by the short nap I took, and our landing in Scotland was beautiful. I was on the eastern side of the plane, so I did not get to see the city of Edinburgh as we landed, but I got some cool views of the beautiful country side and water.

It took quite a awhile to get our bags due to “technical difficulties” with the carousel, but we all got our bags no problem, and proceeded to the Edinburgh direct transport, designed for students studying at Edinburgh University who are arriving internationally. We waited a good hour for our shuttle bus to our rooms, but at that time, I didnt care, I was just happy to have arrived in Scotland. This being my first taste of Europe, even the little cultural differences excited me.  The ride to my dorm was beautiful, and after many struggles with my bags, I arrived at my flat.

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For those of you who’ve been following my twitter or if we’re friends on facebook, or just friends in general, then you are probably aware of my upcomming trip abroad. Next friday, I leave for Edinburgh, Scotland for a 4 month study abroad trip.  I will be studying at the University of Edinburgh, a top rated University in the UK! I am very nervous/excited about this trip, and can’t wait to share about all of it here.  My first post will probably just prior to my departure, talking about just how I went about packing for a 4 month long trip across the Atlantic.  Here are some interesting things about my trip that I know about already:

-I’m living across the street from the Scottish Parliament, near Holyrood Park

-The 4 classes I will be taking are: Fluid Mechanics, Differential Equations, German, and Scottish Studies.  Lets just say I’m most looking forward to the second two, but the first two are required towards my degree (Mechanical Engineering)

-I will be living in a 5 person flat, which is like an apartment, without a shared space.  We do have a small kitchen and a “water closet”

-I’m flying Virgin Atlantic, departing Logan airport at 7:45 pm, and will arrive in Scotland sometime the following afternoon.

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