Greetings from Scotland


photo 1

It’s cold. We step off the airplane at Glasgow Prestwick Airport after an hour flight from Heathrow, which followed a ten hour flight from LAX. It’s too cold. It’s also dark outside, which means hauling our luggage from the bus stop trying to find our dorms, or flats, is a nightmare. Out of the blue, a young male with a Glasgow Caledonian University t-shirt—jacketless—welcomes us with the beautiful gibberish that is the Scottish accent. As he leads us to our new homes we sigh with relief, releasing the stress of first-time international travel. The eight-hour time difference weighs down our eyes during the first two days in Glasgow. Our bodies reject food, wondering why we fuel them at times they are not accustomed to being fueled. Sleep happens after the four a.m. struggle until one in the afternoon, which is really five a.m. in Los Angeles. I am a zombie. Food and Wifi are always in the front of my mind, which thankfully are a short walk away from campus at the many cafés along Sauchiehall and Buchanan Street.

Transportation is mainly done by foot in Glasgow. The streets crowd with fast and furious taxis and buses, but the amount of people travelling by foot is doubled the number of automobiles. Try walking the entirety of Cal State Long Beach every day. But as the many exchange students I’ve met who were here before me insist: you’ll get used to it.

However, with the amount of walking tours, pub gatherings and club nights there was no time to get acclimated. Making matters worse, I booked a train to Edinburgh with Dana, a fashion merchandise major from CSULB who fortunately accompanied me through all of the ongoing trials and errors. We both wanted to extend our horizons and travel somewhere outside of Glasgow before classes started. Little did we know, this was going to be another error, because we were entering Edinburgh during one of the biggest weekends in Scotland: Burn’s Day and Australia Day.

We made mistakes on top of mistakes, beginning with booking a late night train, which left us outside the Edinburgh Waverly station with empty stomachs, cold cheeks and a hostel to find.

Alas the excitement for adventure had pulled us into Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. The city is reminiscent of a medieval San Francisco, with churches at every corner.

Our time at Edinburgh was filled with rain, walking on cobble-stones, castles on majestic hills and alcohol-soaked hospitality. We visited Yoda, the restaurant where J.K. Rowling started writing the Harry Potter series.

There was a moment at an Australian pub during Australia Day that I closed my eyes to take in the sounds, the smells and atmosphere. My attempt of being sentimental was interrupted when my Aussie friend Anthea took her thumb and pointer fingers and forced my eyelids open. “Open your eyes!!!” she exclaimed with joy.

Moral of the story: When you are living in a new country, far away from your friends, family and familiarities, keep your eyes open. You can sleep when you’re dead.