Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I’m in Scotland.

What is this madness?

It’s sort of a constant point of weirdness for me, being in this place that’s always only existed on TV and in guidebooks. It’s almost strange to find that it actually exists, that real people live here, and have always lived here, and will continue to live here, just like I live in Canada.

There are a lot of little differences between here and back home. Driving on the left side of the road is a big one, and I constantly overthink which way I have to look before I cross the street. Then there’s the pound rather than the dollar, so I have to mentally convert everything  (multiply by 1.6, approximately).

The accents throw me off more than I expected. I thought it would be so cool, hearing only Scottish accents, but it’s actually rather alienating. It reminds me of studying in Quebec, where every time I opened my mouth people would recognize me as an outsider. It shouldn’t be so bad here, since so many of the students are from away, but since school hasn’t started yet, there really aren’t that many internationals around.

Oh, and that’s another thing. I can’t call St. Andrew’s a “school.” Apparently “school” is used for high school and primary school, but not university. And your teachers at uni aren’t “professors,” they’re “lecturers,” and there’s only one “Professor” per department, and he’s the head. And, of course, sweaters are “jumpers” and pants are “trousers.” I already made that blunder, but, thankfully, people here are normally pretty familiar with Americanisms, so my mistakes don’t cause too much confusion.

On a different topic, I should that my journey here went very smoothly. It wasn’t fun—hoping from airport to airport for 27 hours on virtually no sleep is never fun—but nothing at all went wrong. The Boston airport was crazy but I had plenty of time, the Iceland airline kindly used the same gate for my arrival and departure (I think even the same plane), and the British officials in Glasgow let me in to the country no problem. I never got lost, or ended up on the wrong mode of transport. And, thankfully, my luggage didn’t even get lost, despite being transferred on three different flights by two different airlines.

I got here around 3pm yesterday, so I’ve had a little time to explore St. Andrew’s. This evening I went out for a bit of a ramble to snap some sunset photos, and I accidentally snuck into the Botanical Gardens. Then I walked down to the Cathedral, around the harbour… and managed to get lost. In St. Andrew’s of all places! Everyone says it only has three streets, but that’s not true. Once you’re down in the south end of the town, where all the real people live, it’s basically a maze. Luckily, I managed to get myself unlost without even asking for directions. So maybe St. Andrew’s isn’t that big after all…

To finish this post, I’ll just share a few photos of my trip so far. And then I really need to unplug my iPad and plug in my laptop, because it’s going to die in a minute, and I only have one electricity converter…

Sunrise near Iceland


Clouds-- doesn't matter how many times I fly, the moment the airplane breaks above the cloud cover is always magical.

Tip of Iceland, and a random little island.

Icelandair thinks they're funny. :)

First glimpse of Scotland!

Scottish Countryside, as viewed from the bus.

A river somewhere along the route to Glasgow.

The Old Course. And me. Because we're actually in the same town! :D

West Sands. Basically Cavendish beach all over again.

Castle ruins (right across the road from the English department)

Just your average St. Andrew's street, one I have to walk along to get anywheres.

Apparently dish detergent is actually "washing up liquid."
I find this way funnier than it really should be.

Small bridge and creek right where I accidentally ended up in the Botanical Gardens.

Part of the Botanical gardens-- it's modelling an extreme environment, like a mountainside.

I love how they have little paths through the woods, and don't feel the need to make them
all big and official-looking.

Cathedral ruins.

Not sure quite which street this is (north street maybe?) at sunset.

Castle sands at sunset.

The pier, where all the famous pier walks happen.

Cathedral ruins at sunset (along with some ever-present seagulls).

And now, bed for me. Because, while it's only early evening for my lovely friends in Canada, it's past eleven here, and I'm trying to adjust to local time as soon as possible.

I'll blog again soon-- there will definitely be much more excitement over the next week, what with it being the famous Fresher's Week and all...


  1. Aww, Rachel! So glad to hear you're having a good time. You're so lucky to be in the UK! Have fun :)

  2. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of St. Andrews. You won't hear from me for a bit but I hope to read your blog from time to time. In the meantime, all the best! I hope this coming week is a lot of fun.

  3. Sounds and looks awesome! I'm excited to hear and see more of "The Canadian's Scottish Adventure" very soon...
    Hope you have a great time!

  4. Loving your blog! I'll try to check it every other day or so to see what new things you are learning! :) -- Allison