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“Do you have any British money?”

A year ago, my best friend visited Paris and England. In preparation for my two months in Europe, I picked her brain extensively. On numerous occasions, she told me that one of her favorite visits during her entire trip was one to Bath, England. So, when Serena suggested we take a day trip to Bath during our three-day weekend in London, I jumped at the idea. We bought our train tickets in advance and made our way to Paddington Train Station at 7am. When we arrived in Bath, we were met with a beautiful ancient Roman city. We roamed the streets for around 20 minutes, taking in yet another city of cobbled streets and ancient buildings. Then, we headed for the bath house and museum. We spent easily 2 or 3 hours following the masterfully-crafted exhibits in the museum, all the while seeing glimpses of the main bath through windows throughout the building, causing the anticipation for the main attraction to grow. Throughout the museum, we learned about Roman life in England through plaques and artifacts and by walking the same paths the Romans did so long ago. As a history major, this was my favorite historical site, and when Serena, a Chemistry major, said she loved it as well, I was thrilled that she wasn’t bored to death by something that I found so incredible.

Model of the original bath buildings in Bath, England

After going through the main museum, we finally made it to the main bath room, now an unenclosed courtyard. The bath was full of green water, and the room was sparsely decorated. It’s difficult to describe how it felt to walk around this bath – to walk around in awe in a space where the Romans went about their daily lives. Museum employees walked about the bath room in period costume – there was an aristocrat and a priest, among others. The aristocrat character stopped us and asked us where our “master” was – he told us that we’d better finish our job and get back to him! These interactions were a little detail that really rounded out the experience: not only could you walk around an ancient Roman Bath, but you could interact with the “Romans” as well!

The view from the upper level above the main Roman bath

After the baths, we went to lunch at a Moroccan restaurant in Bath where we had some of the most amazing food I’ve had on this trip. Unfortunately, when we got our food, I checked the time and we only had 20 minutes to make our train to Salisbury to visit Stonehenge! We ate our couscous and chicken quickly (I still wish I’d been able to savor that meal!) then headed down to the train station – we’d missed our train by minutes. So, we headed to the info desk and asked when the next one would be. We were in luck: the next train was in 20 minutes, and the next after that was over an hour later! We sat down at our platform, relaxed, and wondered at the seagulls hanging out at a train station in the middle of Southern England.

When we finally got to Salisbury, we went to the bus stop to buy our tickets for a bus to and from Stonehenge. We told the ticket lady our itinerary and she told us we wouldn’t have the time to make it there and back in time for the train back to London, but we were determined. We tried to buy our tickets, but didn’t have the cash. So we ran to an ATM and pulled out just enough to pay for our tickets. We ran back and got in line, but when we got there, I pulled out my mix of Scottish and English Pounds to pay, and the ticket lady took one look at my Scottish money and said “Oh, well, do you have any British money?” Taken aback, I looked at Serena, who had clearly heard the same thing I did and asked her to cover that portion of my ticket. It was the first time I was confronted with that odd asterisk to Scottish money. Scottish money is legal tender* in all of the United Kingdom, but English business are not required to accept it as payment. Ultimately, we made it to Stonehenge with enough time to snap some photos, take in the views, and rush back to our train to London.

Me at the Stonehenge

All in all, it was a crazy day, but it was well worth it to see those beautiful historical monuments (even if we did only get 10 minutes at Stonehenge!).


Victoria Davidson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in History and Foreign Languages and Literature with a German emphasis. Victoria is spending July abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The Highlands or Bust!

How great can five long days in a big yellow bus with the words “Wild & Sexy” written on the side possibly be?

Extremely.

The past five days have been a whirlwind: between ferries, speech drafts and presentations, and essay drafts, it feels as if no time has passed at all, but at the same time, it has been the longest week of my life (well, that may be an exaggeration, of course. We’ve all been through finals week!).  In truth, I don’t remember the names of the towns we stayed in or of all the monuments and national parks we stopped at. All I know is that the 17 of us had an absolute blast.

On Tuesday, we took a ferry up to the Isle of Lewis and made a stop at the Butt of the Isle of Lewis. There, we stood at what felt like the edge of the world – to the north of us was the Arctic ice cap and directly to the west was Nova Scotia. This edge of the world is stunning. Black cliffs, spongy land beneath your boots, and an overcast afternoon make for one heck of a view.

Cliffs at the Butt of the Isle of Lewis

I also had the opportunity to see Loch Lomond. During a brief, unplanned bathroom stop at a visitor’s center on the Loch, I hopped off because I needed a photo. I was a choir kid in high school, and my junior year we sang “Loch Lomond”, a traditional Scottish song. To this day, it is one of my favorite pieces I have ever performed with that choir, and so I knew I had to get a photo of the Loch so I could say I’ve been there (even if only for about 5 minutes!).

The bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

Despite my attachment to Loch Lomond, I must give the award for my favorite views to Glen Coe, in Clan Donald country. It was another short stop, and even the fifteen minutes we spent there could have easily been stretched to hours, but Glen Coe was a beauty. Standing in front of these huge, majestic mountains, I felt as if I was standing in a super high-quality photograph that people would (and probably have!) paid a lot of money to have on display in an art museum. The mystic beauty of Glen Coe can’t be beat.

Glen Coe
I have to own up to taking a highly stereotypical photo there, because truthfully, I couldn’t resist.

In the end, the Highlands are an unbeatable experience and a must-see if you ever find yourself in Scotland. The experiences I had in the Highlands are going to stay with me forever, and thankfully, so will the photos.


Victoria Davidson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in History and Foreign Languages and Literature with a German emphasis. Victoria is spending July abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Weekend Away From My Home (Away From Home)

After a whirlwind weekend away in Upper Normandy, I am absolutely exhausted, a little sun burnt, and filled with amazing new memories.

The thing about this trip is that my friend Kody is moving to Germany in mid-August to spend a year studying abroad. His father’s family lives in Normandy, and they happened to be planning a trip to France to visit. So about a month ago, Kody invited me to come down during the Scotland program. I knew from the get-go that this might be the last time I see my friend for a long time, and so I made this trip work: I started by getting advice from Kody and his dad about how to get there, then I researched ferries between England and France, flights between Edinburgh and London, and I came up with a plan. It was a crazy, hare-brained plan, including a couple of unreasonably short connection times. It was a plan that I scrapped two weeks ago.

My friend Kody and I on Sunday

Armed with my new fool-proof plan, everything went according to plan. Kody and his dad met me at the bus station. I couldn’t stop my grin when I saw them as I was in line to get off of the bus – they were a bit of home in yet another unfamiliar city.

From there, we headed to the beach at Étretat where we hiked up the picturesque limestone cliffs and I braved the cold English Channel. After we swam, we ate sandwiches and ice cream on the pebbly beach (I was even attacked by a seagull who stole one of my sandwiches!), then drove up the cliff opposite where we’d hiked earlier.

The view from the top of a cliff in Étretat

Today we drove down to Lower Normandy and walked through a quaint town whose name escapes me, then drove up to Honfleur, a little harbor town on the Seine.

The streets in Normandy are beautiful

My last stop was a second visit to Kody’s cousins’ home, where they introduced me to a game almost like bowling. Kody and two of his cousins set up these wooden pins (or, as Kody called them, keys), each with a number 1-12 etched on top, and you took a cylindrical piece of wood and tossed it at the keys. The goal is to get 50 points, but you only get the etched number if it’s the only one you hit! If you hit, for example, 6 pins, then you would receive 6 points. But if you go above 50, you drop back to 25+your points over 50, and if you miss more than three times, you’re out. I was the first to get to exactly 50, through a combination of luck, the fact that they let me keep playing even when I got “out”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were just going easy on me! I felt so welcomed among them – they did their best with English, and I would look lost over to Kody or his dad when everyone was speaking French, and they would translate for me.

The “keys” and throwing-cylinder for the game we played

Occasionally we would converse in German, as it was a common language for a few (if not all) of us!

Walking through Étretat and then the other quaint towns they took me to might be the closest I’ve been to an “Oh my word, I’m really doing this,” moment I’ve had in the three weeks I’ve been away from home. There were moments in which I couldn’t believe I was actually there, walking quaint medieval towns with Kody and his dad. Maybe it was because of how long I’ve known Kody – he’s a friend from high school, and we were involved in a few of the same activities: marching band, German, and music. It was absolutely surreal for me to be there, if only for 24 hours.

Me (far right) with the lovely Preud’homme family (sans Kody’s dad, who took the photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Victoria Davidson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in History and Foreign Languages and Literature with a German emphasis. Victoria is spending July abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Home and What It Means

Me and my friend Sam Morse at breakfast at Chez Elle in Kansas City, MO, June 15, 2017. Morning before departure.

Street names – they’re an integral part of life. We use them to get home, to pick up friends, to get to breakfast dates. As I drive the roads of Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Lee’s Summit, and Kansas City for the last time for two months, I know that these roads feel like home. Poets often write about how our own hearts are roadmaps; with love being the ultimate destination: the final home.

But really, what is home?

As I have prepared to leave home for two months, I’ve done a lot of thinking on it. Home is relative. Home is many different things, all at once. It’s a physical house, it’s a metro, it’s a city, it’s a person, it’s a family, it’s a state of mind. Some people spend their entire lives searching for home and never find it.

I am leaving behind all of these things for what promises to be one of the best times of my life. For the next two months, my homes will be hotel rooms, hostel beds, train cars, airplanes, my cousin’s apartment, my dorm in Edinburgh, and Airbnbs in Germany. Home will also be the people I am with: my cousin in Nice, my friend in Paris, his family in Normandy, my classmates in Scotland, and my friends and family I keep in touch with here in Kansas City.

I’m sitting here with Sam outside Chez Elle, listening to the birds, chatter, and the whirring of fire sirens. This feels like home. Life is moving forward, and my life is taking me in a direction that, at this moment, I cannot even fathom. I don’t know what to expect when I get to France, when I get to Scotland, or when I get to Germany – everyone I encounter tells me, “You’re going to have the time of your life. It’s going to be amazing.” And I smile and nod, absolutely terrified. I am approximately 2 parts excitement, and 1 part, “what have I gotten myself into?”

I’m ready. Until August, Kansas City.


Victoria Davidson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in History and Foreign Languages and Literature with a German emphasis. Victoria is spending July abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.