Dancing With the Scots!

I can attest to falling in love with your dance partner, but I never expected the same effect to apply to an entire city.

Falling for Edinburgh began the first day I had the opportunity to explore the city. Full from our traditional Scottish breakfast, (haggis and all!) Victoria and I decided to walk around town. We passed by a vintage shop, and our brief moment of window shopping ended. A stunning sundress stopped me in my tracks, but the event flyer posted on her door lured me in.  The store owner was hosting a small 50’s themed fashion show, followed by jitter-bug swing lesson… and she had two tickets left!

There was one small problem.  The night of the Carnival Jive was the same night of our study abroad welcome dinner. Victoria and I were so torn.  We did not want to miss the first change to bond with the people we would be spending the next month with. On the same note, this was an amazing opportunity to connect with locals while doing two things I was passionate about.  We took the day to consider our options… and make sure skipping dinner was even a possibility.  After a tiny bit of convincing, our wonderful professor set us free for the night!

But first, a search for the perfect outfit.

As we stepped into the small boutique, we were immediately transported into a 50’s cocktail party.  Victoria and I quickly realized we were not dressed for the occasion.  A 20% discount for every item in the store provided the perfect excuse to… um… invest! After some time of working my way around decades of fashion, I found the perfect skirt to complement the evening.

After the host ensured all the guests of age had a 50’s themed cocktail in hand, the night’s festivities kicked off!  A series of evening gowns and sundresses were strutted down a make-shift runway. Twirls and spins were met with oohs and awes.


The rest of our evening was met with challenging dance moves and a lot of laughter. Being that women were the main attendees, Victoria and I became dance partners for most of the night.

I was given a run for my money after a chance to dance with one of the instructors for a few songs.  When he asked where I had learned to dance, I was proud to tell him Kansas City had taught me everything I know about swing.

Just before parting ways, the instructors invited me to their summer Thursday night swing lessons.  I gladly accepted the invitation, knowing this could be my cure for a future case of homesick blues.

I have been known to coin ‘dancing’ as my love language, so I’d be wrong to say I was surprised, but the Thursday night after dance lessons sealed my love Edinburgh.  None of my classmates had been interested, so I set off to dance on my own.  My small time of solitude was very welcomed after an overwhelming week in the city.  After hours of lessons in a small neighborhood church, I started my walk home. I think I smiled to myself the entire way. The ‘movie moment’ I had been waiting for the entire time I had been away suddenly washed over me.  I felt like Frances Mayes from “Under the Tuscan Sun” or Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love”. It hit me that I was living in another country… and thriving!  It was 10pm, but the sky was still a lively blue, the weather was perfect, and I was walking through the most beautiful neighborhood.  I loved this city and its warm people.  I couldn’t think of any place I would rather be.

Serena Baker is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Serena is spending the summer abroad with UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland. Taking full advantage of her trip abroad, Serena will make a stop-over in Iceland and visit Germany after the program to improve her language proficiency.

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.

Dealing with Becoming Homesick

Sunrise view from my front porch at my farm

I know, how could I possibly get homesick? I have been visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world, I am having so much fun, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I should not be wasting it thinking about the small town I call home. Unfortunately, the human mind does not work this way and no matter how exciting and adventurous the world is when I go to bed at night I can’t help but feel homesick. I miss my family. I miss my pets.

Kittens from my farm back home

I miss being in a familiar place. I miss the farm. I miss home. I am having so much fun do not get me wrong, but it is not home. So how do you deal with this and still have fun? Cry it out. You read that right. Cry it out. Because you have to get it out some way. It’s okay to cry. It helps so much. Cry it out and then talk it out. This helps give you a new perspective. Once I cried it out and began to talk about it, it was an easier thing to tackle. It was also comforting to discover some of my friends were experiencing homesickness as well. Next, take a night of being adventurous off (just ONE night) and do something “normal”. Do something you do at home every evening like watch Netflix or scroll through social media or read a book. Take one night to spend on your to allow you to catch up and feel comfortable again. Next, sleep. Really, you have got to sleep. I know it’s hard with the time differences but one REALLY good nights sleep will make the worlds difference in your mood and your experiences. While exploring the world is something you only get to do once you need to take time for you and allow yourself to catch up and your body to catch a break. I know I needed it and it has helped me so much since then. I have been doing so many amazing things while abroad and catching up with myself and allowing myself adjust has made my experiences so much more enjoyable and allowed me to get past being homesick.

Castle of Edinburgh in Edinburgh

I have now seen Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the castle of Edinburgh. I would not trade those experiences for anything. I am now so grateful I traveled out in the world and am getting to experience some of the amazing things the world has to offer. I am not going to let homesickness stop me. I hope adventure finds you and your homesickness will pass.

Big Ben in London 
Eiffel Tower in Paris







Kylie Wilson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. She is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland. Kylie is from small town Helena, Missouri and hopes to be a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nurse in the future. She has a pet cow named Betsy whom she loves dearly.

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.

Trains, Planes, and Scotland. OH MY!

Currently, I am staring at my complete mess on the floor of my bedroom. I am beginning to pack for my trip to Scotland, and I am struggling with the issue of “Do I really need to pack seven pairs of shoes when I know I will only wear two?” The answer is no, but my heart keeps telling me yes. I can’t help but chuckle at myself because I know that my shoes will not matter once I am there. I have never traveled before and when I say that I am not being dramatic. I have never been on a plane or a train before in my entire life. I have seldom ventured outside of my small town and I am about to embark on my first journey across the ocean.

Am I crazy!? I think the answer to that is a definite yes.  By the end of my five weeks I will have taken seven trains, two planes, and countless taxis. The stress I feel is incredible; I have never done this before. What made me think I can do this for the first time in another country!? However, with this stress comes excitement as I am finally exploring the world! I will see countless places such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Iverness just to name a few! I guess I am writing this to show everyone if I can study abroad, anyone can. I come from a small town of 424 people, so when I came to Kansas City I felt overwhelmed and shocked. Now, I am about to go to another country and experience all that it has to offer and then some. It is okay to be fearful and hesitant to travel abroad. It is not okay to allow those fears to keep you from experiencing everything the world has to offer you. The packing alone is enough to drive you crazy and call it quits (but don’t let it!).

What do you need and are considered the essentials? Coming from a girl who has never traveled here is my advice: less is more. Do not drag yourself down by over packing and worrying what outfits to bring. I am sure once you get there the main thing you will be worried about is exploring new places, trying new food, basically just doing anything new and exciting. But with that being said, exploring means a lot of walking. So be sure to pack comfortable shoes that you can walk around all day in (and I know you’re thinking about bringing your cutest, but least comfortable shoes, but seriously leave them at home!) Also, bring versatile things like a pair of pants that will match several shirts. Or a shirt that can be dressy with a necklace or dressed down with some leggings. Try to be realistic on your packing and the climate where you are going. For instance, I do not need to pack several pairs of shorts because where I am going it is cool almost every day. I hope you pack the right things, but if you don’t or forget something the beauty in going abroad is spontaneity. They have stores where you can buy this stuff and get a souvenir or a funny story out of it too. I hope that everyone takes the chance to go abroad as it really is a once in a lifetime experience. If a girl from a town that has more cows than people can do it, you can too. Good luck and may adventure find you.

Kylie Wilson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. She is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland. Kylie is from small town Helena, Missouri and hopes to be a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nurse in the future. She has a pet cow named Betsy whom she loves dearly.

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.

Reunited on the Bonny Streets of Edinburgh

Last semester it seemed that every weekend I was jetting off to a new place and a new adventure, but so far this semester it hasn’t been the case. I have become a hermit due to:

  1. Money
  2. Midterms

After my trip to Paris I began to feel the pressure of the fast approaching midterms, so I decided to save my money and instead focus on academics. Luckily for me my friends who I visited in France decided to come to Edinburgh and visit me (so that I finally emerged from my flat).

Last semester there were no breaks once the term began in September. But seemingly out of nowhere the entire university got a week off of school, and the business school got another week off on top of that. This allowed me to dedicate my time and be a competent tour guide.

They had been to London and Alnwick Castle and Edinburgh was their next stop on their winter break trip. I met them at Waverly Station and took them to their hostel. I then started my tour with new town. Starting with the Balmoral (as they are Harry Potter fanatics like me) IMG_7574 IMG_7573we walked down Princes Street where I went over a bit of history; such as Princes Street Park once being a loch that waste was dumped in giving the town the nickname Ole’ Stinky. We took pictures of the Sir Walter Scott memorial, the author of the Waverley novels, went inside the affordable and trendy Primark, and exchanged money. We moved around the castle, going past the castle terrace, and down to Grass Market. They learned the amazing (and unbelievable) story of Maggie Dicksons and got some gelato from my favorite ice cream shop, Mary’s Milk Bar. We went into Greyfriar’s Kirkyard to pay our respects to the man (Thomas Riddle) who inspired the name of the darkest wizard of all time, he who shall not be named (Tom Riddle). We then made a circle and went through my university and old college, stopped by my flat, and headed to dinner at the Elephant House, the birth place of Harry Potter. We finished off the night at the Three Sisters pub where we watched the Bayern Munich game and participated in the famous Wednesday pub quiz. Some categories we were almost flawless in such as the Disney Princess category and the observation category, while some were left completely blank like the Train Spotting category (a Scottish film). We were utterly defeated.

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The next day we started bright and early to hike St. Arthur’s. We faced many hurdles like the icy and slippery ground but despite nature’s effort we made it up in great time. The top of St. Arthur’s is one of the best views of the city and my favorite. You can see everything (even my flat). The other great view of the city is Calton Hill, where Edinburgh gains the self-named nickname, Athens of the North.

We then had lunch at Spoon and marched our way up the rest of the Royal Mile to go inside Edinburgh Castle. This was actually a first for me. After being here a semester I had never once stepped past the castle gates, mainly because I am too much of a penny pincher for not wanting to put up the $GB 16.

The castle is the beautiful centerpiece of Edinburgh. At one o’clock you can hear deafening sound of the cannon go off, so be warned and plug your ears. You can see the prison cells, the banquet hall, and a few rooms. There is also a shop where you can buy whiskey and have a “free” whiskey tasting. We sped through the castle so that we could make the long walk to Duddingston with another group of friends in Edinburgh that weekend. [One of the girl’s surname was Duddingston to explain the long trek (about 40 minutes)]. We ate at the Sheep Heid Inn and participated in another pub quiz.

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It was a week night and only locals (most of them regulars) filled the pub. The pub quiz was almost entirely made up of Scottish culture, which we knew almost nothing about, despite me having been living here for one full term already. I am proud to say that I knew that Dr. Watson’s first name is John and the logo of the Rangers football team, but that was about all I could answer. We were big failures when it came to results, but when it came to having a blast no one in that pub could beat us. That ended our night and I walked them back to their hostel, and made my goodbyes. They were leaving at six the next morning.

Although short I had a lot of fun reuniting with my friends in Edinburgh. Being able to be a tour guide made me proud of my city and let me show off my love for it and spread it to others. It was like I was stepping into Edinburgh for the first time and my eyes once again saw how truly beautiful and amazing Edinburgh is. It also let me show of my knowledge a little which never hurt the ego.


Helpful Hint: When you are being a tour guide plan ahead and be prepared, because they will ask for recommendations and advise, you are the expert guiding them through the city they know nothing about.

Hung Up on Midterms

I talked about a little in the previous blog post about how the pressure of midterms was starting to be felt, and how I can feel every tick of the clock that is counting down to the due dates of my papers and projects. Let me first just say the layout of the first semester is very different from this semester. In the previous semester there were no breaks until finals where you had one week for revision. In this semester though we get a break in winter (one week for most and two weeks for business students), it is longer, dissertations are due for fourth years, classes end [for me] on March 30, there is a long spring break, and finals don’t start until April 25 and they will last until the end of May.

My midterms included, two individual papers, three group presentations (one where we have to create a business and make a business plan), and two group papers; all due in the same two week period in March. So far my weeks have been filled with group meetings and research for papers and projects. The classes I am taking this semester are: International Strategic Management in Practice, Services Marketing, and Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation. My main projects in each have been a book report and presentation on the book Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, a service blueprint of Deliveroo and a paper comparing services for service quality face-to-face and internet, and creating a business and business plan that will be presented to angle investors. The pressure is on, but once March ends (and classes) I will be able to relax, travel, and go on adventures.

Last semester I spent my time moving between classes (on weekdays) and new cities (on weekends), but this semester it feels like I am more focused on academics and traveling will be a vacation and reward for my all of my hard work.

How the fall and spring terms are set up is very different from each other and my approach to how I divide my time is too, but I like it. By being here a year I was able to see different aspects of the student culture and I got to experience different strategies to how you can live your life studying abroad.

Helpful Hint: No matter how you divided your time while studying abroad remember you are there to study, but also experience a new culture. It is important to find balance.

Prelude to Scotland

I’m sure many students have had thoughts on studying abroad, and those who do decide to participate in their own cultural experiment cannot wait to take off for their adventure; but the study abroad experience begins months before that international flight leaves the ground.


I began my preparations over a year ago when I obtained a job to help pay for my forthcoming travel. I threw myself into extensive research on various programs: what classes I could take, costs, where I could travel, and what would interest me the most; and on the way I have made new friends, taken on more responsibility for my education, completed the laborious work of three applications for one program, made travel arrangements, secured housing, attained a scholarship, and procured a visa. Through all of this the question I have been asked the most by my friends and family is “Are you nervous?” The answer: no. Even though I leave in three days to spend a year in Scotland everything feels surreal. When I first applied my excitement was uncontainable, I was like a child on a sugar high, but as the date for leaving has approached the excitement I have has set to simmering deep inside. Maybe my excitement will blast out of me when I reach the airport, get on the plane, or finally set foot in Scotland, but one thing is for certain, my months of preparation make me confident that I am ready for my school year at the University of Edinburgh. Plus I have packed four times.

Helpful Tip: If you have even the slightest inclination to study abroad look into it now and begin preparations. It is never too early to start, but if you wait too long you could miss out on an adventure of a lifetime.

What’s the Rat Pack?

So I haven’t posted much but I would like to catch you up on my 1st weekend trip.
My first week flew by and I headed to Edinburgh, Scotland. In the three days I was there I couldn’t believe how much I had gotten accomplished! After arriving late Thursday evening and meeting Sue, the lady we stayed with (our first airbnb experience), my travel buddy and I found a great fish & chips restaurant, then hit the hay.


































Friday: June 12, 2015

•We woke up fairly early to go hike Arthur’s Seat {the #1 thing to do on trip advisor in Scotland😊}

Just an FYI, it’s steep, bring water, sunscreen, and tennis shoes!

•Next we walked to The National Museum of Scotland, by far one of the largest museums I’ve been in (also it’s FREE) From space to animals this place has it all.

•We ate lunch at The World Famous Frankenstein Pub 1818, first off the food is to die for, and secondly, there is silent movies and a robot monster that does a little dance every 30ish minutes.

•After lunch we came across these underground tours, being the curious tourist that I am, I wanted to check it out. Ashley and I did the Ghostly Underground Catacomb tour of Scotland, we found out about the Burke and Hare murders

  • Burke and Hare were two men who in the beginning sold corpses to Dr. Robert Knox, then got carried away with the money and began killing people so they could sell those corpse for money.

We also found out Scotland basically had an underground city that is now supposedly “haunted”.

•Finally we finished the long day window shopping and eating dinner at Amarone, an amazing Italian “ristorante” on the Royal Mile.

Saturday: June 13, 2015

•Just like the day before, we woke up early and headed out, on this day is was half the temperature as the day before (it went 27 C to 15 C) and slightly misty. Our first stop was a place I had found on Pinterest called “Mary’s Milk Bar” they are world famous for their frozen hot chocolate. I sat inside the vintage pink & white striped shoppe and enjoyed the dark chocolate with sea salt hot chocolate with a big peanut & Carmel gelato. ({delizioso} that’s Italian for delicious)

   •Our next stop was the Edinburgh Castle, this stone wall castle looks over all of Edinburgh. We took a short tour and truly didn’t spend much time there due to the weather and loads of people. But I was able to snap a few photos and see The Crown Jewels.

•After leaving the castle we came across The Scottish Whisky Experience, we found out how whisky was made, tried whisky, and say the largest collection of whisky in the world.

  • Fun fact: Scottish spell their whisky without the “e”

•Directly across was Camera Obscura, a 6 story illusion museum. Each level has a different theme and you’re able to experience them all by using all of your senses. It’s very hands on and fun just to play like a child again! The best part is on the rooftop, you see breath taking views as well as close up views with large binoculars.

• Walking around the city we passed “The Elephant House” for any Harry Potter fan, this is the location J.K. Rowling enjoyed coffee/cake while writing Harry Potter.

•We finished the afternoon enjoying Patisserie Valerie Selva (Chocolate sponge layers filled with whipped cream, zabaglione custard and fresh fruits) and Strawberry Gateau (Layers of vanilla sponge filled with whipped cream and fresh strawberries)

•Deciding to go back to Sue’s we were walking to the public transport bus and saw a live music pub called “Rat Pack” we debated going in, but it was our last night in Scotland so we decided to go. The fellow was singing Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennett.. The sound was beautiful. A few hours later, ears ringing, we were tired and ready to go back to Sue’s.
Sunday: June 14, 2015

•This morning we had a fairly early flight back to Dublin, Sue drove us to the airport and we were Ireland bound. Ashley and I had arrived back in Dublin around 9:15 thinking we had until 10:30 to catch our GoBe bus back to Cork. We slowly made our way to get breakfast, while I had gotten my bagel and Ashley was getting a full Irish breakfast, I doubled checked our bus time…. The bus was coming at 10:00am it was 9:50am!😖I yelled at Ashley from across the airport, she hurried over with her food and started shoving her food in ziplock bags. We ran through the terminal down the escalator and through all the different bus stops arriving at ours just before the bus was taking off (we made it)

This concluded my first weekend of traveling through Europe. Scotland treated me very well, I couldn’t have asked for a better first Airbnb experience, itinerary of things to do, and first experience using public transport (Edinburgh has a wonderful app for public transit called Transport for Edinburgh I recommend anyone traveling to Edinburgh download the app, it was a lifesaver)