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The End of a Journey

My best friend and I on the plane, right before we left for the United States.

Getting on the plane yesterday morning was a surreal experience. I was ready to leave but at the same time, I wasn’t. I had spent an entire month studying abroad in Scotland, exploring, learning, and having the time of my life. I didn’t want it to end, but I also wanted to go home and see my family. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world and I am so glad I got this opportunity.

Taking my Anchor and Discourse 300 class abroad in Scotland was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I got to complete six credit hours while doing so in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. My classes were focused on Scottish history and literature and so I was able to experience everything that was talked about in the classroom. I felt like I learned more when I was lectured in class and then

The Brig o’ Doon!

immediately following I would go visit a museum or a place that directly related to that topic. For example, when visiting Robert Burns’ house, I felt like I got a sense of Burns and his work. In class, we talked about one of his poems, Tam o’ Shanter, which ended with Tam riding over the Brig o’ Doon. The next day, my class took a trip to Burns’ house and museum and I got to see the Brig o’ Doon (it’s a bridge) firsthand. I could imagine Tam riding over the bridge on his steady horse, Maggie, narrowly escaping death as the witches chased Tam. Tam made it over the bridge just in time, but the witches manage to take Maggie’s tail clear off her rump. Also, Burns is the national poet of Scotland and by going to his museum, I could see how important he is to the people of Scotland. The sense of admiration from Scotland was lost on me as an outsider, but once at Burns’ museums, I could feel their sense of pride, something I wouldn’t have gotten had I taken this class back home.

In addition, I successfully navigated my way around Scotland with the help of friends and the Edinburgh Castle. I did manage to get lost a few times, but I was always with a friend so we were able to find our way back. But getting lost wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Instead, it became an adventure and I got to see a different part of town than what I normally saw every day. I used an old fashion map to figure out where I was and where I needed to be. I read street signs (which were not always clearly visible) to navigate my way around and didn’t use google maps once! Although that wasn’t really a decision on my part, more like the lack of internet access I had. It was actually fun getting lost and then trying to figure out how to get back. It added to the experience.

I had to take a picture with a Highland Cow because they’re pretty cute. But he was more interested in eating grass and wouldn’t pose for the picture.

This trip was also filled with a lot of firsts.  I can’t nearly name them all, but I’ll try to name a few. I flew overseas for the first time and traveled to Europe. I saw a Highland cow which is a cow that can only be found in the Highlands, which is the Northern part of Scotland. I took a ferry across the ocean that carried our bus! At one point, I was on a bus while on a ferry. I stayed in hostels with six girls to a room. I climbed up a mountain that once used to be a volcano. I saw multiple Abbeys that were in ruins yet were still so beautiful. It was my first time ever seeing a castle and getting to go inside one. And lastly, I took a train underwater when I visited Paris, France for a few days.

I was currently sitting on the bus while also on the ferry. I’m still shocked we didn’t sink.
On top of the world! Just kidding, more like a mountain that was once a live volcano.

From this trip, I learned how to travel outside my comfort zone and do the things that scared me. For one of my class assignments, I had to interview Scottish citizens on the streets of Edinburgh. I am not an outgoing person, so this assignment terrified me. However, the people in Scotland are some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. They were friendly and inviting when I asked them my questions and they also asked me questions in return about the U.S. There were two people that I talked to for an hour and a half! We talked back and forth like we didn’t just meet each other a few minutes ago. At points in the conversation, we would sometimes stop and say “what is it that you call it?” For instance, I was talking about an elevator and then stopped and said: “er, I guess you guys call it a lift here.” We both found it humorous and did this multiple times. I also found a flapjack in Scotland is a granola bar and food to go is called take away. It was interesting to learn that we had different names for the same thing. At the end of our conversation, they expressed how they were glad I had stopped and talked to them as they really enjoyed our conversation. I did too. It is one of my fondest memories from my time abroad. I took a step outside my comfort zone and got an experience I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

There isn’t nearly enough room on this page or time in the day to tell you about everything I experienced in my time abroad. However, I will conclude with this: if you ever have the opportunity to study abroad, take it. You will learn more than you think and get to experience a different way of life that is similar yet very different from your own. Don’t let money, nerves, or fear keep you from following your dreams. You can overcome these obstacles and on the other side is a world full of wonder and the best experience of your life.

Thank you for following my journey with me through Scotland and I hope you get the opportunity to travel abroad one day!

Sincerely,

Nicole (official world traveler)


Nicole Wilhelm is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. Nicole is spending the month of July in many different cities in Scotland with the UMKC Honors College Program in Scotland. Nicole is involved in UMKC’s Campus Ambassadors, Swim and Dive Club, BHS Society, and Student Nursing Association.

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.