Before the Departure

No boring, typical, or cliche summer for me this year! This summer I will be traveling all over Scotland through UMKC’s Study Abroad Program. I am so excited for this opportunity, although I am not really sure what to expect.  This is the first time I have been out of the country on my own and I am really nervous. I have flown and gone out of the country before, but I always had my parents with me, now it’s just me. I’ll have to figure out the airport, customs, taxis, trains and all that other fun stuff on my own in another country. I don’t think there is anything that can really prepare me for that, no matter how much “practice” I have had traveling with my parents. In retrospect, I never really payed much attention in the first place since I didn’t have to know, I just played follow the parents (and of course they never let me out of their sight so I didn’t have much to worry about). Now I am the traveler, responsible for it all. Ahhhh! (that’s a scared but excited ahhhh!)

I have found that planning a trip abroad is stressful! Of course, everyone says it is but you never really know until you are actually doing it and if you’re like me where you think you’re organized but really you’re not, it’s pure chaos. There is so much more that goes into it than I thought: health insurance, calling phone companies and the bank, the change in currency, the adapter thingy for electronics (who knew there was such a thing as different electricity!) and the list goes on and on.

It’s crazy to think that I can call myself a world traveler at the ripe old age of 19 going on 20. I’ll get to spend my 20th birthday in London (that’s where I am flying out of!) I feel like turning 20 is normally kind of boring because nothing exciting happens. I sure planned this trip at the right time, huh? My 20th birthday will be spent in another country! I just can’t get over that. It feels like I am going to a whole other world, which I guess I kind of am; another continent at least. This experience is going to be so surreal. I think I am going to have to pinch myself every day…  Although reality still hasn’t set in, I better start pinching myself now.

I can’t wait for that first moment when I will take my first step off the plane into another country; the feeling of awe, excitement and that jittery feeling you get when you’re in a new place that you have never been to before. It’s like that feeling when you’re a little kid going to Disney Land, knowing you are about to experience the greatest thing in your life but on a much greater scale. I’m not sure what I am going to do with myself every day. So much time to explore!

I can’t even fathom all that I will see and experience in just a few weeks. I want to see and experience everything while I am there. I am going to burn the candle at both ends as my mom likes to call it. I can picture the green scenery and rolling hills ahead of me as I sit and write this in my kitchen. The stone buildings, exquisite architecture, the Scottish history and all the people I will get to meet. I’m ecstatic to get to see a real castle because my dad always told me I was a princess and so as a kid, I always imagined living in a castle but have never gotten to see one. My little kid dreams are going to come true!

I think the hardest part for me will be packing. I love to over pack and I am limited to a 44-pound suitcase and a backpack. I also love to shop and in a foreign country, I am afraid I might just go crazy. It may be my only time there so I need to buy everything I possibly can, right? I already know I am going to get myself in a bit of a predicament. And of course, friends and family are going to want gifts too…

I also wonder how I am going to fare in a foreign country with my poor sense of direction. I get lost just going to the grocery store sometimes and I know where that’s located let alone in Scotland where I have no idea where anything is, street names or anything related to direction. All I can say is it’s a very good thing they speak English, a language I know kinda well. I’m afraid what would happen if I was going to a place where I didn’t know the language. I am predicting that I will get lost on multiple occasions, so this could get interesting. Stay tuned.

Final thoughts, I think this will be the best experience of my life, something I will remember and talk about forever. How can anything else compare to a summer abroad in the United Kingdom? I want to try and capture every moment of it with blogging, pictures and going out and doing something every day. I am going to cram a lifetime worth of adventure into one month. Think I can do it?


Nicole Wilhelm, future traveler of the world

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.

Moher, Missed Flight, Midterms…Madness

I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to keep up with blogging. I have a hard enough time posting pictures for friends and family to see on Facebook, so I honestly am not sure why I didn’t foresee this struggle. Almost four weeks ago, I went to Rome. It was everything and more for my nerdy, history-loving heart. Since it was close to a month ago, I’ll forgo telling stories about it, except that I cried when I saw the Pantheon, somehow was in a Pride rally, and ate my fill of a buffet breakfast for two mornings in a row. The Italians do not hold breakfast in the same regard as Americans (or Irish or British) do. Bacon, how I miss thee.


Back to Ireland: It was magical. From the kindness of the people to the beauty of the landscape, I am in love. The people are marvelous. Dublin and Galway were the two main cities I visited. Dublin was a hub and full of life. I enjoyed being able to speak English again. The accents were fabulous and the kindness of everyone was tangible. After a touring day in Dublin and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, we went to Galway. Galway is latitudinally across the country on the west coast. We took a detour to see the Cliffs of Moher before venturing to the city though. They are absolutely gorgeous. Florence isn’t the greenest place on this earth, so to bear witness to such a marvelous site of nature was restorative to my soul. Once we explored and took pictures there, we went to Galway and ate lunch and walked around the city. Galway is traditional. People walked by speaking Irish as well as English. Although the language of Ireland is Irish, most people speak English due to the influence of England. It was amazing to walk by groups of people and hear the traditional language spoken. The group of girls I was with also ventured into jewelry stores after lunch to purchase Claddagh rings, as they were first created in Galway. Even though I’m not Irish, I bought one! That evening we returned to Dublin and had more pub experiences, complete with Guinness! Now here is where the fun truly begins: missed flight.


I left for the London airport from Dublin early in the morning at 3 am on Monday. (Sunday was a free day for me and I explored around the city and went shopping) My flight left about 30 minutes late though, so I rushed through security and all but sprinted to my gate. Of course, the gate closed right as I arrived around 8 am. Therefore, I trudged back from whence I came and rearranged my flight for the great price of 100 pounds! 100 pounds, unfortunately is roughly $140, and my flight wasn’t leaving for another 11 hours. I was miserable, stuck in a dingy airport (Stansted is not like Heathrow), and needed to study for midterms. Only one free hour of wifi was available though, so I had to budget my time wisely. I was tired, hungry, poor, and in sore need of a shower. To the best of my ability, I studied for two midterms the next day, budgeted when I could eat, and tried to drink lots of water. Time passed so slowly. Eventually I was able to get the plane and made it, but of course, this was also 30 minutes late. My Pisa arrival was pushed back even further, and I still had to take a bus to get back to Florence from the Pisa airport. When all was said and done, I made it to my apartment at 1:30 am, promptly took a shower, ate leftover pasta, and fell asleep for a few meager hours before I needed to take two midterms the next morning.

It was a mistake to travel right before midterms. Of course, I realize that now, but I didn’t know I would be back so late. My original intentions were to get back to Florence early in the afternoon, take a nap, and study into the evening. Life doesn’t quite work out just the way we want, and I spent my day in the airport studying poorly. Although I wouldn’t change my Ireland experience, I regret leaving a day later than most people. At least my midterms are over, I improved with each one, and my professor knew my story. She actually asked me what was wrong with my eyes during the first exam. Apparently I looked terrible and she wasn’t afraid to comment on it.

Life lesson: Don’t travel before midterms, give yourself plenty of time for layovers, and bring a piece of technology, because you never know if you’ll be stranded for 11 hours and need some way to entertain yourself.

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)

Arriving in Cork

  Leaving the airportAs of today, I have been in Ireland for 11 days. From the Thursday I arrived it has been a nonstop journey.

Here is just a glimpse of what my days have consisted of.

  • Saturday, June 8th
    • Hop on/Hop off tour of the city of Cork
      hop on hop off tour
      During the Hop on/Hop off tour of Cork
  • Sunday, June 7th
    • Went on a Paddy Wagon tour to the Cliffs of Moher (one of the tops tourist places in Ireland)
      Cliff of Moher
      Sitting on the edge of the world 🙂 Cliffs of Moher
  • Monday, June 8th
    • First day of Irish History Lectures
    • Visit St. Finn Barre Cathedral and The Elizabeth Fort
    • Movie night with the class, “Waking Ned Devine”
  • Tuesday, June 9th
    • Lectures during the morning and afternoon (all day)
  • Wednesday, June 10th
    • Daytrip #1
      • Kissed The Blarney Stone and enjoyed the nature of the park
      • Ran in to Madison’s Momma 🙂
      •  Walked the Pier at Kinsale (Probably my favorite Irish City I’ve been to)
      • Toured & Explored the beauty of Charles Fort
        charles fort
        At the top of Charles Fort
      • Celebrated Jacob’s birthday at Chamber’s (Free cake & Sparking Grape Juice)
  • Thursday, June 11th
    • More lectures (I’m going to tell you every time I’m in class, just so you think I’m actually learning, in which I am… It’s just a lot more fun!! :P)
    • Travel to Edinburgh, Scotland for the weekend

The first week, as you can see, there is barely any time for sleep!