The GoGlobal Blog

Category: Scotland

LUC in the Land of Harry Potter

LUC in the Land of Harry Potter

Last year, being in the NCAA Final Four was such an exciting time to be a Rambler. With national coverage of the basketball team, we became “the Harry Potter school” with our maroon and gold striped scarves, more famously known as the Hogwarts colors. Here, in the city where J.K. Rowling wrote many of the Harry Potter books, I see maroon and gold everywhere in windowshops, on people’s hats and scarves, and I get so excited to throw my “‘blers up” hand before remembering what they mean when they sport maroon and gold stripes. As I pass closer, their merchandise always says “Hogwarts” or “Gryffindor”. Still, I am always happy to see our school colors and it makes me feel a twinge of familiarity in this new place. I have shoved homesickness (or “schoolsickness”) to the back of my mind successfully for a few weeks (not a method of coping that I would recommend), but the maroon and gold stripes always make me a little sad. However, I am not a fan of Harry Potter, and it makes me giggle to see people line up in front of The Elephant House Cafe, famous for being the exact location where J.K. Rowling wrote many pages of the first few books of the series. They wait in the rain, snow, and sleet to get in, and from many online reviews and testimonies from people I meet who have visited, it ends up to be a disappointing experience as far as the actual coffee and cakes go. I am sure they would be happier to spend their money on food and coffee that is worth it, maybe in Cafe Arrivadolce, listening to the construction along North Sheridan Road, watching Chicagoans fight against being blown over in the harsh Lake Michigan winds as they make their way down the street. They might like Metropolis Coffee Company on Granville Ave, close to where people were paintballed by a moving vehicle last year, and where I have seen countless domestic disputes under the train tracks (there is never a dull moment in Chicago). Maybe they would like to be visit the school that made the 2018 Final Four after over 50 years. At least, that is where I would want to go right now; that is my maroon and gold.

Over the Hills and Far Away

Over the Hills and Far Away

After a long, and ongoing, battle with jet lag, my third day in Edinburgh began with a quick change and a brisk walk to Arthur’s Seat. It caught my attention the minute we saw it’s green and brown-capped peaks towering over the city as we drove in. I love hiking at home, and often feel nature-deprived in Chicago, and I knew I would end the semester knowing every nook and cranny of Arthur’s Seat. We were told by our tour leader and many other locals that the hike was no longer than 30 minutes, which I thought would be impossible with the height of the mountain from the ground.

The top of Arthur’s Seat was breathtaking, and I almost don’t want to describe it, for fear of ruining prospective hiker’s fantasies. The 360-degree view of Edinburgh and the North Sea are broken up by rolling green hills within the mountain itself, (there is probably a pretty Gaelic word for them that I have yet to learn), and multiple mini-peaks of jagged brown rock. Lord of the Rings fans may compare it to the land of Rohan, and foot trails leading over the edged of the green grasses make it feel like the Rohirrim is about to scoop you up and ride away with you.

My second hike to Arthur’s Seat, a much clearer day, was just as beautiful, minus having to dodge tourists that scattered the mountain (I am trying to separate myself from the tourists although most would consider me one as well). The Americans on the mountain are obvious, talking loudly, many groups of teenagers hungover from Saturday night’s first overage freedom. Although I listen to music while I hike, I often turn my volume down when I walk past people, and I am amazed at how many different languages and accents I hear.

Today’s most exciting encounter included the college’s cat, who hang out near my dorm, and a real-life wild pheasant! It reminded me of my chickens at home, another twinge of homesickness.