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March Madness

March Madness

I know it has been awhile since I have last been able to blog but I have been slammed with both schoolwork and other crazy events. When I last checked in I was about to head off to Scotland. Scotland was 10 times more fun then I ever expected. To be honest, I had zero expectations for the weekend and I was completely blown away from my visit. The trip started with a scare, the scare being that I sat next to two Scottish businessmen on the plane and I could barely understand a single word they said. Both tried to make a joke with me and I laughed (hopefully appropriately?) and then they had to ask me about 3 times before I could understand that they were just wondering where I was going and how many of us there were. Getting off the plane, I turned to my friends and told them that this weekend would be a bit rougher than expected. However, as the next few days went by I realized that while I still had trouble understanding some words, those two men must have the thickest Scottish accent on this earth.

The reasoning behind the trip to Scotland was because our friend Kristen actually has two friends who live in Glasgow. As a result of this great luck, one of her friends was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and drive us to our hostel. My expectations for hostels has also officially sunk over time. When we arrived at our hostel we were a bit worried seeing as a Buzzfeed article had been published about the hostel and it’s not so great living conditions. Upon arrival, our hostel check in was actually across the street from where we would be sleeping. The room had 4 bunk beds, and since there were 7 of us we would only be living with one stranger–an upside compared to Dublin. However, I cannot begin to explain how wrong we could possibly be. Our roommate, who we named Pitbull because he was fat, bald, and annoying, was quite possibly the worst person you could ever share a room with. He snored louder than I have ever heard a person snore in my entire life. I don’t think he was breathing for part of the time. He would not only snore continuously and loudly, he would also shout in his sleep and make other disgusting noises. I maybe slept 3 hours the first night.

However, a bad nights sleep did not prevent us from having a fantastic first full day in Scotland. We woke up bright and early on Friday and took the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It was a quick 40 minute train ride and we arrived with the whole day ahead of us. We first went to the Edinburgh Castle, which I once again knew nothing about, and was a little irritated when I found out I had to pay 16 pounds to get in. However, I was completely wrong as the castle was INCREDIBLE. It had about 6 mini-museums throughout the castle so I was able to learn about the history of Scotland’s military, the history of the castle, go into rooms where POWs were held, walk through a few war memorials, tour beautiful rooms, and see the crowned jewels (which later sparked the debate about whether you would rather have a scepter or a wand). We spent a few hours wondering around the castle and taking a number of photos. The castle also provided a gorgeous view of Edinburgh which has a perfect mix of both new and historical buildings. But just when you thought the day couldn’t get any better, something glorious happened– Harry Potter.


After lunch, where everyone in our group tried and actually enjoyed fried haggis, we ventured around Edinburgh to find a cafe called Elephant House. I am glad some people in the group were prepared because little did I know, but Elephant House is actually the cafe where JK Rowling first wrote the beginning of Harry Potter, on napkins. After wandering around a bit we found the cafe where we all sat down with a cuppa and pretended that we were as brilliant t as JK (we’re not). The coolest part of the cafe is actually the bathroom. Inside all of the walls, people have written notes to JK or quotes from Harry Potter. It was the first, and probably last, time that I took about 8 pictures of bathroom walls. Marypaz and I even wrote a note ourselves on the bottom of a wall. Some of our friends may have been embarrassed by how much Marypaz and I were fan-girling, but they were nice enough to not make it obvious.


Our day in Edinburgh ended with us shopping around and not buying anything because the pound is way too expensive. We went back to Glasgow and had a nice dinner and quiet night out at a local bar that had a live band. We went back to the hostel and tried to fall asleep (before Pitbull returned) so we could be energized for the following day. The next day we spent walking around Glasgow. We looked in a few museums, toured some outdoor sites, shopped, ate, and drank. It was a nice relaxing day and we were able to see all that the city had to offer, a special thanks to Kristen’s friend who was able to show us around. We left Glasgow the next morning, bright and early, to head back to Dublin then Cork, and reality.


The past week and half has been crammed with school work and days of fun. Saint Patrick’s Day was obviously exciting and Cork had a huge parade in the center of town with food stands all across the city center. Classes were cancelled for the day, as St. Paddy’s Day is considered a bank holiday, so we had the whole day open for drinking, I mean adventuring. While St. Paddy’s Day is very exciting in Ireland, it is important to understand that it really isn’t that big of a deal compared to St. Patrick’s Day even in Chicago. While there was a huge parade and downtown was packed, no one wore an obnoxious amount of green or Irish gear. It is instead a day of celebration but much more calmer than stereotypes may have you think. We woke up and ate a huge Irish breakfast, courtesy of chef Casey, and mimosas before we headed down to the parade. We were able to sit at a nice rooftop bar for a few hours during the day, since it was exceptionally pretty out, and just relax in the good atmosphere. We went out later that night and had a blast, but we did have class the next morning and real life waiting for us.


After spending the next few days writing a number of papers, I was able to take another day off and go up to Dublin to visit a friend. Allison, a friend who is studying at the Rome center, was in Dublin for 2 days so I was able to spend the day with her and show her around. Although I am no expert, only having gone to Dublin once before, we did do a lot. We walked through Dublin Castle, Saint Steven’s Green, ate some pub food, and, of course, went the the Guinness factory. I could only stay for a day so I headed back that night. It was, however, a nice break from school work.

Finally, two of Marypaz’s friends from Dublin, who we met last time we were up there, came down to Cork to visit. They arrived on Sunday night so we went out to dinner and then to a bar and tried to prove to them how fun Cork is (Dublin people aren’t the biggest fans of Cork). They seemed to have a fun time and we are in the works of making future plans to visit them again in Dublin in April. Since they’ve left, it has been a few days of heavy school work. This is the final stretch as I am trying to complete all of my papers before my parents arrive on March 31st. Super excited to see them and super excited to be done with all this work. As my mom said, it is rude that school is interrupting my 5 month vacation.

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