31 January 2011

HOME & updates

I realized that I hadn't posted a blog in a few days, so I figured that, in attempts at putting off my reading for class tomorrow, I would update everyone and let you know what's been going on in my life.

1. Work. I have an internship at The Media Company, which publishes three monthly glossy magazines. I really enjoy being there and am getting a lot of experience, but for confidentiality reasons, I can't really tell you much more than that. Ask me about it in person sometime!

2. I went to Stirling Saturday! It was a very spur-of-the-moment trip, but I'm glad that I made it. Once I get my pictures uploaded and organized, I will give the trip a blog entry all its own.

3. This afternoon, I took a walk that led me to Calton Hill. If you do an image search for Edinburgh, you will definitely see pictures either of the area, from that vantage point, or both. Again, when I upload pictures, I'll be sure to post them! It was absolutely beautiful there, and if it weren't for the high winds, I would probably go back every single day.

4. As Karen put it, the "Honeymoon" period is over between us and Edinburgh. We're totally moved in now; I don't really feel like a "tourist" anymore. Here are just a few things that I miss from home (aside from all the amazing people!!) - so don't take them for granted!
-my moccasins
-the smell of our detergent (I know it's weird...but I have a thing for clean laundry smells, and it's just not the same here.)
-Blue Smoke salsa
-flannel sheets
-heck, a top sheet (They don't use them here!)
-warm weather and all that comes with it - walking barefoot, different clothing, spending more time outside, etc.

And here are some differences that I am finding quite to my liking:
-better chocolate
-Edinburgh is a pedestrian city...you really can get anywhere without a car! (Though, sometimes, it would definitely be convenient to have one...)
-SO MANY vegetarian options - including vegetarian Doritos!

Annnnnd there are some similarities between here and where I'm from that make me feel at home anytime!
-train tracks by my house
-a river in plain sight
-friendly people

26 January 2011

Linguistics of Scots

I'm sitting in lecture right now, so I'll keep this short, but I just had to blog about this huge revelation that I had to share:

Back story: In Linguistics last semester (one of the most interesting classes I've had at Furman), Dr. Cox touched briefly on dialect/regional differences. I found that my West Virginian "accent" was ever-so-slightly different than many others' accents. Our professor accepted all phonetic spellings, as long as we could back them up, and was not nearly so interested in the "proper" pronunciation as he was in our ability to diagram what we were saying. Some of the differences included my identical pronunciation of the words "cot" and "caught" and my minute difference in the pronunciation of wh- question words like "which" and "why" and their counterparts without h's, "witch" and the letter y.

Now: Our lecture today is on Language in Scotland, and so far, we've covered everything from the origins of Scots and Gaelic to their usage today. Just now, we discussed the difference between Scottish English and the "Queen's English," and just a wee bit more of the world makes sense to me now: Scottish English influence includes pronouncing "caught" like "cot" rather than [cat] (phonetic) and pronouncing the slight h in wh- question words.

I have Scottish ancestors, and I live in West Virginia, where many Scots have settled in the mountains.


Burns Night

Tonight is Burns Night in Edinburgh; festive celebrations abound! What are we celebrating? Why, the life of Robert Burns, of course!

Robert Burns was a poet who lived in Edinburgh from 1759 to 1796. He wrote many famous poems, notably Auld Lang Syne. Speaking of which, that's partially why he's so famous: he wrote in and celebrated the native Scottish tongue, opposing the preferred King's English of the time and instead embracing his heritage.

Today, his life is celebrated with speeches and recitations of his poetry, dances, eating, and drinking. Our group decided to keep it pretty low-key tonight: we met up for haggis at Deacon Brodie's, a favorite restaurant of ours right on the Royal Mile, and then hung out at the downstairs pub for a bit afterward. (Other restaurants and pubs go all out, having someone read all of his odes before each new course. And of course, whisky is quite common.) Here is his satire about haggis:

Address to A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face
Great Chieftan o' the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place
Painch, tripe, or thairm
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill
Your hurdies like a distant hill
Your pin wad help to mend a mill

In time o' need
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead

His knife see rustic-labour dight
An' cut you up wi' ready slight
Trenching your gushing entrails bright

Like onie ditch
And then, O what a glorious sight
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn they stretch an' strive
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive

Bethankit hums

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash
As feckless as a wither'd rash
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash
His nieve a nit

Thro' bluidy flood or field to dash
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed
The trembling earth resounds his tread
Clap in his walie nieve a blade
He'll mak it whissle
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned
Like taps o' thrissle

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care
And dish them out their bill o' fare
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies
But, if you wish her gratefu' pray'r
Gie her a Haggis!

That roughly translates to,

"Greetings, you are a superior food and are worthy of a grace as long as my arm.
You fill the plate so well and look so sturdy. Your juices are as inviting as whisky.
See the knife cut you, allowing your insides to flow. A glorious sight and aroma.
Then spoon after spoon they stretch and strain.
It is every man for himself because there will be none left for the slow ones, until all their stomachs are full and fit to burst.

Is there anybody who eats foreign food who would look down disdainfully at this dinner.
Poor souls, if they do. They will be poor thin creatures, not fit for anything.
But if you eat Haggis, you will be strong, robust and fit for battle.
God, who looks after us and feeds us, Scotland does not want food with sauce that splashes in dishes. But if you want a grateful prayer then give her a Haggis," according to robertburns.plus.com

Linked to the title of this blog is a nice explanation (or lack thereof) of Burns Night from The Guardian a few days ago.

My (vegetarian, of course) haggis was DELICIOUS! I will definitely be ordering it again. (And for those of you who are curious, I have yet to meet someone who hasn't enjoyed the traditional, meaty version.) Haggis is traditionally, yes, sheep intestine filled with meat and chopped onions and spices. Sounds gross, but apparently, it's tasty. It's served with "tatties and neeps," or mashed potatoes and turnips/swedes. They are to be eaten all together, i.e. a bit of each on the fork for each bite.

Here I am gathering the three, picking them up, and then biting into them. I cleaned my plate!!

24 January 2011

St. Andrews

Eight of us went to St. Andrews, a small town just north of Edinburgh, for a day trip Saturday. It was a really nice place to visit, but there was even less to do there than we thought, and we ended up catching an early-evening rather than late-even train home.

While we were there, though, we really enjoyed ourselves. We spent a long time near the harbour and cathedral ruins, and we walked the three main streets of the city. It was incredible to walk into the cathedral ruins, for example, and think that, hundreds of years ago, people worshipped and processed and prayed in the spot where we were standing. (You can read a lot about St. Andrews online - it's a very historic city.) We were going to go to the castle ruins, too, but that cost money, so we decided against it. What we DID spend money on was food: lunch, handmade chocolates, tea and pastries at a café...typical. haha We then went to lunch, and after lunch, we headed to the Old Course (the world's first golf course) and walked around there for a bit before catching a bit of a rugby match by chance - so cool!

I got a LOT of pictures, especially when I walked out onto the stone pier in the harbour. I'm toying with the idea of uploading ALL of my pictures (seriously...hundreds) to a site like Flickr, but I haven't set that up yet, so for now, I'll post a few of my favorites here.

Me with my Kappa sister and flatmate, Annie

It's all in the family!
18th hole

Stairway to Seven!

I watched half of the game at a sports bar tonight (until they kicked me out because it was 2 a.m.), and then Drew Skyped the rest of the game to me.Here we go: Pittsburgh's goin' to the Super Bowl!

23 January 2011

Glossary, Vol. I

For both my benefit and yours, I've decided to include installments of a glossary in my regular blog entries.

For those of you who are unaware, the Scots, though English-speaking, speak a very different language than our own. They also use certain words much more frequently than we do at home. Many of the "foreign" words that have come from the ancient Scots language or are just offshoots of American English are used in everyday conversation here, so it's quite possible that between the strange words and the thick accents, you could be talking to a Scottish person and not understand a word of what he or she is saying.

Here's what I've either come across and asked about (i.e. at work) or just been told (i.e. in class) thus far - I'll make a new entry when I gather a new list.

Foreign Words
aye - yes
bairn (wain) - child
blether - chat
burn - steam, small river
crabbit - bad-tempered
cooker - oven
dunt - bump
eejit - foolish person
fit - attractive
greet - cry
haver - talk nonsense
hob - stovetop
ken - know
lassie - girl
loch - lake
rammy - noisy fight

Increased Usage
advert - advertisement
alright - okay
as well as - also
bit - small amount
brilliant - great
dodgy - sketchy
keen - fond
lovely - good
naughty - indecent
prefer - like better
quite - very
raunchy - obscene
Steelers - AFC Champions
wee - small

22 January 2011


I realize that I've only been away for a few days, but I want to apologize for not having kept up this blog better, because this has been such an important week! So much has happened!

Alright, I might be exaggerating a bit. As I mentioned in my last post, I have, in fact, started both of my classes as well as my internship, and there's lots to tell about all of those things. But beyond that, I've just had some clever ideas (well, I think that they're clever, at least - however, it will be for you to judge) for various postings and series to start. Many entries are in their ideological and/or editing stages, so be on the look-out!

Truly, the reason that I have been away is this:


No, I did not buy a replacement ukulele with UK plugs (joke...maybe you have to be here. Anyway.) It's a bit of a long story, but I'm borrowing it sporadically from Ollie, a guy at work. And I love him for it! (Pretty sure my flatmates hate him...and me now...I've probably played for a combined 7 hours in the past two days.) I have missed my uke more than I'd imagined. But fear not! My calluses are quickly returning, my nail polish is quickly chipping, and I've even learned "Loch Lomond" to get into the Scottish spirit.

So, that's what been taking up all of my would-be blogging time. Good thing I don't have much homework!

I'll be working on those blogs this weekend - but for now, I'm going to head to bed, because a group of us is visiting St. Andrews tomorrow! I will, of course, be reporting back on this matter.

18 January 2011

Gearing Up!

After what proved to be a much more arduous assignment than I had anticipated, I am getting into bed a bit later than I had hoped in order to gear up for...*fanfare* MY FIRST REAL WEEK!

Yes, yes, I realize that it is Monday night. But for now, at least, I have Mondays off - let's hope it stays this way for the term.

Anyway, I start training at work tomorrow promptly at 9 a.m., and my day will continue at The Media Company until it is time to attend Dr. O'Rourke's class. Apparently, since we live in a "palace," as he put it, there is some sort of shindig here afterward. We shall see.

The rest of my week will be filled with more internship training and work, Scottish Culture and Society, and Wine Studies. (Brilliant class choices for the term, eh?) I'll keep you updated...

17 January 2011

"I must confess: I've never heard of this chap."

Saturday, I wanted to get out of the flat - it was a bit cold and rainy - but hey, that's Scotland! and I figured it was my first legitimate weekend in Edinburgh, so I should at least have something to show for myself. I spent a bit of time lounging around and preparing some food before heading down the hill to the National Gallery of Scotland. (Well, first I stopped at the smaller museum next door, but I don't even know the name and, due to some major construction or renovation or something, there were only two exhibits, and I could only find my way to one. It was neat, but still...)

I'm not exactly a museum hound. I mean, I can appreciate artifacts and exhibits, but I just don't know a lot of history, so sometimes, the significance of things doesn't quite hit me. Other times, I just get tired or hungry (but I thought ahead and slept in and had a late lunch!)

Needless to say, Saturday was not one of those days.

The museum is awesome! It's one of only five national portrait galleries in the world (or so says one of the signs...I think), and it's actually quite big. It has twelve rooms on the first floor, and in about an hour and a half, I had only made it through three. Lots of the art that I was viewing had direct relevance to my Scottish Enlightenment class, so I took the time to read fully the paragraphs of explanation. Also, the paintings were REALLY GOOD...so I just stared a lot. I was overcome with an intense appreciation for old things and just "oldness" (yes, this is becoming a theme in Scotland.) I realized that, for so, so many years, even in the most modern of societies, paintings really were the only way to preserve a scene - cameras are quite new on the world scale. More often than not, our only ideas of the appearance of historical figures come ONLY from "art" - ESPECIALLY outside the baby nation known as the United States.

Art appreciation in an hour? I'll take it!

I definitely plan to go back many-a-time and brave the remaining three-quarters of the lower floor...and who knows what the upper level(s) may hold?!

Oh, and about the title: while perusing the walls, I overheard a cool-looking elderly lady say that about one of the historical figures hanging in front of her. I chuckled to myself.

14 January 2011

An Interview?

Well, I had my make-up "interview" this morning. I actually arrived a few minutes late after getting lost more than once (it looked really different in the morning than it had at dusk!), but no one seemed to notice. I'll be sure to be prompt from now on, just in case!

Interestingly enough, I'm pretty sure that my total time in the building was about ten minutes. Also, I do not recall being asked a single question until the inevitable, "Do you have any questions?" So...it wasn't quite what I was expecting.

This is not all bad, however. Instead of a nerve-wracking Q&A session, Sue and Caroline (my bosses) took turns going over my workload and expectations that they would have of me. They seemed very eager to have some extra help and said that maintaining the website would be one of my main duties but that I would also get to do some writing and work with photography. All of this would be further explained to me, they said, in training next week.

Basically, the place I work, The Media Company, has three magazines: Foodies Edinburgh, Foodies London, and Living Abroad. I'm going to get to do a bit of work on both. My first impression of the workplace is that it seems to be a pretty fun and casual yet efficient atmosphere. I'm excited to get my schedule worked out and get started!

"There will be a Scottish parliament"

We took a group tour of the lower Mile and Scottish Parliament this afternoon. It was more interesting than I had thought it would be!

First, Karen, our Program Director (who also happens to be employed as a professional tour guide here in Edinburgh) pointed out some historically significant things on and around the Royal Mile that I would have probably never noticed myself - at least, it would have taken me a while, so it was nice to have sped up that process. When we made it to Parliament, at the end of the Mile, she also took time to point out Holyrood Palace (the royal residence) and the surrounding park, which contains Edinburgh's famous peak, Arthur's Seat.

Our tour inside the Parliament building was led by a Parliament tour guide, Sofia, so we were able to gain access to otherwise restricted areas - we even got to see some committee meetings! Well, Sofia DID keep stressing to us that it was a "working parliament"...anyway, one of the things that really stood out to me (and, okay, probably everyone with visual capabilities) was the architecture of the building complex. There's a very organic theme to the place, whether viewed aerially or on ground level - at first glance, at least. The design of everything is very symbolic: while the shapes and decor to many appear to be leaves and branches, it's really open to interpretation. I've included some stock images that I just found on GoodSearch - actually, their source is an architecture and design showcase website! - because no photos were allowed during the tour time, and we didn't really stick around afterward.

It's a very new complex, too - it was just completed in 2004. All technology and furnishings are, of course, state-of-the-art, and the buildings noticeably stick out from those around them. Yet, because of the above-mentioned natural theme of it all, it doesn't quite seem out of place. I will definitely be making a trip or two back there, if only to read the Scotland and government quotes engraved on the outer wall - and I will remember to take pictures this time!

11 January 2011

My Morning

It's been on for all of thirty minutes. Let me just tell you my series of recent events:

Per usual, I woke up; went back to sleep because my sleeping mind convinced my awake, sane mind that I could stay in bed longer; then jumped out of bed with no time to spare. As I freaked out about making it to my scheduled internship interview in time whilst struggling to not wake up the rest of the flat, I discovered that the dress that I had planned to wear to said interview is missing - whether this is stuffed in a weird corner of my supposedly-empty suitcases, sitting on my bed at home, or just unpacked into a different drawer, I cannot confirm. Anyway, after I got ready very quickly, I rushed out the door - oh, wait: no, I didn't rush out the door, because I COULDN'T GET OUT THE DOOR. It has been told to me that my flatmates experienced some problems with this on the second day, but I slept through them. I spent a good 5-10 minutes locking and unlocking various of our no less than FOUR locks before resorting to waking someone up :( and asking. When I finally got out the door, I had barely enough time to make it to my interview at the appointed time, let alone any earlier, so I called my contact person, Sue (whom I've never met).

It turns out that Sue wasn't in, after all. All's well that end's well, I suppose, so my interview is rescheduled for Friday morning. I promptly turned 180 degrees and headed back to my flat, where everyone was still sleeping. I changed out of my work clothes and came down to read and update my blog - I don't know any other morning-worthy activities, since I don't spend my waking hours during this time.

10 January 2011

The Real World

It's time for a slightly embarrassing confession: I used to watch "The Real World." Really, I only kept up with it for a season or two, and I know that you have all probably seen it, too...but now, it just makes me cringe to think about. Anyway, can you recall the first episode? Housemates arrive from all different directions and backgrounds to live in an incredibly large, crazy place furnished with ridiculous, awesome decorations. Well...this was a bit like my experience Thursday.

After landing, picking up our bags, and stopping at a church for a light breakfast (so nice!), our group began to divide up to be shuttled to our individual flats. Ours had been pointed out to us from the bus an hour or so earlier - it seemed, from the outside, to be very nice, with an old-world charm and Edinburgh Castle as its nearby neighbor. As it turned out...IT IS MUCH COOLER.

I'm not going to post pictures of the outside of our flat so as to not attract creepers, but I would like to say that I have seen our flat more than once on a POSTCARD. It is truly a dream home that has come already furnished. I'm living with three Kappa sisters - Lindsay, Annie, and Emily - and another girl in our program, Grace. There is more than enough room for the five of us amongst the sprawling three stories of living space here.

Here are a few pictures of the interior. Let me just tell you about our kitchen, for instance: not only is it humongous, not only does it come with a fun breakfast table and two high chairs, but we have a professional coffee maker - like, with a milk steamer and everything (above). Our refrigerator is in a cabinet (right). We have not one, but TWO freezers.

There are four bedrooms here, which means only two of us have to share. I am one of the three girls with her own room, though. I got the smallest room, but I still very much like it. I have an entire wall of cabinets and storage space, a comfortable twin bed, and a night table. I also moved a chair from under the stairs up to my window. Oh, yeah, I have a window...WITH AN INCREDIBLE VIEW OF THE CITY. We're up on a hill (like all of Edinburgh ISN'T hills and valleys!), so pretty much any time of day or night, the view is breathtaking at first and interesting once you hone in on the bustling activity.

Beyond that, there are two and a half bathrooms - one on each floor - so I walk upstairs to shower, sharing a HUGE bathroom with a shower AND tub with Emily, while everyone else on my floor shares that bathroom. Also, the living room is great: size, decorations, everything. I've kind of taken over the chaise in the corner by the window - I'm currently writing this entry from it; I have already racked up many hours staring outside, dozing, and reading over here. Did I mention that I love chaise lounges?

Did I mention that I love this flat?!?

08 January 2011

Contact Me!

I have my address and local phone number now, in case anyone is thinking of mailing me things or has an international phone plan. E-mail me or comment and let me know if you're interested!

Some Scottish Haikus

1. We live next to the
Castle. It's 'round the corner.
Edinburgh rocks.

2. How to look Scottish:
Don't be cold. Wear boots. Don't speak.
We are American.

3. Built on seven hills:
Rome, Morgantown, Edinburgh
No need to join gym.

04 January 2011


It's about that time.

In fact, it's incredibly close to that time.

In approximately 16 hours, I will be en route (albeit a very long and convoluted route) to my fourth Furman Study Away opportunity. It will be my fifth time leaving the country. (It will be my umpteenth time leaving West Virginia.) My approximate route is home --> CLT --> Newark --> Edinburgh. I should be arriving in the UK Thursday morning.

I've never been to Europe before! This is scary! This is exciting! I can't wait! I'm not ready!

Which brings me to my point: packing - quite often the bane of my existence. I feel that, often, I hardly get settled somewhere before it is time to leave again - taking, of course, minimal possessions, so as to ease environmental and my body's degradation. How I've gotten myself in my current situation is beyond me: I began packing Saturday and began brainstorming weeks ago; yet, here I am, less than a day before leaving, and most of my stuff is just sitting on my floor and my bed (NOT in my suitcase). Ohh, woe is me!

...just kidding. I'm going to go cram things in and weigh my bags! Talk to ya from across the pond!!