After two weeks in London, another exciting opportunity arose — my class took a three-day trip up to Scotland. But how much can you really learn about a new place with such limited time?
Seeing the Sights
I made it my mission to see as much of Scotland as I possibly could. My friends and I first climbed up and down the Royal Mile, looking in shops, pubs, and restaurants. This area was clearly teeming with tourists — an American accent being easy to spot. We then decided to venture outside of our immediate hotel area, exploring the local parks and even a graveyard. Luckily, the Scottish weather was supportive of my outdoor efforts — it was uncharacteristically bright and warm, and I watched dozens of residents get sunburned in real time.
Learning Scotland’s History
As a class, we first made an incredibly historical visit to Edinburgh Castle. We then ventured outside of Edinburgh to visit another fortress: Stirling Castle. We learned about Scotland’s military history and interactions with England — which in many cases, was told differently than we heard in London. We also visited the Kelpies monument, which is huge art installation of two giant horse heads based on Scottish folklore. These are enormous works of stainless steel located in Falkirk — we all got some unbelievable photos!
To finish off our class trip, we took a boat tour on Loch Lomond, one of the largest bodies of water in the country. As we stood on top of the boat and saw waterfalls and mountains, I tried my best to take all of it in. I felt like we all were living inside of some giant postcard, but I found that I could barely capture my experience on camera. I decided to live in the moment and rely on my memories, which will serve me better than a blurry picture of the sky ever could.
Harmony in The Highlands
My favorite experience in Scotland though was less grand than a castle or a larger-than-life piece of art. As we drove through the Scottish countryside on our bus, I switched on some music and gazed out the window. I had never seen so much green in my life – rolling hills, farms, and forests. I saw animals going about their lives — fluffy, red Highland cows munching on grass, baby lambs following their mothers, and large birds surveilling the skies.
I felt at peace watching the Scottish countryside, a quiet and serene place that is so drastically different from my usual city life. It reminded me that sometimes there is comfort in silence, and a break from the buzz of the city can be a breath of fresh air.
However, I have never been more stressed as I was when an enormous bird of prey decided to circle my hotel room window. My roommate and I decided it was time to return to the bustling city life of London after that.
With my free time, I was then tasked with trying to immortalize this trip with an item. Do I go for a framed photo, or a cow sculpture for my desk, or maybe a traditional kilt? Thanks to my time in the country, I decided that my memories would be the best souvenir. So naturally, I went for the silliest option — an XXL t-shirt of the Loch Ness Monster in a bikini, matching souvenirs with the friends I made on the trip. Our laughter made it all worth it.