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Laura's Adventures in Scotland

Hi guys! Welcome to my webpage where I'll be sharing my experiences during my year abroad. I hope everyone enjoys the pictures and stories as much as I enjoy experiencing them. :)

Diary Entries

Monday, 18 June 2007

Location: UK

Its been a while since I've written so an update is required! I got back from Ireland about a week ago and it was fantastic. Dad, Shannon and Joy came to visit me, stayed a week in Scotland then another week in Ireland on a bus tour. I finally got to drive on the left side of the road, which was absolutely terrifying at first. I was squealing as we came up to roundabouts, just hoping we didn't die. Thank god we had a Volvo! D, S and J (my lazy version of Dad, Shannon and Joy) stayed in a lovely apartment hotel called the Glasgow Lofts in the city center. Unfortunately I had to stay behind a couple days on both their Scotland trip and the Ireland trip to finish parts of my dissertation. I was pretty stressed out but what can ya do.

When we arrived in Ireland we went on a week-long bus tour from Dublin-Killarney-Ring of Kerry-Cork-Connemara-Galway-Ashford Castle-Dublin. It was beautiful and our tour driver was the sweetest man! He constantly told jokes and stories, which he called "yarns". One of his jokes..."I had a really horrible night last night. I woke up at 4am....and went back to my room." haha. He was really great, your typical charming, jolly Irishman. I've posted a few pictures of our trip for your viewing pleasure. It was really great seeing some family again, I really do miss being away from everyone and its so easy to forget how lucky I am when I'm back home! I love my family. I couldn't ask for better parents and grandparents and friends and stepfamily and everything. I love how you all let me do my thing and put up with my cranky, stressful moments, yet you guys also encourage me to be silly and fun. Its fantastic! I'm a lucky girl.

Things have been going well, the dissertation has hit a snag with my Discussion section but I have to wait until Peter gets back from Sardinia to really fix it. Right now I have 9,000 words with 3,000 more to go until I'm done. I've got about 6-7 weeks. Very doable. Right now I'm just excited for Jennifer to come on Tuesday! We go to Rome on Thursday which will be divine! I can't wait to show her around. Well I'm off to bed, I must finish my Historical Context section tomorrow before Jennifer's arrival. I hope everyone enjoys the photos!

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Location: Glasgow, UK

After struggling through the torture also known as Ancient Greek, it has finally come to one week left of classes. I am ecstatic!! Everything seems to be falling into place for my last couple months here. End of Greek, Greek final exam, weekly dissertation sections to my supervisor for the next 6 weeks, Dad and Shannon come at the end of May, Ireland trip, Jennifer visits, then finish up dissertation and leave July 31. This is all very good, since I enjoy an orderly regimen. Must be the German in me! Of course there is also the Irish side of going to the pub to procrastinate, but since I'm a Libra, I think its a nice balance, eh? I know I'm weird.

My friend Alyssa came to visit me this weekend and we had a blast. She and I originally met at UPS and she just happens to be getting her Masters in Museum Studies at Newcastle. We both love ancient history, so years ago when we met, we decided to call ourselves "Pliny the Elder" and "Pliny the Younger". Me being the Elder...well, because I am elder. I always make fun of her because Pliny the Elder was the brave one who decided to sail towards Mt. Vesuvius to rescue the people from the eruption, and Pliny the Younger just decided to stay behind and study. hahah. Of course, Elder died and Younger lived to tell the tale. We're nerds. But I digress. We had a good time frolicking around Glasgow and I've posted some pictures.

Not much else is new. Procrastinating with the thesis! Wondering how I'm going to get all my crap home since it has accumulated. Also wondering what sort of job I can get when I return to the States. If anyone has a lead please let me know!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Location: Glasgow, UK

Spring Break is officially over and I'm back in Glasgow. I have NO idea how I am up this late (9:15pm), since I've been up for 28 hours. I'm thinking its all the candy I brought back, which I have subsequently eaten in a fit of depression-induced pigging out. I really reallllllly want to be back home but its time to focus on my dissertation and finish strong!

I suppose you folk will be wanting my pictures of Rome and Seattle, so I've posted them along with the blog. The usual, ya know. Erin and I had a blast in Rome, we walked so much my hip sockets were sore. Not even kidding. We arrived late at night, checked into our little pensione which was located near the Spanish Steps, and headed off to find the Piazza Navona. Just a little side note-the size of our room was HILARIOUS. I felt like I was in a nunnery, and the bed barely fit both of us, so we had cramps from sleeping like sardines! Ya get what ya pay for I guess! Anywho, so we rely on the maps in our Rome books (BIG mistake) and we end up getting lost at midnight down the little back alleys, because the maps don't include these back alleys for SOME reason. By the way, Rome is perfectly safe at night, which adds to its charm. Finally after going around the Pantheon and the Torre Argentina , we reach Piazza Navona only to find it empty and the Statue of the 4 Rivers under renovation. Boo. So we trudged back to the hotel and slept. The Torre Argentina is actually a really neat place, its a cat sanctuary. Hundreds of cats live amongst the ancient ruins, its really neat. I know I said that twice, but seriously. NEAT!

The next day we went to the Trevi Fountain, the Forum, the Domus Augustae, the Baths of Septimius Severus, the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum. I'm going to leave out my description of these, since the pictures tell a better story than my words ever could. The next day we got up really early and took the train to Naples, then Pompeii. We arrived and Erin was soo excited, she'd never been there before. I felt a little indifferent, probably because I'd spent 2 months digging there and it wasn't as amazing. Troubling response though! But we had lots of fun trudging around the city and taking pictures. I took a lot of pictures of the archaeology instead of dead people this time. haha. The next day was perhaps our most frustrating day, transportation-wise. In the morning we went to the Baths of Caracalla, which is just breathtaking. Again I'll let the pictures do the talking. After this we wanted to go to the Appian Way, the ancient road leading out of Rome that also served as a necropolis for the elite. We ended up waiting at a bus stop for over an hour, until some Italian middle-aged man informed us that there was a bus strike on that line. So we moved to another stop and waited for another 30 min, got on a bus that took us to the wrong stop, had to get on ANOTHER bus to take us to ANOTHER transfer point where we waited another 45 min, when finally the bus came. We began walking down the Appian Way, and on the map the tombs don't look very far away at all. Well. Let me tell you. They LIE. We walked at least 45 min and only got about a quarter of an inch on the map! I just looked at Erin and said, "Thats it. I'm done." and she laughed and agreed so we turned around. Bummer! Will have to go there with Jennifer in June. You can rent bikes, which we got there too late to do, but good to know for future reference.

The next morning I got up at 4am to catch my 8am flight to Seattle. Erin and I had a wonderful dinner the night before in Trastevere, and coincidentally, got the exact same table as I had 2 years before when I spent 5 days in Rome after the Pompeii dig! We ended up sharing an entire carafe full of white wine, so we were pretty toasty upon bedtime at midnight. I'm pretty sure I paid for that during the taxi ride to the airport. It was this nice Mercedes taxi with a driver who couldn't speak English, so I couldn't say, "Excuse me sir, I'm going to VOMIT! Can you pull over?!" So I had to exercise my zen and will myself to wait until I got to the airport. I shoved the taxi driver the money, ran inside to the bathroom, and proceeded to do just that. It was pretty terrible. But after that it was smooth sailing! I got to Seattle and saw Mom, Beth and Megan. We went shopping and I got 2 sweaters for $15!! I couldn't buy socks in Scotland for that cheap!

On Thursday I went up to Port Townsend to see Brad, and we had a FANTASTIC time. He surprised me with a stay in a castle! I felt like a queen! We went hiking up to Ft Worden and saw some deer, and just generally hung out and took it easy. It was exactly what I needed to realize why I'm working so hard over here-to come back home and hopefully have some job opportunities and be in the city and near the people I love! And on that note, I'm going to hit the hay. :-)

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Location: Glasgow, UK

Beth came to visit for a week and it was fantastic! We had such a good time. I showed her the university and the Scottish weather also showed her a (not so) good time. She also met my friends and even got to experience one of our parties. I think the highlight of her trip was probably our trip to Amsterdam. We were originally going to rent a car and sight-see around Scotland, but she'd never been to Europe so we decided to jaunt over to the mainland. After looking for HOURS online, the cheapest flights we could find were to Amsterdam. We originally wanted to do Paris, but one can't complain, eh? We left for Amsterdam for 2 days and had a blast. It was such a cute city, lots of little alleyways and people riding their bikes everywhere. The Dutch are nice people, and I always get a kick out of how they pronounce their "th" in English. My dissertation supervisor is Dutch and I have to make myself not laugh when he says "other" because it comes out like "udder". Hee! Anyway, Beth and I went to a Diamond Warehouse to watch them cut diamonds, and of course they tried to sell us some. We got caught up in a tour group full of old, cranky Americans. I tell ya...I have never seen so many rude people in my life. I was honestly embarrassed to be American. This one lady wondered off the tour so we started without her, she came in halfway through saying, "Thanks for WAITING for me!" in the most sarcastic tone I've ever heard, and the tour leader said "I'm very sorry ma'am, but we couldn't find you and we had to begin." and she goes, "Well obviously you didn't look hard enough!" Jesus christ. I looked back at her like she was insane. After that, the tour guide showed us the most beautiful was a blue diamond, 4 carats, worth $125K. So pretty!! Everyone oohed and aahed. After the diamond tour we went on a Canal Tour. It lasted about an hour, and we had quite the feisty driver. He kinda reminded me of Borat. He kept saying, "woowwwwww" after proceeding to tell us that the canals were made up of 1/3 water, 1/3 bicycles and 1/3 cars. Apparently when a bike or car is stolen, they just dump them in the canals. There are about 2500 HouseBoats on the canals which dump their raw sewage into the water, so the canals are pumped out and cleaned 5 times a week. Yummy! After the Canals we hit some museums, and the Torture Museum was most exciting. It was pretty creepy also, I kept getting images of people who died in those contraptions. Its hard to imagine people were treated that way simply because they had different beliefs. I'm so glad I live in the 21st century! After the Torture Museum, we kinda got lost and ended up in the University District, which was really beautiful. After that we went to the Anne Frank House. It was a really amazing place, a wonderful museum, and really sobering to think we were walking around in the exact place where she was hiding. I bought her book, then we went in all the little shops and got some souvenirs and walked through Dam Square. Its a really small city so by the day we had to leave, we felt we had seen everything! 2 days in Amsterdam is perfect, it seems.

When we got back to Glasgow, we immediately went to Ashley and Anthony's bday party. I have to say-my friends here are the nicest people, and so down to earth. I love love love spending time with them! So I was really glad Beth got to meet them and see us all having a good time. We all kinda hung out the next couple days, then I got sick, which really sucked because Beth and I were going to go to Edinburgh. Instead, we went to the movies and watched 300. Pretty good, not historically accurate but thats kinda the point with comic book movies. I was going to go to Iona the next day (the same day Beth flew back home) but I had possibly the worst cold I've ever had. I lost my voice and I thought I had a sinus infection. On the way to dropping Beth off, I walked into the Doctors, and they said it would take a week or more to get an appt. Theres the NHS for ya. So I bought some ultra strong medicine, sent Beth on her way, went home and literally slept for two days.

Tomorrow Erin and I go to Rome! We are soooo excited! I just love that city, love it love it LOVE IT. We plan on walking around the city at night when we get there (the best time to see the piazzas), then going to the Forum and the Vatican on Friday, Pompeii on Saturday, and more sightseeing in Rome on Sunday. On Monday morning, I fly out to Seattle! Yay!! So begins a great trip. I'll of course post a new blog when I return. Ciao bellas and bellos! Dont forget to look at the new pictures!

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Location: Glasgow, UK

Things are winding down since Spring Break is in a week. I can't believe how fast these couple months have flown by! Beth is coming to visit in a week (all dependent on whether her passport arrives in the mail by then!) and we will hopefully get up to the Isle of Skye. After she leaves, me and about 11 other archaeology postgrads are going to Iona, the famous monastary of St. Columba. We will spend a couple days there, hostiling it up, which should prove interesting. We will all find out who snores. The day after I get back from Iona, Erin and I will head off to Rome! I tell ya, we are so ecstatic! I will provide tour guide duties in Pompeii, of course. We are staying in a little pensione near the Spanish Steps, which is really cheap for its location. Thats one of the nicest areas of Rome, so we were lucky to find it. We will spend 3 days there, then I fly to Seattle to visit Mom, Beth, Brad and Meggie for a week. It will be really great to be on the dollar again...the pound is killing my budget! And to drive a car again will be divine.

In other news, I haven't had much luck getting into PhD Programs. 4 out of the 5 I applied to rejected me, and UT has put me on a waitlist. I was pretty bummed out at first, being rejected is no fun. However, maybe its good to take another year to really decide if I want to do this. The more I'm around academia, the more it turns me off. So we will see where I end up, I suppose.

On another note, I have posted some pictures from an 80s party with the arch. group that we had about a month ago. We clearly know how to have a good time, as we seem to always be partying or at the pub. Or maybe its just a Glasgow thing. Erin and I have study dates (by the way, we've taken to calling each other our 'Heterosexual Life Partner') on Saturday nights, and we always walk down to Byres Road for dinner. Byres is THE place to be on weekends-lots of shops, restaurants and pubs/clubs. So we always inevitably run into drunk people. We ran into 3 middle aged men last night who were obnoxiously drunk, slurring, "Canada! You're from Canada!" After we told them we were American, they proceeded to stuff their face with fries and spout off random States where they thought we were from. Just to mess with them a little bit, I made them keep guessing. And I swear, one of them said, "You're from Oklahoma! Mamma Mia! Rent!" oooook. After we pretty much ran away from them, Erin and I had a discussion where if middle-aged men are drunk in America, they usually try to hide it. In Glasgow, its just common. Completely bizarre.

Oh yeah-I finally saw someone famous! Although, the only reason I KNEW he was famous, was that my British friend Nikki told me so. His name is Martin O'Neill, the Captain of the Celtics. The Celtics are a football team (soccer) and they are HUGE in Scotland. He was this mean looking redhead guy, and literally built like a brick. He had his baby with him in a stroller, which had red hair too! Aww. We were in a coffee shop, and everyone just kinda seemed to treat him like a regular guy. If anyone wants to see him, just copy and paste this link:

Well I'm off to the library-just wanted to update everyone and post some new pictures. Hope all is well with everyone back in America!

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Recent Messages

From g pat
Isl of Skye -- of course heard of it and think Lily Langtree grew up there and credited it for her beautiful skin. May have my Ilse mixed up. Have to look up Iona and will tell you my very favorite restaurant in Rome is nearby your pensione and Sp steps --Alfredo's and of course, must have Fettuccine Alfredo .... right down a curvy street is the Ferragamo shop--great part of town to be in very cental. Think Keats lived and died in small building next to the steps. I would go to Rome any time of the year day or night--liked it better than all of Italy ...don't know any soccer players except Beckham and now he is in USA. Your friends are lucky to have you as a guide at Pompeii--we sorta wondered on our own after the initial bone museum..... Large Bay trees around and people were gathering bay leaves to cook with--price is right to bring home for gifts. Gr Ed needs to be supervised at to lawn care right now and if I wait he will lose the mood. Thanks for the memories --both yours and mine GP
From G'Pat
Last night we went to the funeral home for the last living member of Grpa's Mothers family. She was 96yrs. old. Some family came but the weather was reported to turn cold and nasty and besides there aren't many of us still in this area. Grps cousins from Champaign- prof at U of Illinois(maybe place to see about Grad sch) were there and it is their daughter who married a Scot and he is doing grad work at U of Glas in Classics. Name- Theo Mailkin. Beth is teaching at Paisley College also in Glas. Strathclyde ??? but they live in Helen -my notes are sketchy maybe a suburb of Glas.? Perhaps you will be able to look them up . Think they would be second cousins to us and third to you. WE attended their wedding two years ago and it was so special--every detail thought out and executed beautifully. WE did folk dancing in a barn--was delightful and the food was sensational. Beth was a charmer as a child and an extraordinary adult with varied interests. Her major is politics. Of course we were on pins and needles about our Beths test of colored stones. So glad she has that phase completed and will be on to another soon. I hope she will be able to go and see you while in Scotl. Travel does so broaden one--am sure you agree with that. Keep those blogs coming, I love every detail. Stay well --flu weather here and surely there too. End of this novel--GPat
From grama Pat
What a wonderful see you had of Paris and so much in such a short time. I loved it when you said they didn't understand your French. Moi aussi---and I wanted to try it but they would immediately say "Speak English" I have heard that if you attempt the language, they are helpful and despite what most people say of Paris, we were treated very graciously so perhaps true. We had a wonderful adventure trying to find Rodins home and sculpture garden-finally found it but was closed on Mondays. Friends took a tour of the sewers--yes--because of Phantom of Opera popularity. Of no interest to me at all but they said quite so. Our hotel was on the street with the Paris Opera House and we did go in there--walked around and no charge--think I bought a scarf in their gift shop. So much fun to trade stories with you--loved your descriptions and I actually drooled over your order of a ham and cheese sandwich. Great to have a sympatico --Erin to hang out with. Keep the blogs coming. Love GP
Response: Hi Gma Pat,
I knew that you would enjoy my trip in Paris more than anyone else! I love hearing about your travels!
From G'Pat
So far this is my favorite blog. What wonderful memories it has stirred alive for me. You did more in four days than we did in 2 weeks. The Elgin marbles are spectacular and tho the Greeks proclaim they were stolen and should be returned, my opinion is that the English rescued and have kept them safe for all the world. The Rosetta stone looks as if it is enclosed in a glass or polymer --Years ago I could run my fingers across the lines. I am glad they saved the giant Ferris wheel, I would like to take a ride. I am going to read about the Kouros" should have attended a lecture about them at the Art Museum but don't remember. I have spent the morning looking at the pictures and rereading your account of everything. Wish you were here and could docent me through them. It is a shame that the dollar is so low--as with us we never seem to hit a high dollar with big bargains anywhere we go. Won't be long before you are back on USA soil and everyone will be so happy to see you and hear more details. I We have been home bound for 3 days with an ice storm followed by snow. The whole Midwest has been paralysed. I don't get out of pjs but G. Ed is in and out and loving it .... Thanks again for the news. LOve it...G'Pat
Response: Hi Gma Pat...Mom says you are living vicariously through me! I hope you only think of the fabulous times, not the times when I'm walking to school in a downpour with wind so bad it blows your umbrella inside out so you get soaked anyway. We have this thing called "Glasgow Pants". Its where you walk outside 2 steps and your pants get soaked halfway up your calf and don't dry until you put them on the heaters in the dorm!
From Uncle Walter
Laura, many thanks for the updates. I'm really jealous of you! What a great experience you're having. We'll go to Midland for New Years Eve. Be there around the 29th or 30th, so hopefully we'll see you then.

Love, Uncle Walter
Response: Hey Uncle Walter,
I'll be in Seattle for New Years but will be back on the 1st. Hope to see you and Aunt Gloria!
From grama Pat
We were in London for a Guy Fawkes Day but although it was mentioned (probably by the guide), we saw no fires etc. Then too, perhaps the Scotch and the Irish take more pleasure than the Eng. in burning of Parliment. Wow, your eyes, your hair, your skin--BEE-U--ti--ful. Even your pouty lips ----like Angelinas--are you really in grad school or at a spa????Your kindred spirits of the pub culture, look exactly like the pictures of your Mom and Dad with their Geology cohorts in their college days. I am putting the poetry in my "Common Book" Thanks Keep the blogs coming. GP
Response: Oh Grandma Pat you are way too kind...please don't insult Angelina Jolie by comparing me with her! Ack! Yes the Scots take much more pleasure out of Guy Fawkes Day than the English, as far as I can tell. So Dad and Mom went drinking huh? Will have to tease them about their wild college days!
From Aunt Gloria
Hi Laura,
I love your emails and blogs. I especially love your pictures. That way I see you as you are there. Great pics in Stockholm. Glasgow and Archaeology Fieldtrip. I am so glad you are there and having a good time. Needless to say, you are so lucky. Or really, I guess I envy you so much.

Love and kisses. We miss you but keep having a great time and learning a ton. You will always remember this trip.

Aunt Gloria
Response: Hi Aunt Gloria, thank you so much. Please come visit if you can, I miss you guys too, how's Uncle Walter? I hear he was in Midland a couple days ago. Are you coming down for Xmas? I'm coming Dec. 17th, hope to see you!!
From Linda
Hi Laura,
Fun to get your messages and pictures. I love the old buildings and quaintness. Sounds like you are up to your eyeballs with the studies. I remember those days!!! Am catching up since Brazil. Had a fabuluous time being at the pousada and loved my experience at the Casa with John of God. It is an extraordinary experience and I am so glad that I went. Can feel the effects of my healing experience and am very grateful. Keep your nose to the grindstone. It is worth it!!! Blessisngs, Linda
Response: Hi Linda, glad to hear you had a good time in Brazil. Much warmer than Scotland I'm sure! I will keep my nose to the grindstone if I have to nail it there. Glad you enjoy the pictures. :) I miss the little apartment sometimes!
From Robyn
Hey Laura,
I am so glad you are having a great time in Scotland. It sounds like so much fun. I always wanted to go, but I am glad at least a friend of mine got too. lol Keep the pictures coming. I am really enjoying them. Hope you keep having fun. Hope the work load gets lighter. lol Hey, if you can, please send me that video you were talking about. Talk to you later. Bye.
From Aunt Patti
WOW !!! What a FABULOUS time you must be having !!! Your friends are adorable. I know you must be so excited about being able to visit such wonderful places. You look gorgous (even w/out makeup) - all that walking is really looking good on you. I have to tell you that I've joined the 21st century for the 1st time, along w/ grandma Pat --- I had never "blogged" before now! I'm so excited !!! AND, I even have a laptop, too! Better go - Keep having a fabulous time and Oh! --- Study !!! Love you lots, Aunt Patti
Response: Hi Aunt Patti! Having fabulous time-although currently I only see the confines of my dorm room and the grad student room! Will change next semester when I have more time to travel, and you will get to see more pictures then! Love you, see you at xmas!
From Bobo
Love your pictures. you look great. I am enjoying Europe vicariously . I wish I could be there. Everything is gorgeous. Take care. Have fun. We love you lots.
Response: Hey Bobo! I wish you could be here too! The invitation is always open if you and Jones want to come visit. :)
From grama pat
LOved the pictures and oh my, do you look like a Scottish Lass. Your friends look and sound as if they are much fun. I too, thought Stockholm a beautiful city--so much water and boats everywhere. Didn't get a chance when we were there to mix with the people nor did we see the things you have. The Vasa is a big deal and we too, spent alot of time there.
I am read ing "The Outlanders" fictional history of SCotland--it is an old book from the 80's I suspect. I am liking it so so. This is the first time I have BLOGGED--see what you have done? Pushed me into the 21st century. I am lost. Keep the mail coming , anyway is most welcome LOve, GP
Response: Hi Grandma Pat,
Thanks for the message! I'm glad you like my pictures, and yes I think most Glasgowegians think I'm Scottish. That is until I open my mouth! The Vasa was amazing wasn't it? It made me want to study Scandinavian Archaeology. Glad I have introduced you into the crazy world of blogs..but I think we have to blog twice a day or at least once a day to be considered into the blogger culture. Weird! Anyway, will post more soon