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Student Stories from Around the World

Category: Stirling

Deep Scottish Love and Cultural Encounters

Author: Jennifer Kvasnicka

Program: CISabroad Summer in Scotland

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My last full weekend in Scotland was an absolute success. I toured the Highlands of Scotland for three days. We stopped in Inverness, Glencoe, and stayed overnight in the Isle of Skye. The thing is you can see google images, but nothing compares to the real thing. No quality camera in the world could capture the absolutely stunning beauty of the Highlands.

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Our driver, Chris, told us about #DeepScottishLove. It’s a feeling you get in the Highlands of complete awe and love of Scotland. It’s loving every hill and valley of skyline. I definitely fell into this category. The days we were in the Highlands and Isle of Skye were cloudy, but it amplified everything. The fog was so thick and low to the ground that you could almost touch it.

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One of the highlights of my weekend was climbing Old Man of Storr. It’s about 8 kilometers, or 5 miles. It took almost 3 hours to complete. The terrain was so rocky that I was honestly scared of falling at times. I’ve found it so interesting that when looking at a mountain, I think, “Oh yeah! I could hike that EASILY!” Then, the closer and closer I get to it, the taller and wider it seems to get. I still made it though. Getting to the top of this one was the most difficult, but worth every minute. You could see for miles, including the lake!

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My absolute favorite moment of this trip was when I was able to experience so many different cultures and people in one sitting. While waiting for the tour to start, I was stopped by a Chinese girl named Tao. It was my first extended experience with someone from China. She studies in Lancaster and works in Singapore at times. It was interesting to compare and contrast our stories and cultures. She’s now a good friend. My other experience was later that night.  We ate in the hotel kitchen. I was the only American sitting with one girl from China, three women from Japan, a German couple, a man from Spain, a woman from Thailand, and a man from Austria.  How many people can say they experienced this? Especially in Scotland!

We went around the table talking about our native language and how to say different things. I had it the easiest because everyone could already speak English. I was able to keep up with the Spaniard though! We all had another cultural experience with haggis. I did it.  I tried it, and I loved every bite. More specifically, it was chicken stuffed with haggis. It was a double culture shock in one! On this trip, I not only saw the sights, but I got to meet some pretty incredible people with some awesome stories.

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With my time in Scotland coming to an end, I can’t help but reflect on every moment and realize they have all been good. I haven’t had one single bad moment. This week wraps up with a Ceilidh, a party with traditional Highland dancing, as well as seeing one more site. I can definitely say I have #DeepScottishLove, and I hope one day I can come back and share this incredible place with my family and friends. Farewell, Scotland, and thanks for treating me so well. Cheers!

-Jen

To New Experiences

Author: Jennifer Kvasnicka

Program: CISabroad Summer in Scotland

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In the last few weeks, I have done and experiences so many new things. I’ve climbed mountains, had proper tea, and even got a tattoo (sorry Mom, I’ll explain). The joy that this trip has brought me is unexplainable. I have learned and grown from every experience.

I’ll start with my new tattoo. I won’t post a pictures because it is still healing. This experience in Scotland has pushed me to to try new things and to be out of my comfort zone. Without my faith in this trip ever coming about, I think the plans would have just fell flat. Again, thanks to my family, and God, for giving me the courage to come here and explore these new experiences. The tattoo I got is “by grace, though faith.” I got it on my foot, not only for professional reasons, but also to symbolize that I’ve walked by faith through this whole journey. Through faith, that God pushed me to pursue this dream, not only to explore new things, but to learn more about my own family history and roots.

Climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh definitely was not as hard as the Dumyat Hill climb at the beginning of my time here. It was quite an incline, but we made it. Silly us, we decided to walk it at 9:30 at night. Here, it stays light a lot later. We got to the top and had the most gorgeous view. You could see from the coast all the way to the castle. It was incredible. The entire city was lit up. There was also a concert at the caste that you could hear almost perfectly. I sat up there for awhile just soaking in the history of Arthur’s Seat, and the fact that a girl from the flattest part of the US is on a volcano!

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Later in the week, I decided I NEEDED to have proper tea in Scotland. A few of my new travel friends joined me. We went to Bluebell Tearoom, which is a quaint little shop that serves all different teas and sandwiches. I’m glad I didn’t have breakfast before because there was SO much food. we received a three-tiered platter with sandwiches, scones (and jam, of course), and small pastries. I was so full, but every bite was worth it. It was a nice get-away from paper writing and climbing mountains. I can’t say that I have an absolute favorite experience. That would be impossible. But the fact that I have experienced so many different and unique things adds up to one pretty amazing experience if you ask me.

Tea for two

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Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Author: Jennifer Kvasnicka

Program: CISabroad Summer in Scotland

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I don’t think I could ever find the perfect words to say thank you. In the two weeks I have spent abroad, I’ve learned more about myself than in 20 years of living. I’ll try and do my best. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your encouragement, love, and financial support through this terrifying adventure. Thank you for giving the tools to navigate a new country and teaching me “street smarts.” Without the support I received from my family and friends, I wouldn’t have had enough faith in this whole process.

This is the first time in my life that I feel like I have been in complete control of where I go and what I do. Each day I spend here, I’m reminded that not everyone is allotted such an experience, and for that, I am completely and forever grateful. My dad told me to really treasure this opportunity because “people like us” don’t always get this chance. That’s really stuck with me. I’m trying to do everything I can in such a short amount of time!

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Realizing I had family that once walked these streets is amazing. Though I haven’t found a grave yet, I am determined! My experiences here, from fudge donuts to finding seashells in the North Sea have shaped me in so many ways. I just wanted to take this post to step back from all the adventures and be thankful to everyone who has contributed to this journey. Cheers to more adventures!

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-Jen

My First Taste of Travel

Author: Jennifer Kvasnicka

Program: CISabroad Summer in Scotland

I’m here! I was so worried about flying, security, customs, and all those sorts of things because I’ve never been out of America before, let alone flown by myself. I’ve also been managing my diabetes pretty tightly, but adjusting has been fine! The one thing I’ve told myself this trip is to be as open as possible and to try everything that I can.  This week, I hope I can give you a taste of what my week has been like!

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I got to campus, which is right on the edge of both Stirling and Bridge of Allan, and immediately was welcomed by the International Summer School Team. A few other girls I arrived with decided to roam campus and get a feel for where everything was.  After getting lost around the loch (lake) a few times, we found our way back to the accommodations where we met up for our welcoming reception. We heard the Scottish history of Stirling University, including the stories of Wallace and his battles of Stirling bridge. Even better, a piper came and performed for us in his traditional kilt! After this, I felt like diving right into everything that Scotland has to offer.

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Later that night, we went out to the city center of Stirling and explored. It was nice having no particular agenda or list of things to do. We went to Wetherspoons (The Crossed Peels) where I actually had HAGGIS, the national dish of Scotland! I also tried a hard cider that they had available for the cider festival. It was so different from America because Scots don’t have the same sense of space. They will stand as close as they want, and most anyone will start a conversation!

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After awhile, we decided to explore the nooks and crannies of Stirling, We headed up the hill to the Church of Holy Rude Cemetery and Stirling Castle. We saw some amazing sites from the hills. We kept walking to find Gowan Heritage Hill. It was very secluded, but well worth the walk up. On top was the beheading stone used for execution. And mind you, this was only the first day.

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The next few days consisted of orientation, campus tours, and getting some groceries from the local store. It was all a whirlwind experience because every day seems to go by so fast. Classes started Monday, which included my Witchcraft and Belief in Early Modern Scotland and British Pop Culture (Monsters and Vampires) on Tuesday. It was different from the US because classes are split between two sessions throughout the day. The courses are only about 12 students, but this gives us a change to get to know our professor better even though it is only a four week session.

Besides classes, we took an excursion to Edinburgh. My friends and I visited Camera Obscura, National Museum of Scotland, Palace of the Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle, and so many other things! Edinburgh is much more fast-paced than what I’m used to in Chicago. It’s a hub of activity, and I loved every minute. I hope to explore the smaller towns around the uni (university) and get  more connected to the culture next week. As we say in Scotland, Slàinte!!  (Cheers!)

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-Jen

New Featured Summer Blogger – Jen Kvasnicka

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My name is Jen Kvasnicka, and I am a junior Healthcare Leadership major. This summer, I am spending a month at the University of Stirling in Scotland! I am most excited to meet people from all over the world and try new foods!

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