Part 4: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It is hard to believe another month has passed. I still can’t get over how fast the days and weeks fly by here. Since I last blogged,  I went on a road trip with my friends through the Scottish Highlands. We rented a car, and it was really nice to explore more of the countryside at our own pace.

Stirling Castle

We first went to Stirling, and toured Stirling castle, and then drove to Glencoe, and then to Bonawe, where we stayed in a really quaint Airbnb that overlooked a beautiful loch. The next day, we went to Blair Athol, Glamis Castle, and finished the day in Anstruther for dinner.

Glamis Castle – Another day another castle
View from our Airbnb
Water Fall in Blair Athol
Blair Athol

The next weekend, I traveled outside of Scotland for the first time since being here. My friends and I went to Copenhagen, which is such a beautiful nautical city with lots of colorful houses and canals. I was immediately struck by the huge bike culture there, and how much larger the city is compared to Edinburgh. While it was fun to bike everywhere, the experience definitely made me appreciate Edinburgh for its manageable and walkable size. I think I had slightly taken that for granted until now, but getting to travel everywhere on foot is definitely a luxury.

Nyhavn, Kobenhavn

My weekend in Copenhagen was so amazing, and it was unlike any city I’ve ever been. It was so clean, and colorful with symmetrical and simple buildings, unlike the gothic architecture of Edinburgh. We saw Nyhavn, the famous strip of colorful houses, rented a boat to see the city from the canals, and we also went on a walking tour through the main streets and to the commune town, Christiania.

Tivoli Kobenhavn

The next day, we had brunch at this popular Danish place, biked around some more, and saw the Little Mermaid statue in the afternoon. At night we went to the famous carnival Tivoli, which was beautifully decorated for Halloween. We drank some mulled wine, candied almonds, and went on a couple of rides. I went on my first large roller coaster, which was quite the feat, but so much fun. I was definitely sad when it came time to leave Copenhagen, but also excited to get back to Edinburgh.

Dean’s Village

The next weekend was spent in Edinburgh, where I walked around Dean’s Village, and found a really nice French restaurant with my friends near George Street. On Sunday, I reunited with my parents and brother, who had arrived to see me, and visit the UK for the first time. I spent all of Sunday and Monday introducing them to this city I now call home, and then on Tuesday, we took a day trip to Loch Lomond and Stirling.

Showing my family Edinburgh
Seeing a hairy coo for the first time.
London Weekend with my family

The highlight was definitely getting to feed some Hairy Coos on the side of the road. I can now check that off my bucket list! On Wednesday, I went to London with my family. I did not really know what to expect, but I was so pleasantly surprised. London is huge and overwhelming, but such an extraordinary city with beautiful buildings, and such a rich history that is evident in the regal architecture. The main highlights we got to see were Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.

Tower bridge before sunset.

The next weekend was also spent in Edinburgh, where I briefly saw some of Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets. Even though it is only November, the festive decorations mixed with the bitter cold temperatures definitely put me in the holiday spirit. I’ve never experienced a Christmas market before, so I was so amazed by all the stands of mulled wine, German burgers and sausages, chocolate, candy, scarves, decorative lights, and rides.

Edinburgh Christmas Markets
Christmas Markets
Edinburgh Christmas Markets

Even though it was hard missing Thanksgiving, I am so absorbed in life here that the absence was not as difficult as I expected. If you’re considering going abroad, but hesitant to miss out on holidays, and events happening back at home, you will be pleasantly surprised. Since everything around you is so amazing while abroad, you will quickly realize how much you would have missed out on if you didn’t take this opportunity. Rather than focusing on what you are missing from back home, you will become so involved in seeing and doing everything in the present moment.

Edinburgh Grassmarket

When I considered going abroad, even just one semester felt like such a long time to be away, but I still can’t get over how fast the weeks fly here. Rather than too much time, you’ll find your semester or year won’t be long enough. This is why I try to enjoy every single day, because your time abroad is definitely one to cherish.