Friday, February 12, 2010

Catchup Blog

Okay so it has been wayyy too long since I have posted something about my actual experiences in Aberdeen. The last 2 weeks have gone by so fast, but I still feel like I have been here for so much longer than that! Everything has been great so far, I'm gonna give you the highlights of my time here so far! Sorry, this is going to be really long.
Classes: I am only taking 2 classes here, a microbiology class and a biochemistry class. They are both worth 30 "credit points" here, and 60 is a full course load (even though as of right now it is only counting as 7 hours total at Clemson, which I am hoping to change). The lectures are an hour each, so I'll only have two hours of lecture a day at most, which is great. But, the labs are crazy long. My shortest one so far has been 2 hours, and the longest is 7. That seems normal here though. I've already noticed a huge difference in the school system. First of all, college in Scotland is free for Scottish residents. Sweet, right? The government will pay for your first degree and one year of a graduate or other degree. I'm sure this creates a lot of competition for acceptance to schools here, but I think it's overall a great thing.
Also, once students here choose their major, all of their classes are pretty much chosen for them for the next 4 years. I was talking to some people in my microbiology class and they were really excited about getting to choose between an immunology class and a genetics class this semester. They do learn a lot and retain it, but I know I would yearn for the diversity of education that we get at home. If I think I might be interested in another area of study, I just take an introductory class in that subject. I worry that students here might not get the chance to change their minds or try new things that they might love. Every semester they take 2-4 classes, all in the same subject area, and those classes are threaded together so it is pretty much impossible to fit a different course in your schedule (this created issues for me when I was figuring out my schedule).
Culture: so far most of our cultural experiences here have been from the nightlife. Aberdeen gets pretty crazy at night. We went to this club called The Priory last weekend that one of the clubs here that is free to get into. It's an old church converted into a club (there's a lot of that here). It was very loud, with lots of lights and music and people. Not really my thing, but it was a fun experience. We've been to some cool pubs around town so far too.
The best cultural thing we've done so far was go to a Ceilidh last week (it's pronounced kay-lee). It's a traditional Scottish dance/social event. The university's Whiskey Society (yes it's real) had whiskey to try, there was a great celidh band, and traditional Scottish food. I do a similar dance called Contra dancing a lot at home, so I understood the dances a lot better than most of the others there (here's a video of Contra dancing at River Falls Lodge near clemson. It was a lot of international students, but also a lot of people from the Student Association here, too. I definitely plan on going to more. Here's a video of the Ceilidh that I took- it's not a great dance, but I was dancing during the exciting ones. Try to watch the inside of the circle-that's where the better dancers would go because there was more room. There's one guy with a kilt on in there that was really good! Here's another video, because I'm on a roll, of a more legit Ceilidh that I found on YouTube.
Castle: this past Sunday we went to see Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland. It was a 45 minute bus ride, and about a 2 mile walk. It was gorgeous and cheap (4.80 pounds for roundtrip bus fare, and it was going to be 5 pounds to get into the caslte). The scenery was breathtaking, there were a bunch of awesome dogs that we saw along the way-I think I'm becoming obsessed with all of the dogs here, they're great- and we had a great time overall. Here are some photos!
The North Sea in Stonehaven-this is where our hike started.
This is our little group of American students. From the left is: Katie from Wisconsin, Connie and Colleen from Illinois, Liz from Washington, Heather from Clemson, Suzanne from Illinois, and me!
A view of the castle and the sea during our hike
It was really sad, but they had just locked the doors 15 minutes before we got there, when we still thought we had 2 more hours until they closed. We did learn the lesson to not go anywhere in Scotland on a Sunday, because it will most likely be closed!
A view of the castle while we explored around it, but sadly not inside of it.
This is a WWI/WWII memorial that we went to on the walk back.
That's about it for now that I can think of. Again I apologize for the length, but I just had to knock this out in one big chunk. I'll be sure to start posting more frequently with shorter blogs, to avoid this in the future, haha! I'm also not sure what happened to the color of this post too, something funky no doubt.

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