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February 14th 2007
Published: February 14th 2007
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Haggis, neeps, and tatties!Haggis, neeps, and tatties!Haggis, neeps, and tatties!

Mmm I love meat that is made from random parts of sheep!!
I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by since I've been here -- I've been in Edinburgh for a month already, and in many ways it seems as I've arrived only yesterday. At the same time, on some level I feel like I've been here for ages, like I really belong, like I've known the friends I've made here for longer than just a few weeks, etc. I've been incredibly busy! I'm trying to do as much as I can, have a wide variety of experiences, take everything in -- the academic semester here is only ten weeks long, which means I'm already halfway through my classes!

My three-week spring break is fast approaching, and I'm trying to figure out where I want to go and when -- I have such a strong desire to travel, so many places I want to go, and what seems like so little time! I am most likely renting a car with some friends and touring around this Highlands of Scotland this coming up weekend, which should be great fun -- I, of course, will let other people figure out how to drive on the left, cross my fingers, and hope for
Australia dayAustralia dayAustralia day

those Aussies know how to party!
the best! My flatmate and I would like to go to Paris at the end of February if we can, and I want to visit friends in Ireland, Germany, Sarajevo -- I'd like to see Norway, Italy, perhaps Spain -- so many choices! Europe is so accessible to me here, I love it!

Anyway -- to get back on track -- for your entertainment, my self-indulgence, and all of posterity, a quick recap of the couple of weeks since my last journal entry:

Last Thursday (January 25th) was Burns Night, a huge holiday in Scotland celebrating the life and works of their prized poet Robert Burns (he's the dude who wrote "my luve is like a red, red, rose" and "auld lang syne," that song people (usually mis-)sing on New Year's in the States.) Burns Night Suppers are traditional, where people eat haggis, neeps, and tatties, read Burns' poetry, make toasts, have a "presentation of the haggis" and the like. I wasn't able to go to one of those, but I did go to a pub with my flatmates, where I was the only one brave enough to actually order haggis, neeps, and tatties. Tatties are mashed
St. Andrew'sSt. Andrew'sSt. Andrew's

on the interminable bus ride to St. Andrew's
potatoes, neeps are turnips, and haggis, a traditional Scottish dish made from the leftover bits of the sheep (in the words of Wikipedia, haggis is made from: sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately an hour.) Sounds yummy, no? Actually, it was very rich but quite good, and didn't come out as a gross-looking sausage but rather more of a mince-meat.

We followed up our pub dinner by going to a Burns Night Ceilidh! I've absolutely fallen in love with ceilidhs, and with doing traditional Scottish dances for hours on end to a live band, spinning around with strangers and crashing into people! The Burns Night ceilidh was quite crowded, they'd filled the hall a bit beyond capacity, so it was quite an experience to try to do these dances in a jam-packed room. Great fun, though!

Friday I went to yet another philosophy lecture (I've been going to more extracurricular philosophy lectures than I have been actually reading for my philosophy courses! but hey, it's all about expanding your mind, right?) It was pretty good -- about the
Cathedral ruinsCathedral ruinsCathedral ruins

ruins always feel almost magical to me -- the mystery of times gone by!
concept of "ought" . . . non-philosophers are generally amazed at how painstaking and analytical philosophers can be -- two hours about one word, and that was just one chapter of this guy's book! After the lecture I went out for Sudanese food (there aren't many Sudanese in Edinburgh, and our waiter was Chilean, but kebab is kebab and it was very good.) Friday was also another national holiday I hadn't heard of, Australia Day! My flatmates and I went out to Walkabout (an Australian bar, obviously!) with our Australian friend, and partied it up with a bunch of Aussies and Aussies-for-the-day. Good times!

Saturday I took a day trip to St. Andrews with some Australian, Italian, and French friends of mine. St. Andrews is a city along the coast with the ruins of a castle and a cathedral, and the center of the Golf universe, apparently, with the most famous golf course/golf club in the world. The bus ride there was supposed to be two hours long, but it took us three and a half hours! The bus broke down, and we had to switch buses . . . then switch buses again for some reason . .
the sea!the sea!the sea!

simply lovely!
. then the driver had to switch, cause she had exceeded her alloted hours . . . then we had to transfer buses, and we grabbed some quick lunch at the town where we stopped and missed the transfer . . .

But we eventually made it there, and the city is lovely, and the ruins were nice. It's such a cool feeling to be among ruins of this huge old cathedral -- there's an indescribable feeling in the air, of history, mystery, connectedness to the past and other people. It's really cool! And the seaside is beautiful, even in the winter. There's a University at St. Andrew's, but the town is quite small -- I am really enjoying living in a big, bustling city! Not being a golfer, I looked out at the green and said "oh, okay, grass, lovely!" -- we walked and walked, and I slept through the (thankfully only two hour) bus ride home.

The ISC (Internationl Student Center) was running a traditional Burns Night supper that night, but we got back too late, so I skipped out on more haggis and made pasta with my friends Pierre and Fiona -- we then went
LandscapeLandscapeLandscape

More from St. Andrew's
over to our friend Marion's flat for a little party with some red wine. (Hint: French people are very hard to keep up with when it comes to drinking red wine! Lesson learned!)

Sunday evening I saw the movie Volver with Penelope Cruz -- the film society shows several movies every week (and unlike the movies at TCNJ, they charge at least 2 pounds per movie!) It was an excellent film, and I highly recommend it! Monday I actually attended classes and did some reading (surprise surprise!!), then talked for several hours about matters of life and death with the philosophy society. In the course of four hours, we solved every problem humans can possibly face, from birth to death. It had something to do with essayists . . . chocolate pizzas . . . or pretty, exotic, bikini wearing chickens that play the flute? Philosophers are an odd bunch sometimes, but we are terribly fun :-P

Tuesday evening was an absolute blast! We celebrated our friend Pierre's birthday, and had a party with crepes at the Italian boys' flat Tuesday to celebrate. At it's biggest, we had 26 people from 10 different countries! (Italy, France, Spain, Czech
St. Andrew's againSt. Andrew's againSt. Andrew's again

. . . this was before we pole-danced?
Republic, Holland, Australia, Canada, the US, Mexico, and China, if I'm not forgetting any.) The crepes were delicious, and we had such fun -- it's so great to be in an atmosphere where everyone is talking in lots of different languages, just having a good time! Plus we bought our friend a kilt and pair of novelty boxers with plastic butt cheeks . . . if that's not a good birthday present, I don't know what is! We finished up our night at Bannerman's, of course -- THE place for international students to be on Tuesday nights.

Wednesday night we went to another ceilidh! I just can't get enough, I'm hooked on them. The day before my flatmates and I had gone to a Scottish dancing class, so I've memorized how to Strip the Willow and do the Dashing White Sergeant! We also did the Virginia Reel and a dance called the Boston Tea Party -- American dances, I'm sure! There was a part during one dance where you do a move called basket, I believe, where 2 guys and 2 girls stand in a circle, boy-girl order. The girls put their arms over the guys' shoulders, and the
the sky!the sky!the sky!

pollution makes for lovely colors! :)
guys put their arms around the girls' waists, then spin in a circle really fast for 16 beats, so that the girls' legs fly out behind them and they're off the ground! It's wild -- dizzying and a bit bruising, if the gentlemen you are partnered with don't know the correct way to do it, but a lot of fun.

Thursday I went to a PhilSoc lecture with zombies in the title -- fabulous! Well, it was more about consciousness and perception, but the lecturer was good, and he said "zombie" a bunch of times. Afterwards, I went to diagnostics again, and brought my flatmate Lauren and our friend Hilary along with. The topic of debate was "a well-balanced Scot has a chip on each shoulder," and it was great fun!!

Thursday evening was slightly peculiar . . . Oddfellows, a local bar, was having an opening night promotion with the theme "anything slightly peculiar," and a 100 pound prize for best-dressed boy and girl. My flatmates and I take peculiar seriously! We were dressed very bizarrely (funky-bingo-esque, for you ACTers), see the photos! I found my delightful outfit for three pounds (including skirt, shirt, AND boots) at
Slightly peculiarSlightly peculiarSlightly peculiar

hooray, the themed party fits the way I normally dress!
a local second-hand shop. Alas, the girl who won was some silly little thing dressed as Raggedy -Ann . . . most disappointing. But we did get free drinks all night!

On Friday, Matt from TCNJ came to visit Edinburgh! As well-adjusted and "at home" as I already feel here, It was great to see a familiar face. He's studying in Newcastle with a bunch of other TCNJers, so Matt and six TCNJ girls came to Edinburgh for a weekend. I met them at the train station, and we went to City Restaurant, a place right across from me that has traditional Scottish . . . fried junk! I just got eggs and sausage -- Matt had a fried pizza, which was pretty good -- tasted pretty much like a normal pizza, except unhealthier. And we all had fried Mars Bars for dessert! I don't know who decided that dipping caramel candy bars in crepe-like batter, deep-frying them, and drizzling more caramel over the top would be a good idea . . . but he or she is a genius! They were surprisingly good, actually, especially cause you could pretty much feel your arteries closing in on themselves as
wacky ladies!wacky ladies!wacky ladies!

would you believe we didn't win the best dressed contest?
you ate.

We went out to Three Sisters afterwards, then to a pub called Biddy Mulligans where they have live music every night, and to a quieter place called the Black . . . something, I don't quite remember. We were just sitting around a table, and some drunken Scottish dude came over and started talking to us, then threw ten pounds on the table, said "buy yourselves some drinks, girls!" and left! Hooray -- free money from drunk locals!

. . . I've much more to update -- including a road trip around the Scottish highlands! But this post has gotten long enough, so I'll post what I have and write more soon!

Cheers!

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14th February 2007

Glad you're having fun!
Hey Alida! I'm glad you're having such a good time over there! lol that bus looks familiar! And getting free stuff is always fun! The only time we got free stuff was when our taxi driver didn't charge us for taking us home! Anyways, keep us posted! We miss you!!!
15th February 2007

You've been had!
Awww, Alida dresses peculiar all the time. How could she not have won?

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