Monday, June 15, 2009


Welcomed home by beautiful weather and comforting faces, I am back in PA.

My first night back was not exactly as exciting as I anticipated, but that is probably my fault because I fell asleep at 8 p.m. only to realize at 1 a.m. I was wide-awake and fully dressed.

Time in New Freedom, PA has come and gone but the routine has not changed too much.

Life started up the same way I left it.  I still need to pay my speeding ticket. My room appears in the usual order and my house operates the same way. I am still obligated to write for a new job at Fly Magazine—my first articles are due June 26. I still have to make a million appointments and catch up on bank documents.

Most of my friends are busy trying to make money and my best friend is in New York. My boyfriend Curtis is still leaving for basic training. He will be in Georgia for six months. The only change is that now the date is sooner than we expected.

While trying to get my body back on East Coast time, normalcy is setting back in. No longer am I on holiday in a foreign country. I have a lot of responsibilities to take care of. Between spending time with Curtis, I have been trying to get back to my usual schedule.

After so many new adventures abroad, my first doctor’s appointment back in the states seemed a little strange.

Sitting behind the desk was the same secretary that I had made the appointment with a few days before I left for London. Her hair was done the same way and she wore the same blue scrubs she had four weeks ago. While she handed me the paperwork and briefed me in the documents that I had forgot to bring, I could not help but to think of how different our lives were.

She sat at the same desk everyday giving and taking documents. She laughed occasionally at a patient’s joke or a doctor’s comment. She saw the same co-workers everyday and knew them well. She lives routinely, in a climate of basically no change or difference.

Perhaps in her youth she traveled and saw sights like I did. Views like the mountains of Scotland may have captured her spirit and the bustle of places like the London tube may have made her feel worldly and important. Maybe she went to a European club and met people from France, Spain, Japan and the Middle East. She probably had experiences that she will never forget.

But, today, she sits in a worn chair and fusses with me about forgotten paperwork.

I apologize and tell her I am a little tired because I have just returned from London. She does not really care. She does not ask me about my travels. Instead, she returns to her frustrated state and displays an expression that makes me think the paperwork is a life or death form of documentation.

I looked at her and thought that in a lot of ways I can be like this secretary. Often I am wrapped up in my work and my business seems like the only business in need of concern. My first year at college proved this to be true.

My world consists of a small dorm room on a college campus that is an isolated community in itself. All that seems important is working hard to keep up my grades and get to know my professors. Media projects and a J Research paper smothered my thoughts and kept me focused on only the tasks at hand.

Most likely I will keep this mentality throughout my college education, because as students, this is what we are taught to do. Mentors preach to us about how the path to success is keeping focused and dedicated to our work.

However, taking this Travel Writing course abroad has shown me a different and crucial element of education—a respect for outside experience.

While I usually am the type of person who takes control of her life and her business, this course invited me to let my environment make most of the calls. Soon, I became less concerned about the blog post I would need to write in a few hours and more excited about what the next travel destination would bring.

London is a thriving city that charmed me with accents and various elements of European culture. It was an experience using pounds and pence to pay for items instead of dollars and cents. Learning how to substitute words like toilet for restroom, cheers for thanks, pissed for drunk and prawn for shrimp added to the fun of the trip.

Scotland is a beautiful place with lochs and bens that I could not take my eyes off of. The place and the people are charming. Eating lunch on the top of a mountain is something magical. It is a land that enveloped me with appeal and beauty.

This experience not only showed me a side of the world I had never seen, but it also opened my eyes to how magnificent a different culture can be. Allowing myself to fall into the arms of these places caused me to understand a new way of life. I was learning without using Google, textbooks or lectures.

Instead of placing the focus on taking notes and writing papers, I found that keeping my eyes open and my body moving produced the best work at the end of the day.

While the everyday grind and routine I know so well is no less essential to life, it is important to know that experiences and travels grant the most unique type of education and fulfillment.

Today, I am going to the beach with Curtis. It is nothing out of the ordinary, just a trip to a local beach. We will probably lay in the sand, swim under the waves and maybe take a run. This is the way summer usually goes.

Today, my doctor’s secretary sits in her chair scolding another patient for forgetting their paperwork.

Today, Mando Steve is stepping on the Tube to start work playing his mandolin.

Today, the Haggis tour guide Debs is showing off how beautiful the mountains of Scotland look with an accompanying joke of the day.

Today, is the start of a new week and a new routine.

Today, the world lies open and vulnerable to a new group of students who will break away from their small world and discover the lessons found in a foreign land.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Journals from Scotland

June 1, 2009

This morning we headed out on our tour bus through Scotland. It is unusually hot, probably around 80 degrees. Our tour guide Debs assures us that the weather is extremely rare. 

Our first journey took us from Edinburgh to Ft. Augustus. We stayed at the Morags Hostel near Loch Ness.

Before settling in for the night, we saw a traditional Scottish demonstration of how to wear a kilt as well as learned some Scottish history about how traditional highland men and women used to live.

Next I scouted for the Loch Ness monster...


Ok, so I didn't see the Loch Ness monster, but the loch is absolutely breathtaking in itself.

June 3

Today is my third day in the highlands of Scotland. So far, this country is exceeding all of my expectations. I think that just about everyone in our group has said at least once that they are ready to pack up and move here for a while. 
Yesterday, we stayed in a hostel at Ullapool. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever stayed. The bens (mountains) stood tall everywhere, the loch was still right outside of our flat window--the view is beautiful.
However, the hostage experience was a little unusual--actually pretty strict. We had an 11:30 p.m. curfew and a stern manager.
The locals assured us that such an institution was unusual and the people here are actually very hospitable and entertaining. 
At dinner, I met another Scottish tour guide who had a humorous personality and sweet Scottish cheer. be continued.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saucy Scotland

She was a Viking princess who embodied the wild spirit of Scotland. While her home resided in the purest beauty of Scotland, she indulged in scandalous acts. Most people knew her as Saucy Mary.

            She lived on the Isle of Skye and used her wit and charm to make money from local sailors. Blockading a water passage between the Isle and the mainland, she charged boats a fee to cross through.

            When sailors caught on to her scam, they began sailing a longer route to avoid her fees. However, Saucy Mary did not want her business to die. She decided to throw in a bonus.

            Saucy Mary realized that bare Scottish passion could entice sailors more than a solely shorter passageway. So, if a sailor came to pay the fee Saucy Mary would wish them well by flashing a little skin.

            Stories surrounding Saucy Mary are legend, like most stories are that are told on the Isle of Skye. However, there is some truth to this tale—Scotland is truly a place to lose your inhibitions.

            Today, Saucy Mary’s body is buried on top of a large mountain on the Isle. It is rumored that her saucy spirit still dwells on the island.

While I am not sure if Saucy Mary was the force behind my feelings on the Isle, I felt something truly liberating while being in the place where the wild Viking lived.

Pure highland air intoxicated my being and all sense of reality was lost. Sitting on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, I felt the magic of this place in a deep way. I looked at the unbelievable scenery, the water, the mountains, the people and the system of life. It seemed peaceful yet so alive, more vibrant than I expected. This fantasy world held me in its arms and provided a place apart from the normalcy and ordinary routine of home.

Loch Alsh sits still and untouched, an alluring site in the company of large mountains. A piece of wood floating near the shore creates a hint of movement. Ripples in the water radiated a mysterious quality and reminded me of Loch Ness I saw a few days earlier. Here I was not looking for a monster to rise from the loch but something did appear to be living within these waters—a mystery and a call for the spontaneous.

A wild romance whispers through vast land but can be heard most clearly through voices of the people. Scottish cheers in the pub, couples laughing in the streets and conversations lasting long into the night.

I stayed at a hostel named after Saucy Mary and spent most of my night in the adjoining pub.

Sitting among my tour group and Scottish locals, I participated in the chatter and fun. I watch as people unleash a holiday attitude and let the atmosphere wash over them.

Live music entices a couple at the bar to bring the floor alive with dancing. More people join in as the night goes on and the music swells among conversation. Soon talking and singing goes hand in hand and the night sounds like a joyous melody.

Bodies twirl in ecstasy. Lips drink liberally. A game of Never Have I Ever breaks out at my table.

Ladies who never have more than two drinks were taking shots and smiled a little looser than usual. Scottish men swoon American women and enjoyed each others company. Fears and troubles did not exist here. The structure of life seemed like a mere figment of imagination. Feelings of love and happiness floated here.

This was not a sloppy night at the bar or a hippy festival gone wild. This atmosphere indeed embodied a carefree disposition and a liberal attitude, but somehow the night remained charming and classy.

Somehow the desolate beauty protected the wild actions of everyone there. Deep Scottish Love was a strong enough power to captivate and nurture a few scandalous actions. Scandal was not scandal here, instead it was the way of the land—the magic spell cast on all who came. It is impossible to resist.

            The music died out, but the party attitude lasted through the night. People split their separate ways to socialize with new friends or kiss the lips of a charming face. The night was wild, but fun. No one went to bed without a smile—no regrets, only saucy Scottish love.

            The air is the purest, the scenery is the grandest, the people are the friendliest, and the pubs are the liveliest here. It is no doubt that people cannot help to be a little saucy when they visit.

Before the night is over, I take another breath of highland air outside. In the window, an outline of a young woman can be seen. Her topless figure flirts with outside eyes but disappears into the darkness of her room, taken in by deep Scottish love and a wild spirit that she cannot explain.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Back in London

I just arrived back in London after a traveling on a Wild and Sexy Haggis bus tour through Scotland. I'll be posting more later! Back to the states tomorrow!