One of the cutest seaside towns is just a 30-minute train ride from Edinburgh!
If I could make a suggestion to anyone going abroad for more than a week-long trip, I would suggest exploring beyond the city-limits.
I was really lucky to share student housing with three amazing people from my internship program. We’d all spend Mondays-Thursdays at our separate internship placements, but Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays were up for debate.
Sometimes we’d do our own thing. I’d wander the city, Gwendolyn would hike through the Pentlands, Monica would be up on Calton Hill while Carlie busied herself in a newly found café with research data and Americanos.
But at least one of those days we’d spend together. Venturing somewhere that one of us had been dying to visit. This weekend, I wanted to visit North Berwick, and Gwendolyn new there was a Castle nearby.
The North Sea, sunshine, and castle ruins, what could go wrong?
North Berwick was a dreamy setting. First of all, it was sunny, and it stayed sunny the whole day, a rarity for Scottish weather.
But Berwick itself was so quaint! We walked into town from the train station, the horizon outlined by an outstretched peak, blue, glinting water, and bright green grass bordering along a stretch of sand with patches of dried up seaweed.
The first thing we did was go down to the beach to christen our feet in the North Sea.
It was icy cold yet refreshing, and we picked up pieces of sea glass as we walked, our eyes fixed on the cluster of little holiday cottages and shops on the opposite end of the shore.
The town was flooded with families soaking up a sunny weekend. We picked up a small map from inside the Puffins center, and decided to walk along the beach to Tantallon Castle. The map made it seem close; just a mile give or take from where we set off.
The beach turned into a foot path, the foot path into a golf course (that welcomed walkers so long as they minded their heads).
Multiple times we thought to turn back, but we reasoned that the castle would be just beyond that hill or just over that bend, and soon we had nothing to lose, because regardless it was going to be a long way back.
Gwendolyn helped us navigated through the golfing parties. She would say stop, and go, as we laughed at ourselves for getting stuck in such an awkward situation.
There was a stretch of road bordering the golf course, but it was blocked by a stone fence and barbed-wire. We hoped that there would be a break in the fence, and so we kept on walking until one golfing party finally spoke up.
A thick Scottish accented-voice called “You alright?”
To which we sheepishly admitted that we were trying to find Tantallon Castle.
The man turned to his wife and gave her a look, then turned back to us and said “Aye its just a wee, ways further. You’re headed in the right direction”
Looking back, I now understand why he gave her that look.
It took us an hour to walk from Berwick along the golf course, and down the roadside---after we finally found a crumpled part of the fence we could jump over!
By the time we reached Tantallon we were all sunburnt, dehydrated, and hungry. But everything was worth it once we started to explore the castle grounds.
Here was a structure, built in 1350!! perched on the edge of a cliff side; in the same spot it had been for many centuries, as it was battered by the rugged coastline.
I'll just leave these here ;)
It was a crazy day, but it was the craziness that makes it so fond to remember.
(And wouldn’t you know, there was a bus we could take back to town!)
Twice I have packed for an 8-12 week adventure, and twice I have failed miserably at the tedious task of packing.
I have Pinterested, read blog posts, and watched Youtube videos, yet in the end,
I still overpacked *(face palm)*
Here are a few suggestions to consider:
1. Ireland and Scotland are not as cold as you think, during the summer and autumn months.
2. You will only wear about four outfit combos and two pairs of shoes out of the twenty different pieces of clothing you try to cram into your suitcase.
3. There will be tons of shops with trendy Uk and/or Irish clothing, and you will get comfy enough to shop in them :)
4. Primark and H&M will have everything you forgot and everything you aren't sure to pack.
I normally stuck to leggings, light long-sleeve shirts, and athletic shoes in Dublin:
The first week is always the hardest.
That phrase goes for any beginning. But thousands of miles from home, surrounded by new streets, smells, accents, and --- better MCD's, you're going to feel weird.
You're probably going to cry in between moments of excited awe; probably going to be overwhelmed, insecure, and unsettled by the new environment that you have put yourself in.
I remember my first night in Dublin. I was tucked into the corner of a cold, leather couch in the living room of an apartment that had light switches on the outside of the rooms they were designated for.
I texted my mom, I am not okay. I can't do this,
But little did I know, by the end of the week I was going to feel just fine :) more than fine, I was going to feel exhilarated and revived by the very streets, smells, accents, and better MCD'S that had previously made me sick to my stomach.
The only thing you can do is:
accept the fear, take little excursions, and breathe.
Once you get through the first week, you'll start to relax and possibly even enjoy yourself like I am below ;)
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If you are reading this right now, you have probably contemplated or already decided to study abroad.
* Dublin, Ireland is the perfect place for first-time travelers! (in my biased opinion)*
I had never been abroad before deciding to study in Dublin for the fall of 2017. I was filled with anxiety, dread, and excitement all at the same time. And looking back, although there was a lot of stress,
it was an experience that completely transformed me for the better!
There is nothing more humbling than being thrown into a new environment with new tastes, smells, and accented-english!
It is going to be understandably difficult to adjust to, so I have a few tips n tricks I've compiled for you to reference: