Saturday, 15 October 2011

Hello old friend.

Hello there. I realize I have not written anything on this blog for a few weeks, but you try starting a new life somewhere and still having time to write all this junk down. Its been exceedingly hectic here, and this is the first Saturday where i have not had to desperately put out a fire of some kind, so I decided to write. Several things have occurred since last I wrote, so I will inform you of them, in list form;
-I joined the Frisbee Team, Positive Mojo
-Classes have started
-I did some traveling
-My dog passed away

Take a wild guess and figure out which of these matters the most to me. Jake passed away yesterday, and it still hurts to much to talk about so I'm not going to. And that's that.

But the rest is going fairly well. I did a bit of travelling, visiting Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, and Culloden, all in the Inverness area. The castle was a bit disappointing, as it was in a ruined state because the last owners of the castle blew it up in order for it not to be used as a Jacobite stronghold. Loch Ness was very pretty, and I managed to get on a boat cruise to see it from the middle. It is extraordinarily long and narrow, with much rougher waters than you would imagine. Culloden was amazing though. It is the site of a battle between Jacobite forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie and a Royal Army. If your not familiar with this stuff just Wikipedia it, do I have to do everything? It was a really chilling place, because they have not changed anything, including the mass graves of all the highlanders who died, or their grave marker-cairns. I definitely recommend that you give it i visit if every you find yourself in the Highlands.

Classes have also started for me here in Aberdeen, and honestly, they bore me. It is a completely different style of education than at Gustavus (which is admittedly top-notch). There is no faculty of critical thinking, but in fairness most British university students are much better at that than us Americans, but it still stand that there is almost no aspect of critical thinking in my lower-level classes. My upper level history class has a bit, but it is difficult because the professor is working against the restrictions of the course requirements of a massive test at the end, in order to give us a good class. So I think that that class is good because of the teacher, not the structure. My Gaelic language class is a joke though. Three different teachers, all who say different things, and teach us in different ways. We are not taught any sort of grammar, or construction. We are only expected to learn words, and stick them into cookie cutter sentences that the teacher provide for us. such as 'Tha mi a Dùn Deagh' This means I am from Dundee. But i only know what Dùn Deagh means, the rest I must take on faith, because that is where I was told to put place names in order to say I was from there. It's just very frustrating, because the last language I learned (Russian) was taught by an excellent teacher, who made it a point that we knew how to construct for ourselves. very frustrating.

Frisbee, on the other hand, us much less frustrating. I must say that this team is reviving my love of the game after it was nearly smothered by the Gustavus team(sorry guys, its true). Somehow this team manages to be extremely competitive (we are looking to get top 3 in our region and go on to Nationals) but they also create an atmosphere of 'no pressure', where it is OK to make mistakes, have fun, and learn about the game. Not once, and I've really cocked up a few plays, have I ever been screamed at, or made to feel like I should not be there because I am not good at playing. They know everyone is good, they just need to bring it out in the player. So they support and teach, rather then scream and abuse (I'm looking at you Gregg). It is extremely refreshing, and makes me want to work harder for, and feel more committed to the future of this team after only a few weeks, than two years with my team back home. Lets just say that I would have a few things to change about the way the Gustavus teams comports themselves if I had any power back home.

Well, that's kinda all for now. I'm doing well, and having fun. I'm thinking about going back to Edinburgh next weekend, but we shall see.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Edinburgh (sans hangover), and first days in Aberdeen

Ok. So I'm assuming that you have read the title of this posting, and are asking yourself how long is this post going to be?? I can answer that most pertinent question.


I will attempt to fill you in on what have been, perhaps, the three busiest days of my life. here we go.

In Edinburgh I did several things that can be broken down into two very simple categories- Drinking, and Walking. In the walking category falls two tours of Edinburgh, one of its history during the day, and another of its dark side during the night. The drinking came after the tours. Both of the tours were Excellent! I highly recommend that anyone visiting Edinburgh anytime in the future take the free walking tour, and any other tours done by the same company. they were, simply put, the best I have ever taken. This recommendation comes from a former tour guide who gave tours three times a day five days a week. I know a good tour when I see one. The better of the tours was the free one. It was given by an Irishman named Brendan who knew Edinburgh like the back of his hand, if he were for some reason the type of person who spent hours and hours every day telling stories about his hand. My personal favorite part was hearing him say the year 1313, the year Robert the Bruce recaptured Edinburgh Castle from the English with only 30 men.

30 is also a funny word to hear an Irishman say.

After that I walked around some of the closes (like an alley, but more of a circle and with buildings, kinda like little mini-neighborhoods) and then came back for the nightly Ghost-Tour. While still excellent, this tour was not as good, possibly because of the tour guides distinct lack of an Irish accent. Part of the ticket price of the second tour was a free pint at a local pub after the tour.

At the pub some of us from the tour decided to go to a whiskey bar, because the two of them had never had it before, and I was not about to let that happen. So one of the guys called up a friend from high school who lived in Edinburgh now and had him meet us at a local students pub for some whiskey and a few more pints. That turned into a few more pints, and just that quick we were best friends. After the students bar closed (at one) we decided to go to a karaoke club where the Edinburgh fellow had a few friends. We got there and met another young lady-friend of Connor's (the Edinburgh Fellow) and she went in with us. Connor's friends at the club were amazing. They gave us free drinks, and free songs for almost two hours. That was a lot of drinks and songs, believe me. All in all it was an amazing, whirlwind day and night that I am still trying to recover from. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

After I got back to my hostel at 4am I talked to my girlfriend Brie for an hour over Skype, and then went to bed.

...for a whopping three and a half hours...

I had to get up at 8:30 to make my train to Aberdeen on time. Fuck that. I means seriously, I was still drunk when I woke up! Not very functional. The train was murder, as you could probably tell from my post on it, but I was doing ok. The Scottish countryside was beautiful, even if I was in no condition to be enjoying it.

I got to Aberdeen, anyways, and spent the most hectic and stressful day moving into my room and attempting to feed myself. This, as I found out, is extraordinarily difficult in an unfamiliar city. I didn't know where the grocery store was. I didn't know how to get there. I didn't know where I could buy dishes, or silverware, or even how to turn on the heater in my room. All in all it was the, single, most stressful and trying day of my life. The only way I got through it was by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, and constantly working on asking people, and pooling our collective ignorances to get some food, or find the store that sells bedding, or where the ATM was. I swear I learned more yesterday about living int he real world than the entire rest of my life combined.

Today, however, was much better. I had the time to take a walk around Campus (which is seriously cool), to get my Internet working (which was a serious expedition) and to finish putting my room together. The only bad part was that it rained, all day. Which means that, just as in Edinburgh, I got no pictures of the outside. I did get a few of my new room though.

Check it.

My Bed. Obviously

This, then, would be my desk/office space

My closet, with only one shelf.



My kitchen is Awesome. Like a Possum.

The final picture in our tour of Jon's new Apartment- The Living room.

Th-th-th-th-th-th-thats all for now folks!


Saturday, 17 September 2011


Hey ho,

Im now sitting on a train to my chosen city Aberdeen. I was told on numerous occasions last night that I will love it, and that It is a beautiful city, but I find it hard to believe that for sheer historical value, stunning beauty and depth of character that it will beat Edinburgh.

Many of you may have me drawn and quartered, and then attempt to have my head put on London Bridge for saying this (William Wallace anybody? No?) but Edinburgh blew London straight out of the water. No. Freaking. Contest. Edinburgh is everything London is not. Big without feeling crowded, small without feeling cramped. Where London is mean stranger, Edinburgh is like an old friend-always ready with some gentle ribbing, a pint, and a friendly 'Fuck Off!'

 Literally every inch of Edinburgh is dripping is history and culture, a very sizable portion of the town is a UNESCO world heritage site, and its hard not to feel the romantic and storied air of Edinburgh grip your soul by the throat and never let it go.

I find it hard to believe that I will ever find a place that I have been more welcomed and feel more connection to after only twelve hours.

You may ask yourself, Is this guy drunk? What is he even saying? If you dont believe me, go. Bring a friend if you like, but I suggest that you bring nothing but an open mind and no expectations, and you'll probably meet some there, like I did.

My first stop on this whirlwind tour of all things Edinburgh was the hostel. Which was a bitch of a walk from Waverley station carrying all my luggage, but like I said the buildings enough were more than enough to get me through it.
After that I went to the Royal Mile to scout around and get some food. I went to the Royal MacGreggor pub for some food, and tried to plan out my day.

Dont go to the Royal Mile. Its chintzy, cheap, and touristy. I will amend that statement almost immediately. Go to the Royal Mile, but dont stay there. Take a tour, and then have a pint. Its almost impossible not to love this city.

I will try to write more about my experience later, but I have a wicked hangover, and this train is murder.


Friday, 16 September 2011

This here London Town

Hello! This is a Blog! Woah!

Ok, My name is Jon, and I am studying at the University of Aberdeen for around nine months. Normally I attend Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN.

As I write this post, I am sitting on a train to Edinburgh, Scotland, from London, England. I will now attempt to describe the last day/ few days (I cant tell which) of my life. They have been severely sleep deprived, so bear with me here.

September 13th-
This was the day before I left. I, on this day, my first and most difficult goodbye. Brie if you are reading this  just know that I miss you terribly. Everyone else, eh. Just kidding. But that was my hardest goodbye, made all the more difficult by the fact that I saw her again in a few short hours because my dumb ass forgot my wallet in her room. go me. After I left Brie at Gustavus I went home. Most normal people would have at this time, slept. I did not. I thought that perhaps, just maybe, this time, I could beat jetlag. I could beat it with a stick and dance a triumphant dance naked over its mangled corpse as I shouted my victory to all the Brits that cared to watch this manly display.

Needless to say Jetlag won.

I did not sleep the night before, nor did I sleep on the ensuing plane ride, but not for lack of trying (the inflight movie was Thor for Christs sake! I couldn't sleep through Thor???) I just could not fall asleep. So I had not slept in approx. 48 hours when I arrived for my first and only day in London. It was 5:20 in the morning.


So i decided that I would soldier on through my foggy weariness and enjoy the day in spite of my terrible inability to make rational, well-informed decisions. My first stop of the day was my Hostel to check into my room. At 6 AM. Sleep-deprived mistake #1. The room wasn't ready, so I asked for a key to the baggage room, cause forget carrying all my shit around London all day. Sleep deprived mistake #2 was leaving my stuff in the baggage room OUTSIDE OF A LOCKER!! because 'I didn't have any coins'... Ask for change dumbass! Dont worry, my stuff was all fine, but this was a terribly, terribly stupid move. Dont ever do it. Ever. People at a hostel may seem really nice and helpful and that one eastern european guy might have the eyes of an angel, but do not trust them with your personal belongings. Duh.

So after this I went on to 'The City' of London, meaning the old town around Westminster. This was seriously awesome. Look at some of my pictures on Facebook if you want to see what I saw, if we are not friends on Facebook, why exactly are you reading this? MY personal favorite moment was when I was looking for Big Ben and couldn't find it (remember I havent slept in almost three days before you make fun of me here) and then heard it ringing noon and managed to snap off a picture of Big Ben at exactly Noon with the London eye in the background.

Seriously cool.Ill try and figure out how to put a finished product of that picture on this blog, because I cleaned itup a bit in editing and it looks seriously sweet. I Did it!!

Now some smarmy 'im to good for this' Englishman is coming to collect my ticket, so forgive the interruption of my train of thought.


Bonus points! I have finally learned an English accent! This makes the trifecta! Scottish, Irish, and English accents are now all within my cognitive grasp! I actually had a Londoner ask if I was BRitish at the Tower of London yesterday. Ego boost.

I also had fish and chips yesterday, which was terrible, probably because I dont like Fish... But the Lasagna I had at Lunch was excellent, especially with the big pint of Guinness that I ordered. (sorry Mum, that didn't take long)

Well, I think thats it for now. Im off to Edinburgh for the day, should get there around noon, might even go out tonight. (I was asleep by 8:00pm) last night. More annoying words and pretty pictures to come.

Love to all, and especially a few,



If any of you grammar and spelling Nazis (you know who you are(Anthony(Just in case that was too subtle))) snark on this post, It was written on a bumpy, jumpy,  moving train, so fuck off.