|Adorable Scottish Man in his Kilt on New Year's Eve; Inverurie, Scotland 12.2005|
Growing up as a softball fanatic who dreamt of going to a Division 1 college to professionally play softball and major in Marine Biology, it was embedded into my mind that I had to excel in softball. As the playoffs drew closer my senior year, I found myself after softball practices staying later and playing catcher for the pitcher. Since there is always room for improvement, along with my catching skills I worked on my batting average. I had a fierce hit and outside pitches were my specialty. The first playoff game on Friday was quickly approaching, but first I had to finish the last week of classes.
|Julia and I with Bennachie Centre; Bennachie National Park, Scotland 12.2005|
“Out of the country trip to Canada!” came roaring from the French classroom. I had a meeting with the French teacher, Ms. Myer, after her last class of the day to discuss fitting French 3 in my schedule for next semester. Unfortunately, I had to choose a slot for my 3rd period and it had to be Advanced Biology course over the French 3 language course. I walked in and overheard the students discussing a field trip to Canada provided to the French 3 undergraduates. I inquired about the trip to Ms. Myer and she mentioned that if I was interested to ask the other students if I could join them. Most of the French 3 students were good friends of mine; this was not an issue to come along even on such a short notice. It was settled I was coming to Canada to enjoy 5 days of maple syrup, architecture, and great company.
|Julia and I; Bennachie National Park, Scotland 12.2005|
As luck had it, I had the playoff game at North Star (town close to mine) and then had to arrive back at the school to board the bus for the field trip that evening. During the playoff game against North Star I had crushed a grand slam – it was one of the best hits I had all season because it went over the fence and yes, it was an outside pitch! The feeling was incredible – I was floating on cloud nine. I was on an ultimate life high and was stoked for my upcoming first time “out of the country” experience! The Canada field trip to Montreal and Quebec was a success, minus a few minor setbacks. Long story short, it was not quite the trip that I had anticipated and 5 days was not long enough to “get my feet wet;” however, it did give me a taste of traveling and exploring unknown territory via bus.
|Rory Fraser and I; Inverurie, Scotland 01.2006|
|The Frasers on New Year's Eve; Inverurie, Scotland 12.2005|
My next “out of the country” venture occurred in 2005 – my junior year at PSU I had invited Julia, one of my Scottish sorority sisters, to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Rockwood. In return her family encouraged me to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Scotland. I was asked to stay for a month and boy, was I glad that I did! I can honestly say that this was when I got a taste of traveling and caught the travel bug. I stayed in Inverurie and climbed places such as Bennachie – a range of hills in Aberdeenshire (north east Scotland) that has several “tops.” One of the famous peaks is Oxen Craig, which has a height of 528 meters! I shopped at one of the largest malls located in Aberdeen – the city nicknamed as Granite City, the Grey City, and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. Why is this city recognized as this? During the 18th to mid 20th centuries, Aberdeen’s buildings incorporated locally quarried gray granite, whose mica deposits sparkle like silver. In addition, the city also has a long and sandy coastline – my perfect location! I never rode a train until I visited Scotland! Between the currency, culture, and landscapes this was all a new experience – I especially adored the locals (especially the ones dressed in kilts!).
|Julia's Parents and I; Bennachie National Park, Scotland 12.2005|
One of the highlights of my time in Inverness was “viewing” all the castles guarded by the infamous Loch Ness Monster or Nessie in the loch. The Highlands or more specific the Great Glen were absolutely stunning – the Urquhart Castle was one of my favorite castles; I adored its history and architectural significance. The Great Glen was formed by a geological fault line which runs from Fort William in the south to Inverness in the north, leaving a trench like glen, which runs for about 60 miles. The lochs were formed by the retreat of the last ice age some 10 to 12 thousand years ago, carving deep and straight grooves which were filled by the melting ice water, therefore creating the lochs of the Great Glen, namely Lochs Lochy, Oich, and the largest Ness. The ferry boat tour that Julia and I took was an excellent touch to such a unique history. I learned a great deal about Loch Ness and the history behind this monster. I am convinced this is not a “myth” – the ending to the Loch Ness tour persuaded my beliefs in the Loch Ness.
|Green World; Bennachie National Park, Scotland 12.2005|
With the great friendships that I made and the magnificence that encloses such a beautiful country – Scotland was an awesome place to spend the New Year of 2005 and officially “get my feet wet!”
|The Highlands; Inverness, Scotland 12.2005|