Hi readers! I once again apologize for my lapse in writing. The past few weeks have been some of the most exciting of my life, so I have neglected a very important part of the process – processing the experience! Taking the time to appreciate these experiences is so important, but I feel lucky to be so entertained that I have no downtime. I finally took the time to reflect on my Week-Long Study Tour to Scotland, and I hope this blog gives you a taste of my Scottish experience. Happy reading!
CRIME IN SCOTLAND
During our trip to Scotland, my Forensic Psychology class visited various crime-related organizations and institutions. Each one offered me a new perspective on criminality. The programs exposed us to new legal approaches, psychological perspectives, and sociological theories. Most of our visits consisted of serious and sensitive content, but we still managed to have fun. At one of the visits, I told the speaker I was interested in learning about drugs and alcohol, meaning that I wanted to know how prevalent drug use and addiction is in their client population. Perhaps my wording was off (or maybe my American accent, if that’s a thing?) but he thought I ask him where I could get drugs in his facility, yikes! Once we cleared that up the whole room had a good laugh.
Each of the visits offered a new perspective, so to be brief I’ll talk about the one I found most interesting, Kibble, an organization in Glasgow. Kibble houses and offers rehabilitation for youth involved in crimes. The team there deals with a wide range of individuals, from cases like a twelve-year-old boy with learning and social disabilities who has a history of setting fires, to cases like an exceptionally bright eighteen-year-old girl from a broken home who attempted suicide. At Kibble, each client receives an individualized plan that aims to help them be their best and healthiest self. The staff made sure to tell as that they celebrate small victories; with appreciation and time, those small victories become big ones. Working with individuals with convictions seems to be incredibly taxing work, but a staff member there said working with youth is particularly rewarding because they are still developing and most can change for the better.
Naturally, my favorite way to explore new places is running. No matter where I go, I like to squeeze in at least a few miles, and that’s generally a great way to get to know a place. Although Sweden had a mild winter, we haven’t had a ton of grass, so that was my favorite visual part of Scotland. Everywhere I ran, despite the heavy winds and cold rain, the bright green grass brought back my high school track team’s mantra “green means go!” and gave me a surge of energy. You should know that for a change, I didn’t just run. This week I switched it up; instead of running, I participated in the Highland Games, a Scottish tradition. When we left for the games there was a huge hail storm, so we finally got a bit of the winter we anticipated in Sweden. Most of the class rallied and we hiked through the woods to compete!
It’s been a while since I’ve let my competitiveness out on the track, so a sudden burst of excitement came over me when we arrived at the site for the games. We split up into two teams and participated in the following activities: running while carrying car tires, throwing a spear into a target, archery, throwing a rubber boot as far as possible, and throwing a long wooden log as far as possible. After each team completed the activities, we gathered for the muddiest, coldest, and wettest game of tug-of-war ever. My team had a slight lead at the start of tug-of-war, so we felt confident. I am sad to report that our confidence was not warranted, and we all went down very quickly in the first round. Yup, right into the mud. And we went down harder in the second round. I think it’s time for me to stop running and start lifting… anyway, the Highland games were a blast, something I would highly (pun-intended) recommended for all competitive spirits.
THE CRIME CLASS CLIMBS
After our final academic visit, our class ventured off to Arthur’s Seat, a famous mountain peak in the middle of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, our DIS coordinator, Christina, who impressively organizes every aspect of our trip, was feeling sick that day. She couldn’t make the hike, so she put me and my friend Sarah in charge of leading the class because we had run to Arthur’s Seat the day before. To put it kindly, Sarah and I have a bit of a reputation for our lack of direction skills. We often end up lost and far away. To clean up our repertoires, we accepted the challenge and led the class to the mountains. We had a blast on the walk over giving our followers a false sense of security, but ultimately we got them to the destination with no problem.
This hike ended up being the highlight of the week. Some people forged ahead and climbed the mountain quickly while others experience a very challenging first hike in their lives. No matter what the ability, every single classmate of mine made it to the top of the mountain. We all had the chance to talk to someone new, which will make classes so great in our concluding weeks. Also, an important note about our class is that we have twenty girls and one boy, Ryan. Ryan is a great sport; he is so great that when Sarah and I bought a Scottish kilt for him, he hiked up Arthur’s seat in the traditional green plaid kilt. I think seeing Ryan in a kilt helped a lot of us laugh when the going got tough, so we owe him for the success of our hike. These opportunities to bond and work together are unique to a study abroad program like DIS and I am so thankful to have experienced this hike with people I otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to face a physical challenge with.
OUR GOODBYE TO SCOTLAND
At our concluding dinner on Thursday night, someone joked that we should hike Arthur’s Seat at sunrise before our flight the next day. While I struggle to rally for socializing past eleven at night, I had no trouble committing to an early morning hike. Sure enough, the next day around four in the morning, five of us were walking through the quiet streets of Edinburgh on our way to the mountain’s peak. When we left the hotel, it was pitch black out. We passed some bars with stragglers trying to hang on to their fun nights out, and we barely saw any cars. We did get approached by a police vehicle driven by a concerned officer, but we told him we were hiking to see sunrise; he smiled with relief and drove away!
When we arrived at the trail we immediately knew the 4:00 AM wake up was worth it. The sky was teal with golden stars glimmering around the crested moon. The higher we got, the lighter the horizon was and the more color we could see. Eventually, we settled at the peak with a couple of exchange students from France and England. There, we watched the most epic pink sunrise amidst the water and the city. I will never forget that view. Thank you, Edinburgh, for an unforgettable week!