September 21, 2012 by Abby Gomulkiewicz
Looking out of my dorm window, I find myself wondering how recently I could have been in Virginia enjoying humidity and Colonial American architecture. Now, my dorm window reveals a fierce Scottish wind and the rolling hills of Scotland. I walk along cobbled streets—not that Colonial red brick—but brown stone.
It has taken me two years, but I am here in Scotland about to begin my second year of study at the University of St Andrews—the oldest university in Scotland. This last week, I have participated in the St Andrew’s tradition of Fresher’s Week—sort of a Scottish version of Orientation week with fewer rules and more pubs. My hall, St. Regulus, has about 100 students and is full of hall spirit. We participated in clan warfare where my face got painted with black and red butterflies. There was a traditional Scottish Ceilidh dance. In high school I was a Highland dancer, so I quite enjoyed the polka, dashing white sergeant and the Virginia reel. They take these dances quite seriously with a live band and refreshments. We also had a hall party where everyone dressed as something which begins with the first letter of your name.
On Monday, classes began. I am taking three classes, or modules as they call them here. My first module covers the British Empire in the modern age—apparently that means 1500 onward. This last week, we covered the Reformation and its effects on the various parts of the British Isles (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales). In this class, I have many of my fellow WAMSTAs. We all sit in a row and meet before class. My other history module is the High Middle Ages. To be honest, I am not always a fan of medieval history, but am enjoying the class so far. We have discussed the evolution of towns in the 13th to 15th centuries and the blossoming of international trade in that time period. My final module is Spanish. In fact, as I write this blog, I am about ready to head to my first Spanish tutorial. Tutorials are smaller classes outside the lecture with two to seven students. They are all led by professors and I have them for each of my three classes.
So anyway…it has been a busy almost two weeks. I am starting to settle into life at St Andrews. Of course, I have worn many dresses and my Hunter rain boots. Everything has been done in true Abby style.