Courses, Ceilidhs, and Christmas

Kathryn Funderburg University of Aberdeen, Scotland


December 1, 2015

As finals and the holiday season grow closer I am trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my Aberdeen adventure is coming to a close. My classes are over, ending on Thanksgiving Day. It was definitely a first to be conjugating Latin and attending a tutorial instead of spending time with my family on the American holiday, but the night before I had a great time at my last Arcadia excursion: a ceilidh! The traditional Scottish social gathering featuring a ton of dancing to the wild harmony of the bagpipe and accordion was a great substitute for Thanksgiving festivities. Of course I still missed home, but having somewhere to go and a new, fun activity to experience helped me manage being away from my family.

The ceilidh was held at the Highland Hotel in Sterling, which I was happy to visit as I have not spent much time in the city. It was nice to see other students studying through Arcadia who go to different Scottish universities that I don’t regularly run into. The absolute highlight of the evening was learning a variety of the standard ceilidh dances. I’m not usually much of a dancer, but we all went through the steps together with the help of several dance instructors. It was nothing like an awkward middle school dance where people stand around or sway aimlessly. Ceilidh dancing requires quite a high level of enthusiasm and energy and fortunately there was plenty of both. Looking around as I spun from one partner to the next I saw flushed, happy faces and heard laughter as someone clumsily tried to find the rhythm of the fast and intricate motions. The time between dances was only long enough for everyone to get a quick drink of water before returning to the floor for another go at a reel or a waltz. I had a fantastic time and hope that sometime in the future I have the chance to attend another ceilidh.

Last Friday I went down to the Special Collections Centre for the last time. I have become very fond of the hours I spend with the manuscript each week and am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to interact so extensively with such a valuable work of literature and art. I was able to collect notes and photographs spanning the entirety of the 161 folios and look forward to further cataloging and analyzing my research when I return to Trinity. It was wonderful having access to the rich history and resources available at the University of Aberdeen and I will never forget my time working inside the lovely Sir Duncan Rice Library.

I am fully into study mode now as I get ready for my two final exams. Most of my day is spent listening to Art History lectures while crocheting. However, the night I wrote this blog post I took time out of my study schedule to go into the city center to watch the holiday parade and visit the Christmas Market. My toes and fingers numb with the cold, but I managed to capture a uniquely Scottish twist on the Twelve Days of Christmas (the pipers were kilted bagpipers). The market was very crowded but still enjoyable. I eagerly await Christmas. It has always been my favorite holiday and will mean even more this year after not seeing my family all semester. Before I head back home I plan to visit London, Paris, Bruges, and Brussels, none of which I have been to before.

Studying abroad has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done in my life so far. My understanding of the scope and diversity of the world is forever changed and I am humbled by the simultaneously insignificant and vital role each member of humankind has in contributing to the variety of life. I will greatly miss the international friends I have made while studying at Aberdeen. British, French, Canadian, Italian, Finnish—my appreciation of other cultures has been expanded by all those I have encountered. I have enjoyed writing this blog and sharing my experiences abroad with you and look forward to my return to the land of iced sweet tea, Tex-Mex, and sunsets that don’t occur at 3:15 in the afternoon!