When I chose to study abroad in Aberdeen, the ability to easily and cheaply travel abroad was not the foremost issue on my mind. While I wanted to see other parts of Europe, my best friend told me to ‘appreciate where I am’ when it came to studying abroad. Nonetheless, I did have the opportunity and financial means to travel to Dublin in Ireland and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Neither of these trips were particularly inexpensive. Sure, they were inexpensive when compared to traveling from the United States; however, if your primary goal is to travel a lot while abroad, Aberdeen is not necessarily the place for you. If you’re from the United States, think of it like flying out of Omaha, Nebraska – possible, but not the cheapest or the fastest. Edinburgh holds the primary airport in Scotland and travel will be much cheaper from there, but then you have to take a three-hour bus ride from downtown Aberdeen. If you want to travel outside of Scotland, you can make it happen, but you need to plan ahead.
I went to Dublin with two of my friends (both American). We stayed in a hostel and planned to go to the Guinness Warehouse and the Long Room in the Old Library at Trinity College. While I enjoyed both of those experiences, the best parts of our time in Dublin were the unplanned ones. The first night we tried to go to a pub. Alas, they had stopped serving food, but they told us we could get take out and eat it there. So, we walked down the street and got Chinese food and then ate it in the pub. They brought us plates, silverware, and asked about where we were from. Our bartender then proceeded to show us items in the restaurant from each of our respective states. There was a metal cut out of Michigan for me, a Pennsylvania flag for Claire, and nothing from Illinois for Mia…until the bartender played Chicago by Frank Sinatra and proceeded to serenade all three of us. We also thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the Little Museum of Dublin. If my personality was ever to be bottled and made into a museum, I think it would be that one.
Whereas Dublin is not the most visually pleasing city, Amsterdam is absolutely gorgeous. We had one day of atrocious weather and one day of sunshine and warmer weather. Despite the bad weather our first day, we still did a lot. Our planned activities for this trip were the Anne Frank House, a canal tour, and the Rijksmuseum. The Anne Frank House was heartbreaking. It was a beyond important place to visit. When you travel through her story and see her pictures and hear her father talk about her, you think about how she was only one person. There were six million Jews killed who had all the potential and vivacity that Anne did.
I suppose, in conclusion, that the purpose of this blog post is to inform you a little about my travels outside of Scotland. I think the most important part of traveling is meeting new people and learning about the place you are in. To me, that sounds obvious, but I think sometimes we plan our trips to the last measure because of what we think we should see, or what we think is important in the place we are visiting – and we miss out on actually seeing the place we are in.