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The Importance in Being Open-Minded When Traveling

Jennifer Zhang
November 10, 2017

Before coming to London for study abroad, I had a rough idea of which countries I wanted to visit on the weekends. Although the list was always tentative, Scotland was never on it. Frankly, I have never heard anything about this northernmost country in the UK that drew me to it.

However, my perspective changed gradually as I arrived and settled down in London. I realized that I was constantly taking flights across the English Channel to get to other areas of Europe. One day, I thought: why not go out and see what the UK has to offer? So, on a spur of the moment, I looked up flights to Edinburgh. Much to my surprise, flight tickets were more expensive than anticipated. But that didn’t stop me - I looked into other ways to get there. Soon enough, I found roundtrip bus tickets to and from Edinburgh for £35 (I know, that's bizarre!). This bus would drop me off very close to the city center, so it will be convenient for me to not only leave and come back to the bus station, but also get around the city that weekend. The only drawback was that it would take eight and a half hours to get to Edinburgh, and ten hours back to London. “Oh well, I’m still young - this is the best time to do something like this,” I thought to myself as I proceeded to purchase the tickets.

WELL, THIS WAS ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS I HAVE MADE ABROAD. Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands were unlike anything else I have ever seen before. Edinburgh’s gloomy weather contrasted sharply with the Scottish’s love for their city and country. I noticed that most people dressed in darker colors, but their friendly and approachable personalities were eye-catching. On my second day there, I took a 12-hour bus tour from Edinburgh to the Highlands, which included Loch Ness, Ballachulish, and a few small towns. My goodness, I have never had my breath taken away by a body of water – until I saw Loch Ness with my own eyes. Don't get me wrong, I lived in Los Angeles for 11 years before moving to D.C. for college, so I have always been used to the ocean being 30 minutes away. But Loch Ness... It stood alone so peacefully, vastly, daringly, and uniquely.

On my second and last night, I went to Stramash, a pub with live music, which was about three minutes away from my hostel. There, I saw people talking and listening to each other attentively with phones away, some enjoying the music with eyes closed and a glass of wine in their hands, and others giving their best moves on the dance floor. For me, seeing people love being exactly where they are and having the time of their lives during every moment is incredibly contagious. In the States, I often found myself on my phone while out. However, I quickly realized while abroad that my phone and social media will always be there when I get home, so why spend so much energy and time on it when I am out and about? After all, I came out to get a different experience than I would have at home, right?

So thank you, Scotland. I’m sorry for my unsound prejudice, but I’m so glad I took a chance on you. From this, I have learned to start seeing places I may not have initially wanted to. Because sometimes, the best times happen unexpectedly. 

Jennifer Zhang

<p style="margin-bottom:12.0pt">Hello and welcome! I am so excited to share my abroad adventures with you here. My love for travel (integrating into different cultures, trying new food, ~attempting~ to pick up languages quickly) + dream of studying abroad in London = eager Jen who truly thinks this will be an experience of a lifetime. With that said... HERE. WE. GO!!<span style="text-autospace:none"><span style="font-size:16.0pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Times&quot;,serif"> </span></span></span></p>

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