Great Scots!

Vera Iwankiw
October 31, 2013

Scotland was the one IES sponsored trip that I was most excited about and it did not disappoint. We got up very early in the morning on Thursday to fly to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. From there, we drove to Aviemore, where the beautiful Cairngorms National Park is. Here, we all had the opportunity to feed and bond with real live reindeer! I absolutely fell in love with one of the babies, whose name was Bleu. He was all white, fluffy, and was a little wobbly when walking still. The views were amazing as well; we were basically on top of a mountain feeding reindeer. How many people can say that they have done that?

The next day we drove to Loch Ness and took a boat trip over the lake and searched for Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. I’m pretty sure she was just hiding that day… We got off the boat at Urquhart Castle, which is a ruin of a castle/fortress that dates back to the 13th century.

After that, we drove to Glen Coe, another natural treasure in Scotland. It is a volcanic glen created by lava and glacial activity, and is basically a U-shaped valley surrounded by old volcanoes. There was a freak car accident when we were there, so we could not physically go into the glen, but we walked around it and got some good views that way. We spent that night in Oban, a small seaside town. That night, we found a small local Scottish pub that happened to be having karaoke night, and we quickly Americanized the place. Britney Spears, NSYNC, Taylor Swift, you name it, someone in our group probably sang it. There was a rumor going around the pub that someone had sent out a mass text to the whole town alerting them of the American group. I don’t know how true that is, but I do know that by the end of the night the pub was crawling with people, and I like to think that we helped that along.

The next day we got to explore Oban a bit, and saw McCaig’s Tower, which is a Coliseum look alike. It was started during a period of great unemployment and was meant to be an art gallery, but the money ran out, and it just stands empty today. After Oban, we started the long journey down to Edinburgh. When we arrived, we quickly started exploring. I saw their Parliament building, St. Giles Cathedral, and Holyrood Palace, the place for royalty in Scotland. We went to dinner and then went out to a pub with some live music and celebrated our last night in Scotland.

The next day, three girls and I decided to be very ambitious and climb King Arthurs Seat, a nearby mountain. It is 822 feet tall, and we got up at 6am and climbed it, all the way to the top. It was a very proud moment of my life, and very reminiscent of my mountain climbing in Norway. The rest of the day (after eating a hearty breakfast, of course) was spent exploring Edinburgh Castle, the stronghold of Scottish defenses. It is the home of the Scottish Crown Jewels, which were gorgeous and full of bling. After the castle, I spent the last hour of my time in Scotland running around trying to find souvenirs for my family and friends. Tips about shopping: when you are running out of time, comparison shopping is not an effective strategy. I made that mistake during this trip. I did make it on time to our train and made it home, but there was some sprinting involved. I really got my cardio in that last day of the trip.

entrance to castle



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Vera Iwankiw

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I was born and raised in Chicago, where I grew up learning about my Ukrainian culture and language. I currently attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and am studying Human Development with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. I play on the university&rsquo;s club water polo team and synchronized swimming team and am active in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I have traveled internationally to Ukraine, Canada, and Mexico for vacation and Cape Town, South Africa for a service learning trip. In the future, I hope to continue my studies in law school, with the hope of one day practicing as a family law or child advocate lawyer.</span></p>

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