These last few days have been a bit underwhelming here at St. Andrews, as I’ve spent most of my time battling a nasty Scottish version of the flu and writing my first paper. That’s right–first. 

Google led me astray–quite a bit astray–when it promised me that my 2,000 word paper would be about six pages long; but I was pretty proud of the final twelve-page version. There were a lot of strange rules about turning it in to this locked box with a certain coversheet attached, and after all my hard work it was a little anticlimactic to identify myself only as “110020866”…but still, I was glad to be done with it.

The rest of Halloween weekend was pretty tame…we had a girls’ movie night in my room to watch Hocus Pocus. Apparently “girls’ night” translates to “lady bits” party if you’re from Norfolk, England, and my friend Rosie was really cracking me up saying that. I was also really surprised to find out that Halloween isn’t the big deal in the UK that is back home. Rosie, Becky, and Charmaine had combined only ever been to a few Halloween parties, and Becky has never been trick-or-treating since her family is Christian (and here Halloween is still more attached to it’s roots than the commercialized, child-friendly U.S. version is). If that doesn’t sum up what an enriching experience studying abroad is, I don’t know what does. You learn things about your friends and their cultures even doing “ladies bits” parties.

Then yesterday Natalie came over to make sure I was eventually going to wake up from my cough medicine-induced all day nap, and we had some terrible dinner downstairs before going to Natalie’s hall for a ceilidh (which is a traditional Scottish dance…they’re really fun!). Our friend Max was dressed as a whiteboard, so I contributed an outline of Oklahoma to his shirt, and absolutely nobody knew what it was (“…Toothbrush?”), which made me laugh. Even though we didn’t stay very long, Natalie and I only had a little time to finalize our travel plans over dinner because I was still waking up. So we’re going to finish them today, because…

TOMORROW WE’LL BE IN BELGIUM. 

(Hopefully eating waffles.)

Since Natalie and I don’t have class Thursday or Friday, we’re leaving tomorrow night for an eleven day European adventure. Here’s our plan:

Wednesday Nov. 2–> Leave St. Andrews and fly to Brussels.

Thursday Nov 3 –> Brussels. This is the main place I’ve really been wanting to go! I don’t know why, exactly.

Friday Nov. 4–> Leave Brussels for Paris via train, where we’re going to meet Christie, Amy, Grace, Margaret, and the other Vandy kids studying in Florence right now. Kara’s going to meet us there, too!

Saturday Nov. 5–> Paris.

Sunday Nov. 6 –> Leave Paris and fly to Barcelona. Our friends Tara and John are studying abroad there, so they’re going to show us around!

Monday Nov. 7 –> Barcelona.

Tuesday Nov. 8 –> Leave Barcelona and fly into Rome.

Wednesday Nov. 9-Saturday Nov. 12 –> As of yet unknown Italian Adventure. We don’t have anything to specific booked, but we know we want to explore Italy! We’re throwing around the idea of going to the Amalfi coast, going on a wine tour through Siena, and are definitely planning to work our way up to Florence to see our friends there.

Sunday Nov. 12–> Fly back from Rome to Manchester, then take the train back to St. Andrews.

I know what you’re thinking. “Well, that’s ambitious.” I know. But it’s going to be incredible. Besides our flights and trains (all of which we booked for a grand total of UNDER 200 pounds, if you can imagine), we have almost nothing planned. Luckily we have friends most of the places, a little French and Spanish between us (as for Italian, we’re SOL), and happy-go-lucky attitudes.

Now, sadly, I’ve got to go back to sleep because I refuse to be sick during this trip–and I’m holding onto that old adage “you can do whatever you set your mind to” with a death grip.

Bonne nuit! Je t’aime.

Rachel Marie

P.S. Sadly, Kara and Natalie have most of the pictures from this week. I’ll try to get them and put them up for you!

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