semester 2 done, off on excavation…

Enjoy some folk jams as you read.  As of yesterday I am officially done with my lectures for the semester!  As of this afternoon, I am done with all my assignments!  I just submitted my last essay about Goat domestication in the Neolithic for Archaeology.

This week has been pretty decent.  On Wednesday I explored a bit around Edinburgh and found a really cool antique shop up in New Town.  It had a collection of stuff stored everywhere.  I ended up with a brass-ship bell with the handle shaped like Bamburgh Castle… much to the approval of my flatmates.  I also had a chat with the guy running the shop about a bunch of 16c cannonballs they just acquired.  I always went antiquing with my parents and being a human with a general interest in old shit I do really like finding antique shops with tons of stuff just everywhere.

Last night was the last EUMC social of the year: the Adventure Race.  It’s a race around Edinburgh with stops and challenges along the way.  The route this year ran from GBH (near Old College) up Calton Hill for drinking and marshmallow eating, then to St. Anthony’s Chapel (the 15c ruins in Holyrood Park) for swimming and more drinking, up to the summit of Arthur’s Seat for more drinking, then down Arthur’s Seat to the Meadows for drinking while slacklining, and finally finishing back at GBH.  Erling and I ran the race again this year… and we took third again.  At least you can say that we are consistent.  The last part of the race had us running through George Square.  I played ‘Eye of the Tiger’ aloud on my phone to the enjoyment(?) of everyone emerging from the library late on a Thursday night.

But, I am done for the semester… until exams.

This semester has gone really well.  I didn’t have as many written assignments as last semester so that was sort of refreshing.  Archaeology diversified a lot and I got a chance to work in the computer labs to create digital posters, charts, and site plans for assessment versus just writing another essay.

I am really pleased with my selection of courses and while I’m stressed for the exam (like always) I feel like I know the material and know what I need to revise.  My exams this year are on May 15 (Archaeology), 18 (Medieval Europe), and 23 (Roman World).  After my last lecture it’s off on the EUMC road-trip for climbing and camping wherever it is sunny.

On Sunday, I’m headed down to Chester to take part on the first of three excavations this summer!  I am so excited for this excavation as I will be excavating a medieval cemetery!  I’m also excited to be getting out for some fieldwork again… call it being from Kansas.  I’m currently doing a load of laundry of clothes that I will need for the excavation and then I’ll finish up packing tomorrow.  I’m also taking some books for revision and my laptop so I can work on the weekends as the excavation runs 9.40-4.30 Monday to Friday.

I’ll be posting updates about the excavation here on the blog, if you want to hear about the new old thing I’m currently crying over.

 

death monday is dead.

Today is the last Death Monday of second year.  Damn.

Hey, Uni?  Maybe slow down, please?

This morning I had an Archaeology lecture over Forensics and DNA which was really interesting.  It ran a little over and cut into my already limited lunch time… but eh, the lecture was cool so I didn’t mind.

For lunch, I grabbed a bowl of soup and went to eat in the Debating Hall in Teviot, it’s in the quieter part of the student union and I really like it because it looks like an old medieval Great Hall.  You know the type with the high wooden ceilings, mezzanine, and dark wood everything?  Yeah?  Yeah.

After lunch, I went to my last Medieval tutorial for the year.  It was over the Later Crusades after the fall of the Crusader states (circa 1291).  After, I had a Roman Empire lecture over the 3rd century AD and then I went to my last Archaeology lab for the semester.  The lab was over using data sets to create charts and stuff on the computer.

The weather has been stellar again and so yesterday I spent most of the day outside.  I went for a run in the meadows, meet up with some friends, and did some yoga.  My friends have commented that I have transcended my title of ‘Trash Child’ (I constantly trip over things, fall into bins or the gutter, and live in the Meadows in my hammock which one more than one occasion has been set up next to a bin.  I also lay on the floor for prolonged periods of time and whine.).  According to Ellie, I have become ‘Earth Child’ after my outdoor yoga sesh in the mud.  Truthfully, I still feel more like a ‘Trash Child’ but eh, I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em.

On wider notes, the Avengers have started filming again here in Edinburgh!  They’ve blocked off of much of the Royal Mile and yesterday night they blew up a truck in front of St. Giles!  I’ve walked by the set a few times and they have repainted a jewelry shop into a kebab shop and have massive rain buckets pouring water all over the street.  They only film late at night, so, no I haven’t seen any of the actors (and probably won’t). Although I could swear I saw one of the directors driving around Edinburgh last weekend!

This week is going to be spent finishing up my last two essays.  I’m nearly done with my Roman Empire essay and still have to write my archaeology report.  This weekend officially starts my Easter break and I will be heading south to excavate a Medieval graveyard and get a much needed two week break! More on that next week!!

My twentieth birthday is in 25 days so that’s terrifying.  I always thought that by the time I was twenty I would be a semi-functioning adult… but alas.

 

Nineteen.

It’s April 28th. (well here in Scotland) Ya nerds in America are living in the past.

I’ve never been one to freak out about my birthday. I tend to just celebrate it at home with a small group of close friends and lots of food.  I also moved abroad after I turned 18, so I sort of missed the ‘big birthday.’  But, I always like to look back at the past year and see how I’ve grown and changed as person.  I aim each year to not change who I am but just to be a better version of myself.

So here are nineteen things I have learned over the past year.

  1. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I hate people. Do people annoy me? Yes. But, I don’t hate people… for God’s sake I’m studying History and Archaeology.  Being an introvert just means being with people all the time tires me out.  I need a few days to recharge.  Going camping this year has helped a lot with this as I have been able to go away for a weekend and talk to people if I want to but also just walk.
  2. Try something new at least once a week. I know there’s that Eleanor Roosevelt quote about doing one thing that scares you each day, but if you’re like me and like your daily routine and would prefer not to have an anxiety attack…  try to do something new once a week.  But, that’s a little hypocritical as I sort of jumped off the deep end and starting climbing mountains and getting tattoos… but that’s a different story.
  3. Doc Martens are great. When you walk to University everyday and live in a pedestrian city, you need good shoes.  Trust me, your feet with love you for it.
  4. And, so is food. Eat more food.
  5. Everyone conquers at their own pace.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, people.  I struggle with maths but excel in writing.  Everyone is good at something and crappy at another thing.  But, that doesn’t mean one skill is more valuable than another.  I don’t understand maths… but I am humble enough to grovel before it as I watch Netflix on my laptop run by some magical computerized code.  Just find what you’re good at and destroy your enemies from there.
  6. Don’t try to grow up too fast. Moving away to University, and especially moving abroad,  I felt like I was having to grow up fast.  I overwhelmed and worried that I was not mature enough to live on my own.  I tried to act mature but that just ended up with me being extremely bored because I realised being a grumpy adult really sucks. Maturity isn’t really something a person forces… it just comes with living and learning from mistakes.  So for now it’s back to watching cartoons and reading comic books.
  7. Vodka is a no. (See reference to ‘learning from mistakes’ above.)
  8. Go to the gym. My stress levels get out of hand if I don’t work out.  I physically have to do something or else I will go crazy.  But, it doesn’t have to be a crazy long run or 2 hours lifting weights.  Just go do something.
  9. As God said unto Abraham, ‘Treat yo self.’ Take a day and just do whatever you want.  It doesn’t have to be anything… sometimes I just don’t leave my room for a day and watch Netflix.  Just take a day and relax.  When my anxiety gets bad I go to the National Museum and hang out in the basement looking at Roman and early Scottish artifacts.  It’s quiet, it’s something I enjoy, and it gives me a break.  Other days, I go shopping.  I buy a new jumper or a new book.  It’s not everyday, but if you don’t take a day for yourself every once in awhile life gets pretty annoying.
  10.  People change. It’s natural and actually like around 1 million or so cells in your body die each day so literally speaking you’re a different person each day.  I know I’m different but I’m not trying to be a different person.  I don’t try to put on a false persona, because a) that’s hard work and b) sooner or later people are going to find out that I’m a huge nerd anyway.
  11. You have to let things go. I was notorious for holding grudges.  Call me the Grudge Queen, and it’s still something I’m working on.  But, I realised I can’t let what people do and say impact me negatively.  If I’m worry about what other people do, I’m not living my own life the way I want to.  
  12. Never give up, never surrender. When I was a kid, I had a tag on my tae-kwon-do bag with this quote.  It was pretty much my driving force growing up; work hard and one day it’ll all day off.  Even when it gets hard, you just have to keep going.
  13. If it doesn’t make you happy, then why are you doing it? I lost a childhood friend to a car crash last year and it made it realise that not only is life not fair, it’s fucking short.  Don’t waste your time with something that doesn’t make you happy.  It’s not worth it.  I’m so lucky in that am I studying what I love in a place that I love.  I’m also lucky that I found that love at a young age… but honestly, if you’re not happy… do something else.
  14. Say thank you. I would not be here without my family, friends, and teachers.  I will forever be thankful for their love, support, and guidance.  Friends you chose, family you’re stuck with, but teachers are especially stuck with you… so just make you that you say thank you.
  15. Failure and ‘Not being Successful’ are two different things. You only fail when you give up.  People don’t succeed at everything all the time.  Life would be pretty boring if we did.  I wasn’t accepted into the Honor’s Program at the University of Kansas… but that didn’t stop me from still applying to the University of Edinburgh and the University of St. Andrews and getting into both with unconditional offers.   
  16. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. This is something my dad always says, and he’s right. While everything in life isn’t a straight shot, doing something halfway just is not worth it.  Just do it right the first time and then you don’t have to fix it later.   
  17. Proving things to others doesn’t really matter. This was something I told my dad I learned when he came to visit.  Growing up I always felt like I had to prove things to people.  I got a black belt and published a book because people told me I couldn’t.  I was always fueled by other people’s negative energy and not my own positive drive.  Moving forward now it’s how can I make myself better, not how can I prove to people that I’m worth something.  Because, I know that I am.     
  18.  Honesty and Loyalty. Call it growing up in a military family, but honesty and loyalty are as close to sacred as things get to me.  I can deal with stupid.  I can deal with bigots, racists, and sexists.  But, dealing with dishonesty and lies is not something I want to waste my time with.
  19. Carpe the fuck out of that diem. I try to make every day better than the last.  I know some days are going to suck, but that’s just life.  There’s always a silver lining to everything, sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to find.

So that’s my birthday post.  I’m up early to go climb Arthur’s Seat for sunrise and then join #teamtattoo today.  Tomorrow, archaeology exam and then CAPTAIN AMERICA!  Next month, 2 more exams.  June, Romania.  After that, who knows?

I just know I’ll keep working hard to be the best person I can be and do what makes me happy.

Scotland Soundtrack #9

Another playlist!

Tomorrow is my 19th birthday so I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and moving forward.  I’ve set a few goals for the coming year, but as always I just aim to stay a loyal, honest person and do what makes me happy.  Oh, and continue to academically destroy and get the best degree I can.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about home since my dad came to visit me… and stay safe guys!  I can’t believe there’s already been tornados touching down… it’s still April!  And honestly, I am a little angry that I’m not there to storm watch!  Thunderstorms (along with my cat) are one the things I miss the most about Kansas.  Just to picture, because Kansas is so flat with vast prairies, huge thunderstorms just roll across the land.  Watching the lightening was always my favourite.  And, to non-Kansasan readers, there is one way to tell a native Kansan from the rest of the population: when there’s bad weather (eg. tornadoes, lightening, etc) native Kansans go outside to watch.  But here across the pond, we’ve had some Kansas grade bi-polar weather in the last few days.  It hailed/snowed yesterday morning and was sunny by yesterday afternoon.  (How people can still argue that global warming isn’t real is beyond me…)

But, anyway enough rambling… enjoy the music.

Uni Life Update 24-4-16

vlog about Dad’s visit, revision, and exams.

Update: Spa day happened and then the fire alarm went off… I still had my green face mask on.  But, at least it wasn’t at 3 am this time.  I swear I have the worst luck with fire drills.

Spain Soundtrack

When I travel I try to always have music with me, it makes waiting at the airport/not having to talk to people on the flight a lot easier.  I also find it cool to listen to songs after a trip and remember all the cool stuff.  Anna Sun by WALK THE MOON is one of the those songs that whenever I hear it, I always think of my trip to Italy in 2013.

And because I’m lazy, I usually just end up listening to the same songs on repeat for a whole trip.  For Spain, that happened with Bleachers’ album Strange Desire.  

So here’s my Spain soundtrack!

¡Escalada De Roca!

Around the beginning of February, I was talking with a few mountaineering friends (who were, as I was, admittedly very intoxicated).  Great start to a story, I know.  They were discussing their upcoming trip to El Chorro, Spain in April.  Having never been to Spain before I started to ask questions about the trip.  It was a sport climbing trip over Spring Break to a small rural area outside of Malaga in Southern Spain.  A lot of club members were going, both old and new.  They asked if I was going, but I said I wasn’t quite sure… seeing as I didn’t really know how to sport climb.

But, I thought about it for a couple of weeks and late February I booked tickets figuring that if I wanted to learn how to rock climb I had to start somewhere.

For non-climbers reading this, my experience with rock climbing so far had only been top-roping at the CSE (the University gym).  Top-roping is when you are tied into the rope from the top anchor.  I had never climbed outside before or lead.  Lead climbing is when you are tied in at the bottom and bring the rope up with you and clip into bolts, or in the case of Trad, gear as you go.

By booking the trip, I knew that I needed to not only buckle down and finish my essays but train as well.  For the next couple of weeks, I worked on my climbing, took a course with a few friends to learn the basics of outdoor leading (bolt clipping and making an anchor at the top so you don’t lose gear), and bought a rope.

On April 5, a few days after I submitted my last essay for the year I packed everything in my Grandpa’s old USAF parachute bag (which by the way is a little bit of a hassle to move but great for packing everything) and set off for Spain.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to take this trip.

Everyone stayed in a small B&B/campsite called the Olive Branch.  It’s located in a great central spot with a 5 minute walk to the nearest craig and 25 minutes to the farthest.  It was a great spot for everyone to come back to in the evenings and cook dinner or just hang out.  They even had a small library and on my rest days I found a worn copy of a Bernard Cornwell book (a great historical writer, if you haven’t read his stuff… I recommend Azincourt.  For obvious reasons.)  In the evenings everyone gathered around for drinks and cards, it was honestly a great time getting to meet new people and getting to know friends better.  I learned how to play a lot of new card games… and lost a lot of them.  One game ended with the loser having to jump into the icy cold pool at 1 AM… that loser was me.

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yo tent home for 2 weeks

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this is how you dry the laundry you wash in the shower

Being a sad, pale, albino teen I got terribly sunburned.  Actually that’s an understatement I got absolutely fried.  However, because of my enrollment in Albino Survival 101 I very early on identified the wondrous and wild Aloe Vera plant.  I looked ridiculous cutting up plants and then rubbing the inner goo all over myself… but guys, seriously it was either plant goo or imminent death.

But on to the climbing!

My first day out on the rock was, honestly, a little nerve wracking.  The walls at the CSE are only around 8 meters while the smallest climbs in El Chorro are 10 meters.  I started off slow, gaining more confidence as I moved upward.  And like I said, everyone has to start somewhere.

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I can say though that pole vaulting definitely had gotten rid of my fear of heights.  Looking down from my climbs, I was never nervous from the height… in fact I found being up high sort of exhilarating.  Maybe it’s because I’m a short human.

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To try to recount all my climbs over the past two weeks would be a little silly… and honestly I don’t think I can remember all of them.  But here’s a few of my favourites.

Las Cosas de Lucas (5+) This one was an easy climb up the right side of the rock.  I really enjoyed the bridging and crack climbing aspect of this climb.  Plus it was really awesome to get a photo from the top.  Everyone agreed this was ‘the Narcissus climb.’  This craig was also just really cool… you had to walk up stone stairs built in the 1500s to get there. #historyyyyyy

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El Beso de la Flaca (5) This climb was a higher than than other ones that I had previously done and had a lot of different holds and moves.  But, this climb was memorable because of the caves that you had to crawl in and out of to clip bolts (read: embrace your inner cave creature).  It was a lot of fun getting up to the caves and looking out at the view.

Geisha (6a) This was one of the first 6a leads I did on the trip!  It was another crack climb with a small flake.  This was probably my favourite single pitch route of the trip.  This climb was extra memorable as just as I finished the crux and made it to the anchors to rethread and lower-off, it started to downpour. I was soaking wet while trying to work with the rope to get down!

Solo Afeitar (6a) This was a really enjoyable slab climb.  It was one of my first experiences on a slab and I found trusting the small holds a little tricky at first, but I felt like I got the hang of it.

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Lluvia del Asteroides (5+) My first ever multi-pitch!  I seconded this climb with Sam (yet another EUMC friend) (meaning I followed up/removed gear).  This climb was one of my favourites of the trip.  At 250m and 8 pitches (although we did it in 7), it was highest climb I’ve done to date.  To say that it was a step up from the indoor 8m wall at the CSE is an understatement.  I remember looking down off this climb and thinking ‘holy shit that’s high,’ but I was so taken aback by how beautiful Spain was that being that high up didn’t really bother me.  All the pitches were different from each other so I got to try a little bit of everything on this climb.  Topping out on this climb was one of those experiences you remember for a long time afterward.  It was a lot like how I remember so vividly standing on the top of the Duomo in Florence looking out over Italy.  I kept thinking how lucky I was to be in Spain and to be experiencing such a beautiful day rock climbing.

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250m up!!

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the big frontales wall, the multi-pitch is the center rib to the left of the big cave.

I flew back to Edinburgh on the 18th so I decided to spend my last day to visit Malaga. Craig, Chris (More EUMC friends YAY!), and I took the train from El Chorro to Malaga early that morning.  We got to see the Cathedral, a 10c Moorish Castle that had been built on a Roman Amphitheater, and eat fresh fish from the big local market.  Despite having been in Spain for two weeks, we had all really just been camping out in the middle of nowhere and hadn’t really gone into any Spanish towns.  So, I was glad to have had at least one day to experience a bigger Spanish city.  From Malaga I took the train to the airport and then waited there for my flight.  I arrived back in Edinburgh around 1 AM (my flight was delayed by 2 hours….) and finally made it home by 2 AM.

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All in all it was a fantastic trip and I am so grateful I was able to have this opportunity. I cannot wait to see where my climbing goes in the next three years at university!  I hope to get more into Trad climbing soon.  At the end of the day, that’s how I treated the trip.  I took each day as it came and just enjoyed being out on the rock with my friends.  I pushed myself to climb harder but I made sure that I was still having fun.  I ate a lot of food and fully embraced the Spanish siesta.

One thing I learned over my years playing competitive sports (between tae-kwon-do, softball, basketball, track, and cross country) is ‘that if it’s not fun then why are you doing it?’  This was especially true in the case of softball were I pushed myself to continue even when I no longer enjoyed the sport.

That’s why when I came to university I decided to finally give myself a break.  Competitive sports were a great way of learning valuable life skills like being a teamplayer, setting goals, etc.  I am so grateful for the opportunities I gained through them, but I knew that my time with them had come to an end.  I just didn’t feel like competing anymore.  I felt like I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore.  I just have to do what makes me happy.

Which, I think is a pretty positive outlook on life and one that I am happy to continue with.

As for now, my dad is currently visiting me in Edinburgh which is awesome because I haven’t seen him in four months!  My 19th birthday is in 8 days!! For my birthday, I’ve finally decided to get my tattoo done.  Exams are quickly approaching with my first one the day after my birthday.  And then next month, it’s off to excavate Neolithic skeletons in Romania.

I guess that’s all for now… jeez this was a long post to write.