merry christmas ya filthy animals

Heyyo it’s me.  Cha girl.  You know, the author of this blog… who for the past 20ish days has neglected her duty to tell you every minute detail of her life.  Sry.

Anyway.  To back track… I finished my semester earlier this month and spent the next few days not moving and or going up to the National Museum or the Royal Botanical Gardens where I have really sick volunteering jobs.

My mother came to visit me with plans to go to the Bothy, but Scottish weather had other ideas.  We stuck around Edinburgh for a few extra days and took a day trip to St Andrews.  I went to go see Star Wars with Tuva and Gregor and was not prepared.

I flew back to America with mom.  We woke up early, got to the airport on time, etc only to have our flight to Newark delayed for two hours.  This decreased our three hour layover in Newark from three hours to one and increased the panic as we landed in Terminal C, had to get through customs, over to Terminal B, through security, and to our gate in about an hour.  A friend of mine once said that if she ‘believed in Purgatory the Newark Airport would be it’ as well as my father famously saying, ‘I would rather experience Soviet-style security again than ever have to fly through Newark.’

And my dudes, I wholeheartedly concur with these statements.

Just quickly, I’d like to discuss how airports are in general the worst.  I mean this with full sincerity.  Airports are the absolute worst.  William Golding could have easily increased the drama and conflict of Lord of the Flies had he set his novel around being stranded in an airport versus being stranded on a island.  Airports are a terrible liminal space which cause primordial instincts to kick in.  They turn people into animals.  I have seen some shit.

(If you need food you find a Starbucks.  And because there are never enough chairs you sit on the ground and stare blankly at the 80s geometric carpet which is probably harboring all sorts of pathogens while you drink lukewarm coffee and eat a brownie purely for the calories because you slept through all the food services.  Then you have to protect your belongings by lugging everything you own into a tiny bathroom cubicle (which you would think would be designed to be able to accommodate at least a small carry on?).  And then after finding empty soap dispensers and no towels you return to find your spot on the cold hard ground taken by some other eye-glazed human who knows what they did and won’t make eye contact with you.)

But anyway, we landed with one hour to get through all the annoying gate checks.  Mom took my carry on and instructed me to run and ‘hold the plane because I am not fucking staying at another hotel and I want to go the fuck home.’ Cheers mom.

And like I’m surrrrreee there are worst situations but running through an airport is pretty horrid.  I’d like to formally apologise to the lady whose baggage chart I vaulted over… but my dude you gotta stay to the left.

We made it to the plane, I don’t want to relay any more of the trauma.  I took my seat and for 3 hours and 55 minutes the row behind me was occupied by a man and his pet parakeet.  This is not an innuendo, this man brought a live bird on this flight and even had the audacity to give this already horrid animal a squeaky toy.

Additionally, within the first hour the pilot had to make an announcement to the entire plane to remind us all that toilets in the lavatories, ‘do flush.’

But everything wasn’t all bad.  By the time we arrived to Kansas City my dad was waiting at the arrival gate with the pack of salami and cheese I had requested.  We waited for our checked baggage.

But eh, I’m back in Lawrence now.

I spent time with some friends from home and then time not leaving my house.  My parents adopted another kitten… this one my dad found abandoned and nearly dead on the front porch.  We named her Rey.

Christmas day was yesterday and Crosby woke me up way too early.  Crosby and I went to see Star Wars again.  Today was my Grandmother’s birthday.  Tomorrow I’m going to go see Star Wars again with the entire family.  Mom and Dad still haven’t seen it and I personally don’t think they’re ready.  On Thursday, I’m headed back to Scotland.





end of semester

Because I hate exams and, as exhibited previously, do not perform as well on them as I do on assessed work… I played the classic ‘what courses am I interested in that also don’t have exams.’  It worked out brilliantly.

So that’s the end of the semester for me.  I’m done early… just in time to catch up on my Christmas knitting and yarn shopping.  Sorry everyone, you’re all getting knitwear.  Yay!

I really enjoyed this semester.  My favourite course was Conflict Archeology because we got to study different aspects of conflict including human remains, battlefields, and military strategy.  We took a field trip to Edinburgh Castle and submitted a poster.  It was my first time making an academic poster so I didn’t really know what to expect.  What I didn’t expect was to cry at a uCreate computer in the Edinburgh Uni Library for three hours, but eh.  I ended up with a first on it so I was pretty chuffed.

B073641_ConflictArchaePosterFinal   (that’s the link if you want to check it out)

I also really enjoyed Archaeology in Practice because each week we had a lecture from a different type of archaeologist and it helped to think a lot about my future career and different jobs in archaeology.  My third course was History in Theory, and it was pretty dry not gonna lie.  I enjoyed a few of the lectures, but it was a required course.  I’ve learned I’m a much more practical than theoretical person.

Other great things that happened this semester including increasing the scope of my volunteering at NMS and also starting to help out at the Botanical Cottage at the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh.  It’s all very official – I’ve even got a pass.  I’m just trying to widen my experience and see what all sorts of jobs are out there.  As an American, it’s already a narrowfield for me to work in the UK on a work visa… so I may have to get creative.

The EUMC had it’s Christmas Dinner the other week.  It was a great time with all my friends and we all got a chance to get dressed up.  Honestly, with mountaineers sometimes you don’t really recognise people out of muddy kit.

I would say that more exciting things have happened this semester, but truthfully it’s been about the normal level of frantic panic and reassuring ‘it’ll be finnnneeeee’ … maybe with just a higher intake of coffee.

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First semester done.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Today’s my first Thanksgiving completely away from my family.  Or to clarify: it’s year 3, so this isn’t *technically* my first Thanksgiving away… but it is without at least one member of my family.  My mom came over in first year and my dad and sister came over last year.

This year, they’re all back in Kansas and my sister has just returned home for the first time from University.  And me?  I’m writing this from a coffee shop.  But, just because I’m alone this Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that I’m lonely.

I actually find it pretty hard to be lonely in Edinburgh… and that’s not because there are probably more skeletal remains buried beneath the city than living inhabitants.  No, I find it hard to be lonely in Edinburgh because of the history and stories surrounding everything.  That, and of course, my friends… who are truly wonderful people and I probably don’t tell them that enough.

This weekend we went to the Bothy for the last EUMC meet of the year.  We cooked up a big meal aka about 40L of vegetable soup.  We started early on Saturday morning and served up around 8pm.  It was a few days early, but being at the Bothy, cooking, and drinking mulled wine in front of the fire felt a little bit like own little Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t related to anyone there, but it felt like a little family nonetheless.  (And, yeah, sure, maybe I’m a little sentimental… but being a long way from your family around this time of year makes anyone sentimental.)

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Happy Thanksgiving.

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I was grateful for this weekend.  I had been very stressed and I was grateful for that beautiful place in the mountains.  How the sun hit the snowy peaks and how the clear the river was.  I was grateful for the stars, and how you could see Orion overhead – the first constellation my dad ever taught me.  But, most importantly, I was grateful for the stories from the people milling about and the laughter they brought with them – for the singing and the dancing and the fireworks and even the bagpipes.

If living abroad has taught me anything, it’s that the world may seem pretty big… but it’s also pretty small as well.  The places and the people may be different but the feeling of the holidays remain the same.

Thanksgiving has been and will be a day for stopping and looking at the wonderful life around you.  It’s for realising that things aren’t as bad as they seem.  It’s about giving thanks for the places you’ve been and will go and the people you’ve met and will meet along the way.

lol what is a blog ???


Sorry, Mom, for the absence.

Things have been a little crazy.  I’ve turned in four essays so far.  Deadlines were very close together with one on 1 Nov, 2 on Nov, and 1 on 7 Nov… hence the radio silence.

I’ve still got to design a poster and start on my final three big essays for the semester.  SCREAMS.

But, if any consolation… I don’t have any exams this semester so that’s nice.  Just death essays.

This week has been pretty great so far…

On Monday, I have a meeting at the National Museum to help discuss what sort of things young people would be interested in.  The NMS just got a huge grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Since I volunteer at the museum with the youth engagement team, we all got called in for a consultation with museum staff and Young Scot staff.  We talked about ‘what is heritage’ and what we should expect from future museum programs.  They also gave me food and unlimited coffee so I was pretty happy.

Tuesday. I woke up late and barely made it to class on time and then was locked into academia from 9-1 and because I was running late didn’t have time for food and nearly starved to death and then one of my pins fell off my jacket and I still haven’t found it and I’m still crying about it.

TODAY! I also got up late and had to run out the door to be at the Royal Botanical Garden for 10.30 to get my pass photo taken because surprise! cha girl is also volunteering there now! I’ll be working at the Garden Cottage which hosts a lot of educational events.  They brought me into help plan events for teens and students!  I attended the interdepartmental meeting today which was a bit overwhelming for my first day but they gave me free food so it was okay. (It was pumpkin soup made from stuff grown in the garden FYI.)  I’ve got another meeting there next week Wednesday to talk more with the education department.  I’m v excited.

But, yeah.  I came home after the meeting and drank a lot of coffee.  I talked shit with my dad over the phone for liiikkkee an hour or so until my phone died.  Then I actually had to get to work and so I read the entire publication about the mass graves at Towton (a battle during the war of the roses (1461) which pretty much paved the way for bby edward iv to become king of england… which im still really conflicted about because eddie 4 was fighting against henry ‘son of bae’ vi and while i’m like eddie iv is the better candidate my loyalty to henry v really causes a lot of internal strife and turmoil and it all comes down to the fact that if bae hadn’t died of dysentery in 1422 we wouldnt have this problem.)  for my Conflict Archaeology class.

And, now I have to somehow try to condense all that information to a poster and write three essays by December 5. Which is, as much as I cry about it, actually quite doable and I just have to stop whining about it and ‘getter done.’





lakes lakes lakes

This weekend I traveled down to the Lakes District with the EUMC.  It’s my fourth time in Great Langdale, but, gosh, it’s always so pretty.  Even when it’s crap weather.

We left Edinburgh per usual on Friday night, arriving late and of course in the rain to the campsite.  I pitched my tent quickly… but of course everything got soaked anyway.  Saturday a group of us (Ellie, Tuva, myself, and some new members.  We were later joined by some veteran Yummicks as well.) walked to Pavey Ark for some good scrambling up Jack’s Rake.  The weather thankfully held out for us during the scramble which was nice.  For the laywoman, a scramble is more technical than a walk but does not require to be roped up like a pitching a climb.  Jack’s Rake was really fun with a few chimneys which required a little bit more climbing and some decent exposure down to the valley.

Here’s a photo of Pavey Ark, one of the Langdale Pikes.  I’ve drawn the green line to show our line of ascent.  This obviously it’s my photo (i stole it from wikipedia) because lol what is the sun?

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Here’s what it looked like for us.

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photo from Saturday's walk.

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Still nice tho.

After a long day, my feet were soaked and gross and wow am I glad I brought extra socks and talcum powder.  Tuva, Erling, and I cooked dinner at the campsite.  Then we all went to the pub.  We all love the pub.

Sunday morning was slower but just as exciting.  I took a larger group of newer members on a chilled valley walk to Ambleside to see the Roman Fort there.  I’d been there in first year, but knew the walk and it was pretty relaxing.  Wasn’t anything major but was a chance to see some of the smaller villages and valleys of the Lakes District.  It was 20km round trip, but was mostly flat and along well established trails so we kept good pace.

We stopped at the Roman fort just on the banks of Windermere, one of the larger lakes.  I showed my group the ruins of the Roman granary and we stopped for lunch.  I contained my feelings and didn’t cry this time lol.

We left the campsite on Sunday night a little after 6pm.  I got back to my flat around 10pm.  My feet are gross but it was a good weekend.

Yesterday, I had a volunteer meeting at the NMS and then later that night I watched the new episodes of Victoria and Outlander with Ellie, Caitlin, Sophie, and Urte.  I have never been more stressed in my entire life than I was during the last four minutes of this week’s episode of Outlander.  Then I came home and thought it was a good idea to stay up until 4.30 am to wait for the new Star Wars trailer because it was released America time.  Spoiler alert: it was completely a good idea.  I had a 9am lecture this morning and another two hour seminar coming up in a bit.

I’m v tired. l8r.

2/3 Exams Complete + Scotland Soundtrack 20

Heyyoooo! Two exams down and one more to go.  I had my Archaeology 2A exam on Saturday and finally 2k16 cut me a break with questions on both the Roman Army and Iron Age Scotland!  This morning I had my Osteology exam and 2k16 must really be sorry for the shit storm it realeased this year because the exam questions were glorious.  I felt really good about both exams, so that can either mean I did well or screwed them up entirely… but I feel like it is the former.

But, here’s to Wednesday – I hope that my luck doesn’t run out.  Wednesday is my final exam for this semester, Modern Scottish History.  Out of the three, this is the exam I’m probably the most worried about because instead of two essays in two hours like the previous exams, this one will be three essays in two hours. (Like my hand already doesn’t hate me after two exams and climbing…)

Today, after my exam I came home and played more Tomb Raider to decompress.  I’m nearly to the end of the game and it’s getting that part where playing it becomes increasingly dangerous to my productivity… that and it has me yelling at the television in both triumph and fury.  Both of which Tuva, Erling, and Gregor think are hilarious.  Later this after I had a volunteer meeting at the NMS, we’re probably going to have our tours running soon so stayed tuned.

Tomorrow, it’s one more final day of revision.  I’ve got three more episodes of the Scotland documentary to watch just to refresh and to read over my notes one last time.  I also need to talk a quick walk down to find my exam hall.  It’s in a new building I haven’t been before.  I’m not too worried about the concepts, just mostly the time constraints.

I generally tend to freak out over things and when I’m actually taking the exam everything usually turns out just fine… which can also be said for a lot of things in my day to day life.

But anyway, study tomorrow.  Exam Wednesday morning.  Final Xmas shopping on Thursday.  General packing and last minute stuff on Friday.  9:05 AM flight on Saturday morning.  Busy.  Busy.  Busy.

revision, exams, etc

Hello lovely readers! I’ve got my first (of three) exam tomorrow (Archaeology 2A!!) and I’m feeling confident about it but still slightly stressed.  The next on is on Monday and the last is on Wednesday.  It’s busy but I’m glad to get them over with so I can go back to Kansas and hang out with my cat.

I’ve been deep in revision the past week by reading over my notes and catching up on a few lectures I missed because I was sick and didn’t want to infect everyone else with a terrible awful cold.

Just because I thought you all would be interested and not because I don’t have anything else to write about… I figured I’d share with you how I revise for exams…

Generally speaking, I try to avoid attempting to learn new things during revision.  I’ve sort of accepted that if I didn’t learn it over the semester I’m not going to learn it now… which I’m not really sure is a good view to have but this forces me to spend my time synthesizing and better understanding the topics I read about and do understand.  Because, honestly, I’ve learned it’s better to understand 4-5 topics really well than mediocrity understand a whole bunch. Example: my archaeology class covered from the Mesolithic to the Roman Iron Age in Scotland, I focused my time on the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman Iron Age, and ‘Archaeology and the Public.’  I only have to answer two out of six questions and I know there should be two out of those topics.

I’m also a huge fan of documentaries and podcasts.  Reading all the time gets really boring and after a while I tend to lose focus so by switching up my tactics I tend to get more done.  And while, yes, documentaries and podcasts are going to be more general than the specifics from reading and my notes they offer a good contextual overview that truthfully in history is really nice to have.  For my Modern Scottish History class, I’ve been watching the BBC Scotland series.  It’s a little broad but again, it’s a really nice way of condensing the information into something easily understood by a wide audience.

I’m also a big fan of breaking out the markers and colouring some spiffy charts or drawing my notes.  I’m made quite a few for my archaeology and osteology classes.  You can check those out below.

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But, lastly, and arguably most importantly I go do other things.  I’ve gone to the NMS, running, and climbing this week.  I’ve also hit up the pub quite a few times when 18c Scottish politics just gets a bit too annoying.  I take the time I need to study but then realise when I’ve hit the study limit and put the books away for a while… and play Tomb Raider… I mean Lara Croft is an archaeologist so it does relate… I actually just got back from seeing the new Disney film, Moana. It was so good and the animation was beautiful.

So that’s what I’ve been doing this week.  A lot of studying but also making sure to take some time to go to the gym or go for a run to get some fresh air before exams drive me crazy… enjoy this nice video instead of a weekly vlog.





Seven Essays Later

It’s week 11.  Don’t forget to vote so I can sled dogs.

This semester has been picked up by Millenium Falcon and thrown into a hyper-jump.  Or at least that’s how it feels.

But! Seven essays later, here I am.  I just submitted my last Archaeology Report on the Traprain Law Treasure (a giant collection of Roman hacksilver discovered on Traprain Law… east of Edinburgh … in 1919) and what it tells us about Roman Scotland in the 5c.  This is probably my favourite essay I’ve written this year because it’s at the beginning of the time period I really love – the (not really/the name is product of Victorian antiquarians simplifying history) Dark Ages.

Story time:  When the Roman army left Britain c. 410 CE Rome itself didn’t leave.  Roman silver (like the Traprain Treasure) was used to pay off local elites and establish proxy governments to govern in the name of Rome.  These proxies didn’t work because … seriously who, after being handed over a ton of silver, would go ‘Ah yes.’ *rubs hands together manically* ‘I am know the sole powerful elite in the area.  I have all this money to buy shit and do stuff.  The Roman army is no longer here to harass me… but I’m still going to govern for them.’ lol no one.

The local elites, took advantage of the power vacuum created by the retreat of Roman and established the early petty kingdoms of the EMP (early medieval period).  This is most clearly see in England (where there was a larger Roman influence than in Scotland) with the establishment of the Northumbrian Heptarchy and later Saxon kingdoms.  HOWEVER, in Scotland we do see the rise of the Kingdoms of the Old North: The Gododdin, Strathclyde, and Rheged.

The Traprain Treasure is a huge give away to the weakening of Rome on the fringes of the Empire, especially given Traprain’s location on the fluctuating frontier.  Fun Fact: It’s located between the Antonine and Hadrian’s Wall, in a sort of liminal semi-DMZ, so depending on what part of the 1-3c you’re talking it could either be considered Roman or Caledonian.

Anyway, as you can see, I get really excited about the Dark Ages.  To be honest, it’s probably because in order to understand the period you have to look at the archaeology and the historical records.  In order to find the archaeology you need to look at the records.  Albeit, the records were often written 200-300 after the events… so you need to look back at the archaeology to see what parts of the records you can trust.  It’s like a puzzle.

The Dark Ages are also really cool to study in Britain because the island is a model of shifting political and cultural activity.  The new kingdoms are drawn up on the borders of the old Roman governances and the people continue the uses of a lot of Roman goods and centres.  It’s almost like a dystopian history, especially during the 5-6c where the memory of Rome was still very fresh in people’s memory.

There were some recent excavations at Crammond (south of Edinburgh) where they discovered multiple 6/7c burials in an old Roman bath complex.  Clearly the baths were not in use anymore… but the people still held them in high regard, enough to bury their elites there.  Contemporary writers such as St. Patrick and Gildas also look back at Rome really fondly… it’s fun to see how the views of Rome shift.

So that was my last assignment before exams!

I’m a little tired today because of uni work but also staying up a lot later than I intended playing Tomb Raider.  My Dad, while pretty cool, is also incredibly evil.  He gave me my Christmas present early JUST so that he could be here to see the moral dilemma.  Spoiler alert: It’s an Xbox with the new Tomb Raider. As he said, ‘It’s a gift from me to you… but also a gift from you to yourself.  May you learn discipline and time management.’  …. great.     

So apologies for lack of posting, frankly I’ve been terribly busy.  Things got a little hectic this week with general exam freaking out and essay finishing.  I have a bad habit of underestimating what I actually know.  While I do know a lot, I feel, at times, I know very little… so I’ve stress read a few books over the past couple of days and watched plenty of supplemental documentaries.

I went for a run today through the Meadows to Holyrood Park and up the Crags just before sunset.  It was really pretty and gave me sometime just to chill out.  Between the Election and four essays due this month… things have been really crazy.  I haven’t had time just to decompress.  Which really isn’t good for people who struggle with anxiety like myself. If I’m not given time to decompress I find myself getting overwhelmed really quickly.  So, I sat for a while at the top of the Crags, listened to some music, and just looked out to the city… and guys I know I want to be a Medievalist so I’m really biased, but Edinburgh castle is a stunner.  And the fact it’s been here for so long made me feel better about things in the present… and if I’m going to be brutally honest, I’m nervous about returning to the States following this election.

Tomorrow is the EUMC Christmas dinner, it’s always nice to get the entire club together for a big social event and force them to not talk about climbing… which is easier than it sounds.  Friday, Moana comes out here in the UK and I haven’t gone to see a film in a while so I figured I’d go to that.  On Saturday, my flat is throwing a Christmas Party.  Next week I’m pent up to revision for my first exam… on Saturday.  By this time in 2 weeks, I’ll be done with this semester of university and headed back to Kansas for Christmas.