four years of bumbling

An update a little late for some but not for others.

It’s week two of fourth year.

This past weekend was spent in Glencoe.  I hiked the Three Sisters on Saturday (a walk I had done in first year and was keen to repeat to see how times had changed).  I ran down the trail back to the bus in boots and probably broke at least two toes.  That evening the club went to the historic Clachaig Inn and fondly reminisced about the snow and the hail and the rain and then finally the sun.  I learned boat races are not a thing I should compete in no matter how much I want to.  Sunday morning I left for a gentle ten mile jog, came back to the campsite by one, and took a nap until people returned around four.

I hadn’t been to Glencoe since first year, so I was quiet excited to return to see how I’ve improved.  Spoiler alert, three years does make a pretty big difference.  And since coming from Kansas back in 2015, I’ve learned a lot about mountains/mountaineering in general.  I’m still by no means an expert, but I would say I’m at least fairly competent.  It’s a bit odd now, if I’m being entirely honest, being seen by the new members of the club as one of the people who ‘knows what they’re doing.’  Especially if I think back to the some of the stupid tactical errors I pulled in the first three years of my mountain existence such as:

  • thinking I didn’t need a roll mat
  • putting guy lines of a tension tent in the wrong direction so it collapsed
  • having my water bottle freeze shut because it was metal and reversely trying to fix that by putting boiling water in a metal bottle the next day and burning my hands
  • forgetting. my. gloves.

A side by side comparison of my wholesome growth illustrated through my first year trip to Glencoe versus this past weekend for interested parties:

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spot cha girl

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Which, again being as honest as I can on this platform without further incriminating myself as a bumbling idiot, is pretty reflective of my time here at University.

For those unaware, I upended my life in 2015 and moved to Scotland having accepted my offer to study without actually visiting the country prior or knowing anyone who lived here.  At this point, as well, the longest I had spend away from home had been at most two weeks.  It was a bit of a snap decision really.  For most of my high school years, I had plans to attend UChicago to play basketball.  It really wasn’t public knowledge at the time, but I had actually been in the middle of recruitment process, having visited the university, spoken with the coach, and attended a few camps.  I applied to Edinburgh in October more as a long shot ‘what if’ but six days after my application had been submitted I was facing an unconditional offer.

By January, I decided to not even apply to UChicago and move to Scotland.

But, I am glad that I did it.

Really glad actually.

(My university saving and parents are as well just fyi.)

But, then to complicate matters further, instead of joining the basketball team as I had thought I went on the Cobbler day trip with the mountaineers.  And, after spending my formative years in Kansas, (a flat farming state in the landlocked dead-center of the USofA) I decided that I should learn how to rock climb and hillwalk.  It was a very steep learning curve, both figuratively and literally.  But it has allowed me to travel the country and see sites (including archaeological ones) that I would have never seen otherwise.

Which I guess is the point of this post? And the reason for the beginning anecdote about Glencoe. This year brings my undergraduate degree to a close, but hopefully opens up more opportunities for additional study.  And my typical fashion of bumbling around until something works out, it’ll probably crop up when I least expect it.

i wrote a thing and return to scotland

hey pals!

Sitting in Chicago O’Hare waiting to board my next flight back to Edinburgh to begin my last year of my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh.  I say last year of my undergraduate because we all know that I will attempt to prolong my eventual exodus from Academia as long as possible.  Gotta keep my student discount at the cinema people!  I’m writing from a chair this time instead of sprawled on the floor – so maybe this is the uneventful, lackluster evidence of my passage into adulthood we’ve all been patiently waiting for?

But anyway, this past week was spent in Lawrence showing Gregor, Tuva, and Erling the old stomping grounds.  And of course, it had to be the only week out of the entire year that it rained for 5 days straight.  I mean, it was good for the soybeans at least? Either way, I hope that the three of them had a great time!  I showed them Downtown Lawrence, Clinton Lake, we went to the Grinter Sunflower Farm, and got smothered by corporate love by a Bud-Light rep at the Bull who upon finding out that 2 Norwegians and 1 Scot were outside with a bunch of Lawrence Townies proceeded to give us 8 pitchers of Bud-Light on the house (in addition to the three pitchers we already had).  And yes, before you ask, we finished it all because we are not going to leave any soldiers on the field – just who do you think we are?

Other happenings… I got an op-ed published!  It’s all about youth in History and today’s political landscape.  I wrote it for REEK Perfume, a local perfume company based in Edinburgh run by a mother and daughter who create scents in honor of Historical Women.  Their perfumes are ethically sourced, cruelty free, and their ad campaigns aren’t retouched!  I’ll link to their website hereI copied the first few paragraphs from the article so you can get a sense of the piece, but please go to their website to read the full thing so they (and I) get the traffic and reading numbers!  Constructive feedback and nice comments always warranted as well!

Writer Kennedy Younger Dold looks at the phenomenal success of youth activism in politics today through the lens of history… 

All over the land, the kids have finally startin’ to get the upper hand.
They’re out on the streets, they turn on the heat,
And soon they could be completely in command.
(Sweet, 1974)

Museums and galleries are quiet places. The stern, official portraits of historical figures make it all too easy to forget the vitality of the stories on display. But, those tales demand to be told. They are the stories of the young, the restless and the rebellious. History tells us stories of many young people who achieved notoriety.

In 1777, Sybil Luddington rode twice as far as the more famous midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn of attacking British regulars during the American Revolution.  Not only did she ride twice as far, but at 16, she was half his age as well. Joan of Arc was 17 when, leading from the front, she inspired the French army to victory after victory during the Hundred Years War with England. Henry V was 29 at the Battle of Agincourt.  Flora MacDonald was 24 when she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the 1745 Jacobite Uprising. Victoria was 18 when she became Queen. Alexander the Great conquered and created an empire at the same age. Mary Shelley, at 20, published Frankenstein.  At 23, Nellie Bly was exposing inhumane conditions in American asylums.  To pile on even more extraordinary achievement, she traveled around the world in 72 days… just to beat the fictional record set in Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in 80 Days.  Flash forward to the 20th century and the rise of the self and culturally aware teenager.  In 1977, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia (age 19) (although fictional) brought hope to a galaxy far, far away. Young people shaped the post-war years: staging protests, fighting for civil rights, and writing pretty incredible music.

(Click to Continue Reading Here)

Classes this year are going to be pretty awesome and I’m looking forward to them.  I played the system and don’t have any exams – so my exam anxiety is over and I’ll actually feel like I’m researching and learning something new versus trying to memorize a bunch of facts that I’ll forget once I flip over the paper.  That and my professors will actually be able to read my essays instead of trying to deceiver my left-handed, I took Ancient Greek disaster script.

I have a full year course for my Dissertation on the Architectural Archaeology and Cultural Heritage of the Botanic Cottage the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a semester in Architectural Archaeology (to help with the dissertation), a full year Archaeological Fieldwork course, and a full year history course on Medieval Sexualities 500-1000 AD.  That last course will focus on the post-Roman world, Monastic structures, and early medieval female leaders (and fingers crossed for some warladies thrown in as well.) It was this course or one on Early Medieval Botany but the botany course had a three hour exam so f*** that.  I’d rather write longer essays.

I’m still kicking around the Mountaineering Club, and there’s Fresher’s Week to help out with when I get back.  I’m quite excited this year as I plan on hiking up to Hardknott when I’m in the Lakes this October.  Hardknott is a Roman Fort up on a mountain side in the Langdale Valley.  From it’s position it probably served as a defensive outpost for the other fort located in Windermere.  It wasn’t occupied for long – probably because it’s up a mountain and it also is very well preserved (again because it’s on a mountain side so limits the visitors.)

But, that’s about all at the moment.  I’m sure you’ll hear from me again soon. But until then…. with tolerance and respect. byeeeeeeeee.

week one

Sorry for the radio silence, things have been a bit busy here over the past week.

Last week was my first week back at University.  The week before that had been Freshers’ Week and was full of plenty of events to keep me busy.

Since I’m on the committee for the EUMC again this year I helped out at the Fresher’s Sports Fair and then helped out on the Cobbler meet.  It’s my third time to the Cobbler, but things were a little bit different this year.  I’ve got new knee braces and walking poles.  I looked like an absolute Grandmother, but honestly for the first time in about six years my knees didn’t cause me any problems.  If you’re new to my life, I’ve got some genetic abnormalities in how my patellas articulate which has caused tendonitis in both knees and has led to a few cases of ‘snap-back’ dislocation.  Yay.  I’ve been wearing some form of knee brace since I was fourteen and been through therapy for them multiple times, and while it’s always caused problems I’ve really tried to not let it stop me from enjoying sports etc.  So, when I only experiencing the type-2 fun of ‘why am I walking long distances for fun’ and not the type-3 fun of ‘I would rather step in a bear trap than have to use my legs’ I was pretty ecstatic.

My classes started up on Tuesday with a 9 AM lecture for History in Theory.  It’s one of my required classes and while it’s probably going to be a bit dry, I think I’m going to enjoy it.  Our lectures are over a variety of topics from Marxist History to Gender Theory.  I also had a seminar for my Conflict Archaeology class.  I am really excited for this course and I was really glad that I got a space in it as it is normally way over subscripted. Especially exciting is that during the semester Douglas D. Scott is coming to give a guest lecture!  Scott was one of the leading Conflict Archaeologists who basically 1) invented the discipline as we know it today and 2) lead major works on the Battle of Little Bighorn which basically reinvented our understanding of the battle!

Wednesday I had the day off and while I didn’t do much this week, I know in the coming weeks I’ll be glad to have a reading day!

Thursday I had another 9 AM lecture for History in Theory.  Thursday night was the first EUMC social of the year.  Gregor and I were marshals at one of the pubs on the crawl list and had invented a fantastic challenge of having participants eat cream crackers whilst downing a pint.  Since I had to get up early the next day for a 9-11 Archaeology seminar I planned on not staying out too terribly late. ‘Planned’ is the key word in that sentence.  And additionally, with Tuva home sick Gregor, Erling, and I had no adult supervision which learning from past experiences is never a good thing…

Friday morning I had a my Archaeology seminar about Community Archaeology at 9 AM. I made it.  I participated in the discussion.  I went home.

Saturday we celebrated Caitlin’s birthday (the fool’s real birthday was over the summer, but apparently our Facebook posts weren’t enough smh).  Saturday night I thrilled to find ‘Dirty Dancing’ had been added to Amazon Prime.

And today, I’ve spent the afternoon reading for my History in Theory lecture and then tomorrow I’ll read for my Conflict Archaeology course.  I’ll be starting in on my assignments soon as they are all due in a massive group at the end of November and I’m gonna die if I procrastinate.

out from under the rock

Coming at you live from the carpeted floor at the Chicago O’Hare Airport… it’s Year 3. 

(apologies if there’s spelling errors, I’m typing on the WordPress App and there’s no spell check. Why tho.)

After one of the hottest and busiest summers to date, I took the last 3.5 weeks to relax with my family, spend time with my one true love (my cat Rory), and binge watch the hell out of Daredevil and The Defenders.  But, it’s time to crawl out from under the rock I’ve been hiding under and get back into the world.

This morning I caught a skipper flight from Kansas City to Chicago where I am waitng for my flight back to Scotland.  I’m getting back just in time to help out the EUMC with Freshers and turn in the last of my paperwork from my excavations so the University can give me my money back.  Yay. 

Coming up this week, I’ve got a meeting with my personal tutor and the Sports Fair on Wednesday.  Thursday is the Fresher’s Preview and then on Friday, I’m back out into the Highlands for the Freshers’ Day Trip to the Cobbler.  Being so busy with excavations this summer, I didn’t get that many quality mountian days in so I am excited to get back out.  

Courses this year look pretty great as well.  First semester, I have two required classes (History in Theory and Archaeology in Practice).  My third course for the semester is ‘Here Comes the War: Conflict Archaeology and Forensic Science.’  I’m actually really excited for this one as it’s going to look at battlefield archaeology, ethics, etc.  Second semester, I only have one required course (Theory Archaeology).  The other two are ‘Crusades and Medieval Society’ and ‘Archaeological Illustration.’  

And that’s enough with the logisitical stuff.  It goes without saying that I’m excited to go back.  Year 3 is the first of the final two honours years, so I will begin to start thinking about what I’m going to write my disseration on and I’ll continue to research Masters programs.  I’m really leaning toward writing my diseration about Museum work and getting a Masters in Museum Studies.  

I’ve been volunteering at the NMS for nearly two years now and I’ve really learned a lot about how musuems run and the variety of jobs in the museum sector.  I love working with artifacts and creating displays, but honestly, my favorite is teaching people and learn new things myself.  So far I’ve worked mostly with the NMS’s youth team to plan events and help out when local schools visit, but I’d like to get into the wider educational side of museum work as well. 

I really think musuems have a unique opportunity to engage with the general public in a different way than a university.  If anything, many people only get to university to study History or Archaeology because they were inspired by a museum or a teacher.  And also, I mean, hell, we’ve got to invest in today’s youth if we have any chance of fixing things.  I remember a few times, when I was younger, being written off or been talked down to by older professionals.  On the flip side, I’ve met amazing academics who took the time to explain things to me and answer my questions instead of just treating me like an annoying kid (and, I mean, I’m not denying that I wasn’t an annoying kid…) and it made all the difference.  Because, if you don’t engage with them, if you talk down to them, and if you treat them like they’re stupid… there goes your next generation of historians, archaeologists, teachers, politicians, inventors, writers, artists… you get the idea. 

Young people who are interested in History aren’t stupid and sometimes they actually know a lot more so, eh, I really hope that in some small way I can work to fix that through museum work.  And I’d love to continue to work with that at the NMS because I honestly really love it there and I think they’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up.  

But, that’s me off my soap box.  Thanks for reading. 

I’ll try to keep this blog updated over the semester with the (cool?) stuff I’m doing.  I’ve only got a bit of time left before I board my plane and I still have to download enough Daredevil comics to last 7.5 hours. 

Sunday Adventures Without Wifi

The WIFI has gone down in the flat – cue screaming.

So apologies for lack of posting this week.  I’ve had to go to Starbs for WIFI and then I usually end up just reading for class because everything is online these days.

This Sunday I decided to actually be productive (read: stop moping about the WIFI).  So I wrote myself an old fashioned list and used up the rest of my cellular data to document my day.  And honestly, I’m not quite sure about the outcome…

For your viewing entertainment.

 

The WIFI returns on Thursday.  I’ll have Netflix again.  Thank God.

Anyway, it’s week 2 of classes.  This morning, I got my sorry butt out of bed and cycled to the gym for the 7:30 AM EUMC Core Work-Out.  I don’t think I’ve seen that time of day in months.  I came back to the flat and made bacon and eggs :D.  By then it was only 10 AM and it was a terrifying experience because I realized just how many hours in a day there actually are.  After a real breakfast, I went to the yarn shoppe around the corner from my flat and bought the stuff I needed to start knitting myself a blanket.  Scottish winters are cold.

I’m justing waiting for my lecture to start now and then after Tuva and I are going climbing at the Uni Gym.

I’ve got my first tutorial tomorrow morning at 9 AM (gross) but it’s for Modern Scottish History (YAY!).  Flat life is nice.  Although, I got major judgment from Erling and Gregor for making a fried PB&J sandwich for dinner.

 

End of Week 1

One week down.

I’ve been to all my introductory lectures and I’m really looking forward to this year.  My Osteology class looks really great, I had lectures on Thursday and Friday.  I’ve got my schedule of due dates planned out and ready to tackle my assignments.  Oh, I also picked up my new bike on Thursday (thanks Mom!). I love it a lot and it’s been awesome getting to class in two minutes.

Thursday night was ‘Beerienteering’ the EUMC social where three people are duct-taped together and then sent on a scavenger hunt like quest through Edinburgh to different pubs.  I competed last year and so this year I helped to marshal the race (being on committee and all #responsible).  Gregor and I ran one of the many challenges faced to the three-legged mountaineers.  After the last three-legged mountaineer gagged through our hot sauce challenge, we joined up with the rest of the club for lots and lots of drinks.  Mountaineering socials are fun.  Back at the flat, we made an entire bag of bacon.

But, I made it to class on time on Friday.  Granted, I took my new bike so it was like two minutes away. lol.

Friday afternoon, the flat took a trip to Ikea to pick up a few extra things we needed.  Gregor thankfully has a car so we all loaded up and drove the Ikea just outside of Edinburgh.  It was really fun going with my new flatmates, especially with Tuva and Erling being Norwegian they could translate some of the Swedish names in Ikea.  And spoiler guys, contrary to popular belief the names for things in Ikea have nothing to do with what the object is.  For instance, as Erling pointed out a toddler’s bed was named ‘snails.’

At Ikea, I picked up some more plants for my room – a ficus and a peace lily which I named Benjamin and Emile respectively. (Benjamin because I like the name and Emile after Remy’s brother from the Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille.  fave film.)  Mavis, my orchid, was glad to have some company. (side note: Mavis is growing rapidly and it’s a little terrifying, the ones I had at home did not do this.)   I also got a bag of Ikea meatballs.

Today, as I was cycling home, I passed the flower shop by my flat.  I noticed they had a tray of sunflowers outside and I knew I had to get one.  The sunflower is the Kansas state flower.  I named my new sunflower Naismith after James Naismith the inventor of basketball and one of the first coaches at KU (hometown represent!).  The last thing I’m looking for now is some lavender for my window box.  Lavender is pretty hardy so would be able to survive quite well in the window box.  Plus, it’ll make everything smell a lot nicer.  Especially with everyone airing out sleeping bags and tents.

It’s a little thing I guess, but I like having plants in the flat.  Both my grandmothers use to garden and my mom always tries to have a big garden at home.  My dad’s been in charge of the houseplants – so it’s a practical jungle in the kitchen.  It just feels a bit more like home now, I guess.

Today, I spent the day with my friends I lived with last year in Pollock.  We watched both the first and second Bridget Jones films last night and then today we went to see the new one in the cinema.  I really enjoyed it.  Really fun, nice film.

The weather today was definitely colder than it has been in last week and it was pretty cloudy all day.  I need to stop by the yarn shop to get another skein to finish my scarf.  I got a little ambitious and decided to double my stitches to make a nice chunky knit.

Other than that, life’s been pretty chill.  I’ve been running, going climbing, biking to class, drinking lots of tea, and reading lots of books.  I’ve been throwing together some new recipes with what we have in the kitchen.  I made a big vat of potato corn chowder the other week, and macaroni and cheese casserole with green peppers, onion, and bacon last night for dinner.  Putting broken cream crackers on top and then popping it in the oven was a big hit.  There’s two fresh fruit and veg places around the corner and a smaller grocer with the basics.  Oh!  And my World Archaeology magazine came in the mail today so I’ve got some new things to read.

It’s been nice.

Tutorials for my classes start up next week and the following week so I’ll be in the labs more this year.  I’m quite excited for that.  Other than that, I’ll just take things as they go and just continue to enjoy my time in Edinburgh.  I like getting my independence back this year after living in halls last year.  It feels more like home now – which is nice.

 

‘Twas the Night Before Classes (+ Scotland Soundtrack 15)

And here we are.  Fresher’s Week has officially ended (thank God).

The last part of this week has been a bit busy, we went to The Cobbler yesterday for the EUMC Fresher day hike.  It was actually a wonderful day out, the visibility was great and I think I actually got a bit of a sunburn.  Knees/asthma are sucky as usual so I’m not going to be the first one to the top … but I won’t be the last!

Since I’m on Committee this year, I helped move the Fresher’s up and down the mountain while answering any questions they might have about the club.  It was honestly a really enjoyable day.  It was nice going back to The Cobbler after last year’s trek up and see how much I’ve improved on the mountaineering front! (Fun with writing this blog is being able to look back things I wrote about.  I’ll try to link the repeats, if nothing but for the embarrassment of Fresher Kennedy.)

I’ll include some photos below of the trip.

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Today, I had another busy day at the National Museum of Scotland.  I’m part of their youth volunteer team and we are currently working on putting together a tour for the museum.  Our general idea for the tour is to present the history of young people to today’s young people.  For instance, most Roman soldiers were actually a lot younger (15-20 years old) than what is depicted in films like Gladiator.  Russell Crowe was 52 at the time of filming.  (Now side tangent: I think aging him up made a better film bc tbh I don’t really want to watch a gritty history film about a whiny 15 yr old boy.)  We’re also looking at The Teen Queen Sensation Mary Queen of Scots and The Mid-Twenties Crisis’ Bonnie Prince Charlies.

But, tomorrow! Classes.  Well… a class.  All I’ve got tomorrow is my Archaeology 2A Lecture. And honestly, that’s how my entire week is.  I’ve got on average two hour long lectures a day with some bi-weekly hour and half long practicals and tutorials mixed in.  I do have three 9ams so that’s gross.  And Tuesdays will be a little gross with a 9am Archaeology practical and then nothing until my Modern Scottish History lecture at 3pm.  Not complaining though, because I mean I don’t have any room to complain. I’m in Scotland studying archaeology.

I sound like a broken record, but I am so glad to be back to classes.  I want to learn more things and study more cool stuff.  I can’t wait to see what sort of stuff I’ll get to do with my Osteology class!

So yay.  Second Year! Enjoy the jams.

Re-Fresher’s Week 2016

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Yesterday I opened Facebook to see this.

This week has been Fresher’s Week and I’ve been quite busy.  My mom left about a week ago and since then I’ve been running about the city getting things together for the start of term.  My classes are sorted, my attendance is confirmed, and I’m all moved into my flat.

On the Mountaineering side of things, we’ve had our first committee meeting, social, and our first day trip is tomorrow.  We are going to the Cobbler (just north of Glasgow).  I remember that trip from last year, I was a stupidly underprepared Fresher.  But, as with all things… it’s been a year.

A year since I said my goodbyes, boxed up everything, and left my family’s farm in Kansas.  A year since I boarded my delayed flight from Kansas City to Newark and had to run across two terminals to catch my flight to Edinburgh.  A year since I first moved into Pollock Halls not knowing anyone in this new country.  A year since I went to my first archaeology lecture and finally felt like I belonged.

And guys, I was so freaking scared to move over here.  I loved archaeology and history too much to miss out on this opportunity but I couldn’t shake my anxieties of moving, making new friends, and my worst fear of all  – not being good enough/smart enough to fit in.  I was terrified, my panic attacks got worse, I actually started to dread leaving Kansas.  But I knew I needed to, I’d done enough reading and needed to go out and see the world.

And so I did.

My first semester proved I had nothing to fear.  I made wonderful new friends, experienced the beauty and history of the Scottish Highlands first hand, wrote killer essays, listened to even more killer lectures, and learned how to down a pint.  The past year feels like the exposition to my new bildungsroman of which I hope I have many more chapters yet to write.

By second semester, I gained more confidence in the city and ventured further outside my comfort zone.  I continued to push myself academically even getting a few firsts on some essays, traveled to Spain to climb mountains, and spent the summer in Romania (finally) on my first archaeological excavation.

When I went home in June, Kansas felt different.  My room was still the same, Rory recognized me, Downtown Lawrence still had it’s quirky charms but the vast prairie skies didn’t seem so limitless as before.  There’s obviously ‘no place like home’ but I know I’ve done what I can there.  I needed to leave, to experience new things, and chase my archaeological dreams.

And so in September, my family decided to get a new kitten (they named it Rick O’Connell after Brendan Fraser’s archaeologist character in The Mummy films) and I left. Basically they replaced me (their archaeologist daughter) with a new (archaeologist) cat.

Coming back to Edinburgh this year felt much more like a homecoming.  I wasn’t scared.  I didn’t have any panic attacks this year.  I am ready to tackle my classes and get back into my rapidly normalizing life here.  I am so happy here.  There is so much history in this city and for the next part of my life I get to be part of it.

Classes start next week and I am beyond excited to see what this year brings.  If it’s anything like the last … I know it’s going to be incredible.

So here’s to one year (and hopefully many more) in Scotland. ❤