Edinburgh (Scotland)

Hi family and friends,
Sorry I haven’t written in quite awhile.. now I feel like I’m just living life over here, and people might get bored of reading “I got up, waited for a phonecall, got called and went to work, the kids didn’t behave, I went home and made dinner, watched my tv show and went to bed” over and over again. But I DID just come back from Scotland, so I might as well update everyone on that! First, I guess I’ll give you a brief update since my last post. The past six weeks went by extremely fast, and they were a lot more enjoyable compared to the term before Christmas. Maybe I started to change my attitude around… In London, everyone is extremely cold here, and it was very difficult to get used to at first. I used to take everything so personally and I’d wonder why everyone was so mean! And then Christmas came and for a day, everyone was in a good mood. I think I just carried my good mood on and decided to just keep killing everyone with kindness. My biggest fear is that this culture will get implanted in me and I’ll come back to Canada acting like a jerk. So yes, I’ll say ’thank you’ when I get off the bus, sure I’ll smile at someone on the sidewalk, yeah I’ll ask that old lady if she needs help carrying her bag down the stairs. And I’ll feel good about it, because I might have made someone’s day better if only for a second. So my mood has definitely felt a lot more positive! I spent three of those six weeks at the same school, which is a school I absolutely LOVE working for. For the first time, I didn’t mind going to work cause the kids were (comparably) well-behaved! Most of the kids actually said, “Thank you” when walking out the door at the end of class. I’ve shared multiple moments on Facebook, such as my sex ed experiences. The kids were hilarious! I just loved teaching them because they were so curious about EVERYTHING, and I’m pretty sure most of them didn’t even know what sex was. I also felt glad that I was there, cause the kids seemed really open to asking questions, and I don’t feel like they would have gotten that opportunity had their real teacher been there. I explained to the kids that an ejaculation emitted up to 250 million sperm and it was basically like a big race and if that ONE sperm hadn’t gotten to the egg first, they wouldn’t exist. The kids went absolutely insane! “Wow, I am SO blessed!” “Miss, are you impressed that I won that race?” So entertaining.. However, there WERE some classes that I wasn’t so fond of. Throughout all schools, there seems to be a common theme of students poking holes into other peoples’ water bottles. I see it absolutely everywhere I go, and I don’t get it cause I don’t ever remember that happening when I was in school. Anyway, one morning, I was on my way to work and I was standing on the train and my back was feeling really weird so I put my hand there and realized that my entire back was wet! The kids had poked holes in my water bottle the previous day and I didn’t notice cause it was nearly empty at the time so when I filled it up before school and put it in my backpack, it emptied out all over me. I was SO not impressed cause it took at least three hours to dry so for that amount of time, it likely looked like I wet my pants. Darn kids! During the last two days before the break, my agent said they desperately needed a science teacher in the northeast part of the city (aka the EXACT opposite direction of where I live). This would require me to travel nearly two hours each way(!). Since it was the week before holidays, I kind of HAD to take the job since I wouldn’t be guaranteed pay. But when I got there, the man in charge was under the assumption that I agreed to stay for the next few weeks (which my agency has STILL not brought up with me – not surprising). So not only is the transportation way too long, but the kids were not good at all. I did agree with the man that I would stay for one week after the break (since that would guarantee me pay), but then I don’t think I’ll have the patience to stay anymore.
In other news, our landlords said they wouldn’t be renewing our 6-month contract due to “redecorating purposes.” While this is probably for the best (since they made our stay a living hell), it still would have been nice to have the option to stay if we needed to. Considering I’m supposed to be moving in 9 days and I still haven’t gotten a new place set up. We’re also concerned that they won’t be giving us our fees back. They took 4-weeks’ rent money as a finders fee and a void protection fee, which is basically used in the case that we don’t stay for our full 6 months and don’t find a replacement tenant, those fees can be used as security for rent. But technically (in my mind), they should be able to give those fees back once they get our last month’s rent (which they did three weeks ago). However, they said they won’t give the fees back until we check out and they make sure everything’s okay. BUT in that case (and this is the law!), they should have put the security deposit in a protection scheme (which is basically given to the government so that neither the landlord or the tenant can touch the money until the returned amount is agreed upon). This scheme was put into place when landlords started charging tenants for ridiculous (and made up) damages to flats – like charging 250 pounds to replace a lightbulb. Since our landlords didn’t put the fees in a protection scheme, they can’t really use the money as a security deposit. We’re under the impression that they always keep the fees and get new tenants every 6 months, and that’s how they make all of their money. But who knows.. All I know is I NEED that money in order to afford a new place. So I guess I’ll find that out in about ten days.
Other than that, I’ve just been enjoying life! Cooking, baking, trying out new restaurants, shopping, etc. And I just got back from Scotland! Actually, Scotland has never been on my list of places to go. For some reason, I just never felt the need to go there. However, a week before my break, I realized that ticket prices had gone way up and because I was already stressing about having enough money to move flats, I decided to just pick the cheapest place and fly there. Which actually was Germany.. but next up was Scotland and I made a last-minute decision to make the trip there. And am I ever glad I did! I’ve seen so many places now, that many of them are nice, but not many of them shock me. Edinburgh did. From the moment I got there (at 11pm, mind you..), I was in awe of everything around me. It’s an absolutely gorgeous and picturesque city! There were many moments during the week when I seriously contemplated moving to Scotland, since my visa would still be valid there. Anyway, my first day there (Sunday), I realized what I forgot (cause I ALWAYS forget something). This time, it was my toque. Which I figured would be easy to replace since there was a Primark in Edinburgh, which is the cheapest store ever (and is where I do my weekend shopping!). First, I went to check out the castle.. I didn’t actually go inside cause I thought it was too much money, but I quickly found myself getting extremely cold due to the wind. I made my way down to the main street and stepped into Primark, which had all of their bathing suits and spring stuff out. When I asked about winter hats, they said they didn’t have any. So then I went into H&M, which was the same story. And I literally repeated the same thing over and over again all the way down the street, until the last stop was a Scottish store that sold knitwear (which happened to be on sale, score!). So I was able to get a toque, which helped me survive the rest of the week. After that, I walked through the castle gardens, and then
Scott Monument
decided to get a good view of Edinburgh by climbing the Scott Monument. It’s something like 287 steps in a spiral staircase, which was SO narrow and most of it didn’t have a hand-rail. Of course, the only way up was the only way down so when someone was coming from the opposite direction, you really had to work together in order to pass each other without having someone fall down the stairs. At one point, I had someone lift and push me up in order to get past him haha The view was absolutely worth it though, and gave an awesome view of Edinburgh! After that, I made my way to the National Museum of Scotland, which was somewhat boring so I didn’t stay long. BUT I did find out that Scotland’s last wolf was seen more than 250 years ago. So that’s a fun fact! Kind of blew my mind… Afterwards, I went to The Elephant House, which is a cafe that apparently was the birthplace of Harry Potter. Apparently it was cheaper for JK Rowling to buy a cup of coffee than to pay for her heating bill, so she’d come to the cafe to write the first Harry Potter book. It was pretty cool to see, and the mocha and brownie that I had did not disappoint! That evening, I went out for dinner with a couple girls from the hostel, which was nice since it was Valentine’s Day and all. One was also a teacher in the UK from Ontario, and another was English.
On Monday, I caught a bus to Glasgow, which took about an hour and a half. Glasgow definitely had more of a city-feel to it, and didn’t really have much charm compared to Edinburgh. However, I tried to make the most of it! That evening, I went walking through the city but everything seemed to be closed, so I didn’t find much. However, I went to this AMAZING vegan restaurant! I was really able to treat myself to the food in Scotland, cause even though they use the exact same currency, the price for a meal was about half as much as it would be in London. It was crazy! Anyway, at this vegan restaurant, I had a buffalo tempeh burrito (stuffed with coca cola(?!) black beans among other things), a tomato-butterbean-kale soup, and then for dessert, I had a raw chocolate and avocado cheesecake. So good!

On Tuesday, it rained the entire day so that kind of limited what I could do. I decided to check out the Glasgow Cathedral, which was really nice! I then came upon this restaurant called “Steak, Cattle, & Roll,” which sold milkshakes. I had the best milkshake I ever had in my life – a nutella & dark chocolate milkshake. Absolutely amazing! I actually went back the next day to have another one… I had a falafel burger there, with fries, coleslaw, a corn cob, and some chicken wings. Of course, I couldn’t eat it all, but the prices were once again unreal! I then spent the rest of the night hiding from the rain by checking out the mall and the shops.
Caprese
 
On Wednesday, I went for lunch at this great Italian restaurant. I had caprese to start (tomato and mozzarella with basil), and then I had a tomato-mushroom-chicken risotto. After that, the rain cleared (thank goodness!), so I decided to check out the Necropolis, which is essentially a huge cemetery with a great view of Glasgow. It was quite muddy, but I made it to the top without wiping out! I then went to the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, which gave information and showed paintings from different religions around the world. It was pretty cool, looking at all of the differences! I then took a short walk downtown before heading back to my hostel for the night.
Risotto
The next morning, I took the bus back to Edinburgh. I had lunch and checked into my hostel, and then I went to the Surgeons’ Hall Museum, which is basically an anatomy museum with real specimens of every single thing that could go wrong in your body. Like there must have been at least ten thousand jars of random stuff. It was interesting! But I definitely felt sick towards the end of it. I don’t know how many times my mind went “Oh. My. God.” when looking at some of the items. I learnt some cool things though! First of all, apparently surgeons were in need of bodies way back in the day because they wanted to study more anatomy, so there were actually gangs who went and stole bodies from graves because they would make so much money off of them. Not only that, but there were two guys who owned an inn and they started killing the tenants, so they could sell them to a professor who would use the bodies for his anatomy lectures! I also learned that before stitches and staples were a thing, some cultures used ants to close wounds because the ants would bite the edges of the wound, and then the bodies would be twisted off. The jaws stayed behind and would keep the wound closed! Pretty cool! Other than that, I saw everything. I saw a tumour in every body part that you could imagine. I saw a lung with tuberculosis. I saw a scalp that was torn off because the person’s hair got stuck in machinery. I saw an IUD in a uterus. I saw an x-ray of a coin in someone’s throat. And then I left the museum feeling sick to my stomach, and wondering what was wrong inside my body haha You’re lucky because we weren’t allowed to take pictures (out of respect for the bodies) so I don’t have any to share. After that, I did some more looking around the shops and then had dinner before getting ready for bed.
For Friday, I booked the Original Loch Ness Tour, which was 12 hours long and started at 7:45 in the morning. It
was moreso a bunch of driving; we covered nearly 600km, so a trip to Calgary! 🙂 It was crazy how we were able to see every season at some point. There was rain, there was snow, there was rain in snow, there were coloured leaves like fall, there were green fields like in the summer. It was crazy! I tried haggis since it was my last day there. It was actually haggis in a baked potato, and it was so good! We also did a 1-hour cruise on Loch Ness, which was pretty cool as well! On the boat, I had a Whiskey Chocolate, which was basically hot chocolate with whiskey. So I got to try two of the official food/drinks of Scotland! Didn’t see Nessie though 😦 I got back feeling so tired and quickly went to bed because my flight left at 7:15am the next day, so I’d be getting up at 5. My sleep didn’t last for long because at 2am, everyone else seemed to come back from a pub-crawl or something, and decided to spend the next hour talking, giggling, yelling, etc. So when my alarm went off at 5, I felt like I hadn’t had any sleep. I made it to the airport on time though, and got back home by 10:30. And that was my week! This weekend, I’ll likely be packing my stuff up so it’ll all be ready when/if I find a flat to move into next weekend (fingers crossed!). I hope everyone’s doing well! Miss you all tons! Love always
Edinburgh – The Lake Poets