An American Abroad: Conclusion of time abroad inspires revisit to Edinburgh

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One of the best parts of study abroad has been the numerous day trips I have gone on. During the past two weekends, I took day trips to Edinburgh and York. I have been to both cities before, but both were so great they deserved another visit.

My good friend Madison and I set out for Edinburgh Nov. 21. It would be my third time visiting, but I needed one last day in my favorite European city.

We arrived by train around noon and spent a couple hours perusing the Scottish National Gallery.  The rooms kept unfolding before us, full of immense paintings and busts lining curving staircases.

Afterward, we walked over to the Royal Mile and had afternoon tea and scones at Deacon’s House Café. Then we peeked into several shops, including Scotland’s version of Vera Bradley, Ness. I bought a soft knit hat to keep my ears warm from the Edinburgh wind.

We trekked back toward East Princes Street Gardens under the darkening clouds. It had been sheer luck that we decided to visit Edinburgh on the opening day of the European Christmas Market.

The market ran through the gardens underneath the awe-inspiring Edinburgh Castle. Madison and I walked straight to the Big Wheel and bought tickets.

We sat in our enclosed carriage as the Ferris wheel took us above the city, and of course, we took pictures like overexcited schoolgirls.

We looked around the tents in the market, which were selling delicious crêpes, roast meat and mulled wine. It began to rain, and Madison and I decided to eat inside at an Italian restaurant called Prezzo. We both had lobster spaghetti before walking back to Waverley Station and heading back to Sunderland.

Following in the Christmas spirit, my friends and I took a university day trip to the York Christmas Market last Saturday. Madison and I found the markets right away. They sprawled in two directions and were crowded with weekend shoppers.

The tents had everything from jewelry to fudge to cherry-flavored gin and brandy.

Once we got hungry, we wound our way to Betty’s Café. We had eaten in the tea rooms during our last visit and could not pass up another visit. Madison and I shared a pot of Earl Grey tea and split two giant fruit and spice scones, known as Fat Rascals. We talked about how much we would miss the peaceful atmosphere of English tea rooms.

Madison and I strolled the narrow cobblestone streets in the afternoon, looking into shops, walking beside the River Ouse and chatting in the park beside the York Minster.

We bought chicken pasties for dinner before catching our bus home in the evening.

I will spend my last weekend in Prague before flying home Dec. 13. It’s insane to think that I only started this trip a mere three months ago. I feel like I have lived in Sunderland for ages, but I also feel like I just got off the plane yesterday.

Either way, in the words of Nelson Mandela: “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

I know I will return to Clarion changed. I am so thankful to have shared this experience with you, and I hope you have enjoyed watching me grow as both a writer and a young adult.

Before I part, I have one last thing to share.

I have used the same tagline all semester (Until next time, cheers!) without truly knowing what cheers meant. I knew the word was stereotypically British and would fit my column. However, during my time here in England, I have learned that cheers can mean hello, goodbye and thank you. The British people have incorporated “cheers” into every part of their culture. It’s a lovely and diverse word, and now I can use it meaningfully.

So, until next time, cheers!

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