Monday, May 19, 2008

Starting Out

I honestly thought when I returned from Hungary a year and a half ago that I would not travel again until I was a well-established professional who could afford such luxuries.  I am neither well-established nor able to afford more traveling, and yet, this evening at 5:15 I will be heading back across the Atlantic for a little more acculturation.  Since I switched my major sort of at the last minute last spring, it is going to be difficult for me to get all the necessary classes in and still graduate on time (which is a goal I definitely hold).  I need a speech pathology elective, and wouldn’t you know it, they don’t offer those during interim if you stay on campus!  So this past January I took it easy academically and studied the great sport of gymnastics for a couple hours per week instead of taking an actual interim course.  Now Calvin will still let me take three more interim credits, and the only speech pathology interim happens to be going to the UK and Ireland, leaving today.  I’m starting my day off with some Lucky Charms cereal, getting me in the right spirit to go along.

I’ve been to Scotland before.  My dad’s side of the family hails from the Highlands, and when I was in 7th grade I got to visit them with my dad.  I haven’t been back since, though, so at the end of the class part of the trip, I’ve tacked on an extra week of personal travel to visit my family once again.  I hope we’ll all recognize each other, because I know I’ve changed my look in the past 8 years!  Anyway, here is a sketch of what I will be doing the next three and a half weeks.  The class will consist of interacting with local people in various places, recording, transcribing, and analyzing their speech, and attempting to duplicate the accents we will hear.  Today I will be at the airport at 3 pm for my 5:15 flight, to get into London at 9:20 tomorrow morning (their time, not mine…).  I’ll be in London the rest of the week, seeing such sights as Buckingham Palace, Picadilly Circus, the National Gallery, Big Ben, London Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, a performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Globe Theatre, All Souls Church (John Stott’s church), any number of pubs, and my dear Aunt Kathy!  She’ll be just outside of London for a conference, and this coming Saturday we both have a free day, so we’re going to traipse around the English countryside.  It’s one of our favorite pastimes…something we’ve always enjoyed doing together of a weekend.  Ha!  It’s more like a once in a lifetime coincidence!  On Sunday the 25th we’ll go to church and then get on the train to go to Llandudno, Wales.  We’ll be there through Tuesday, and leave on Wednesday morning (the 28th) for Derry, Ireland.  We’ll take the ferry over to Dublin where a tour bus will meet us and take us into Northern Ireland, where we’ll stay for the long weekend.  Church will be there on Sunday, June 1, and then we’ll travel by coach to Belfast, ferry to Stranrear, and train to Edinburgh.  The rest of the class time will be in Edinburgh, and the class departs on Thursday, June 5 to return home.  Then my friend Jessica and I will stay in Edinburgh for another day, spending the night with my cousin Johnnie and his wife Rebecca in their flat.  The morning of Friday, June 6 will find us taking the train to Aberdeen for a day/night, and on Saturday, June 7 we’ll head to Inverness to spend that evening and the Sabbath with my elderly cousins (removed once or twice) Ian and Shona.  On Monday, June 9, Jessica and I will continue by train to Kyle of Lochalsh, where my other removed cousins Alistair and Flora will pick us up and take us to Skye, where we’ll spend a few days with them, being shown the sights I’m sure.  Skye is my family’s traditional stomping ground and home to Dunvegan Castle, the stronghold of the MacLeod clan through the centuries.  We’ll stay with Alistair and Flora until Wednesday, June 11, when we will take the train back down to Edinburgh, spend another night with Johnnie and Rebecca, and then fly home (via Amsterdam and Detroit), to arrive back in Grand Rapids near midnight on Thursday, June 12.  I hope to keep up the blog while I’m traveling, but that will depend on finding time and money to spend in internet cafes, so I don’t make any promises.  But check back every once in awhile, and maybe you’ll see my smiling face from yet another foreign place.

Posted by Emily MacLeod on 05/19 at 08:46 AM
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