Last full day of Butler orientation. Much less interesting than the day before. Learned about our homestays, got our Uni IDs, I went on a walk and took a bunch of pictures, then in the evening after dinner got coffee with some people. With awesome names.
I was the first one at breakfast. I think a lot of the people in the group are pretty preppie. Presuming this is a relatively representative sample of American college students (perhaps unlikely), that’s unexpected, for me at least. First thing today, a guy talked to us about our homestays and we found out where we’re going. I’m going to be going to Stirling, and staying with a middle-aged couple. There’s another guy from the program who I don’t know staying there with me. Then, we did lots of boring registration stuff with the Butler people. Ick. Finally, a Minister of Scottish Parliament came to talk to us, supposedly about the political climate in Scotland. He was from the Scottish Nationalist Party, so what he did have a lot to tell us about was the issue of nationalism and independence in Scotland. Interesting stuff, but not exactly as wide a picture of the political landscape as I had been expecting and hoping for. I wanted to learn what all the big issues were, instead we learned a lot about one. Oh well. I’ll be here a while; I’ll figure things out. Afterwards, we had lunch.
In our long free time before dinner, I took a leisurely walk around the city. I started at the top of the Royal Mile, and walked all the way down to the end. I personally think the new Scottish Parliament building is gorgeous. It is rather jarringly modern compared to much of the rest of the architecture in the city, though. Then I walked on up to Calton hill, the third high point in the city after Arthur’s Seat/Salisbury Crags and the Castle. There are a number of quirky monuments there. The most out-of-place-seeming is the National Monument, which was supposed to replicate the Parthenon, but only about a quarter was completed. There are several roughly cylindrical towers commemorating various people: Admiral Nelson, Robert Burns, and some random Uni professor, Dugald Stewart. Apparently he did philosophy. Who knew. But his monument’s about the same size and design as the Burns monument, and I don’t think that’s appropriate. I then descended and started walking along Princes Street, the main boulevard of the New Town (though not central to it). There was an oatmeal-thick throng of people, and all the shops were big chain stores. The street looks out over Waverley station. There’s the enormous monument to Sir Walter Scott there, right next to a brightly-lit ferris wheel that isn’t quite as tall. I kept on walking down the street, curved around the Castle, then went up the Old Town side and up to the Castle Esplanade. That’s a big courtyard area between the Castle itself and the top of the Royal Mile. I walked around there a while, realized I was very tired, and went back to my room to chill out for a bit.
Dinner was at a restaurant a little walk away. It was decidedly unimpressive. The food was good, but there wasn’t nearly enough for me, and we didn’t get to order stuff; it was just given to us. However, I was able to name all ten or so people at my table, which was an accomplishment. Again, I sat next to the people I don’t like, or rather, they sat next to me. Maybe they like me. I don’t think so. Who knows. Only one more day after this one.
After dinner and a spell in my room, I went out and happened to meet up with some people from the program. We went to a coffee shop across the street. There were four of them. The one guy, Keith, I had met several times before. Economics at Whitman College in Washington state. The other three, though, I had never met, and they have the AWESOMEST names. Henny is a computer science major at Wesleyan. Z-Z and Rogan are both English majors and Rugby players at Bowdoin. Aren’t those delicious names? And they’re all their actual names, Z-Z being a nickname for Alexandra (long story). Anyway, all four of them are really nice. It was fun, even though the caffe machiatto I had (cheapest thing short of an espresso shot on the menu) happened to BE basically an espresso shot. Oh well. Sugar can make even the most bitter of caffeinated beverages palatable to my pampered tongue. Afterwards, I stayed up and did a lot of computer stuff, then went to bed.