A guest post here from the Summer Reception Officer 2012, Craig Scott. This is well worth a read, especially if your new! You’ll get a good idea of how an IAESTE summer looks. It even made me all teary eyed!
“Time flies when you’re having fun.” Well clearly we’ve had fun, fun, fun, as this summer has absolutely flown by! With only a few trainees throughout Scotland, now seemed as good a time as ever to make a short summary of the trips, parties, adventures and more.
June, the start of the summer (does the summer ever start in Scotland you may ask!) and within the space of a few days we went from having no trainees at all to having approximately 30 between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Clearly for the first few days remembering names was a problem, though trainees also had the added problem of trying to understand what on earth the Scottish folk were actually saying!
What better way to break the ice then, than head to a ceilidh, so that’s exactly what we did in the first weekend in Glasgow. Some dived right in and embraced the Scottish culture. Others were a bit slower to get involved and took part in another Scottish tradition: sit at the bar and watch the football.
The first summer trip, and despite the fact I was there, I can hardly remember a thing about it. Oh yes, RAIN. The beautiful Loch Lomond provided the location and the Scottish weather didn’t disappoint us, giving the newly arrived trainees a taste of the real Scotland: wind and heavy rain. This wasn’t enough to dampen spirits though (excuse the pun), as we took a boat ride out onto the Loch and then with the weather improving slightly, we took a short walk along the water side. In the afternoon there was time to check out some sea life in the aquarium, do some shopping or simply relax in the pub.
And so it was from here on we had our weekly social meetings: Tuesdays in Glasgow, Wednesday in Edinburgh, giving us all a chance to meet up in the pub, discuss the previous weekend and look forward to what was coming next.
Our first party of the summer was the hat party. Some sort of random headwear was required and with a few new faces this was a good opportunity to chat over some beers and laugh at how ridiculous each other looked. The next morning and St Andrews, the home of golf was our point of call. And we wasted no time, by heading straight to the famous Old Course for a quick look and then onto the Himalayas putting course, where our golf skills were tested to the max! A bit of time relaxing on the beach and testing out the North Sea (brrrrrr!!) was followed by lunch and ice cream, before we headed onto the castle and cathedral. We spent some time exploring and having fun, but before long it was time to leave, making our way back home. However the fun never stops here and we soon turned a good day into a great night, as we experienced a Glasgow nightclub for the first time as a large group!
Midweek socials were fairly diverse, from the cinema, to an art gallery (which ended in the pub), to football and basketball, which resulted in more than a few bruises as the competitive side of many people came out!
Our first overnight trip was to Arran and it was a lovely sunny day that awaited us, as we left by coach, making our way towards the ferry, before making the short trip over the water to Brodick. Once we arrived, we made our way to the only whisky distillery on the island, where there was in fact a festival taking place. A whisky master class, allowing us to try a number of drams, good food and live music greeted us, and despite the fact the promised ceilidh never materialised (replaced by a rather odd rock group) we still had a great time. Once at our accommodation we tucked into traditional haggis, neeps and tatties, and then chilled out with a bonfire on the beach. Day 2 gave us a chance to see more of the island, taking in the standing stones, caves and enjoying the beautiful coastline.
The “no cups party” kicked off the start of July and was as interesting as usual, with people bringing all sorts of drinking vessels from cardboard tubes, to teapots and even hollowed out fruit and vegetables! The next morning we headed to the capital, Edinburgh, for two days of sightseeing. Unfortunately once we arrived the weather turned and the rain poured down as hard as I can remember for a long time, but we persisted, taking in such sights as the Royal Mile, Scott Monument, the Scottish parliament and Edinburgh Castle. By far the best part of the weekend was the ceilidh that we had in a small church, enjoying a few drinks and dancing to traditional live music, which was really great fun! Later in the week, the midweek Edinburgh social was a pot luck night, meaning everyone prepared some food from their own countries, and from what I hear it turned into a great party!
Before we knew it, we were at the climax of the summer, our flagship trip to Skye. 4 days travelling to some of the most beautiful places in Scotland awaited us and as we set off there was genuine excitement in the air. After the now “famous” human rope icebreaker game, we travelled through Glen Coe, and stopped off to see the (Harry Potter) steam train, before travelling by ferry (where we were dolphin spotting) to the Isle of Skye. A quick stop for fish and chips before we arrived at our accommodation and the night’s party began! We spent the next day learning some Gaelic (traditional Scot’s language) and then took a breathtaking walk through the hills, before it was time for everyone’s favourite part, the international evening. With 27 countries represented there was plenty of variety; everyone made a fantastic effort, preparing wonderful food, whilst there was a range of refreshments including whisky, vodka, and rakija! Despite the great weather we were having during the day, at night it wasn’t so good, and so a few who were camping used this as an excuse to continue the party inside all night!
We began the next day with a visit to the Talisker whisky distillery, and then with the sun out, headed towards the beach to take part is some seal spotting. We topped of another great day with a bonfire and toasted marshmallows. Our final day and we traveled to one of the most beautiful castles in all of Scotland, Eilean Donan, and then along the banks of Loch Ness to Urqhart castle, where we tried to spot the famous monster! Our last stop was the famous battle site of Culloden, which afterwards we made our way back home. Incredibly tired and back in Glasgow, the logical step was to call it a night, but IAESTE people are such a fun loving bunch, that we decided the pub was a better idea!