Rome | Mr.100 Tiramisu

By Andrea Zachrich

I adore this little place. It’s right in the heart of Rome near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona (see the map below). My friend Chloe and I stumbled on this place one day by accident while we were out scoping some sales for the start of the summer sales in July, and I’m so glad we did because it is such a creative and cozy restaurant. What caught our eye at first is actually a rotating conveyor belt of tiramisu in the window (we’re easily distracted, I know). This place easily had the best tiramisu I had while in Italy (and I was in Italy for close to 6 weeks).

The black marker is where Mr. 100 Tiramisu is!

On a side note: tiramisu is one of my favorite Italian desserts. I love canolis because my great grandma used to make them for holidays, and I love gelato because it’s the better version of icecream, but I’ve eaten more tiramisu that those two deserts because I worked in a fancy, little Italian restaurant in high school as a salad and desert prep chef. My favorite part of the night was whenever we used up 6 slices of tiramisu, because that meant the container where we prepped it was empty and I could scrape out all the leftover pieces with a spoon and eat it (and there were always leftover pieces, tiramisu can be a hard desert to serve). In short, I’ve eaten a lot of tiramisu in my lifetime, and feel that I am a fair judge of how good it is.

So the only thing they serve here is tiramisu, appetizers, and wine. That’s it. But, they do have 100 different kinds of tiramisu and a fairly large appetizer menu, so you have a lot of options. My personal favorites for tiramisu were the nutella, fig (I love everything with figs though), and classico (the OG tiramisu), but they have a ton of fun flavors. I didn’t try any of the appetizers, but all the cheese plates have great reviews online and look gorgeous. As you can see from the menu, they have tiramisu with nutella, different kinds of candies, fruits, cookies, honey, and even with alcohol! The way the tiramisu works is that the restaurant starts with a base tiramisu (of which they have different kinds depending on what you order) and then they add ingredients while you’re waiting (and watching, which is cool) in order to make it into the tiramisu of your choice.

Sorry, its a bit blurry, but you get the idea.

The atmosphere inside of the restaurant is also very cozy and welcoming. The walls are painted brick and decorated with all the different kinds of wine they serve. The tables are simple, made of wood, and comfortable. The appetizers are served on slabs of wood that add to their charm. The people who worked here were very friendly, and gave us some suggestions when we asked what his favorite kind of tiramisu is.

Chloe with our tiramisu. Here we have caramel and fig, nutella with banana, and cinnamon raisin YUM

The only downside about this place is that it’s almost impossible to try every flavor that’s there because you would have to go everyday for more days that I was in Rome. I can’t remember exactly what it cost, but I do remember thinking it was a little expensive, maybe around 10 euros for three medium slices of tiramisu. But, split with a friend, that’s only 5 euros for a tasty treat (don’t quote me on these prices though). I would go here if you feel like treating yourself, or really have a craving for tiramisu because this is the best I had in Rome and even in Italy.

UK | Cheap Chap’s Checklist

By Chelly Jin

A TRAVELERS GUIDE : CHEAP CHAP’S CHECKLIST 

It’s undeniable as college students that financial concerns can have effects on stress and mental energy. It can definitely be overwhelming. But after being in London for a while, I’ve compiled my top tips on how to tackle London in a budget-friendly fashion !

FOOD 

The cheapest way to eat in London is to just cook in your accommodation.
Here’s an example of a breakdown:  

At Brick House (a lovely, lovely cafe near Brixton), I love to get the 2 eggs over easy, 1/2 avocado, toast which totals to £8.
But if you were to make the exact same dish with Sainsbury’s groceries, 6 eggs= 80p, 1 avocado = £2, 1 loaf = £1 : with the same single-size portion totaling £1.70
Even things like stirfry noodles are super cheap for £5 plates! But, making a simple stirfry noodle with pre chopped veggies and pre-made sauce (a simple chuck and cook) is still £3 total! And it’s bound to last for at least 3 meals.

However, if you are feeling a little lazy, here are some places to eat under budget:
just keep in mind, a lot of these place are to-go foods, so they make cheap&quick alternatives to late lunches or dinners : 

  1. Senate House Library/ Seoul Bakery : cheapest Korean food £3.50 bibimbap but cash only!! 
  1. Gino’s my pasta bar: 50% after 3:30pm / salad & paninis 
  1. itsu sushi : 15% off after 3pm (student discount) and 50% off 30 min before closing  (M-F 7:30-8p in one location, most are 8:30-9p) 
  1. Pod : 50% off 30 minute before closing (M-F 7:30-8p) // curry, pho, rice, dope salads 
  1. Abokado : 25% sushi and salads after 5p 
  1. Sacred : gourmet tea and coffee  
  • 50% after 5pm on sandwiches and salads 
  1. CHINATOWN : it’s pretty affordable, and for the price, you get huge portion sizes <3  

CLOTHES 

PRIMARK IS MY BABY.
Definitely some of the cheapest, with proper quality items. I bought most of my sweaters here since I  didn’t own any good turtlenecks in LA. 

VINTAGE MARKETS or THRIFT STORES ARE AMAZING 
 If you search on Facebook, a variety of thrift store companies in London host massive sales: £15 fill-a-bag sales, £1 each item sales, or just generally cheap thrift stores. 
At Pop Brixton, they had a £15 per kilo sale where you page by the weight — and you could have as many clothes as you’d like within that weight!  

Personally, I didn’t bring jackets to London, simply because I didn’t own any. Buying clothes here in really manageable and affordable ways allowed me to search my style in London. Afterwards, I gave myself the option to throw away/ donate my clothes after the semester is over (since each item was cheap enough to justify it’s purpose for a few months) or if I really came to love a clothing item, I could ship them back home if they don’t fit in my luggage.

TRANSPORTATION 

Just Walk It
It’s kind of self-explanatory, but walking is simply the cheapest and most affordable option. While, there are some days you just need to take the bus (due to rain) or the train (due to just being late college kids), walking provides a whole different experience. There is absolutely nothing better, for me personally, than feeling the chilly air on my cheeks and being able to just stop in my tracks to admire the beautiful city that I’m in.  

THINGS TO DO : MUSEUMS 

Oh my goodness, museums in London are free! They. Are. Free. 
There are some galleries with additional exhibitions that have an extra (but very affordable, and incredibly worthwhile fee). The Barbican Art Center has a show for  Basquiat: Boom For Real, and it was hands-down one of my favorite well-curated art shows by far. But museums like the National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery are literally meters apart with whole collections free for all to see.  And don’t forget about that student discount! Most exhibitions have a cost, but they also have a discounted ‘concession‘ rate for students if you show your King’s ID.  All in all, London’s pricey ways can be daunting. But with a little extra time, effort, and searching, the world is at our smart budgeting fingertips! 

UK | Self-Care

By Chelly Jin

Imagine a girl, pampered by the California sun, who for the past three years continued to wear shorts in the winter and knows absolutely nothing about how to dress for ‘chilly weather’. And now imagine the same child under the cloudy, gloomy skies of London. Seasons changing moods has a history of science behind it. And even as a student abroad student for a couple months, it’s easy to suddenly feel it’s effects or, I guess, the sun’s lack thereof. LATELY, I’VE FOUND MYSELF CONSISTENTLY GETTING SICK and also, finding a lot of my fellow study abroad friends catching colds or flus too.  And these physical trials can easily start to make the mental game more difficult to deal with. Homesickness becomes more real when I’m stuck in bed or anxious behavior is more prevalent when I get a bad cough that interrupts class.  Here are some tips I’ve conjured up in my time here in London in how to combat those grey clouds blues.

SLEEP 

I used to pull all nighters all the time at UCLA. All nighter as if it were a casual event. All nighters to go out with friends. All nighters to study. As a proper well-rounded UCLA student, I said why not both — why couldn’t I be a great student and a great adventurer. However, it sometimes just doesn’t work abroad. My body and mind weren’t used to all the stress that comes with a new environment and already dealing with a lot from the subconscious stresses of dealing with the things back home at the same time (i.e. apartment leases when I go back home, the clubs I’m still involved in back in UCLA, friends from home who still invite me to Facebook events knowing that I’m not in the country!)
I’ve been able to balance this out by being selective of my nights. I try to pick ONE night for fun until daylight. And if you’re not the one to hang out all night with friends playing rebel bingo, go home early. Sleep well. And pick ONE night to study all night. But I just couldn’t do both. Try to do readings during the day or right after class to get a week ahead start (heck, even right before class if you have to!) Try to start scheduling the nighttime activities a little earlier so the party ends earlier. 

DESTRESS 

This is an equally important one. Stress can lower your immune system, much like sleep and has indubitable effects on the quality of your mental health. Even when the excitement rushes through my veins and I don’t feel tired, my body is still managing behind the scenes to keep me together. So, make sure you take time for yourself to destress! Walk around, practice gratitude, meditate. Refer to my last blogpost on Best Places to Replenish My Busy Mind. ​ 

EAT HEALTHY 

Ugh, I know — but meat and greasy potatoes are EVERYWHERE! But in the instant gratification of all the kebabs, late night cheesy chips, on the go sandwiches from Pret, I completely forget to just eat an apple every once in a while! Seriously, I actually forgot what a fruit was.
McDonalds 20 piece chicken nuggets have become a ritual meal with friends, but I try to combat that with keeping fruits and veggies in my fridge to munch on or pack as snacks during class days. Fruits on season at Sainsbury’s can be as cheap as a pound for a sack of pears or plums. The £3 meal deals at Tesco are a meal, crisps and a drink– and sometimes it’s just nice to swap out for a salad, crisps, and a green juice for the same price.

VITAMINS  

Like I said earlier, London isn’t sunny California. Feel free to invest in Vitamin D pills or daily vitamin supplements. I also have a stash of Emergen-C or Vitamin C Green Tea on hand for the days I start to get the sniffles. ​

FINDING A FRIEND GROUP 

Unless they, too, are sick. Just kidding. There is something naturally comforting about having friends who you can rely on. Luckily, my floor mates and I will make each other ginger root, honey, and lemon tea when we’re sick or buy each other hand soaps when the other forgets. It’s nice to have people who can help you when you just aren’t feeling your absolute best or even having someone to talk to when you’re head isn’t in the right space. ​ 

UK | Replenish My Busy Mind

By Chelly Jin

And the end of the year steadily roams around the corner, pressing on my brain the impending doom of leaving this marvelous city called London. And the papers I have due that are 100% of my grade. And the things I haven’t yet done in London because I’m still trying to travel to all the cities in Europe. And the friendships that I made that I don’t want to leave. And it all stresses me out. BUT I GUESS THESE ARE GOOD THINGS TO STRESS ABOUT. My mother would always berate me that I stress when things are too good. This claim is entirely true. If I were given two awful options, I would easily choose the lesser of the two and just get it over with without much resistance. But when provided the options of the many great things to do, suddenly the choice is so much harder. Looking at it from a bigger picture, if my stresses are whether or not to continue exploring London or visiting another city, or deciding which beloved friends to spend quality time with, life is really quite great. On top of the good stress can also be bad stress: papers, homesickness, and where to buy groceries when Sainsbury’s closes at 5pm on Sundays. The point is, the end of the term is the season of winter and stress — so here are the top places that I love to go to when my brain becomes cluttered and I need a good destress. 

  1. HYDE PARK 

I went to Hyde Park with a lovely friend of mine, who I actually got to know really well on my walk to Hyde Park. As we watched a photographer pose his children by the flowers, I realized that the best part of Hyde Park is just sitting on a bench and people watching while the sun set over all the little ponds. It’s a great place to get a breathe of fresh air.  

  1. LOOK MUM, NO HANDS

Look Mum, No Hands is a cozy, bicycle themed cafe near the Barbican Centre. It was one of the first cafes I visited when I came to London and one that I’ve come consistently to. Filled with quirky bicycle decor, the back of the cafe is lined with sofa seats, comfy pillows, and outlets to charge your phone. The whole place has books on bicycles with some good food and tea.  

  1. THE ALBANY: UKULELE WEDNESDAY NIGHTS

Every Wednesday, I always look forward to the Ukulele Nights hosted at The Albany pub. There’s this cathartic nature about playing music with a group of people, alongside good food and drinks that will release any stress or resolve any busy mind. By the end of the night, I always end up walking away with more and more friends made too.  

  1. TATE MODERN + SOUTHBANK

Just walking around Southbank has always been my go-to de-stresser since the day I’ve arrived in London. With street performers around every corner, there is absolutely nothing more relieving than buying a donut or a bag of chips from a street vender and taking a seat by the Thames while listening to the world around.  

  1. WELLCOME COLLECTION READING ROOM

This is my most favorite place to come to. With bean bag chairs on the staircase, old bookcases surrounding the space, and little pieces of history floating all around the room to inspire you — there really is no place quite like this one to ease my mind. In a weird way, it has this sort of mess to it where there is so much going on at once, but it’s all in the best possible way where I feel like every corner has a little piece to discover. 

UK | Brexit Dinner

By Chelly Jin

As a recipient of the Global Blogger Scholarship, I had the kind chance to represent UCLA at an Alumni dinner event with members of the London Parliament to discuss Brexit and eat amazing Indian food. 

But first, before I even get into the event, I would just like to point out that I ended up on Nigel Huddleston’s Twitter… sooooo, I’ve peaked. 

Everyone, this is my college career peak. 

AND BACK TO THE EVENT ! 

ALUMNI NETWORKING 

One of the most impressive things I’ve come away from the event was discovering the massive alumni network UCLA has to back up our students.  I’ve met incredible women who studied at UCLA for undergraduate, moving to UCB for graduate school, making their mark in cities like New York and London in Finance. Women who’ve studied in UCLA for undergraduate years and found themselves coaching important CEOs throughout the globe, traveling the world under the pursuit of careers they are passionate about. Meeting these individuals who came from the very same UCLA roots has given me a hope that  I, too, will one day stand up alongside these powerful women. 

LONDON AFTER UCLA? 

Something I’ve been grappling with recently is this desire to move to London. I’ve genuinely come to adore London and somewhere in my heart I know I want to come back to live here. To really live here, not just ‘study abroad’. However, the reality is, is that most people I know in the US (from friends, family, and shout out to the parents…) express how they fear that by moving to London at any point in my life, I am indubitably throwing away any connection or network that I’ve worked so hard on as an out-of-state (but, now in-state) student.   

After speaking with so many distinguished alumni, I’ve realized that the network that UCLA has to offer is worldwide and not just limited to Los Angeles, or the United States, or maybe even Earth (Mars, I’m coming for you in 2020!) 

BREXIT 

Yikes, the big elephant actually leaving the room.  Despite what you may think, the main event of the night was not the study abroad kids and I getting to meet delightful alum (haha). But, this was a night to discuss the topic of Brexit, both the pros and the cons — inviting Members of Parliament to simply chat in a world that seemed to want a brawl.  

Takeaways  I gathered from the chat was two things: 

1) Pro-Brexit: ”It’s not a question of ‘do we remain, rather it’s we are doing Brexit and it’s just when. The deadline is set and the transition will take place.”   

Essentially, it was argued that Brexit will already take into affect. Change will happen, and much like winter — it is coming. The more valuable way to approach the situation is to acknowledge that Brexit is happening and developing a transition that would become beneficial. 

2) Con-Brexit : “The best thing we have about Britain is no written constitution” 

On the other hand, it was stated that the best thing about Britain is that there isn’t one rule book that all must abide by. The politics of Britain are ever-changing, molding into the newest formations of society, constantly being managed, washing away the things that don’t work in this iterative cycle towards offering the best standard of living for all. Just because Brexit is set in motion does not mean it needs to be implemented.  

As for my feelings: As an expat to this country, there was definitely a sense of self-consciousness in my reasoning to attend such an occasion. I wondered to myself, “shouldn’t true King’s students who live here get this opportunity?” However, with the context of the current American political situation, there were so many elements that aligned. All in all, it occurred to me that we, as in the whole planet, are  kind of in this mess together.  

Brexit will not just affect residents of the UK, as Trump’s presidency will not just affect solely the American people, just as every country’s politics have made tremendous domino effects onto the entire globe. Their pain and fears are much like our own. Their confusion and inability to sort of see one another eye to eye in certain political issues are much akin to us. 

How I see it, we all want the same thing: pursuit of the best life for ourselves and those we love. How we aim to do this is uncertain, may it be accepting the problem and moving forward in a different solution OR utilizing the freeform nature of society and politics to its potential in overturning and igniting change. (And certainly not made any clearer from a twenty-one-year old college student writing a blog to other college students). But, as much as Brexit is divisive just as Trump’s election, it has become more evident than ever that we must be willing to listen, to accept, and to acknowledge all in a means of working together for the one common goal of a better life. 

Special thanks to Fiona Hanson for letting me share some of the beautiful photos she took that night! Another grand thank you to Jodi Anderson, Rhiannon Yee, Monika Kraska, and Violet Del Toro for such a wonderful event and all their  help! 

UK | Finding Community

By Chelly Jin

I remember when I first applied to UCEAP Study Abroad — I remember that the first thing I thought was how I desperately wanted to leave America and leave behind the need to be with anyone. As a fourth year, I wanted to find that place in my life where I could be comfortable in my own skin, independent and carefree. 

As I set my budgets and plans for London, I didn’t anticipate the crushing feeling of suddenly being alone. At first I wanted solitude, but when I arrived, all I wanted was a community, to join a society (which they call a club or organization), to make friends.

This blogpost is about my journey in finding a community in London, both the lows but the ultimate highs 🙂 Unfortunately, I’ve joined societies and met friends who don’t like photos of themselves being taken, so enjoy some beauty shots of King’s Strand Campus! 

The Struggles of Trying to Find your Place  
The search started with dance societies. King’s does this awesome thing at the beginning of the year, which is the Activities Fair. Go to it and sign up for EVERYTHING. Don’t be afraid of signing up for commitment, because no one expects anything from you and all you get are extra opportunities to stay in the loop (top tip: use your King’s email to sign up for all these clubs so you don’t have to deal with it on your personal email!)

I came in with preconceived notions that I would join a dance team. The reality is, as a semester student, a lot of competitive team sports won’t allow you to audition or try out because the first semester is used for training while the second semester is used for competition. Thus, I showed up to dance society auditions only to realize that I wasn’t allowed to join. 

Ukulele Society 
Luckily, I had snagged a flyer from the King’s Ukulele Society booth at the Activities Fair — and although it wasn’t my initial first though when I came to King’s to join the UkeSoc, it ended up being the best!  
I didn’t bring my ukulele from home, but for a £20 deposit, they’ll let you borrow one for as long as you need! On Mondays, they have tutorials to teach you how to play (but for the people who’ve been playing for a while like me, we use it as a socializing time). On Wednesdays, we all go out to a pub called The Albany where they host Ukulele Wednesdays — a night of ukulele jamming with ukulele players all around London. There is absolutely nothing more satisfying than screaming Purple Rain alongside 50 ukulele players, trust me.

Running A Mock 
Another serendipitous occasion was joining the comedy improv society, Running A Mock. And not only joining the society, but actually auditioning to now become one of the 6 improv troupe members. Prior to coming to London, I had never had any formal acting, theatre, nor comedy experience, but these people have been some of the most incredible (and hilarious) individuals I have ever met.  
Joining Running A Mock became the family that I didn’t realize I needed. Every week I look forward to the workshops on Tuesdays and improv rehearsals on Wednesdays, with jokes and silly games that remind me to keep my head high in London — to take everything with a grain of salt and a good chuckle.  

The most important thing I’ve learned through improv is the idea of ‘Yes, And...’ In improv, this is the first and foremost rule. We say ‘yes’ to accept the challenge, the situation, acknowledge our own ideas, respect other’s ideas. Then we say ‘and’ in an act to contribute, to be a part of the solution, to move forward in progress. And this is how I decided to treat my time here in London, to look at every opportunity with a ‘Yes, And...’ — not a ‘no’, nor a begrudging ‘yes’, but a true acknowledgement of the current situation and the willingness to add to its value. 

Improv has been one of the most formative experiences here in London and I couldn’t be more grateful to this community.  

Scotland | Fun & Free

By Caitlyn Pickard

Five fun and free things to do in Scotland:

Hairy Coo  

The Hairy Coo offers a FREE Highland tour online! When I first signed up for this tour, I expected it to be a rerun of all the things I’ve seen and done in Scotland. FALSE. This tour was pretty darn amazing. It took us off the super touristy scenes and gave a little Scottish-insider looks at the Highlands. We went on a short hike to a waterfall, learned about the gory past of the Wallace monument, and, best of all, we got to feed some hairy coos! This was an amazing little one-day tour of the Highlands and cannot recommend it enough. Whether you’ve seen a lot of the Highlands or it’s your first time in Scotland, you’ll love this tour. Just make sure to sign up in advanced! They only have it during specific days, so check it out online to see what works for you. If you aren’t able to book the day you want, try going to the check-in point! You will get put onto a wait-list and, if the people who booked don’t show, you can take their seat! 

Ghost tours in Edinburgh 

They aren’t exaggerating that Edinburgh has a dark, bloody past. This free walking tour will take you back into the history of Edinburgh, with a focus on murder and death. FUN! We went when it was still daylight outside because I’m a total scaredy cat, but it still had the creepy aura to it. A few stories include grave robberies, gruesome murder, and a little magic. My favorite story was about the close we visited. The story goes, if you bring a vial of your blood and throw it at the wall, you gain access to this magical market place. This market place will grant you anything you want, at a price of course. The price is usually a piece of you, like an eye, a hand, etc. What would you wish for? 

NOTE: all these tours are free, which means the tour guides are doing it without pay. Their income = TIPS. Now, generally,  tipping is not customary in Scotland; however, free tours are an exception. If you thoroughly enjoyed a tour, give them a £5 tip or more. I avoid giving change because it feels weird; however, that’s totally a personal preference.  

Arthur’s Seat 

Arthur’s Seat is like a staple of Edinburgh. You just have to do it. The hike itself is relatively beginner, so you won’t have to worry too much about physical exertion; however, if you go during the winter after it’s rained and frozen over, it may be a bit of a challenge and you will probably wipe out on your butt once or twenty times. But it is so worth it. If the hike didn’t make you breathless, the view will. At the top of Arthur’s Seat, you can see most of Edinburgh city. Some cool history about Arthur’s Seat is that it’s an extinct volcano. That makes it especially cool in my opinion. It’s also a quick escape from the city if you just need a little nature in your day.  

Dr. Neil’s Garden 

Hilary, the most amazing UCEAP employee ever, told us about this hidden garden. It’s a little outside of the city, which is why it took me forever to go and visit. Regrets. This garden is perfect and so serene. When I went, it felt like I was breaking in since it was so secluded, but it is totally open to the public. It kind of reminded me of the Secret Garden. There’s ponds and fountains, with a variety of different flora, and it’s right next to a loch. It’s perfect for some alone time or just a pause from the busyness of life. There’s swans and geese in the loch, which sits in front of the picturesque Arthur’s Seat.

Portobello Beach 

The day I went it was sunny, which meant it was about 60 degrees. Hello summer! I met with this group called The Wild Ones. And wild they are. What do the Wild Ones do you ask? Well, they go swimming in the freezing cold water. Ever swam in the Pacific during the winter? THAT’S NOTHING. I went in for 20 minutes and was frozen to the bone for the next 3 hours. I couldn’t stop shivering! Granted, some of the members wear wetsuits, which is not what I packed for my time abroad, but a lot of them didn’t. Also, some were training for a triathlon in this water. Serious props to these members. After wading through the water and getting completely numb to the fingertips, you kind of get this adrenaline rush. It feels amazing! Like I walked out of the water feeling like a baddie. I was down to wrestle a lion at that point. I felt invincible. Until the shiver came on about 30 min later. The amazing feeling still remained, just with less invincible-like feelings. After our dip, a few of the members and I went to this little café on the promenade called Miro Café. They have a full menu, coffee, and cakes. Holy moly, their CAKES. I had a banana toffee cake and it was positively scrumptious. I can’t even begin to describe how delicious it was, so I’ll leave it to your envious imagination. After overloading on sugar, I decided to chill out at the beach and just enjoy the sun. It was a great day. Definitely one of my favorites.  

Caitlyn Pickard studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland in Spring in 2018 :http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/United_Kingdom_Scotland/Pages/host_Edinburgh/UKImmersion.aspx

Scotland | Self-Care

By Caitlyn Pickard

Throughout my college career, I struggled with depression. Additional stress as a student is only natural. With the sleepless nights and exam prompted anxiety, mental illness is quite prevalent amongst college students. Studying abroad does not help with these triggers. Honestly, it adds onto it. The new environment and lack of familiarity can sometimes seem overwhelming. When I am abroad for long periods, I have heightened emotions and feel even more alone on foreign soil. Language barriers may stop you from having deeper connections. Cultural customs may make you feel more like an outsider. Although there is no cure for mental illness, there are some tricks that can anchor you down to reality and can distract you from those feelings. One thing to note is that I have been handling my mental illness without additional therapy or medication for approximately two years now. Therefore, I have been regulating my mental illness pretty solo. If you think that study abroad may be a negative impact on your mental health, talk to your therapist or a close companion about whether or not studying abroad will be good for you. There are always opportunities to travel, but it shouldn’t put your mental health at risk. Know your limits and always take care of yourself.  

Now, with all that background, I wanted to share a couple of things that helped me during my time abroad. Granted, many of these things are personalized, but I hope that maybe it will give you the opportunity to think of things that may work best for you or may not.  

Journaling 

Something I recently picked up was journaling. In my personal opinion, my journal sucks. It doesn’t have profound thought processes or anything truly of significance; however, it is nice to have that comfort of being able to pour out everything I may have been feeling on that day. It’s also helpful to look back on days that may have been just-a-day-in-a-life, where things might have been mediocre but things were okay. It’s important to remind yourself that things will be okay. Things may just be temporary and you won’t feel this way forever. Now, this is something that works for me. Feel free to adapt for what works for you. Maybe that’s art or writing music. Just finding a way to express yourself can help at times.  

Yoga 

While I was in Edinburgh, I picked up doing yoga. I’m used to working hard, being out of breath, and sweat dripping into my eye whenever I do workouts. As an individual, I’m also a very impatient person (sorry to my friends and family that know this and have to deal with it constantly! Love you!). So needless to say, yoga was very difficult for me. I started following Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. She had a few 30 day yoga challenges that I decided to follow. I didn’t follow them very well, but I did begin to develop a routine. I began to do a short yoga video about 3 times a week. It was a refreshing feeling either waking up to greet the morning (or afternoon depending…) or to meditate with Adrienne and her quirky sweet presence. I began to feel more centered and in touch with myself. It was a nice and peaceful feeling. 

Visit a beautiful place 

Or even just a place that gives you a positive feeling. My happy places are at the ocean with the sun on my skin. Although sun in Scotland is rare, it does happen and it’s glorious. There’s also Dr. Neil’s Garden which is only a 30 min walk from Cameron Toll (see my post on Free Things To Do in Edinburgh for more info). Maybe for you going to a more busy place gives you feelings of comfort, such as a popular restaurant or the lounge in your dorm. Or maybe you like people being around, but not really loud. Try out the movies or the university library. Once you find these places, keep a mental note on where you feel most at ease so you can visit it during those moments. 

 

Distraction is key 

Sometimes you just need something to occupy your thoughts so you don’t dwell on the negative. It doesn’t need to be anything big. Something I do is take a shower or just eat ice. By having a physical sensation change, it can distract you from what is overwhelming you at the moment. Now, I’m not advising this as a procrastination method, but Netflix or Amazon Prime can also help. Watching any shows or movies can preoccupy your thoughts. For example, I watch stupid teenage dramas and get really into them, like “omg I can’t believe Matty McKibben is STILL into Jenna even though she’s a total jerk”. I will neither admit nor deny that those are things I’ve said verbatim, but you get the jest. You begin to get wrapped up in their drama that, for a small moment, you forget what you were thinking about. If you can’t afford Amazon Prime or Netflix, don’t worry! With your email address from your university abroad, you’re eligible for a free 6-month Prime trial. Just make sure you use your new country’s Amazon website (i.e. amazon.co.uk).  

Reach out 

My final piece of advice is to call friends or family. You don’t necessarily have to tell them what’s going on in your mind, but just having some familiarity can really help. I hope these techniques help or facilitate some brainstorming of things that could help you in the future. If not, well then welcome to a bit of insight on my mental illness. Having a mental illness is difficult and can be even more difficult when abroad. Just remember, you aren’t alone. Always remember to take care of yourself and take some time to treat yourself. I’ve treated myself a lot during this break. My bank account can confirm. But that’s okay. Because what’s more important than my debt is my healthy mental state.  

Caitlyn Pickard studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland in Spring 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/United_Kingdom_Scotland/Pages/host_EdinburghUKImmersion.aspx

Scotland | Highland Games

By Caitlyn Pickard

When deciding to come to Scotland, my brain immediately jumped to the movie Made of Honor, a cheesy romcom featuring Patrick Dempsy. Just the thought of getting stuck on a road surrounded by sheep, finding a thistle in the rolling green countryside, and strong Scottish men in kilts throwing around tree trunks to win my heart. Needless to say, none of these things  happened; however, I did get to see Scottish men throwing tree trunks (also known as caber) at the Highland games, among other amazing things.  

The history of the Highland games began as an effort by aristocrats trying to save Scottish culture after the British had created laws against tartan and strongly advising against the use of Gaelic. Many pipers began to compete since a lot of the dynamics of their career within clan families had changed under British influence. It was the main source of a steady income. Thus, begun the popularity of the games. This is a really watered down version of the Highland Games beginning, but it’s a few of the main pointers. If you’re interested in learning more, you should try to take the bagpiping class! It’s definitely an experience. Yes, I learned to play some bagpipe songs. No, I will not be playing them for you because I’m terrible.  

Anyways, more about the Highland Games today! They really only happen during the summer months, like late-May to August. You can check to see when the upcoming games are on shga.co.uk! So, that’s what I did in April and found that there was ONE game happening right before I leave. I decided then and there that I would definitely be going. I was lucky enough to have some friends who were also down for an adventure to the Highlands and enjoy tree trunk throwing. As you can see, I was really excited to see people throwing tree trunks. Don’t ask me why. It’s just amazing.  

From Edinburgh, I traveled to Inverness via bus, which was way cheaper than train. While in Inverness, I stayed in a hostel and decided to explore Inverness for a few days. Just so you know, if you get a chance, check out Rosemarkie. It’s the cutest little town with a lot of exploring and a lovely beach. It’s only a 30 min bus ride from Inverness. Trust me. It’s just so peaceful and a lovely refresher, totally worth it. Unless you’re a city person. Maybe not your scene. After my exploring of Inverness and surrounding areas, I took a bus to Elgin and stayed in an Airbnb with two of my friends.  

We were pretty excited about the games. Needless to say, it did not disappoint! It was awesome. In the beginning, we watched the youth play the Highland heavy weight games, such as little hammer, weight over the bar, and, my personal favorite, caber. These young men were amazing, and slightly terrifying. In agreement with competition rules, they were dressed in traditional kilts and socks for the games. Then, we happened upon the highland dancing. It was so graceful, similar to ballet, but with more cardio due to all the jumping.  We cruised around all the different booths. I found some delicious honey made from bees who pollenated heather flowers. Tony, one of the owners working the honey booth, shared information about their business with us and also lots of samples. Super yum. We also got to try different whiskeys, cheeses, and fudges at the various stands. Quite the variety. And all absolutely mouth-watering. Except the whiskey, which had a wee bit of kick. 

This was one of the most cultural experiences that I was lucky enough to participate in. The best part was that there was almost no tourists. It was an authentic look into some of the Highland culture in Scotland. If there’s one thing you have to do when in Scotland, it is to go to a Highland Games competition. You won’t regret it! I definitely don’t! One thing I learned today is that tree trunk throwing is as awesome as Hollywood made it seem.  

“Wherever I wander, 

Wherever I roam, 

The hills of the Highlands 

Forever  I love” 

Robert Burns 

Caitlyn Pickard studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland in Spring 2018: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/United_Kingdom_Scotland/Pages/host_EdinburghUKImmersion.aspx