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Core Course Travel Week: Edinburgh

This week I headed to Edinburgh, Scotland with my Forensic Psychology class for travel week 2! Core course study tours combine academic, social, and cultural visits. We stayed in old town, and it was so beautiful. It incapsulated everything that I love about Gamla Stan, minus all the color.

MONDAY

We arrived Monday afternoon after a very long travel day and a breakfast of hot dogs (don’t ask). In the afternoon we headed to Prestonfield House for afternoon tea! I’ve never done anything like that before so it was a very cool experience, despite feeling kind of out of place (we were all in our airport clothes). We had a variety of savouries, sandwiches, scones, cakes, and tea. They were all absolutely incredible. I concluded the night by hanging out with friends and celebrating one of their birthdays!

TUESDAY

We got up early Tuesday morning to do a hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. I was reluctant, especially given that it was pouring rain and cold, but I’m surprising glad that I did it. Despite the slippery rocks and mud, my group made it to the top in only 25 minutes! So far I’ve loved that Edinburgh is a mix of mountains and city. I love being able to peek at little slivers of cliffs in between the buildings.

After a much needed rest, we went on an Eat & Walk tour throughout the city. We stopped at four different restaurants where were given a sampler of a traditional food and drink of Scotland. I even tried haggis, which still freaks me out and I’ll probably never eat it again, but I did it!

WEDNESDAY

Wednesday morning we departed early on a bus to Glasgow. In Glasgow we had our first two academic visits, Kibble and SISCO.

Kibble is an organization that works with at risk kids, either the risk of harming themselves or others. We got a tour of their secure care facilities and discussed the work of forensic psychologists within the organization. Although they acknowledged that the place still felt a bit like a prison, given the necessary security measures, I appreciated the effort to treat these individuals as human beings rather than criminals.

SISCO is an organization that attempts to bridge the gap between prison and outside communities. They work primarily with those that have been released regarding addiction, relationship building, and reintegration. All of the employees felt so passionate about their work, which I think made us all a bit emotional.

After returning to Edinburgh, I went to the Royal Mile Tavern for dinner. The food was delicious, and it was fun to check out the pub scene in Scotland since it is so popular.

THURSDAY

On Thursday we had our third academic visit at the Edinburgh Police Station. We spoke to both a police officer and a detective about their everyday work for the Scottish police force, as well as the unique challenges they face policing in the city.

After the visit we had the afternoon to ourselves. My friends and I went to a few charity shops and ate some delicious lunch at a pub.

Thursday night we had our much anticipated murder mystery dinner. An acting company from Glasgow came to perform a murder mystery script where we had to work together to figure out who did it through questioning and clues. I’ve never had the opportunity to do anything like that before and it was so fun. Impressively, all of the groups correctly solved the murder!

FRIDAY

Friday was our last full day in Edinburgh (very sad). In the morning we had our final academic visit to Shakti Women’s Aid. This organization helps black and minority women experiencing domestic violence and abuse. They work with clients from all backgrounds and nationalities, helping provide legal, financial, and emotional support for them and their children. This visit opened my eyes to the unique challenges that women experiencing intimate partner violence face when immigration is involved. I hadn’t previously considered how complicated it can be to leave a volatile situation when visas are involved.

Once again we had the afternoon to ourselves. I headed out to see Dean Village, a cute little town in Edinburgh that had a little river running through it. Although, this was a tourist spot so it was a bit crowded.

Later on, we met up with the group to do the Scotch Whisky Experience. It started off which us being put into giant barrels that resembled a ride at Disney. They took us through the history of it as well as the distillation process. Afterwards we learned about the different regions where it’s made and the different aromas in each one. After that we got to try a flight of whiskeys from each area. While I thought the experience was super fun, I don’t think I will ever be a fan of whiskey (I may or may not have gagged during the tasting).

Afterwards we headed to dinner at Vittoria on the Bridge for our concluding dinner. This place was actually voted the best Italian restaurant in Edinburgh, and in my opinion was the best food we had on the trip.

SATURDAY

On Saturday we ate some delicious Dim Sum after heading to the airport. We were all sad to leave, and want to come back to Edinburgh in the future!!

This trip was so fun. I spent time with great people, ate delicious food, and fell in love with a new city. I’m sad that my core course is ending, as it has truly been the highlight of my study abroad experience. I would happily start working at any of the organizations we’ve visited tomorrow if I had the opportunity. I’ve learned so much about various legal systems and the treatment of offenders throughout the whole semester, and this trip was the perfect cherry on top.

Edinburgh Recommendations:

  1. Dean Village
  2. PieMakers – cheap and delicious
  3. Petra – best falafel wrap I’ve had in my life
  4. Afternoon tea
  5. Victoria Street – Inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter!
  6. Arthur’s Seat

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