Hannah: Wandering Through Europe

I did the majority of my travelling before my exchange actually started. I left New Zealand on the 19th of July (nearly two months before I had to be in St. Andrews). My first stop was Germany, my whole family lives there so I stayed with them. The other places I visited were Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, a few places in England (Sheffield, York, The Moors, Manchester, Leeds, and more) and I did a road trip in Scotland from Glasgow to the Isle of Skye.

Amsterdam (24th – 28th July)

Everyone in Amsterdam rides bikes and they will run you over if you don’t move. I nearly got run over by bikes, mopeds and cars more times than I can count.

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If Amsterdam isn’t on your bucket list already I would definitely recommend to add it. I spent three days in this lovely city and instantly fell in love. Also you can find all the places from The Fault in our Stars and pretend you’re part of the movie.

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My top 5 places/things to see:

  1. Jordaan Area
  2. Moco Museum (Bansky exhibition)
  3. De Wallen/The red light district
  4. Rijksmuseum
  5. The streets – just walk around

Berlin (30th July – 2nd August)

Berlin is huge and there is so much to see and do, luckily I had my uncle acting as my local tour guide. I went to all the tourist attractions but also got to see how the locals live. I only had two days in Berlin and will have to go back one day to see the rest of this bustling city.

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Me getting burnt to a crisp at the Brandenburg Gate. There were so many tourist here but it was one of the most impressive things I have seen

I went to the East Side Gallery on my last day, this wall was so cool. There were so many different styles and pieces of art on display and I could have spent a lot longer here but sadly I did not have time as I had to catch my flight.

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My top 5 places/things to see:

  1. Brandenburg Gate
  2. Jewish Memorial
  3. East side Gallery
  4. Museums Insel
  5. Reichstag Building

Vienna (6th – 8th August)

Vienna is a city full of gorgeous buildings ranging from the opera to palaces. My personal favourite was the Austrian National Library, I felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast and was ready to start belting out some tunes.

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Both Schloss Schönbrunn and Belvedere were so gorgeous and it felt so surreal to find these beautiful buildings in a city. If you want to feel like a princess or step back into the past I would highly recommend this wonderful historic city.

My top 5 places/things to see:

  1. Austrian National Library
  2. Belvedere
  3. Schönbrunn Palace
  4. Prater and the Ferris Wheel
  5. The Hofburg and the surrounding area

Scotland (20th – 28th August)

I road tripped around Scotland and visited so many stunning places. I would recommend packing a raincoat and some sturdy shoes if you want to do some walking. As I visited so many gorgeous places I am just going to compile a list of my top 5.

Portree, Isle of Skye

This town is the biggest town in Skye and it is adorable. The colourful houses are one of a kind and you can easily wander around the streets.

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The Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye

I was ready to watch fairies dance and run away into the green hills. This glen was wrapped in magic and it was beautiful despite the rain.

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Glenfinnian Viaduct/Fort William

If you love Harry Potter you have to go here. You can see the Hogwarts express (or even ride it).

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Eilean Donan Castle

There are so many beautiful castles all over Scotland and I love every single one of them. This castle may be one of the most picturesque. The inside isn’t that spectacular but the outside of the castle and its surroundings are stunning.

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Proper Scottish weather
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Staring at this breathtaking country

The Fairy Pools

These are off the beaten track and very overcrowded by tourists but they are worth the drive and walk. I even had a sip from the pools but sadly I did not wake up with any magical abilities.

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Edinburgh (7th – 8th September and 26th – 27th October)

This was my second visit to this town and I loved it just as much the second time. This city is stunning and I adore it. The cobblestoned streets carry you back in time and you can walk around all day and not get bored.

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If you have any questions about the exchange as a whole feel free to email me; my email is hfre260@aucklanduni.ac.nz.

I can’t wait for my next blog post!

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Hannah: First Impressions, Settling in, and Accomodation

Stepping foot into St. Andrews for the first time was both exciting and terrifying. This was going to be my home for the next three months, but just walking to my accommodation I could already feel myself falling in love with this place.

First Thoughts…

“This is so beautiful.”

“It’s so small.”

“It’s all so old.”

“I can feel the history wrapped inside the buildings.”

Accommodation

I’m staying in the David Russel Apartments and I’m going to be completely self-catered (let’s see if I can cook). My room itself is really big and has everything you need (a DOUBLE bed, desk and wardrobe), the bathroom is a bit small but at least I have my own shower and toilet. I’m sharing the kitchen with 4 other people (who are all super nice). I personally have not seen my flatmates a lot but I think every flat is slightly different.

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Me on the first day after having unpacked (that was an adventure)

There are so many people around in this area which is great, the apartments themselves are around a 20min walk away from town and the university but the walk is relatively flat and straightforward so it isn’t hard work.

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My building

Settling in

The first couple of days were a bit weird and I had a few moments of panic just thinking ‘What am I doing here? I’m so far away from home…’ but after around 3 days I was okay again. Get yourself some sturdy bags to carry your shopping back to your apartment.  Aldi is closest to David Russel Apartments and it’s cheap so I would recommend getting your groceries from there. I got settled into my room relatively quickly and it already feels like a second home now.

University

Starting classes and finding all my rooms was daunting but I just set a day aside and walked around finding all the buildings before classes actually started. People are also very kind and will direct you to the right place if you do get lost. The university is gorgeous and I feel like I’m at Hogwarts or in a castle.

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I’m just missing a wand
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There are so many different buildings and around every corner lies another hidden beauty

The main difference for lectures is that classes here are a lot smaller I have two classes with less than 20 people. Otherwise the lectures operate in a very similar way (they even use moodle over here).

My tips

  1. Don’t be afraid to talk to people
  2. Find your rooms for classes before lectures actually start
  3. Make a meal plan and write a shopping list
  4. Get free stuff in Orientation week if you can
  5. Do a library tour
  6. Go to events and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers (I know it’s scary)
  7. Walk around town at least 3 times – you will find somewhere/something new every time

 

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