A brilliant week of education, culture, fun and teambuilding was shared by 40 students and teachers on our annual 2IB study trip to Edinburgh at the start of June. Highlights included visiting MSP Neil Findlay at the Scottish Parliament, meeting Trix one of only 3 complete T-Rex skeletons, and a vigorous last night ceilidh where we learned 4 Scottish ceilidh dances and ended with Auld Lang Syne.
After a turbulent, one hour flight complete with an initially aborted landing we landed in Aberdeen to sunny weather. Our first stop was the University of Aberdeen where the international liaison officer introduced the university system in Scotland before an intriguing lecture by Psychology professors testing our (clearly not too great) observation skills. After a tour of the campus, we headed down the motorway to Edinburgh and our evening meal at Pizza Express just off the ancient Royal Mile. It was early, the weather was good so we went exploring afterwards around St. Giles Cathedral and the closes of the Royal Mile.
Next day was straight to business at Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament where, despite heavy schedules MSP Neil Findlay and his senior researcher, Sean Duffy, gave us a tour of parliament, we said hi to leader of the Scottish Labour Party Richard Lennon and had a Q&A session with Neil as he gave us some insight into his personal experience with Scottish politics and into his life - as well as a singsong in the meeting room while we waited on the whole group gathering. We understood that getting into politics wasn't all based on having good grades and understanding how to talk, but also having a passion for this and wanting to represent your constituents.
After lunch, we headed to the University of Edinburgh to meet their International Officer who did a great job of persuading us to consider it as a future study choice! Our student ambassador, Clementine, is majoring in Law, and took us around the main areas of the campus but it is too big to cover completely. There was lots to think about today and we enjoyed our downtime in the evening exploring more of Edinburgh.
The next day brought something different, a trip to Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. We split into two groups to check out the modern Glasgow Caledonian University and the ancient University of Glasgow. Each group had introductions to their university, various course descriptions and tours by students reps. Both have so much to offer but are so different. We then joined up at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum with its masses of displays of animals, both present and extinct, as well as cultural artefacts. Crossing the crazy busy road of Argyll Street, we took a trip to the past in Kelvin Hall to view the exhibition of one of only three full skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the world; this T-rex was nicknamed Trix by the Dutch archaeologists who found her in Montana, USA. There were so many interactive and informative activities to deepen our knowledge about the dinosaur.
Our next adventure took us on Glasgow's ‘clockwork orange’ - the subway into the heart of Glasgow’s busy city centre - where we spent time exploring and shopping. Despite an exhausting day, we still had energy for another Scottish tradition, a singsong on the coach back to Edinburgh.
Though the week was drawing to a close, there was no rest as Thursday turned out to be a busy day, and one of the few days with great weather. Split into 3 groups, we had a tour of Edinburgh's Old Town with the enthusiastic guide Angus, discovering its rich history dating back to the 12th century, and some funny stories along the way, such as the theft of the Stone of Destiny. We followed this with a visit to The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Scotland. Two groups then rushed to the Edinburgh Dungeons, for a spectacular show of Edinburgh’s murkier history filled with more scares than should be allowed in one afternoon!
We enjoyed a last exploration of the city and its shops, before gathering at The Scottish Storytelling Centre for dinner and a Ceilidh with a live band. A Ceilidh is a traditional social gathering which includes singing, music and dancing. First we had a traditional Scottish meal of stovies, a dinner of potatoes, onions, sausage bits, and other vegetables, given its name literally as the meal is prepared over a stove. Everyone then joined in learning traditional ceilidh dances such as the The Dashing White Sergeant and the Highland Barn Dance. All students, teachers and musicians alike smiled, sang and danced their hearts out for three hours, ending the night with a story, told by one of the musicians, about how heroes may not always be the most likely of people. All in all it was a brilliant evening.
All too soon, Friday, our day of departure, arrived. The good news was we had a later breakfast to recover from our dancing the previous evening and now we had a plethora of choices for activities: the famous Edinburgh Castle, the Natural History Museum, The National Gallery, the Museum of Childhood, and the 10% finished Pantheon. It’s hard to say which was most fun as each activity was fun though different. The views from both Edinburgh Castle and Carlton Hill was phenomenal especially as the weather was again great. Last minute shopping was completed and then we were off back to Aberdeen and our flight home to Stavanger.
The coach trip was relatively short and surprisingly smooth with a temporary stop by the local McDonalds at Forfar, where the students consumed the entirety of the inventory. We had a brilliant week that we didn’t want to end. Everyone got to know others better and we shared so many fun new experiences, not least the ceilidh and made long-lasting memories.