Sarah the Explorer

#adventure Has become a running joke that I say when I am greeted with a new abroad experience.  It can be anything from a beautiful hike that I have never completed before, to trying new types of food, or meeting new people.

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I really want to keep the adventure spirit in me this semester because when else am I going to live on the Scottish coast, near a castle, and eat a scone a day?  Probably never.

On similar terms, my economics teacher in high school once gave me advice regarding college.  It is 95% about showing up.  To class.  To interesting talks.  To parties.  Life is meant to be lived and when you show up to life who knows what will happen?  I took his advice close to heart and have not just applied it to college, but whatever situation I am in.

This blog post is about trying a new cuisine, Indian.  Back in the US I just never got around to trying it, and when I arrived in the UK, I heard that the Indian was quite good here.  Just as Americans order Chinese for takeout, in the UK, people order Indian.

A couple of friends and I went to Tulsi,  after our long hike last weekend.  Tulsi also offers Thai options, but since I was still on my #adventure kick from the hike, I decided to finally try Indian.

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I ordered vegetable tikka masala, with rice, and naan.  AND IT WAS AMAZING.  The tikka masala was a sweet tomato- like sauce tossed with cauliflower, zucchini, squash, and green beans.  The naan bread was perfect to dip into the sauce, and was soft and pillowy.  A thicker (and better) version of pita bread.

Tulsi offers great student deals.  6.5 pounds for a starter, main dish, rice, and naan.  Talk about a value meal!

I am excited for all of my future adventures to come and my future Indian dinners🙂

Simplicity is Key

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Having been abroad for close to three weeks, I’ve been able to do a lot of reflection on my general transition to life in Scotland.

Over here, I have a lot less “responsibility,” whether it is places to be, people to see, etc.  It gives me more alone time, and chances to sporadically walk the beach, eat a scone, or write a letter back home.

I’ve come to really think about what are the necessary things in life that make me happy, and I came up with a list.

  1. People that love and care about me.
  2. Being intellectually challenged or finding work I am passionate about.
  3. Eating a few, simple food favourites.
  4. Exercise (good health).

Now this sounds all very easy, but I think back in the States I sweat too much about the little things that don’t fall on this list.  Over the course of these three months, I am going to focus on “Simplicity is Key,” so by the time I return back home, I have a better perspective on life.

To begin with, this past weekend I went on a 10 mile coastal hike, on a path that traces 100 miles of Scottish Coastline.  I went with great friends, got some exercise, and had a simple, but delicious lunch (so I satisfied three of the items on the list!).

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The views were breathtaking and reminded me a lot of Maine.

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I got a bagged lunch from my dining hall; consisting of a boxed ham and cheese sandwich (there are boxed sandwiches everywhere!), an apple, and some nuts.  It tasted delicious after a couple hours of walking, and we found a picnic spot by a cliff to have our wonderful picnic.

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One of my favourite things on hikes is see the cairns set by previous hikers.  It reminds you that others are looking out for you, and you don’t even know them!

Ice, Ice, Baby

As the first week of class winds down to a close, I am getting into the swing of things, both literally and figuratively… I joined the Womens Golf Club and will have lessons once a week.  And I tried swing dancing for the first time! It was so much fun and I am definitely going to go back.

Through these and other clubs/ societies I have been meeting a ton of different people, and I am so excited to keep up this routine.

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One of my friends had a birthday this week, so we celebrated with a pizza picnic on one of the beaches (pictured above), and then went to Jannetas Gelateria. St Andrews has two well known gelato stores that are supposedly in a heated competition to claim they are the best.  I’ve only tried Jannetas, but will keep you posted.

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I ordered Tablet, which is the fudge popular in Scotland, similar to penuche back at home. It was loaded with chucks of fudge and is one of my new favourite ice cream flavours!  Also, definitely try one of their sprinkled cones.  It just makes your ice cream all the more beautiful.

Honestly this ice cream was so good I am going back this weekend to get another scoop.

It’s Scone Be Ok

These past two weeks in Scotland have been a whirlwind of new sites, people, and culture, and at times it has been a bit overwhelming.  But when I feel homesick or out of sorts, I simply count the amount of things I’m sad about, then count the amount of things I’m happy about, and the latter always outweighs the first.

Here are a couple of things I am grateful for in Scotland…

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Friendly People 

Whether it is the kids in my program, kids I have met through clubs, or little old Scottish ladies who have literally stopped me in the street just to say hi, a lot of people are kind around here, and truly want to get to know you.

This is a bonfire set up by the hiking club I joined, which has a ton of down to earth people!

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Scones

This particular scone is called the Prince of Cambridge and has blueberries, raspberries, and white chocolate.  It is from Gorgeous, a local bakery in town.  A scone with a cup of tea is one of the loveliest ways to spend an afternoon break.

Today I grabbed a scone and tea with a new friend.  She is a post graduate at St Andrews from Germany, and we met on a Food Tour of St Andrews!

The Beach 

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The ocean is something that has always calmed me, and I am so lucky that there are three different beaches around my campus.  Salty air and water truly can cure many illnesses, and seeing the ocean reminds me that everything is going to be ok.

This week marks the beginning of classes and a routine, and I am excited to begin this next step of study abroad  :)  A wise friend once told me “Something is going to happen” when I study abroad, and I am going to keep that perspective going forward.  Good and bad days make up life, but the experience and opportunities I have while abroad truly come once in a lifetime!

 

 

Bibi’s Cafe

Although I have not eaten out a lot since I arrived at St Andrews, I do have a lovely cafe that is perfect for when I want to grab a quick bite during the day.  It is called Bibi’s Cafe and it is located on North St going towards West Sands Beach.  St Andrews has only 3 main streets.  North, Market, and South.

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Bibi’s is a picturesque place, with beautiful baked goods lined up front, hanging lights, and charming posters.

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I have tried their scones and salads for the time being.  I can’t wait to try their breakfast and brunch options!  The fig walnut scone was delicious with a side of raspberry jam.  Perfect alongside the mint green tea I ordered.  I think a scone a day might become my special treat🙂

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The Greek Salad and Mezze Plate were also delicious.  Their feta is good, with the perfect salty bite.  And their produce is all fresh, giving me a break from some of the heavier Scottish dishes.

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This past week was filled with club and society first meetings, so I have been very busy.  A couple days ago, I went to Baking Club and tried a wide variety of desserts.  The tablet was amazing, it is very similar to American penuche, just a little drier.  That is probably going to be one of my favorite sweets!

Classes officially start next week, and I am excited to start getting into a routine.  Although the past week and a half of adventure has been fun, I think it is time to settle into real life at St Andrews!

A Smokeshow Dinner

Another food that Scotland is known for is their smoked salmon.  I am a huge fan of seafood so I know that I will be taking advantage of this local delicacy.  A couple of nights ago, I went to Mitchell’s Deli in St Andrews, where I tried it for the first time.IMG_5444.JPG

I ordered the Surf Board to share with a friend, which was made up of hot and cold smoked salmon, peppered mackerel, smoked halibut, garlic mayo, and bread.  This board was phenomenal.  The cold smoked salmon was my favorite.  Put the garlic mayo on a slice of bread, topped with the salmon, and you will be in heaven!  The mackerel and halibut were also good, just not something I am used to eating.

Also, as a fun fact, yesterday I saw Mark Wahlberg! I was heading towards the West Sands Beach, which is near the 18th hole.  Suddenly a car slowly drove by, with Wahlberg in the passenger seat with the window down.  I let out a gasp and he saw my happy face.  He waved, knowing that I was a fan!  I will keep you updated on any more famous people sightings in St Andrews since the golf course attracts people from around the world.

 

She’s My Little Whiskey Girl

One of my friends here knew someone who had studied abroad in Edinburgh the year before, so we were blessed with many hidden gems.  One of my favorites was Hoot the Redeemer.  A very eclectic bar, the outside is only one single red door, that leads down to its basement location.  Once you get to the bottom of the stairs, a fortune teller doll is on the outside of that door, demanding passage.  The fortune teller lights up and screams, and you then are supposed to push through to get to the bar!

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The menu is made up of your standard drinks, but also has alcoholic slushies, and ice cream!  I of course had to try the ice cream.  I ordered the whisky and dark chocolate flavor, and it was amazing.  The creaminess and sweetness of the dark chocolate, offset the kick of the whiskey.  When I first took a bite it tasted like dark chocolate, but I then got a warm feeling on my tongue from the whisky.

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Hoot the Redeemer has a great fun atmosphere, and is definitely not a tourist trap.  I would visit it again should I return to Edinburgh this semester.

Fun fact: They do not call whisky scotch over here.  We only call it scotch back in the US because it is whisky made from Scotland.  Also, to tell the difference between Scottish and Irish whisky, Scottish whisky has no “e” in the spelling, while Irish has an “e”, whiskey.

 

DRA Dining

Since arriving to Scotland, I have found myself eating a lot of fried, heavy food, and drinking a lot of delicious gin… BUT I am hoping my diet takes a more healthy route since I have finally arrived at St Andrews.  Today was the first day I tested out my meal plan, since I have a catered residence.  I get two meals a day.  Breakfast consists of a variety of hot and cold options.  I went with the traditional Scottish “parritch” or porridge, and some fruit and coffee.  The oatmeal was pretty good and the ability to get eggs reassures me I will not have an issue finding something I like.IMG_5431.JPG

Lunch had a lot of hot meals, like mac and cheese, a type of meat, roasted veggies and potatoes, and a salad bar.  I opted for the tomato basil soup and vegetables, and the soup was VERY good.  Before arriving I had heard the soup and stew would be good in Scotland, and that claim is true.  Probably because it gets so cold here people need something to warm them up!

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Today I also wandered down to the East Sands Beach (there is also a West Sands Beach) with a few friends.  It was BEAUTIFUL!!! It really reminded me of the beautiful beaches in Maine I go to back at home.  And the stretch of it is very vast.  It looks like the beach recedes into the distance!

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Only a couple days in and I really am beginning to fall in love with Scotland itself.  I’ll have moments throughout the day where the beauty of the landscape really hits me, and it causes me to pause and soak it all in.  We will see if that happens when the rain and cold start to kick in🙂

Until We Meet A(gin)

Sweet Olympia has flown across the Atlantic and is there to stay for the fall semester!  I am currently finishing up orientation in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and then will be making my way to the University of St Andrews (pronounced Sn’ Andrews).

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I am hoping to keep a general record of everything I eat and drink while abroad, and am so excited for all of my future endeavors. IMG_5398.jpg

I have already fallen in love with Edinburgh.  It seems as if every street is filled with old stone buildings, and some of the sites actually date back to the 11th century!  The castle is at the center of town and sits up majestically on a hill.  While exploring the city, the castle serves as a North Star almost because you can look up to see where you are in relation to your home.

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We have been eating mostly in our hotel, but I have already tried a few bites of Haggis, a traditional Scottish meal, composed of a variety of guts.  It was surprisingly good, albeit very rich.  I am not sure if I could stomach a whole plate!

Through a pub crawl, and explorations, I have tried my fair share of Scottish drinks.  Innes and Gunn is a great beer, and Hendrick’s Gin is my go to drink!

I’m so excited to see what else comes my way and hope everything is swell on the other side of the ocean!

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Don’t Egg Me On: Breakfast Edition

Recently, I asked one of my best friends what my food “spirit animal” would be.  She said she could think of two different answers: cookies or eggs.  I usually eat eggs for a protein filled breakfast to power me throughout the day.  And I have the biggest sweet tooth ever.  If I make homemade cookies I can easily eat 10 in one sitting.  It’s a gift.

But this post is about the former food spirit animal, eggs.  Over the summer I have had three different amazing breakfasts that you should try!

Uncommon Grounds 

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Uncommon Grounds is a cute, small restaurant located in Watertown, MA.  It has a diner feel, but the menu has more variety, and more fresh produce.  This was their Salmon Avocado Toast, and it was a daily special.  Toasted bread was topped with greens, avocado, tomatoes, smoked salmon, and a poached egg.  Talk about a beautiful plate!  I also ordered a side of fruit salad instead of the home fries.  While I love eggs, avocado, and smoked salmon separately, I think combining all three was a little overwhelming.  Each of those ingredients are rich, so next time I’ll order their plain Avocado Toast.

The Friendly Toast 

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This is the Greek Scramble at The Friendly Toast with delicious cinnamon raisin bread, and a side of fresh fruit.  The scramble has tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, baby spinach and black pepper.  The bread was sliced thick and buttered.  Just look at the cinnamon swirl, it is huge!  And the fruit salad was a step up then your standard melon mix.  It had blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries too.  I also loved the Friendly Toast for its eclectic ambiance.  I went to the Back Bay location on a Tuesday night, and trivia was going on for diners to participate in.  The menu has funny names for the dishes and the decor is bright and funky.

The Wayfarer 

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I think this is my favorite place to go for breakfast.

A. Because it is in Maine, more specifically Cape Porpoise, which is such a beautiful and hidden spot.

B. Because I grew up coming here as a child.  One of the waitresses Bert wore sunny side up egg earrings when I was younger, which I always got a kick out of… and she still does today!

C. Because the food and atmosphere makes you feel like you are eating at home.

This is the veggie omelet with tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, avocado, and goat cheese.  A side of fruit salad and cinnamon raisin toast with strawberry jam.

The Wayfarer is small enough that it feels cozy, like a real Maine breakfast place should.  But it was renovated a few years ago, so the interior is beautifully furnished.  As a friendly warning, it gets VERY busy.  So if you bring a large family, arrive early!