January in Scotland

Emily Kindiger and family (Photo/courtesy)

By Emily Kindiger

January in Scotland…wow!

Compared to the last two months, quite a bit of activity has happened. I will beginning with New Year’s Eve when one of my classmates invited the Modernities students over for a party. I learned very quickly when I arrived in the country that the Scots take their kilt very seriously, and when my friends and I arrived at the party, we were greeted by our hosts completely clad in their clan attire: kilt, sporran, Sgian Dubh (the small knife worn at the knee of the tall sock, pronounced skee-in-doo. Men in kilts is a typical occurrence here but it still took me by surprise to see someone of my own generation, who was not preparing for a wedding, wearing it.

The party was exciting and contained all the usual elements of a New Year’s Eve party with the countdown, everyone singing Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” and hugs all around from friends, acquaintances and people I had just met at the party. It was a kind goodbye to a wonderful 2013 and a friendly greeting to 2014.

Just a few days after New Year’s, I decided to go to one of the pubs nearby, Jinty McGinty’s, for the live music that plays on Sunday nights, and happened to meet two members of one of my favorite bands. Loving Celtic music, I have enjoyed the band Celtic Thunder for years, and at Jinty’s I was appreciating some impressive fiddling from the first band when I look up and Celtic Thunder’s George Donaldson walks past. About a minute later another band member Colm Keegan walks by. Wide eyed, jaw on the floor, probably with the expression of a 14-year-old at a Justin Timberlake concert, I realized 1) I had a pen and notebook and 2) I somehow, opportunistically, magically had my camera with me. Faking composure and strapping on all the bravery I could muster I introduced myself and learned these two performers really are as friendly and kind as you hope all celebrities are.

So after shaking hands, autographs, pictures, even a hug and one complete expression of elation, I enjoyed some wonderful music and nearly skipped back to my flat, quickly informing everyone I knew who I had just met. George Donaldson got his start performing at Jinty’s (his favorite pub in Glasgow), and when he’s not touring with Celtic Thunder he likes to come home and play.

So after New Year’s and the Jinty McGinty experience, the excitement continued with the start of classes and a visit from my parents and one of my sisters. I had not seen my parents since early September and older sister in over a year, so to have the four of us all in one place was amazing. We almost had the whole family there. I gave them the tour of my school, the botanical gardens, we went to Edinburgh and the castle there, went to the Kelvingrove and Tall Ship/Riverside Museums, to Jinty’s (which was probably my mother’s favorite part of the trip!), to the City Centre and we even all made it to Stirling Castle.

Eight days was too short but I think each of us had a wonderful time. They loved Scotland and I was thrilled to show them around and just see and talk to them. Skype, phone calls/texts and even Facebook make the distance feel shorter, but to see them face-to-face was truly amazing. I am so happy they were able to come.

My first two weeks of January were busy, remarkably fun and astonishing, and now I am back to my regular schedule again and back into the groove of school. I hope everyone back home had a wonderful start to 2014 and that many exciting adventures await you. My next goal: learn about Burn’s Night. All I know so far is that it is a night of celebration commemorating the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Wish me luck!