A number of years ago (probably something like 8) when I was blogging in Livejournal and like six people were reading my blogs (shoutout to my six people, you guys are awesome), I decided to write up a short history of my time in DC (1998-2002) before old age took over and I forgot everything. I wrote one blog post and then never got around to finishing it up.
This is not the rest of that story.
This is the story of how I spent eight weeks in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1997, working at a bed & breakfast.
I worked at Feddinch House. The people who owned it then are not the people who own it now. The people who owned it then have moved to Australia.
Short backstory: I studied abroad in London January-April 1997. While I was there I got a six month work-abroad visa (thanks to Unbrave Girl for paving the way on this) and I found a job working in a pub (this pub, actually – I guess that’s probably a whole other story). I wanted to find a place to work the last two months where housing was included so I didn’t have to fuss with finding a place to live.
How did I get this job, in the Age Before Internet? If you can believe it, I got a BOOK that listed various summer jobs in the UK and I WROTE LETTERS TO SOME OF THEM asking if they could hire me. Can you literally even imagine doing that now? Anyway, it WORKED and I got this job. I was only allowed to work in the country until the beginning of July. As soon as my classes were over, I hopped on a train in London and disembarked at whatever the station was that was nearest St. Andrews.
Here are the top ten things you need to know about this trip:
(1) It was the wettest summer in over 100 years. In Scotland. It rained EVERY DAY. Literally every day.
(2) I did not meet and marry Prince William. He studied at St. Andrews University some years later.
(3) They put me up in a “caravan” out in the back.
It probably wasn’t as terrifying as this 17 year old photo would lead you to believe
The caravan had a heat source, but I apparently ran it too much, being American and all, so I was told to dial back the heat. Which I think was gas and probably could have killed me anyway. I have fond memories of watching ER and Friends on the extremely small TV.
(4) We were about two miles out of St. Andrews, which is not a large town to begin with. It was fairly rural.
While there, I learned the difference between a Glaswegian accent and a Fife accent. I think I could still pick it out.
(5) While in London, I stress-ate a lot of Cadbury and Hob Nobs, so I had gained some weight (no idea how much since scales used the “stone” weight system, which I could not easily convert to pounds having no internet). I was on a diet much of the time I was in Scotland. On a completely unrelated note, I also tried my first curry there. It was too hot.
(6) I turned 21 there. The excitement of this was abated some by the fact that I had legally been able to drink the whole time I was in England. Also, it rained. I walked to town and had to hitch a ride back with some strangers because it was so wet.
(7) One time when I was trying to get the bus to town, I accidentally got on a bus heading for Crail. It’s a wonder I’m not still in Crail.
(8) I used to sneak in to the computer lab at St. Andrews and use the computers to email people. (Clearly the age of internet has been important to me.) One night, probably one of my best nights abroad, I snuck into the student union and played cards and drank beers with some of the summer students. It was exactly as I imagined studying abroad in England would be. I kept trying to find those kids the rest of the trip, but no luck.
(9) For a few of the weeks I was there, I had a coworker named Hannah who was just lovely and funny and wonderful. This is a picture of her with the house children Ruairi and Sophie.
(10) At the time I was kind of miserable, but in retrospect it was pretty awesome. It took me some years before I could imagine going back to Scotland but now I would like to go again.
OK, so it was pretty there.