Alex: Whirlwind

It has been quite the whirlwind ever since I received my acceptance to study abroad in Scotland. Preparing for the exciting experience of an exchange program is not an easy and simple process. The question of whether or not a visa was required was the most stressful situation throughout the planning. Hearing different concerns from my mom, Erica (who is studying abroad here as well), and previous people who went abroad made the answer very complicated very fast. However, situations always seem to come together, and in the end they did. Although a lot of the planning process was left to the last minute, I still made it to Scotland.


My first weekend in Aberdeen wasn’t the best experience. My travel day was smooth and went without a hitch, but my accommodation was filthy and had a stench that didn’t agree with my sense of smell. My room was ridiculously dusty with a mattress that looked overused. All I wanted to do at this point was purchase some bedding so I could sleep, but of course Primark closes at 5pm on Fridays. I was suggested to go to Morrisons, they had sheets, pillows, and a duvet blanket. Since the prices weren’t ideal, I decided to manage with just a sheet for the first night and used my clothes as a blanket and pillow. I was freezing the whole night and hardly slept, which seemed to have contributed to waking up with a full blown cold. With a new day in Aberdeen I was determined to get myself organized even with a horrible cold. The weather over the weekend didn’t support my determination. The gloominess of Aberdeen made me feel even more sluggish. I could only manage to get the rest of my bedding material before heading home.
My cleaned up bedroom
The dust was the first thing to deal with before unpacking. A clean room would surely help me with my sickness. Once I finally got my room organized, I was rather pleased with its outcome. A positive side to my arrival were my three roommates I met. Two of them are from France and have been living here since September.  These boys were incredibly nice and were all about welcoming me and the other new girl from Denmark. They took

us out to a pub Sunday night which really helped me feel better about the start of this experience. Their constant guitar playing is also nice to hear around the flat.
  (French roommate – Yael)

We have two other roommates, who are not very social but also very friendly. A Nigerian girl who we almost never see and a married man from Pakistan.


It has now been three weeks since iv arrived in Aberdeen and it already feels like more than a month. My biggest concern is that I won’t get to do everything I want especially with time feeling like its moving at light speed. Having Erica living in different accommodation has allowed us to expand our group of friends, but we have hardly made any Scottish friends which is a real bummer.


RGU has a lovely program for the international students where they plan trips and parties to make us feel welcome and make friends. Through this I have been able to participate in a trip to Slains Castle, a pub crawl, pub nights, and will be going on a trip with them to Amsterdam in March. Erica and I plan to take a trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day where I will be able to visit my cousin as well. Edinburgh is at the top of my list that I must see and I can’t wait to explore the city.
 (Underground Club)
(Slain’s Castle)



Slain’s Castle is said to be the castle that inspired the story of Dracula. Seeing the ruins didn’t seem very connected with Dracula, but it was still very cool. There is a pub in Aberdeen named after Slain’s Castle which is made out of an old church.

(Stonehaven, Dunottar Castle)
The first solo trip Erica and I have accomplished was a trip to Stonehaven to see the castle that resides there. Unfortunately, we got there just in time for it to close. It was still a lovely experience. The weather was beautiful, we met a nice Scottish boy on the train, and we got to see the outside of the castle. The other day we went to the Tolbooth Museum which used to be a jail, it is known as one of Aberdeen’s oldest and most haunted buildings. The fake people is what really made this museum creepy. I was so concerned one of them was going to start moving. Two of them scared Erica, making her scream which was rather funny, but we couldn’t wait to get out of there from being creeped out.
(Fun Beach, Aberdeen)
Living in Aberdeen has been a struggle to adjust to. Erica and I constantly feel sick and tired. It’s been making it difficult for us to explore this city properly and motivate ourselves to explore more of Europe. Every Thursday Scottish Folk music is played live at a certain bar which was a


lot of fun. Just recently there was light festival over the weekend called Spectra. I visit the beach quite often, which I usually jog along, but man it can be cold and insanely windy.
(Spectra Light Show, Aberdeen)

Aberdeen is Scotland’s sunniest city. Although my first weekend here was dark and gloomy, I have now seen more sun then clouds. Even when it rains here it’s nothing compared to the rain we get in Vancouver. The only horrible part about the weather here is the wind and the constant fear of being pooped on by the seagulls.


(Sun in a square along Union Street)

We have been lucky enough to meet a large amount of people who are all very friendly and in the same situation as us. People from their home countries seem to have migrated to each other, which is not ideal but still good to have fellow Canadians to lean on. I can’t believe how fast time is going. It’s practically March and feels so close to being over already.






Alex Janzen is a Bachelor of Business Administration student at Capilano University. Alex is studying abroad at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. 





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