Another day, another enormous complimentary breakfast at Crombie Hall at the University of Aberdeen. It turned out to be well needed, as we’d spend most of the remainder of the day walking and burning off those calories.
We departed late in the morning for Stonehaven. We were unable to reserve a coach for the group of us, so the trip ended up being close to a twenty-minute train ride. Stonehaven is an impressive old town, surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. It's actually about a two-mile walk south of the town to get to Dunnottar Castle, our destination for the day. The castle is surrounded by cliffs on three of its sides, and there are multiple ways of reaching the cliffs. The faces of the cliffs and the sea below were quite impressive. I had to stop myself from taking so many pictures, just because the beautiful scenery simply didn’t translate nearly as well onto film.
While at Dunnottar, we were able to retrace the steps of Mary, Queen of Scots and William Wallace. This particular castle is still privately owned, and its attractions weren’t nearly as informative as those at the castle in Edinburgh. Regardless, it’s an impressive castle on a beautiful hilltop, however, I was slightly bitter about the fact that we chose some interesting paths to get to the castle, and the journey ended up being uphill both ways.
After all of the uphill walking, we returned to the train station, only to find that our train had been cancelled. We weren’t too upset about it; the next one was set to come in an hour, and we were all pretty hungry at that point. We ended up walking to a fish and chips shop that was apparently the home of the deep-fried Mars bar. I could almost hear my arteries hardening as I ate the Mars bar, which was mediocre at best.
We returned later than expected, and many of us were unable to attend the portion of the World Festival that we had planned. We didn’t let it affect our evening plans, as many of us joined some theater students from Aberdeen at a pub downtown. I can tell you now that when I get back to the States, I’ll be plenty ready for a few days worth of sleep, but for the moment, I’m trying to live it up as much as possible while we’re still in Scotland. Cheers!
Our stay in Aberdeen, unfortunately, does not correspond with the actual dates of the Word Festival. However, one of the most productive and enjoyable connections we made in Aberdeen was the relationship we’ve built with the Center Stage Theatre Group on campus. Tuesday evening we ran a workshop with the group where both Wabash men and the Center Stage actors read original works with varying degrees of Midwestern, Scottish, and English accent. This was quite possibly the most beneficial aspect to our writing. Hearing a work read out loud by actors is always helpful for the writer; however, the works take on all new aspects when actually performed. The Wabash men and our newfound friends in Center Stage combined in mixed groups and gave workshop performances to the others, which were both hilarious and helpful to us as writers.
The real connection though, as everything else in Scotland, was made in the pub. There’s nothing better than going out for a pint with new friends. More so than just the workshops, the actors made us feel like true Scots, or at least like we were more than Hoosiers in a strange land. Over the course of the few days in Aberdeen, we went out and found a truer sense of the city and the culture through these friendships. We did not waste time finding the best restaurants and pubs because our fellow students were our tour guides. Now for some, the best places in Aberdeen included the clubs and some rather late nights. For me, however, I found an easy joy in sitting in the pub with a pint talking theatre, literature, and production with Center Stage’s club president. It was a relationship that was good to build and hopefully lasts longer than just these few short days.