The long awaited study tour to Scotland finally arrived last week when my Forensic Psychology class hopped on a plane from Arlanda to Edinburgh! One of the reasons I specifically chose DIS Stockholm as opposed to Copenhagen was because of the forensic psych class, and I was super excited that I got to travel to Scotland as a bonus with my classmates. Here’s a day-by-day of what our week looked like, including social activities and field studies!
Sunday, October 28th
After an early wakeup call for our flight, my class arrived safely in Edinburgh around lunchtime. It was so nice to have a private bus waiting to take us to our hotel at the airport, as getting to and from the airport is one of the more stressful things I’ve found with solo travel. We were able to check-in and freshen up before heading to a favorite Scottish tradition – afternoon tea! This was basically fika on steroids, because I practically had to be rolled out of the restaurant we got so much food. I consumed so much tea I was shaking, but it was all absolutely worth it. The restaurant we were at also had a beautiful view of Edinburgh castle! We had the rest of the evening free after that, so a bunch of us went to the hotel pool and sauna to relax before the busy week ahead.
Monday, October 29th
Today was mostly an academic day, and we got on our bus early to head over to Glasgow for two field studies. Typically, the forensic psych study tour has gone to Edinburgh for three days and Glasgow for two, but after reading consistent feedback saying the class would have rather stayed the whole time in Edinburgh, my professor changed the tour this year to just include a day trip to Glasgow. We started off the day with an academic lecture from Fergus McNeill, a professor of Criminology and Social Work at the University of Glasgow. His talk was entitled, “Criminal Justice in Scotland” and focused a lot of the issue of desistance, or when a criminal stops offending behaviors and succeeds in the path to recovery. It was a very engaging lecture, and after a group lunch at an Italian restaurant in town, we headed to our second academic visit of the day: the nonprofit “Positive Prisons – Positive Futures.” This one was very different from what I was expecting, because the organization was actually started by a group of men who used to be in prison who believed that making positive changes within the prison system would lead to a decreased recidivism rate and overall more success stories. This was probably our most academic day of the week, but I found both lectures super fascinating and I know my classmates enjoyed them as well.
Tuesday, October 30th
Today was definitely my favorite day in Edinburgh. We woke up and got to visit the Edinburgh Police Station, where we heard the lead detective present a murder case he had worked on to us. This was an extremely engaging lecture, because he presented the case step-by-step and asked us our opinions, so it truly felt like we were “solving” it with him. It was also really cool to apply a lot of things we’ve learned in class to a real case. After the field study, the class met up with our guide for a food and walking tour of Edinburgh. It lasted all afternoon, but it was such a fun experience! We got to sample Scottish Smoked Salmon, haggis (I had a vegetarian version), Scottish desserts, cheese platters with wine, and my personal favorite, authentic Scottish whiskey at a distillery! I was definitely not prepared for the strength of the whiskey (60% alcohol!) but it was really cool to be able to hear a lot about the history of whiskey and how it’s made and aged. We had the rest of the evening free after that, so I walked around with a few friends to shop and find a place for dinner.
Wednesday, October 31st
Today was a day free of academic visits. We started early in the morning with a hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat – the highest point on the hills surrounding Edinburgh. It was definitely a tougher hike than I expected, and I was consistently near the back of the group, but everyone encouraged one another and we all made it to the top, where the views were spectacular! Afterwards, we were given some free time, so Irene, Nina and I decided to explore inside Edinburgh Castle before meeting up with our group again that night for an underground walking tour of Edinburgh. Since it was Halloween, I was expecting it to be a little creepy, but I don’t think I was prepared for the ghost theme that we got. To be completely honest, I almost cried a few times on the tour because it was so creepy and claustrophobic, and I don’t think I would recommend this tour to others (though my classmates seemed to enjoy it; I’m just absolutely not a fan of the supernatural). I can handle stories about murder and creepy history, and since I had done a ghost tour of Gamla Stan a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it (though it was all above ground), I thought this one would be okay. It was absolutely not. One of the girls on my trip also supposedly caught a “ghost” on camera, but I try not to think about that. We had to exit the tour through a haunted house, but I refused to go through and was taken out the back exit. Afterwards, I tried to redeem the night at group dinner and then going out to a bar with a few friends to celebrate Halloween.
Thursday, November 1st
For our last day in Edinburgh, we had two final academic visits. It was a pretty full day and most of us were tired from the long week, but the field studies were still very interesting and engaging. We started in the morning visiting Community Justice Scotland, an organization dedicated to constant reform of the entire justice system in Scotland. After a quick lunch break, we visited Shakti Women’s Aid Edinburgh, which is a women’s domestic violence help center focused solely on helping black minority ethnic communities. I really enjoyed this visit, because having worked at a woman’s domestic violence shelter over the summer, it was super fascinating to me that there was a big organization of people helping a big at-risk group for domestic violence. It definitely showed me how knowing more about a victim’s culture and background can make a huge difference when helping them. That night, we headed to our final group dinner where I said goodbye to most of my classmates. The next day, I would not be traveling home with them – I was instead headed to Berlin to meet up again with my best pal Melanie!
Friday, November 2nd – Sunday, November 4th
After a long and fun week with my core course, I got on a plane for a long weekend in Berlin with Melanie. Since she is studying in Northern Germany in a small town not super accessible by plane, we thought Berlin would be an easier place to meet up. It was a really great weekend with her, especially after such a long (but great) week in Edinburgh. We did a bike tour where we saw the highlights of Berlin, went up to the top of the Reichstag (parliament) building, went to the East Side Gallery, and visited the Topography of Terror museum. Berlin is a fascinating city in that it handles its dark past in a way most Americans couldn’t even imagine – through openness and conversation. I would definitely recommend stopping in Berlin if you have a free weekend during your time here!
Thanks for sticking through this (very) long post! In general, my travels are starting to wind down for the semester. I’m in denial that I only have about 5 weeks left in Stockholm, so I’ll be busy trying to make the most of all the time I have left here in this great city.