Q&A Spotlight: Katherine Garrity

Name: Katherine Garrity
Major: Business Administration with concentration in Marketing
Grad Year: May 2015
Hometown: Newtown Square, PA
Destination Abroad: Edinburgh, Scotland
Term Abroad: Spring 2014
Program Abroad: TU UK Direct Edinburgh Napier University

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Q: FOOD, your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?
The best thing I had abroad BY FAR was Irish stew and soda bread in Cork, Ireland. The stew and soda bread were so fresh and delicious that Julie still talk about it to this day. The worst thing I had was this drink that is essentially the national drink of Scotland, Irn Bru. The Scots swear by it but I think it’s awful. It tastes like liquid bubble gum. Surprisingly, it is known to be a good hangover cure though.

Q: PLACES, talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite place but I would have to say Black Medicine Coffee Company. This coffee shop hangout place was two doors down from my flat and I became a regular. I love the guys Alex the Aussie and his coworkers; they are so sweet and funny. The shop in and of itself was one of those places you can just sit and stay a while without worrying about taking up space or being a burden. Plus the fact that they make amazing paninis, coffee drinks, pastries, and so many other things doesn’t hurt. Coming in close second though is Princes Street. Princes Street is the hub of Edinburgh (parallel to the Royal Mile). There’s so many shops including my personal fave Primark. Primark is kind of similar to Forever 21 but massive and super affordable. I completely recommend going there as many times as humanly possible.

Q: TOP SECRET, did a local point you to a market, pub, or park you didn’t know about? Pass it on.
The pub that my friends and I went to on a daily basis is called the Golf Tavern. The Golf is one of the oldest pubs in Scotland (founded in 1456). The Golf sits right next to the Bruntsfield Links golf course and has a ton of history. The atmosphere was always awesome and they have different themes for each night of the week such as trivia night, live music, and open mic. The Golf also gives an amazing student discount of 25% off and you can’t beat that. Also, their mac n cheese is beyond amazing..my flat had a club of the people that ate the whole bowl of mac n cheese because it was so big.

Q: NOPE, are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?
The lack of respect for yoga pants as casual pants. The UK students dress up for everything, including class, so when Americans showed up wearing yoga pants to an early morning class you got looked at like you had three heads.

Q: YEP, you’re actually homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?
I miss everything and I’m not even exaggerating. My flatmates, the grocery store across the street, the Scottish accent, etc.

Q: SPEAKING OF, what new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?
I don’t use Scottish vocab that much but I can place different Scottish accents (like the region people are from) it’s kind of creepy actually.

Q: SHOCKING, you could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?
Subway! It was my first hour of being in Scotland and I thought that everything would be foreign to me but then I saw different U.S. chains. Subway and Papa Johns were randomly pretty common.

Q: WEEKENDS, full of travel. Where did you go? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?
I went all over Scotland during the weekends. I really wanted to explore the place that was my home for four months and I did just that. A lot of the time a few of my friends and I would just be like “do you want to go somewhere this weekend?” and we would just go someplace! Even if the town was small or not what we expected we made the best of it and had a blast. The hardest part of planning trips was probably which hostel to stay in. Hostels can be really awesome or not so awesome so researching them was one of the most essential parts of a trip.

The best trip I went on abroad was a bus trip I took with a big group of my friends across Scotland that ended in Isle of Skye. Our amazing driver and tour guide gave us a crash course in Scottish history of the places we passed or stopped in along the way and stories that shaped the way the people had lived. That trip made me love Scotland even more than before and gave me some of my favorite memories from abroad.

Q: TOUGHEST DAY, everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?
My toughest day was probably about 3 months in. I felt really homesick and alone. I think I was in that stage where I would see that my friends were hanging out together and I felt like I was missing out. All my friends in my flat were going through similar things so that helped me distract myself and be focused on something other than being sad. I pushed myself to go and explore rather than sit inside and scroll through Facebook. Getting a change of scenery or just hanging out with other people helped more than I can say.

Q: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of studying abroad?
I would say go for it. Take the risk. Do it even if it scares you. Before I went abroad I was stressed and constantly worrying if I was making the right decision. The thing that scared me the most was the fact that I didn’t know anyone. No one from towson was going on this trip with me and I was worried that i wouldn’t make any friends. But you know what, not knowing anyone was probably the best thing for me. I was a small fish in a big pond but it was okay. I had a clean slate to make this experience what I wanted it to be. I did things during my time abroad that I wouldn’t have ever done in my life. I made friends with people I would have never met otherwise who live around the world. And I had a freaking blast. Studying abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I cant imagine what my life would be like if I never took the leap of faith.