Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Few Thoughts...

Hello there! Rob and I are about to leave Glasgow for the first time since we arrived, and we are so excited! If not a little nervous…this adventure will put Rob in the driver’s seat of a UK car for the first time, and I’m currently up in the air about our chances of survival.  Granted, he’s a good driver…should it be I in the drivers seat; well…death. For sure. I’d probably hit a stationary sign the wrong way. It’s been known to happen before! Rob has just left to pick up the rental by himself. We’ll see if he makes it back alive.

Our last week and a bit in Glasgow have been full of new experiences. When you live abroad, it feels like everything is thrilling. From the location of the washing machine (the kitchen) to the extra hot water in the hot water tap (I’ve started washing my hands with cold water, as they are too delicate to be scalded every time. I’ll live with the germs), our minds are constantly blown. It’s probably a bit embarrassing for us to admit, but whilst surrounded in an old city with tons of culture, our favorite thing to do is to go to the grocery store to check out all the products we don’t have at home.

Fear not though. We have managed to add some culture to our life. The other day, we embarked on what came to be known as our “religious adventure”. We checked out the oldest house in Glasgow, Provand’s Lordship, which was built in 1471. We also went to the Glasgow Cathedral, which is the only mainland Scottish Cathedral left standing after the Reformation (sometimes we Protestants can be real jerks…destroying old churches. Sorry Catholic friends). We checked out the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, which showcased the main religions of the world. Finally, we walked through the most massive graveyard I have ever seen, the Glasgow Necropolis. It is a Victorian graveyard, with over 50,000 people buried. It was beautiful, but definitely not something I would wander through at night.  

We have also explored the University of Glasgow, visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Botanical Gardens, and the Hunterian Museum.  We have ventured downtown to Buchanan Square, which has tons of beautiful shops. Rob says I’m not allowed to buy anything until we move into our new home. And then…it’s shopping time!! I may or may not bring him with me. Sometimes it’s better to shop without common sense dragging you down. Right?

Our most exciting adventures have of course been the hunt for a flat. For those of you following us on Facebook, you’ll know that we have been blessed with the most gorgeous flat we could imagine. It is about a ten-minute walk from the university, is two blocks off the street we wanted to be close to, is spacious, has crown molding, fancy leather couches, a fireplace, a garden view, a claw foot tub…the whole nine yards. We take possession on Tuesday, and are planning to try our hand at a little “vlogging” (i.e. video blogging), so that we can take you all on a tour of our place. I am so anxious to start nesting. We’ve been “homeless” since May 3, and we are both excited to make the new flat our home. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve visited the Ikea website nor how many times my mind has wandered to d├ęcor ideas. I think we will be feeling like newlyweds setting up their house for the first time next week, minus all the bickering that goes along with setting up house with a new person for the first time. Ha, who am I kidding. We’ll happily bicker our way through it. It’s what we do!

Until then, we are off on a little adventure. We are heading up to the Highlands/Loch Ness area this weekend. Being Munro’s, there is family history in the area, so we plan on visiting the area where Rob’s Grandpa was born, as well as touring the grounds of the Munro castle. I am secretly hoping Rob will be recognized as a long lost knight or Lord. That’d be alright. We are also going to visit Rob’s favorite whisky distillery, check out Loch Ness, walk through some hills, and maybe see a castle or two. You know, normal weekend things. I am really looking forward to this adventure. I think I may shed a few tears of joy when I first see the Highlands. It is up there on my list of things to do, along with running through the Austrian hills, belting out “The hills are allliiivveeee, with the sound of mussiiccc.” (I realize it isn’t actually Austria where it was filmed, but still. Up there on my list of awesome European things. But I’ve digressed, sorry).  On Sunday, we are treating ourselves to a belated anniversary gift, and checking into the Fairmont St. Andrews. We justify this by having booked a hostel for our first three nights away. If I don’t cry when I see the Highlands, I will definitely have a weep or two over the Fairmont. I am my Father’s daughter in many ways; including an obsession with Fairmont’s. Then it’s back to Glasgow for ONE MORE NIGHT in a hotel before we FINALLY unpack the suitcases for good.

Well friends, I hope this update is enough to abate your curiosity until our next post.  To our praying friends, thank you for praying. We are thrilled with the apartment, and overwhelmed by God’s blessings for us. If you think of it, please continue to pray for Rob’s job situation. He’s applied to five companies, and we are waiting to see if any bite.  We are confident that that whatever he ends up with will be good, even if it differs from our expectations.

We love and miss you, dear Canada (and our few American friends). Until next time, take care!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We Have Arrived!

Hello All!

Our long awaited blog is here: welcome!  Rob and I arrived in Scotland on Sunday morning, in the “wee” hours of the Canadian morning. We started our adventure in Edinburgh, as we thought that taking the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow would be a great way to see a bit of our new country. I’m sure, in theory, it was. In reality, it was a great way to catch an hour of sleep.

To start this blog off, I wanted to hold a little Q and A forum. We were able to catch up with a lot of you this summer, and those of you who knew us in Ottawa have also had the chance to pepper us with questions. But for those of you who are new to our adventure, here’s a summary of what we’ve been asked:

Why are you moving to Scotland?

I was accepted at the University of Glasgow to study an International Masters in Russian, Central and Eastern European Studies.

Why did you choose this particular program?

My undergraduate degree is in political science and European and Russian Studies. When a good friend of mine told me about the Glasgow program, and all that it had to offer, we jumped at the chance, because I absolutely loved the European and Russian component of my undergraduate degree!

How long are you in Scotland for?

We are in Scotland for one year, and then we move to an Eastern or Central European country. We are hoping to go to Hungary, as it fits nicely into the research I’d like to do.

What is Rob doing?

Let me start off by saying that Rob is basically the best husband I’ve ever had. (Ya, ya, he’s my only husband, but I do not intend on changing that up). When I say Rob is amazing, I mean that he has happily come with me to Scotland, not knowing where he will end up. We had initially hoped that he would get a transfer with his company, but due to the economic climate here, the transfer has not worked out.  We had then thought that Rob should do an MBA, so we applied for that. Unfortunately, the University of Glasgow did not feel Rob was “ready”. So…that failed (but don’t be dismayed – we sure aren’t! Rob hates school!!) Now, we are doing a lot of looking and a lot of praying. We aren’t quite sure where he will end up, but we are certain that it will be something amazing, even if it is outside the field of engineering.


Having been here for three days now, we’ve had a chance to sort through how we feel about this place.

The consensus is…we LOVE it.

The people are incredibly friendly, and we’ve had a few go out of their way to help us out. The food is amazing, and for food lovers like us, that is a huge plus. The weather is perfect. No, seriously. We’re from Northern Alberta. We HATE the heat. That isn’t to say all Northern Albertan’s hate the heat, but the two of us certainly do. So having it kinda cool, kinda rainy, and never warmer than 20 degrees is absolutely perfect. (Although we do need to invest in an umbrella for Rob, and be cognizant of carrying both umbrellas around. “Drenched Rat” doesn’t seem to be a very becoming look here.)

We are getting used to the idea of living in a foreign country, although Scotland is quite similar to Canada. I can’t quantify the “how”, but I can say that it “feels” similar (I blame my lack of trying to explain on jet lag.) The one thing that always sends me for a bit of a loop is that we sound foreign, and that feels weird. It’s one thing to be in a foreign country and not know the language. I mean, you expect to feel out of place! But here, the moment we open our mouths, either to chat with each other or say something to the clerk, we sound foreign, even though we are speaking the same language. I’m sure we will get used to it, but it is a new concept for us!

We also find the traffic hilarious. So far, we’ve only really walked places – we aren’t brave enough to try driving yet. But we’re never really quite sure which way to look before we cross the street. This can be a bit dangerous, as the way we are used to looking could actually cause us to get hit. And sometimes, we see someone doing something that would result in an accident in Canada, and we freak out. But then we laugh at ourselves, as we realize that they drive opposite us and that the individual is simply following the rules of the road.

All in all, these are minor things that remind us we aren’t at home, but don’t cause us to break down in the street in despair. We miss our family and our friends immensely, but we are really embracing this adventure.

If you’re the praying type, we’ve got a few requests below. Otherwise, thanks for joining us for the first edition of our adventures! We hope to post regularly in the coming weeks, but once school starts, things will slow down. Still, it is a great way for us to stay in touch with you all, so please feel free to leave comments or send us a quick email!

Take care,

Carissa and Rob

Prayer Requests

For those of you who are praying for us, THANK YOU. The fact that we are still alive and relatively sane is attributed to your prayers. If you’d like to pray for anything specific, we’ve got a couple requests:

  • We don’t have a home. We weren’t allowed to rent anything before we left Canada, as we had to see the place before we could rent (due to the city’s policies). We couldn’t enter the UK until the 16th of August, so we had to basically sit and watch all the apartments disappear. We spent yesterday going from letting agency to letting agency, and were told repeatedly that there really wasn’t much left and that we’d come at a bad time. However, in one letting agency, the letting agent told us that she had just been to an apartment that morning that was going to be coming onto the market. The apartment is a 3-block walk to school, in a quiet neighbourhood, in an old tenement, and is basically everything we wanted. We are waiting to hear back from her about what the price will be. Pray that we will hear from them soon, and that we can move forward on securing the place. Alternatively, pray that God will give us wisdom in finding the right place for the right price.
  • Rob’s job. As mentioned, this is still up in the air. Financially, we are ok. But Rob really wants to have something to do, and we both want it to be in the field of engineering. Please pray for direction in applying and that those reviewing his application would find favor with his cute Canadian face (and qualifications…)