Sunday, June 7, 2015


As of today, I've been back in the United States for two weeks and yet I'm just now writing this blog post. I could offer lots of excuses about how I got quite sick immediately upon returning or how I've started my internship and have been very busy, which would be true but not the real reason I haven't written. Writing this final post means that this blog, like my study abroad, is finished which makes me much more sad than I thought it would. 

In any case, I got up quite early the day I left the UK to shower and get some breakfast from the hotel buffet. Then I packed up my things again and caught the shuttle (yes, with my two huge suitcases!) to the airport. I'm immensely grateful to the lovely older Scottish woman who basically held up the rest of the passengers to give me time to get my suitcases off without feeling rushed. Once at the airport, things moved smoothly as I checked my bags and went to hang out in the airport lounge. 

The plane itself was incredibly nice as I was in business class and the flight attendants were lovely. Unfortunately, the TVs weren't working but between eating and reading and watching movies on my laptop, I had plenty to do! 

breakfast was perfect
more breakfast
They eventually found some little tablets for us to watch movies on and I watched a bit of Bonnie and Clyde while eating lunch.

After many many hours on that airport, I got off at JFK...and everything broke down. Customs went very smoothly (much more smoothly than they would've back home, so I'm very glad I got to do them in New York) but then I had to get my suitcases again and bring them to another conveyor belt to be loaded onto my other flight. This was bothersome because 1) I'd been told I wouldn't have to get them until I got home and 2) it took them about 40 minutes before they actually came!

In any case, after that sweaty annoying experience, I got back through security and found my way to the airport lounge where I got a bit of food.

The airplane from JFK to back home was TINY! I think I've been on bigger buses. I was fairly disappointed that I didn't get a view of the city while taking off, but I did listen to Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York!"

Getting home was such a relief and my family plus my good friend, Nupur, were waiting to meet me! It was so good to see everyone after so long...and it was nice that my dad took care of my suitcases from there on out. My parents even stopped at Taco Bell on the way home from the airport...oh, Mexican food, how I'd missed you.

That Sunday, I was actually awake for 25 hours, so I suppose it's no wonder that I got sick immediately after. While it was exhausting and stressful, I'm very thankful that it went as well as it did.

I have to admit, the culture shock coming back to the US is much worse than it was going over. American money still throws me off and I'm in mourning for my access to UK Starbucks. While I don't miss St Andrews, per se, I definitely miss my friends (I've been talking to Lucy every day, but it's not the same) and being in the United Kingdom. I've talked to some of my JSA friends from St Andrews and people from Elon who were also abroad and we've agreed that coming back is strange because in many ways, it feels as though you never left and yet you feel so different.

Going to St Andrews definitely had a large impact on me, as a person, and my outlook on life. But writing this blog has had an almost equally large impact! I feel as though I've actually improved my writing, my photography, and my ability to tell a story. Thank you so much to those of you who read this and kept me company throughout my journey. To anyone considering St Andrews, or studying abroad in general, feel free to get in touch with me via email ( or via Twitter (@nicoleackman16) to ask any questions you have.

So, finally, goodbye St Andrews. xx

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Help Me Say Goodbye

Today was full of goodbyes. After getting up and showering and getting everything packed up, I said goodbye to my flatmates. Emily, Frankie, and Michelle have been absolutely incredible: they've welcomed me into their fold and helped me with everything. It was so sad to say goodbye!

And then I was off to say the hardest goodbye of all.....I took Lucy the rest of my food and some other bits, like the books I couldn't fit anywhere. It took us about and hour and a half to actually say goodbye. I've been mushy enough on Instagram, so I won't repeat it all but I will say that this term would have been a completely different experience without Lucy. I didn't come over here expecting to find a best friend and the Elizabeth to my Jane Bennet but that's exactly what happened.

Afterwards, I had to cheer myself up with one last Blackhorn.

oh blackhorn i will miss you
Then it was back to finish packing up everything and taking the rest to the trash or the donation pile. My room looks so strange empty.

The rest of the day was quite challenging. It took my about 40 minutes to get my two overweight suitcases from Agnes Blackadder Hall to the bus station and by that time, I was sweaty and gross. Then there was chaos with the buses although I managed to get on one.

The bus ride was a bit terrible because I was feeling so disgusting and still breathing heavily and overheated. But I listened to Killian Donnelly singing, which made me feel much better!

Thankfully, Dad scheduled a car to come get me from the bus station and bring my to the hotel and the lady was so nice. We chatted all the way here and I felt a lot better after that.

i love british hotels
I'm staying at a hotel right near the airport tonight...I have to wake up so early! But this hotel room is very nice and I had a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant.

I can't complain overall because I have a lovely hotel room and Eurovision on the TV (it's my first time watching!). But now it's time for bed because I have to wake up at 4:30am. xx

Friday, May 22, 2015

One Last Day

Today was my last full day in St Andrews. Not to be horridly cliche (coming from the person who likes to quote "For Good" from Wicked in cards to friends, I clearly don't care to avoid cliches) but time really does fly.

I started off the morning with a croissant and finally eating my champagne strawberry jam that I bought at the Royal Yacht Britannia. So yummy.

I worked on packing and bagged up a bunch of things to take to my friend Susannah, including my beloved frying pan.

i couldn't help myself
We decided to grab one last lunch together and Susannah introduced me to an adorable restaurant called The Bean Room. We also ended up in H&M and the dress I've been eyeing for months was on sale so I had to buy it.

The rest of my evening was a lot less fun as I attempted to finish packing. I'm finally finished...or as finished as I can be until tomorrow. This getting myself home thing is so stressful for me.

I made my final dinner in our little kitchen...which included a Mexican bean burger of course.

Well tomorrow I leave St Andrews for all seems a bit surreal to be honest. Tomorrow night, I'll be blogging from a hotel at the Edinburgh airport! xx

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Capture the Castle

As my time at St Andrews is dwindling to a close, I'm rushing to see as many of my friends as possible and do all the things I never got around to doing. Thus, today Lucy and I went to the St Andrews Castle. It was an important site during the Protestant Reformation but today it is mostly ruins. The exhibit before you actually head out to the castle was a bit laughable to be honest...lots of figures of people. 

The castle itself was incredible and the views of the ocean were spectacular. We decided to go down into the mine's a tiny little tunnel that you have to crouch to walk through that eventually leads to a steep ladder that lets you into a big open room underground. Basically, the sort of thing that you'd never be allowed in back in my country. Between Lucy's fear of steep stairs and my claustrophobia, it was a challenge but one that we managed. (At one point I almost had a panic attack from feeling so closed in and had to exit the tunnel; bless Lucy for dealing with it so well.) 

rip lucy 
too tall...a problem i've never had 

dungeon photoshoot 

post tunnel trauma
After, we decided to go to one of St Andrews' most well-known restaurants, North Point. Their pancakes were so delicious! It was so crowded, we had to top the window hightop but it was amusing to see all the tourists taking photos as they walked by.

tea for two 
indulgent pancakes because exams are over!

Lucy had a hen party (translation: bridal shower) to go to, so I ended up spending some final time at my much-beloved Starbucks reading a fantastic book on Anne Boleyn.

Rober Hutchinson was my teacher last summer!
It was half-priced frappes from 3-5pm this past week so I got a venti chocolate cream frappe for under two pounds! I will certainly miss these.

I spent much of the evening hanging out with my friend and flatmate, Michelle. As my time here draws to a close, I'm realizing just how much I will miss everyone and the routine that I'd settled into. But what an incredible day today was! xx

I've included an assortment of photos I took on my fancy camera below. #artsy

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I Breathe Again

"Freedom is mine. The earth is still. I feel the wind. I breathe again...and the sky clears. The world is waking." 

Basically, finishing exams feels a bit like when Jean Valjean is finally released from prison after 19 years. Today I decided to not do much of anything because I was so physically and emotionally exhausted from exams and my big day with Lucy yesterday.

I watched movies (including Made of Honor, because it's partially set in Scotland!), read a book I'm leaving for Lucy, packed up my suitcase almost all the way, and made a nice dinner.

so relaxing
fancy cooking
baked zucchini and mac & cheese for dinner
help! i can't stop listening to this song 
Now that I'm recovered a bit from all the stress, I'm ready to go out and see people and do things tomorrow! xx