Study Abroad Semester in Review

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For all my talk about study abroad, I realized I never went in-depth about the classes I took and what I learned. So, like I’ve done for some of my quarters at the University of Denver, I wanted to share a little recap about the four classes I took at the University of Glasgow and what I learned in each. If you read my blog post about differences in education between the U.S. and Scotland, then you probably already know I was a little disappointed with the academic aspect of my study abroad experience. Regardless, I still managed to learn (and make!) some interesting things! 


But first, let’s talk about today’s outfit. Remember in last week’s post how I mentioned a collaboration with the brand DR2 by Daniel Rainn? This top is the second piece they sent me! The short-sleeve polka dot sweater was a no-brainer for me, but I figured for my second collab item, I wanted to pick something a little more out of my comfort zone. This striped, puff sleeve sweater has that “grandma chic” vibe that has been oh-so-trendy lately. I wish I had gotten it in a size smaller, but I do still think it’s very cute for autumn. I immediately knew I wanted to pair it with my marigold pants for a work day outfit. The sweater makes for a great transitional piece on those warmer fall days!


Now, onto my classes! I was fortunate enough to finish all my graduation requirements before I went to Scotland, so I had the freedom to choose classes purely based on what interested me. (As a reminder, I double-majored in criminology and geography.) While the University of Glasgow didn’t have a criminology program, they did have sociology and law programs that had some interesting and somewhat relevant classes. The geography program also had a few courses that piqued my interest, such as a class on global pandemics!  

However, I ultimately decided I wanted to take entry-level courses and electives instead of classes in my majors so that I could enjoy the experience of being abroad a little more, rather than being bogged down with homework and lots of readings. I’m really glad I made that decision! I was able to explore Glasgow and the rest of Scotland so much instead of being cooped up in my flat every evening, like I would have been back in Denver. 

If you haven’t read my post about the differences in education between the University of Denver and the University of Glasgow, I highly recommend checking that out here first. It provides a lot of context to the classes I discuss below. 

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Celtic Civilisation 

Since I didn’t have to take any required classes, I knew I wanted to focus on courses that I either couldn’t take at the University of Denver or that would enrich my experience of Scotland—this class checked both boxes. In Celtic Civilisation, I learned about the history of the people who have lived in what is today the United Kingdom. We talked about the rise and fall of empires, languages that have been spoken on the island, place names that in some instances remain relevant today, and the cultures of various peoples.  

I think this class had the potential to be really interesting. However, I had two problems with it. First, since I attended the University of Glasgow in the spring semester, it became evident very quickly that this class was built on information from the fall semester—information that I obviously did not have (even though the course description said there were no prerequisites). For this reason, I found it really difficult to keep up in this class and to understand the lectures. Secondly, most of this course was taught online via Zoom, which I find to be an ineffective learning style for me. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this class had it been taught face-to-face, and sadly, there’s really not much I can remember about what I learned! 

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Introduction to Scottish Culture 

This class had four major tenets—history, culture, language, and archaeology. Out of the four classes I took abroad, I think I definitely learned the most in this one. It was really fun and exciting to learn certain Scottish colloquialisms and the history behind some of the Scottish sites I visited on my adventures. I even wrote a paper for this class about the Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden (basically, when Scotland lost to England) after visiting the battlefield itself! The relevance of this course was ummatched. With that said, I don’t think I got out of it as much as I could have because the professors were rather monotone and dull, but the little tidbits I did learn were worthwhile. 

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Stained Glass 

This was probably the class I was most excited to take! Technically, this course was taught through the renowned Glasgow School of Art, which is a separate entity than the University of Glasgow and located in the heart the city. The class was taught once a week for three hours, and due to strict Covid regulations, there were only six students in total. 

I had no idea what to expect from this class. I did, however, imagine we would spend the first session going over safety precautions and learning about the history/practice of stained glass. That was not the case. I learned very little, if not nothing at all, about stained glass itself, how it is created, its history, etc., and we hardly talked about safety. This was baffling to me considering we were using sharp tools and working with lead. The teacher basically said, “Yah, you don’t want to spend too much time with lead, it’s not good for you.” Ha! 

The process of stained glass panel-making includes five steps: sketching/designing your piece on paper, cutting the glass, leading (the process of cutting the led strips and wrapping them around the pieces of glass), soldering (“gluing” the pieces of lead together with metal), and puddying (squishing putty into the crevasses between the lead and glass to seal it). We had three projects over the course of the semester—a small, abstract stained glass panel (about 4 by 4 inches), a painted piece of glass, and a large stained glass panel. For my large panel, I made the Glasgow skyline as a handmade souvenir to remember my time there; it’s about 10 inches by 17 inches.  

I could write a whole post about stained glass alone, it’s that interesting! But I’ll try to wrap things up since I’ve already written so much about this course. Overall, I loved the art and practice of stained glass. It’s expensive and requires lots of equipment, but I would really like to get involved at a studio and dabble in it more one day. Unfortunately, the class was made really frustrating by the teacher—she didn’t seem to like us very much and didn’t really teach, so I had to learn a lot myself by trial and error. There was also just a supply issue; there was never enough glass, so everyone had to make a lot of sacrifices in their designs or wrestle each other for the best pieces. I had a love-hate relationship with the course for sure, but regardless of all the frustrations, it was still worth it because learning the practice of stained glass was such a unique opportunity. 

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There you have it, a recap of the classes I took abroad and what (admittedly, very little) I learned. I can’t say I truly loved any of my classes, but I didn’t hate any of them with a fiery passion, either—they all had the potential to be great and just fell a little flat. Either way, I don’t regret any of my choices; a lot of my dislikes were due to circumstances out of my control. Besides… I didn’t choose to study abroad for the academics, anyway! Ha. I still got so much out of the experience even if the classes themselves were a little lackluster.

Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you have a great rest of your Thursday! 


Miles of smiles,


Striped Sweater: Gifted by DR2 by Daniel Rainn, available here | Yellow Pants: JCPenney, $20 ($0.80 per wear), last worn here | Leopard Flats: Target, $20 ($0.71 per wear), last worn here | Sunglasses: Loft, $30 ($1.67 per wear), last worn here | Purse: Antique store, $9 ($3.00 per wear)

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