Name: Ali Vance
Hometown: O'Fallon, IL
Varsity Sport Participated in: Women's Tennis
Study Abroad Semester and Location: University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland
What are the three most important things you packed in your suitcase? Why?
Hiking boots – I used my hiking boots on every single field trip I went on, and it would’ve been impossible to cross some of the terrain without them.
Waterproofs – Waterproof clothing and a warm jacket were absolute essentials for doing field work in Scotland, although there was one trip where even that wasn’t enough to keep us dry from the horizontal rain and sleet.
Journal – I really enjoy journaling, and I know that when I get home I’m going to love being able to look back and read about all of the amazing things I got to do and people I got to meet.
What is your favorite place in your host city/country?
My favorite place in Scotland was the Isle of Mull, which is off the West coast. We went out there for the second part of a two week mapping trip in April. Everyone was split into groups to map both Mull and Iona, the tiny island next to Mull. My group was assigned Iona and we got to take a ferry to our field area every day to work. In the evenings we would go back to the cottages we were staying in to make dinner and hang out. Most mornings we were woken up by the sheep that liked to graze just outside our windows. The weather there was incredibly warm for Scotland, and the beaches were all bright blue! We even got to go swimming on the last day, although the water was freezing despite the warm sun.
What will you bring home as a souvenir?
I didn't really leave a whole lot of room in my bags to bring home much, so most of my souvenirs are pretty small. I've got lots and lots of postcards, at least one from every place I visited, a roll of film I shot over the whole semester, and I stocked up on my favorite type of candy called Strawberry Millions. I also have a great hat from Iona, which is probably my favorite thing I'm bringing home. Everyone who was mapping on south Iona got matching hats so it'll bring back loads of great memories every time I wear it.
How did you feel before you left to go abroad and how does that compare to your feelings now?
Before I left to go abroad I really wasn’t concerned about making new friends. I went in with the mindset that as long as I performed well academically, then I would have had a fulfilling semester. Although I’m sure it still would have been a good experience, looking back, I can’t imagine my time at St Andrews without the new friends I’ve made. What I learned in my classes and field work has been such a positive experience; however, it’s just as important to me as the potlucks, beach barbecues, nights out, and hours spent in the field with my friends.
How were you able to stay in shape or stay prepared for your sport while you were off-campus?
Unfortunately I wasn't able to play tennis while I was abroad because of the cost and the time commitment of the field program. However, I managed to stay active by hiking on all of the field trips, hiking around St Andrews and the Fife Coastal Path, and playing badminton with friends.