A Weekend in Scotland

As I said last week, I spent this past weekend exploring Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s pronounced “Ed-en-Brah,” so not how it looks at all. I went with my program group, CIS Abroad. Although we were there for a short time, we fit a lot of amazing experiences into three days.

On Friday we took the train from London to Edinburgh and arrived in the evening, with just enough time for exploring the High Street and getting dinner. Saturday we had a full day, packed with discovering different castles in the Highlands. The coolest castle that we saw was Doune Castle, which actually translates to “Castle Castle.” As the tour guide said, “It’s a castle so nice they named it twice.” The super neat part about this castle is that it has been used for many different films, such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Outlander and Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones it was used as the town of Winterfell, which I thought was awesome, considering I love the TV series.

Doune Castle
Doune Castle
Deanston Distillery
Our tour bus in front of Deanston Distillery, where Scottish whiskey is made.
Edinburgh beautiful view
A beautiful view of Edinburgh

After the Doune Castle we went to Deanston Distillery, which was established in 1966. We went on a tour of the facilities and saw how they made single malt Scottish whiskey. It was neat to see all of the effort that goes into it. After they make the concentration of barley, malt and sugar, it has to age in the cask for at least 12 years. They showed us the storage room where they keep all of the casks, and there had to be thousands in that cellar. One of the barrels was from 40 years ago; the tour guide said that this barrel would sell for about 4,000 pounds a bottle, which would be about 5,300 American dollars! I thought that was insane, but I guess that over the years of the concentration being in the cask, they will loose a lot of it due to evaporation.

The last day we had some free time to explore the town and shop for souvenirs. We also saw the most beautiful view of Edinburgh. It seemed like we climbed a million stairs up this hill to see the view, but let me tell you it was totally worth every step. Scotland now has a special place in my heart and I will definitely be back to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

—Mary Warfel ’18


Touring England’s Castles

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a castle or palace? Good, me too! Being in England I have made it a point to see as many palaces and castles as I can. I find them so interesting, because every single one has a different story and is enriched in elaborate history.

So far, I have been to Buckingham Palace, Blenheim Palace, Lamport Hall, Basildon Park, Windsor Castle, Boughton House and the Tower of London. It’s hard to decide which one is my favorite because they all are so unique. When I was younger (who am I kidding, even now) I think it would be really neat to live in a castle or palace with secret rooms and decorations.

DSC01165 DSC01172I’ll tell you a little about my most recent adventures touring through medieval castles and palaces. First stop: Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The royal family resides at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle at different points in the year. Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official royal home and has been the official residence of Britain’s monarchy since 1837. It was amazing to be able to step foot into the Queen’s home. The palace is only open to the public for four months out of the year while the Queen is at her summer home. I was able to tour the state rooms and see the collection of gifts that were given to the royal family from all over the world. When the Queen is not at Buckingham, she is at Windsor Castle, which is one of the largest royal castles in the world, built after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Since then it has withstood the Blitz, fire and devastation and still stands today. When I toured the castle I was able to see the changing of the guards, which was neat because they blocked off the whole street and sidewalk so that they could change the guards without any disturbance.

DSC01129Another beautiful palace is Blenheim Palace, which was named after the battle that took place in 1704 as a gift to John Churchill from the first Duke of Marlborough after the defeat of the French in the war of Spanish succession in the 18th century. Later in 1874, Winston Churchill was born at the palace, and he later proposed to his wife, Clementine, in the palace gardens. Churchill himself even said, “At Blenheim I took two very important decisions; to be born and to marry. I am content with the decision I took on both occasions.”

Check back next week for exciting stories about my weekend excursion to Edinburgh, Scotland!

–Mary Warfel ’18


Visitors from Home, Adventures in the Countryside

One thing that I value the most is family and friendship. Luckily my parents have arrived to visit me this week. Being away from my family has not been the easiest for me, so I am very thankful that my they are here for a short time to join me in my adventures.

I am also thankful for friends that have turned into family, like the Hunters. This week we have been visiting the Cotswolds in the good ‘ol countryside. Our first stop was Cheltenham-Burton-on-the-water, where the miniature village is located, which was opened in 1937. It consists of a miniature village of the actual village. It was really neat walking around the tiny village, because it sort of acted as a map for the real village. For example, we had afternoon tea at Smiths Restaurant, which was in the same place as it was in the miniature village.

IMG_5851 (1) IMG_5801 (2)Our next journey was walking the footpaths of Moreton-in-Marsh. It was absolutely stunning, with herds of sheep on the rolling hills. Next we checked into our hotel, The White Hart. This hotel dates back to the 1500s, and some parts of the building date back to the 1400s. The reception desk was located on the original cobblestone roads that were used as a carriage way. This hotel has had some notable guests including King Charles I first who stayed there once during the Civil War and never paid his bill. The unpaid bill still hangs on the wall of the hotel today as well as a copy his signed death warrant. I thought the rooms were magnificent: I had never stayed in a hotel with such rich history within its walls.IMG_5892

There was a market the following morning where there were numerous things to look at. After the market we headed to the Batsford Arboretum, where we were surrounded by nature and beautiful buildings. In the Arboretum we saw St Mary’s, a stunning church that was built in 1291. Our next stop was to Stratford, William Shakespeare’s birthplace. It was amazing to see where someone so influential in today’s literature was born and raised. There he met his wife, Anne Hathaway, who lived in a small cottage with her family until they married. Together they had three children, but only two of them survived. Later Shakespeare bought Anne and his daughters the largest house, Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Stay tuned for next week to see how introducing my parents to the city of London went!


—Mary Warfel ’18 


Student Blog: Welcome to Life Across the Pond

cf6143c7-0b56-47f9-b6e9-1d0d01095a74Hi, everyone! My name is Mary Warfel, and I have just embarked on an incredible journey of self-discovery and exploration.

I am a senior at Utica College, majoring in public relations. I live in Clinton, NY, which is not very far from Utica so I have been commuting to school for the past three years. That being said, I wanted to experience something different besides living at home, going to school and working. So I decided that studying abroad was probably the best option for me. I thought England be a cool place to explore, and it’s also a place where I have a support system already built in; my sister had two English roommates her senior year of college, and they became family to me. Now I have ventured across the pond to discover what life is like an ocean away.

I arrived last week on September 6 and stayed with the Hunter family in East Ilsley. They showed many beautiful places including, Lamport Hall, Oxford and Basildon Park. Lamport Hall is set in the countryside of Northamptonshire and has withstood many years of changes. When I was in Oxford, I went on a guided bus tour around the city. Fun fact: When Oxford University first allowed women to study, they were able to take classes and sit for exams and pass them, but were not allowed to obtain a degree or diploma until the 1920s.

Beautiful Gardens of Lamport Hall
Beautiful Gardens of Lamport Hall

My next stop for the week was Basildon Park, which was a house that was established in the 1950s. Since then, it has been the back drop to many television programs and movies. Part of the movie Pride and Prejudice was filmed there and the British TV drama Downton Abbey was filmed there, as well. Some major episodes were filmed there such as Lady Rose’s wedding and the Christmas specials. I loved Downton and was super excited when I found out that part of the filming was done there.

Basildon Park
Basildon Park

My next stop is the University of Roehampton where I will be studying for the semester. Stay tuned!




Expand Your Horizons: Study Abroad

It’s Thurday, so here’s a throwback.

During the Fall ’13 semester I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I’m Irish, and I’ve always wanted to go, so I started looking into the study abroad program at Utica during my freshman year. The process is easy once you decide where you want to go. Utica College connects to multiple universities around the world, and they even connect to the schools that Syracuse University connects to; the countries you can choose from are nearly endless.

Before I left the United States (my first time out of the country by myself!) I made a promise to myself, that I would be open to any opportunity. I wasn’t going to waste an opportunities!

I took pictures with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I didn’t want to miss out on the super touristy things, so I wasn’t afraid to stop and grab a picture at any time. This was one was on our way home from class.


I was lucky enough to book a trip to France, and was able to see Paris. I also took a crazy amount of pictures there.

…I did all the “touristy” things in London as well.

My friends and I toured the Guiness factory, something I would have thought would be crazy boring…but beer being made is actually a really interesting process. Plus, the view from the top of the building, of the entire city of Dublin, is amazing.

I attended “tea” with the United States Ambassador to Ireland in Oscar Wilde’s home….and then took a picture with Oscar Wilde’s bust.

I hiked anywhere you could in Ireland…as soon as someone suggested a trip, I was down for it.

Bascially, this post is more than a backdoor brag. Studying abroad was one of my favorite things that I’ve ever done…because it allowed me to do so many things. As soon as someone suggested something, I was down for it. I didn’t see a point in sitting around in foreign country and doing nothing. I went to museums, fairs, comedy clubs, and just wandered around. I was able to immerse myself in other cultures, and I think I am all the better for it. I (like to think that I) am more outgoing, more open minded, and more willing to try different things.

So. Seriously. If you want to expand your viewpoint, and broaden your horizons, look into studying abroad.