Tag: college

Introducing Entrepreneur 101

A few different people have asked me “what sorts of things should be taught in a college level beginning entrepreneurship class?”  I always had a few answers, but never came up with a comprehensive syllabus.  After speaking in a class earlier this week at the UW Business School, I decided to write up a basic syllabus for a 16 week college course that I’d call Entrepreneur 101: A Practical Guide to Starting A Business and added it as a page to my site.  I would love to teach a class like this on the college level for interested entrepreneurs.

Introduction to the Course

Too many classes focus on theory and large, overarching issues instead of practical things that you will need to know to start a business.  Hopefully this class will prepare you to actually start your business by giving you the tools to do all of the nitty gritty work that is necessary to get started.  At the end of the semester, students will compete in a business plan competition in front of a panel of judges.

Week 1 – Introduction to Entrepreneurship

Class: There are many types of entrepreneurship, not just high tech.  It’s easier than you think and college is the best time to start. How to Live Before You Die.

Required reading: How to Start a Startup, What Startups are Really Like, The 3 Advantages of a Startup, Entrepreneurs Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Week 2 – Idea Generation and Business Plans

Class: How do you take an idea to a business plan?  How do you write a business plan? Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce

Required reading: The World is Flat, 9 Business Selection Criteria, 13 Sentences, College is the Best Time to Start a Business

Homework: Start thinking about a business to start for the business plan competition.

Week 3 – Types of Businesses Organization

Class: What type of entity should I use? LLC, Corporation, Non profit?  Learn how how to sign up for LLC.

Required Reading: 18 Mistakes that Kill Startups , The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs

Homework: Sign up for an LLC, but don’t pay for it.  Start working on your business plan.

Week 4 – What are the Necessary Legal Docs Required?

Class: Operating agreements, partnership agreement and their  importance.  Guest speaker: A lawyer familiar with these issues.

Required Reading: Top 10 Geek Business Myths, The PayPal Wars

Week 5 – Taxes, Banking, Accounting

Class: How to setup a FEIN, get a free business bank account and start learning about Quickbooks.

Homework: Go to a bank and get a free business bank account set up (you don’t actually have to sign up), start exploring Quickbooks.

Week 6 – Quickbooks

Class: How to use Quickbooks in a small business or startup

Homework: Create a Quickbooks file for a hypothetical startup.

Required Reading: How to Get Taken Seriously Running A Startup Under 25

Week 7 – Credit Card Processing

Class: Teach how credit card processing system works, fill out forms

Homework: Call multiple resellers and see who can get the best rate.

Week 8 – Servers and SSL

Class: Overview of types of servers, server companies.   What is an ssl? Overview of ssl companies.  Test on first half of class.

Required Reading: Don’t Be Afraid of the Competition, My Rules for Startups

Homework: First draft of business plan due

Week 9 – Overview of Programming

Class: Types of programming languages, how programming works works, explanation of databases, what to look for when hiring a programmer.  How to register a domain name.

Required Reading: The Tipping Point

Homework: Register a domain for under $8.

Week 10 – Legal

Class: What to look for in a lawyer, what you need from them and the importance of a legal advisor.

Week 11 – Mentors

Class: Overview of why you need a mentor, who is willing to help, how you should look for a mentor.

Required Reading: Every Startup Needs a Mentor Team, The Entrepreneurial Push

Homework: Connect with a potential mentor on Linkedin, Twitter, email or phone.

Week 12 – Networking

Class: Why you need to network, strategies for successful networking, how to stay in contact with people.

Required Reading: The Business of Meeting People, Freakonomics

Homework: Get business cards for yourself, check out Brazen Careerist.

Week 13 – Blogging and Online Stores

Class: How to set up a blog, overview of WordPress, Blogger etc.  Overview of online shops.  Intro to Shopify.

Homework: Set up free wordpress blog.

Week 14 – Online Advertising, Social Media, Analytics, Document Sharing

Class: Overview of online advertising, CPM, CPC, Twitter, Facebook.  Intro to Google Adwords, Analytics, Docs and Calendar.

Required Reading: Made to Stick

Homework: sign up for Google docs, share a document with me.

Week 15 – Guide to Raising Money, Office Space

Class: How to value your business? Overview of friends & family, angel investors, VCs.  When is the right time to get an office?  How do you get the best deals?  Where should you look?

Required Reading: The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists, To Office or Not to Office

Week 16 – Business Plan Competition

Final Exam – Business Plan Competition with panel of judges, based on Burrill Business Plan Competition.

I really think that this sort of course would be incredibly beneficial to a student who is thinking about starting a business or even thinking about working for a startup.  These types of skills will give students a nice foundation so that they can start their own business.  Check out my full list of resources on my Entrepreneur 101 page for links to all of the companies I would use for each of these lessons.

So help me out: What am I missing?  Would you take a class like this?  Do you think universities would be willing to offer a class like this?

More Practice, Less Theory

“What do we need to know this for?” I asked as my K5 teacher tried to tell me how to write more clearly.

My penmanship was pretty bad and the teacher realized that I was writing my letters backward.  Instead of writing some of my letters from bottom to top, I wrote from bottom to top.  I remember being annoyed and asking “what do we need to know this for?”  I could read my writing and so could the teacher, but I wasn’t following the rules.  In 3rd grade, I pretty much refused to learn cursive because I could print really fast and hated the new rules, again asking “what do we need to know this for?”  I continued this (probably incredibly annoying) refrain all the way through middle school: manually calculating slope instead of using a graphic calculator, diagramming sentences, specific types of bibliographies.  Even gym class wasn’t safe from my middle school ire.

Somewhere along the line, probably around freshman year of high school, I kept the questions to myself, but decided to tune out anything that I thought wasn’t going to help me later in life.  I loved reading about interesting things that had happened in real life and writing about current events, but hated theoretical or outdated lessons.  My favorite class in high school was consumer economics, an entire class devoted to balancing your checkbook, investing in stocks and personal economics.  It was real and I still use many of those skills I learned sophomore year.

I hated geometry because of the rigidity of proofs, hated calculus because I couldn’t understand why we had to do it by hand when we had graphing calculators to do it for us.  I hated memorizing the parts of a cell in freshman biology and reading about the Greek Gods.  It was boring and I couldn’t see the benefit later in life.  I haven’t used any of those “skills” since. This choice was the main reason why I got waitlisted at UW and almost didn’t get in, but I don’t regret it one bit.

When I got to college, I was expecting a change.  I thought we would learn how to succeed in the real world, but I quickly realized it was going to be more of the same inside the classroom.  I realized that if I was going to learn, I would have to do it myself.  After I bought ExchangeHut, I thought I’d try the business school.

After about half of a semester, I realized it wasn’t right for me.  Accounting 100 was rule driven and required you to do problems by hand.  After managing ExchangeHut’s accounting in Quickbooks for a few months, I couldn’t understand why we would figure out any of that stuff by hand.  Why not just use Quickbooks and save all of the trouble?  After the first four weeks, we started to learn about how Wal-Mart manages its inventory and how other large corporations prepare financial statements.  While I understand accountants need to know this stuff, I realized it was worthless to me.  I could use quickbooks for my accounting and if I ever got really successful, I’d hire an accountant.  Why bother?  I found the over reliance on theory to be extremely prevalent in business school classes.

I had a simple accounting question for ExchangeHut and asked four different friends who were Accounting majors with good GPAs.  None of them knew the answer, but they could sure solve the question on the exam about WalMart’s inventory system.  It happened again this year with an intern for Entrustet.  We have a finance major who earned a 4.0 from UW and is graduating in the spring.  He is clearly smart and learns quickly.  We have him doing some balance sheet work and other finance related tasks and he’s good at it.  He was working on our balance sheet and ran into a somewhat complex issue, so he went to his finance professor and asked for help.  The professor said “just use quickbooks, it’ll know where to put everything in the right place.”

At first I just laughed, but then I realized this was a microcosm of why students are having trouble adjusting the the real world.  I don’t think its our intern’s fault.  He just was never taught how to use quickbooks and as soon as he got to the real world, his professor says “use quickbooks.”  That’s what happens to graduates all over the country.  Rebecca Thorman’s post addresses how colleges are failing students, but I really think the over reliance on theory in the place of practice is what is hurting students.  Ellen Nordahl looks at the problem from the other side in her post about how students are unengaged.  Universities need to teach students more skills they will use in the workplace or they will not be prepared.  I bet if students weren’t asking themselves “what do we need to know this for” in their heads, they would be more engaged in their school work.

I am not saying that we should throw out all theory.  It is clear that you need to understand the basic theory in order to implement them in practice, but universities have swung way to far to toward the theory end of the continuum.

Schools are not the only place where the balance is out of whack. I ref a bunch of soccer each year and see the same basic problem.  I ref everything from U-11 to high school to semi-pro adults and I really enjoy it.  Each year, all refs have to take a recertification course that is supposed to refresh refs on the laws of the game and let us know about any rule changes.  It also gives instructors a chance to stress certain aspects of the game and teach better game management.  At the end of the class, everyone has to take a 100 question test and get at least a 75% in order to retain their badge. All USSF refs have to take this class each year, so attendees range from 12 year old first year refs to 70 year old guys who have been reffing for 35 years.  Sounds like a good system, right?

Wrong.  The test focuses on incredibly abstract game situations that would never happen, even to a World Cup level referee.  Here’s some actual questions from the test:

Q: An offensive player is dribbling toward goal, standing outside the penalty area.  A defender who is standing in the penalty area takes off his shoe and throws it at the ball, knocking it away.

Q: A player takes his shin guard off and slaps the ball with the shin guard in his hand.

There are a ton more, but you get the idea.  You have to know the rules to get these questions right, but they cause everyone’s eyes to glaze over.  It would be a test that would be great to do as trivia, but doesn’t really help a 12 year old new referee manage a game.

Because the test is so skewed toward situations that will never happen to you, the instructors have to teach to the test, just like teachers in middle and high schools do for state tests.  To make matter worse, the instructors use jargon heavy language instead of using concrete examples.  For example, at my most recent clinic, a kid of about 13 was confused about offside.  The instructor had said “as the assistant referee, make sure you stay with the second to last defender.”  The kid raised his hand and said “I thought it was the last defender.”  It was clear that the kid forgot that the goalkeeper counts as a defender, but instead of explaining it with an example, the instructor just repeated his sentence again, but more slowly and with more emphasis.  The kid didn’t understand until another ref at my table explained it to him with a diagram and an example.  There were so many other examples like this during the 8 hour course, my head started to hurt.

A huge percentage of kids quit refereeing each year because they get screamed at by coaches and parents.  The recertification classes should teach foul recognition (ie, when to blow the whistle and when not to), how to kick a coach out, how to deal with parents and the basic rules of the game, not what to do if someone throws a shoe at the ball or whether the correct restart after a chicken walks onto the field and knocks the ball over the end-line is a drop ball or a goal kick.  They should be showing videos of fouls from youth and adult games to keep people engaged.  A quick search of YouTube for “soccer violence” or “youth soccer red cards” brings up tons of teaching moments.  Additionally, FIFA makes rule changes each year, usually as a result of something that happened in an important game.  We could have watched videos of each situation to explain why FIFA decided to make the change, but instead we just read it from the book. Just like you learn how to succeed in the real world by doing things and learning practical things like Quickbooks, soccer referees learn from watching other successful referees work and learning from real life situations.

It is harder to come up with engaging, real life lesson plans than it is to teach theory.  Its also riskier.  I think educators are less likely to try to teach real life situations because it takes time to come up with more in depth lesson plans and it’s not the safe choice.  In The Wire (my favorite tv show ever), a teacher realizes that he can teach probability to his inner city students via dice.  The kids love it and learn because they can see how they will use this skill in real life.  I think everyone agrees that the US has to do a better job of preparing students for the future.  The first step is to stop teaching so much theory and start teaching things that students will use in real life.

Will Millennials Put an End to “Gotcha Journalism” or Perpetuate It?

I think one of the most interesting stories of the 2010s will be whether my generation puts an end to “gotcha journalism” or makes the problem even worse than it is today.

The classic definition of gotcha journalism usually refers to an interview style where the interviewer tries to trap the interviewee into saying something that would be damaging to themselves or their cause.  It has been around since the early 80s and became firmly rooted into our political and popular culture since then.

With the rise of the Internet, journalists, bloggers and citizens have taken gotcha journalism to new levels.  The barrier to entry is much lower:  instead of having to secure an interview with someone in order to trap the interviewee, the new breed of gotcha journalism uses the Internet to sift through all of the statements that a person has made in their entire life to try to paint them in a bad light.

Now, bloggers go through politicians’ every public statement for any misspeak or inaccuracy and then try to crucify them.  It started with John Kerry being labeled a “flip-flopper,” moved to George Bush‘s butchering of the English language and more recently, led President Obama’s Green Energy Czar to quit because of statements he made almost ten years ago.  When President Obama misspoke on the campaign trail, saying that he had visited all 57 states, right wing bloggers tried to make it seem like Obama was stupid.  When Sarah Palin burst onto the national scene, left wing bloggers and some in the media sifted through her previous public statements to search for any inaccuracy.

It seems like 75% of the news stories I read about each day have to do with some politician getting raked over the coals for some statement he just made that is different from a statement he made a long time ago.  Many times, the person leveling the charge is a fellow politician, along with the media and the blogosphere.

My generation is the first generation to be online from an early age.  We first interacted with email, then instant messaging, then social networks and now blogs.  We created (and are still creating) vast amounts of data about ourselves, much of which is stored online.  We have archived AIM conversations from when we were in 6th grade,  digital pictures from high school and college that are online and we all have our dumb Facebook wall posts that we made throughout our college years.

Many of us have blogs on wordpress or blogger and many more have microblogging accounts on services like Twitter where we make observations and pithy comments about our daily lives.  I know I’ve changed alot since I was in 6th grade and I assume I will change almost as much between now and the end of the 2010s.  During the next decade, as people in my generation get older and become leaders in business, politics and culture, will we still be subjected to gotcha journalism like our public figures are today?

One argument is that since everyone has all of this content online, we will become desensitized to people’s dumb or incorrect statements from when they were young.  Everyone has pictures of themselves on Facebook that they wished never made it online.  Everyone is going to have a poorly thought out wall post that could be taken out of context, or a pithy remark on Twitter that does not stand the test of time.  Anyone who blogs about anything interesting will be majorly wrong about something.  Will millennials become bored by the new gotcha journalism because everyone has something online that could make them look bad?

On the other hand, millennials may just make gotcha journalism even worse than it is today.  Since everyone has created gigabytes of online content, bloggers and the media will have an easier time digging up dirt on anyone who enters the public eye.  Imagine being able to see the new candidate for Governor at a boozy college party or getting a transcript of his AIM conversations with his best friend or girlfriend from high school.  The media, bloggers and most of all, the citizens will eat this stuff up.  Ratings will go up and everyone will be happy, execpt for the public feature.

I hope that my generation helps start the shift away from gotcha journalism.  I can’t imagine being shocked by the vast majority of the dirt that someone would dig up about a public figure online.  I hope that millennials are willing to allow people to change their opinion and not be called a flip-flopper.  I hope we will cut public figures some slack when their college photos get published to the major blogs and their old blog posts come back to haunt them.  I’m not optimistic, but I am hopeful.  If not, we will have some really boring politicians, business leaders and public figures!

Do you think millenials will help stop gotcha journalism or do you think the problem will get worse?

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Travelogue: Beata’s Trip

Note: This is a guest post by one of my best friends, Beata Rak.  After graduation, Beata moved to London, got a job as a tour guide and bartender at her local pub and has traveled around Europe and the Middle East.  After living in London, Beata is moving to Australia to continue her adventure.  Here are some of her favorite memories from Europe.

Today I fly out to Egypt and I begin my six weeks of travels. I have been living and working in London for about 8 months and wanted to save all my travels for the end of my trip, right before my big move to Australia. I am going to Egypt, Budapest, Berlin, Munich (OKTOBERFEST), Interlaken, Zurich, Paris, and Krakow. I haven’t written a single thing about where I have actually been or done while living in the UK, so as a personal record for myself and travel advice for all my friends, here is my UK wrap up.

St Patrick’s Day

This was celebrated, where else, but in Dublin. I have now been to Dublin twice and each visit was on St. Patrick’s Day. It is really fun. Two years ago the weather was horrible, rain, snow, sleet: everything in one day. All the hostels were booked so a group of 5 of us shared a hotel room by the airport. My best memory is of my friend walking around with a video camera asking the Irish what St. Patrick’s Day meant to them, and all replied “freedom from the English.” (This is not what St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of, but the Irish love to constantly emphasize their freedom from English rule.)

This year’s trip was a little different. I was smarter. I knew I didn’t need a hotel/hostel room. The airport would be enough. I flew in early St. Patrick’s Day morning, changed at the airport bathroom into a ridiculous green outfit and stored my bag at an airport locker. I then went to the city centre to meet my friend Carly who arrived by ferry. We then met my friend Meredith at her hostel, ate the hostel’s free breakfast (I’m sure the free breakfast was for the residents, but oh well!) and got ready for the parade. Parade was crowded and hard to see anything, but you were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the IRISH!!! How cool is that? It didn’t matter that all you saw was the top of a Lucky Charms float, and waited another 20 minutes for the next attraction. Everyone is dressed up in costumes and starts drinking at 10am. The best way to describe it: A mix between a Wisconsin vs. Michigan game at 11:00 and State street on Halloween. Insanity.

After the parade we went to a bar where we heard tradition Irish music. This was awesome. The Irish are so much fun. You just want to get up and join in their tradition folk dances. The end of the night was spent partying in TEMPLE Bar, which is basically an overpriced area of bars. If you go to Dublin, cross the river and you will notice a pint of Guinness is half the price. A fun memory involves my tourists. At the this point I had been a tour guide in London for about a month and a half and I had at least 10 people come up to me on the street in Dublin and yell “London tour guide!”  Then at about 3 am I took a bus to the airport, where I joined about 100 other fools dressed in green to board my 8am flight back to London.  I recommend that everyone experience this festivity even once.
CRUFTS, The World’s Largest Dog ShowBirmingham, England

My friend used to work at the Dog Kennel and was given free tickets to Crufts, the World’s Largest Dog Show, which is hosted in Birmingham every year. At this point I had adopted the philosophy of saying yes to pretty much everything, so when she invited me on a trip to Birmingham for the Crufts, I immediately said yes. This would definitely be interesting. And yes it was. We stayed with absolutely the nicest people. A friend of her’s played host for the weekend and he was amazing. I truly am impressed with British hospoitaly. Everyone is always offering a couch or bed for you to sleep on.

We saw a bit of Birmingham and I am not a fan of the city. The downtown area is clean and nice, but small. Everyone says that the bullring is awesome.  It was a nice shopping centre yes but I wouldn’t go back. I did enjoy our night out by the college. There is a university in the area and our host invited us to his friend’s gig. The band was awesome and the bar was cool. I was told Birmingham had good nightlife and this I am sure this is true. I enjoyed the one night we went out.

But now for CRUFTS, the highlight of the weekend! Dog people are weird. Very weird. There is this whole posh dog society that I had never known existed. And you know the phrase that dogs kind of look like their owners? SO TRUE. Big hairy people would have big hairy dogs. Petite ladies would own poodles, etc. The coolest part was seeing all the different varieties of dogs. Some dogs are so cute!!! But it broke my heart so see how expensive they were and they fact that people could pick a champion female dog and another champion male dog and pay money to have them mate so that they could have the best dog ever. The whole idea just seemed weird. Especially because there are so many stray dogs in kennels that need homes. I don’t understand why people would pay 15,000 pounds for a dog just because it is pure bred.  We watched a few competitions. They measure a dog’s tail, see how fast it can run, and do dog tricks like if they can find a hidden ball. It was all so odd. It really was just like on TV.  Crufts, an experience as I said, but not one I would recommend or repeat.
Stonehenge – Summer Solstice

This is without a doubt one of the coolest things I have done here. So Stonehenge is a site of these ancient rocks about an hour and half outside of London. Like the pyramids, no one is exactly sure how they got there. These huge stones are in the middle of nowhere and have been there for thousands of years. The stones are a huge tourists attraction, but they are not allowed to be touched. You can look at them from a distance. EXCEPT for the summer solstice. To celebrate the longest day of the year, or the shortest night a huge festival is held by the stones, and you can go right up to them, and touch them and everything. It is an ancient ritual to celebrate there and it is continued to this day. It was so cool, druids playing the drums, hippies wearing white, pagans dancing and us. A group of fools with lots of food and liquor. The idea is to stay up till sunrise. Partying from sunset to sunrise, or perhaps playing drums and dancing to the summer Gods who are about to bless us with a nice summer that will produce a good harvest. My friend and I succeeded to see the sunrise, but some people fell asleep. The experience is hard to describe. You are overwhelmed with the number of people, while at the same time shocked at how calm everyone is. There weren’t drunk fights, or people puking everywhere. Everyone was there to enjoy the experience. And a lot of people were there to truly celebrate the ritual. You can tell they had been doing it every summer. This is the only day of the year I would recommend going to Stonehenge. If you go any other time you will be disappointed, because it is only a pile of rocks. Don’t waste your money, or more importantly your time.

Oxford and Cambridge

So before I went to Oxford and Cambridge I sort of pictured two college campuses with tons of parties with hot posh British boys. Even though this is not how the universities are, they are absolutely beautiful and everyone must see these cities. First of all both schools do not have a campus. Both cities are filled with university buildings where the lectures are taught. These are the colleges, so there is the college of literature and law, etc. They are scattered all over the city and there isn’t any sort of quad or student centre really. The cities are gorgeous though. The nightlife is calm. People are out partying yes, but not like what you have on like Madison’s campus for example.

Oxford is beautiful. Gorgeous. We even saw boys playing croquet!! How cool is that. I went with three of my friends. We saw some boys playing and sat down to watch them. Then we started to take pictures. Then a huge crowd formed behind us. They were all taking pictures as well. Poor boys, they became a tourist attraction! A professor in Oxford wrote Alice in Wonderland and the story supposedly takes place there so we visited the Alice in Wonderland shop. There is also a very pretty river walk filled with trees and most of the buildings are covered in IVY. If you have a picture of Oxford in your head, it probably looks like that, except prettier.

Cambridge was very similar, but out of the two I think Cambridge is prettier. We stayed with a friend of a friend who is an absolutely amazing host. She is a tour guide on the river so she took us on a tour.  We went punting on the river and had our own personal guide. We learned a little bit of history about the very prestigious university and observed the many students who had just finished exams, rented their own boats and drunkenly were punting down the river. Then of course it started to rain, but this is England and it rains all the time, so what better way to end the tour than at the local pub. We had a laugh then parted our ways. Cambridge is breathtakingly gorgeous. Visit this city!

Stratford upon Avon, Cotswolds, Burford

One Sunday I decided to leave London and visit the Cotswolds which are cute villages outside of London. I took a day trip there with Viator tours. My group consisted of 7 people from Japan who did not speak a word of English, and American couple and a mother and daughter also from America. The group was interesting. As I did not speak any Japanese I hung out with the Americans. They were all nice, but at one point I was talking to the American mom and telling her how I was going to take a 6 week backpacking trip in a few months. She seemed very concerned, as I was a girl doing this alone. I told her it was perfectly safe and that I had done it before so I was not worried at all. When the sun was setting she came up to me and asked, “So Beata when it gets dark right about now, what do you do with your backpack? Do you just camp somewhere by the road and continue walking in the morning?

I thought she was kidding. But she wasn’t. She literally thought I was going to WALK from one European country to another with a backpack. And what is funny, the American couple thought the exact same thing. Oh Americans, sometimes we are so silly. I explained to them I’d be flying, taking buses and trains, and sleeping in hostels. Anyhow back to the villages. SO BEAUTIFUL!

We visited Burford, which I was very excited about because I talk about Burford on my tours. The villages are very pretty and picturesque.  There are rivers and lakes running through them, and they are very small. We visited about four different villages and you could walk each one in about 15 minutes. They are also very quiet, so a nice escape from London. On the trip I also visited Stratford Upon Avon. This is where Shakespeare was born. Super cool. I love Shakespeare and could not help but think of Mr. Bertenshaw when I was there. This teacher probably had one of the greatest impacts on my life. As I kept walking around the town all I kept thinking about was Mr. Bertenshaw jumping up and down and saying, J C. Juliet Capulet, Jesus Christ. I have to say though, learning about someone or something in school and then seeing it in real life is a pretty amazing feeling. We saw the building where Shakespeare was born, the house his daughter lived in and the church where he is buried. Definitely recommend a day trip from London.


I loved Scotland and wish I had lived there for a bit. It is such a cool country and the people are amazing. I spent a week there and started in Edinburgh, which is a beautiful city. It looks like it comes straight out of a fairytale. I did the free walking tour there. When I do the tours in London I always hear about an amazing guide in Edinburgh, Grant, who wears a pink hat. So I went on his tour, and turns out he had been on my tour in London. What a small world. I also ran into a lot of people in my hostel, who had just been on my tour the week before. (Apparently I am a mini celebrity in the backpacking world!)

I then went on a 3 day haggis adventure tour with Busabout Tours. Recommend it very highly! This trip was awesome. I had a very outgoing guide Kyle who made the trip super fun. I met the three most amazing girls from Australia and the trip was ideal. We went to Loch ness and visited Nessie, the lock ness monster. Now, obviously I did not see her but we took a boat over Lock ness and watched all the sonar devices. Apparently the sonar will often get signals that are unexplained, and this is where we get the idea that there is something in the water. There are stories that villagers have seen a massive animal in the water but nobody really knows if it is true. The town where the loch is located is called Inverness and it small, cute and quaint. The Australian trio and I attempted to go out and meet some of the locals. This didn’t last very long as it turned into us and the bartender sitting at a table, then getting invited to a big party, which consisted of a total of 4 people. Instead we hung out with the group at the hostel bar and watched the most entertaining dance off I had seen in my life.

The next day was spent visiting the highlands. We went to the Isle of Sky. To say that the Scottish highlands are beautiful would be an insult. They are breath taking. I had no idea the extent of this beauty until I had seen it, a mixture of beautiful cliffs, lakes, and mountains. We also saw many castles, including the one from the movie, Maid of Honor, with Patrick Dempsey. We also saw lots of men in kilts playing bagpipes. I did not try haggis but I did eat a deep-fried mars bar, two of the famous Scotland dishes. The Mars Bar was yummy, but you really can’t eat more than half of it, it is sooo rich.

As for the haggis, as yummy as I hear it is, I really cannot bring myself to eat it. It is diced sheep liver, intestines, and heart etc, cooked in a sheep’s stomach. Apparently delicious, but not my cup of tea. I ended my trip to Scotland with a music festival, T in the Park. This was fun. I saw Kings of Leon, Maximo Park, Franz Ferdinand, and the View. What is funny is that the night before we went out to a bar and met some guys who claimed to be in a band. I was like, yah right, sure. Every guy says that. Well the next day at the festival the band really was there. I felt like the biggest idiot, I missed an opportunity schmoozing the band to meet some of the headliners. Oh well…..next time.  Scotland is a country filled with a lot of pride to be Scottish, they blame everything on the English, just like the Irish. The entire trip was filled with stories of battles and of William Wallace, (Braveheart) we even saw his memorial, which is HUGE. I loved Scotland and for sure recommend going.

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