“Fancy Dress” in Scotland
DOC First-Year Trips, a program that’s designed to welcome first-year students to the college and help them feel comfortable here, brings to light many things about life as a student at Dartmouth. Many of these things are practical and useful, while others can be lighthearted or silly. One of these things is “flair”, which is Dartmouth’s term for “anything you probably wouldn’t wear in an average real-world situation”. Not everyone at Dartmouth loves wearing strange combinations of things that may or may not be considered clothing, and that is totally okay. I’ve never felt compelled to wear any certain type of clothing in order to fit in at Dartmouth. Nevertheless, I love flair, and I was stoked to find out that the University of Edinburgh has a similar tradition: fancy dress.
I discovered fancy dress this past weekend, when I went up to a cabin on the shores of Loch Lomond (loch is the Scots’ word for lake) in the Scottish Highlands. I was going on a trip with the wakeboarding and waterskiing club*, and noticed that the packing list included “fancy dress”. At first, I thought that fancy dress might have been formal wear, some sort of black-tie thing, but fortunately, after many posts alluding to the weekend’s theme, some of the Edinburgh students helpfully pointed out that fancy dress is British shorthand for what you’d wear to a costume or theme party. I had to leave my flair box back at Dartmouth, but luckily, after last spring, one of my friends gave me a Snuggie-type blanket that looks remarkably like a Santa suit, and I did manage to bring that with me to Edinburgh, which meant that I was properly equipped for my weekend trip.
When we first arrived at Loch Lomond, I noticed that there was snow on the top of a mountain that towered over the lake. Thankfully, wet suits exist, so the freezing temperatures were much less of an issue. Loch Lomond also happens to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, so that didn’t hurt. The whole time I was wakeboarding, I kept just looking up at my surroundings, essentially in disbelief. The loch is surrounded by huge green and yellow mountains that rise way above treeline, and when the sun started to set I could see the shadow creeping across the mountains! The Scottish weather, which generally is a lovely mixture of constant rain and spurts of windy sunshine, also ended up working to our aesthetic advantage, because enormous rainbows kept appearing every time the sun came out! It was also super cool to spend a weekend without any of the Dartmouth students that I came here with, because I was able to bond with a whole new group of friends, all of whom actually go to the University of Edinburgh.
Overall, aesthetically and personally, this was a beautiful weekend. And this coming weekend, I’m heading off to Geneva, Switzerland, with a friend from Dartmouth’s Religion FSP, so that should be beautiful as well! Life is going well on the other side of the pond.
*Sadly, Dartmouth does not have a wakeboarding and/or waterskiing club. However, according to a quick Google search, nor do any of the other Ivy League schools. And on the bright side, I’m able to be part of a wakeboarding and waterskiing club for part of my time in college, thanks to the opportunity to study abroad!