Darius Lee Francis, a Chicagoan and student at Eastern Illinois University, makes the long 4,000 mile journey to Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, with the assistance of Panrimo and EIU. He interned in Summerhall (Summer 2014). Summerhall is an arts hub for various arts performances and a venue for various events such as weddings, banquets, and parties. Summerhall has a pub/bar, cafe, and catering department within. The excitement does not end with Summerhall. Darius traveled all over the United Kingdom and Europe and experience different foods, cultures, people, and fashion. Here is one of Darius’s blogs entry during his stay in Summerhall. If you would like to learn more about his travels in the United Kingdom check out his blog!
The first week of my internship was interesting…
I walk up to this place that looks like a piece of a castle…it has old charm and is quite interesting.
I enter the building and the old charm continues…I walk to the reception desk…
“Hi, my name is Darius Francis, I am and intern from Chicago working with the events and programming team here.”
“OH! Hi, you are the person everyone has been talking about here! We all got an email about you, saying how you would be joining us!”
Anna, the sweet girl from reception! She was so nice and things never changed. Always greeting with a smile and her British accent could never do any harm.
“Well, Da-rye-us, uh.. I mean, how is it that you say your name?” she said.
“DARE-EE-US.” I explained.
“Well Darius, let me call Rupert, the Artistic Director, he has been awaiting your arrival.”
Moments later a long, lanky man, wearing a black suit with big black hair walks from the left corridor. He looked a little confused, very artistic to say the least.
“Daarius!” He said like a Newyorker
“Welcome to Summerhall! My name is Rupert, I am the Artistic Director here at Summerhall. You have been in contact with my wife, Anu, she is your internship coordinator. Let me show you around!”
At this time I was a little nervous. However, I was exited to be in this new place. Rupert took me on a tour of this amazing building called Summerhall. He explained to me that Summerhall used to be the Vet School for the University of Edinburgh.
All the original architecture was the same from when the school move to its new location. Each room in Summerhall was still in it original state and kept its original name. The most amazing of all the rooms was the ” Dissection Room.” this room was where the vet students dissected and learned about the interior of animals. There was a large lift in the space, now used for DJs and others event things, previously was the lift used to bring up large animals, like elephants, and giraffes.
What an amazing and unique place to work.
After my tour of all the venues in the large and beautiful Summerhall, I was thoroughly confused.
The Dissection Room, The Small Animal Clinic, The Autopsy Room, The Main Hall, and The Old Lab, just to name a small few. The place is a maze…
Rupert took me back around and to through the courtyard and up to the management office and showed me my desk!
Let me back track. During the time of the tour, every time we saw someone, which was every five seconds, I was introduced to someone new.
Rupert would say,
“Hi ______, I am taking our new intern on a tour of all of our venues. He is from…Chicago…”
“The new person would usually gasp and say oh, you are from the States! C H I C A G O…Ive never been.
Why are you here?
We have such terrible weather.”
Okay, now back to my desk. It was definitely more than I expected. Wonderful view and large windows in the office! Just what I like!
Fashion & Shopping
Now, the fashion in the United Kingdom varies. At first, one wouldn’t be sure what the trends are in a certain area. However, if you look beyond the surface, you will find that there many fashion statments being made in the UK.
Firstly, Harris Tweed.
There are many shops all around Scotland that sell Harris Tweed, and Cashmere. I personally think that tweed looks grand.
Many people you see walking down the street will be wearing a tweed bag or purse. Sometimes you may even see a wallet or blazer made of tweed.
One day shortly after I arrived in Scotland discovered on my way to work, near the bridges, The House of Cashmere.
Beautiful place with an equally as beautiful staff to match. Now if you know nothing else, you should know that I am incredibly indecisive when it comes down to purchasing… well, anything.
Each day after work while walking home, for about 3 weeks, I would make sure I walked by The House of Cashmere and “eye” almost stalk, this briefcase that I wanted from the window. The Briefcase was make of Harris Tweed and leather.
The bag was constantly on my mind.
Some days, during those 3 weeks, I would even go inside and check on the bag, just to make sure it was still in good condition and just to hold it.
It was a little obsessive, I know.
Each time I entered the shop, the helpful, but never pushy staff, would act as if I had not been stopping in each day gazing at the bag.
On the Thursday of the third week eyeing this item I decided that I would purchase the briefcase.
When I entered the store I went straight for the bag. Just then, I saw some one eyeing it up.
Now of course this would happen to me, the day I want to purchase the bag, someone else is looking to destroy my dreams.
Just then, the kind staff member came up behind me and said,
” Hiya! Is there anything I can help you with…? ”
She saw me staring at the bag.
“Oh yes! have you made a decision on if you were going to by the briefcase?” she said loudly reaching for the bag.
At that moment I was so over joyed that she had the bag in her hands, for me!
I purchased the bag, and I am still in great love with my Harris Tweed Briefcase.
The day decided to come to Scotland, I knew that I wanted to wear a kilt. It was something that I thought would help me understand the Scottish Culture.
Prior to my arrival in Scotland, it was my belief, and the belief of many other Americans, that everyone in Scotland would be wearing a kilt!
Contrary to this belief, kilts are only worn for special occasions. Weddings, Parties, Special events, soccer games etc.
While discussing with a Scottish friend, Chris, the American belief about kilts, he told me he had one of his own.
Originally, I thought I would be able to purchase one of my own. However, after seeing the cost, my mind quickly changed.
So, I asked Chris if I could wear his…he agreed.
The rest is history.
Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to Glasgow, London, and Paris.
The shopping in Paris, as you can imagine, is something that I had never experienced before…obviously.