POLAHS Travel Diaries #2: Scottish Studies at University of St. Andrews

Founded in 1413, the University of St. Andrews has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading research and teaching centers. Its Scottish Studies Program includes lectures, seminars, and tutorials led by academic staff of the University. The two-week long program was offered as a scholarship with all expenses covered, thanks to the incredible contributions of a POLAHS donor and student mentor! Along the way, Kalan and Quitze learned about vibrant Scottish poetry; art history in Scotland; Scottish history from ancient to present day; Scottish music; cinema history; and theological studies. Read their story below!


My name is Kalan Hauser and I am currently a senior with a 4.0 GPA. I do gymnastics, I am a part of Keystone at The Boys and Girls Club, I volunteer at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, and I am also apart of some school wide clubs: Glee Club, Black Student Union, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.



Hi, my name is Quitze Gastelum. I am currently in the 12th grade at POLAHS, attempting to maintain my 4.5 GPA. In my free time, I participate in the volunteer program at Harbor UCLA Medical Center and I’m a dedicated member of the leadership group, Harbor UCLA Junior Society. Along with this, I am part of POLAHS’ Students Run Los Angeles (SRLA) and Varsity Volleyball.


  1. Why were you interested in studying abroad?


As the son of a Trinidadian immigrant, it has been embedded in me that I should never allow myself to adhere to limitations set by others. According to a study conducted by the Institute of International Education, only 5% of American students who study abroad are Black. Unfortunately, only a fraction of those students are men. I knew that by applying, I would gain an experience that not many people in my community have gotten the chance to. As a result, I would be able to be an ambassador and a voice for my peers, which may inspire them to apply for programs like this in the future. Socially, I believed the program would allow me to meet and interact with new people from various backgrounds, which would help ease the culture shock I may experience when transitioning from high school to college. I also through that being away from home would make me develop a sense of individualism and responsibility.  Kalan Hauser


  1. What did you learn throughout the college course?


I learned a lot about the history of Scotland and the culture. My favorite lecture was about Mary Queen of Scots, and the political history that involved the kings and queens. It was interesting to learn how desperate these political figures were for power and dominion over the region. Kalan Hauser


I learned about the political history of Scotland, a lot about the Scottish culture that influenced music and literature, as well as a few plays such as Hamlet. We analyzed their influence over Scottish culture. Quitze Gastelum


  1. What was it like traveling alone, and what did you learn about yourself?


It was definitely an eye-opener because I have never been out of the country on my own. Traveling for me personally was really different and enriching. It taught me how to manage my time. Kalan Hauser


Although I was fortunate to travel with my school partner, traveling internationally without my family was a huge step for me. It left me anxious and worried, but I came back from the trip more responsible and mature due to the independence that came with this amazing trip. Quitze Gastelum


  1. How was the education style or college campus different from the United States?


The college campus was quite a stand out for me. Its campus was among the small town of St. Andrews, which is a lot different from the majority of college campuses in the United States. Along with our other classmates, we had to walk 1.5 miles just to reach the classes! Quite a good exercise. Kalan Hauser


One major difference I noticed was open-mindedness. It was amazing how easy it was to discuss religion and political issues with students in Scotland, which made it so much more interesting. The independence and ability to argue about important topics during the various lecture became something I valued the most throughout the different courses we explored. Quitze Gastelum


  1. Tell us about your favorite day excursions!


In our program, weekly field trips were scheduled to visit many parts of Scotland. This included major towns and cities, local castles, and even a zoo! I actually tried haggis for the first time during my stay; it wasn’t bad! I also actually wore a kilt to the ceilidh dance they had in my program, and it was a really fun time. Kalan Hauser


On our long walks to class, we could simultaneously enjoy the views Scotland had to bring us. We were lucky to witness the beautiful beaches, the vast golf course, and trees consuming our views, and most importantly the mesmerizing castle that held its ground right across the street from our garden room. My personal favorite experience was sitting down at breakfast every morning with a new friend I had made, and eating haggis with my meal. Surprisingly enough, it became one of my favorite parts of the meal! Quitze Gastelum


  1. Tell us about the other students in your program.


We plan in the future to all meet up together at one point and have a heartwarming reunion of some sort. Kalan Hauser


The program was full of interesting students from all around the world. From France to Madrid, to Puerto Rico, and North Carolina, so many people came together and learned about each other's culture. One of my close friends I made, Lyndsey Webster, is an important person in my life thus far because of her role in my adjustment in Scotland. We clicked the moment we met because of our similar humor and bonded through Scary Movie Nights we would have throughout the week. I will never forget her and we have been lucky enough to maintain our relationship after the trip. Quitze Gastelum


  1. Is there anything you would like to say to your trip donors?


Words can’t describe how grateful I am for being able to travel halfway across the world. I give an infinite amount of thanks and gratitude to my donors because I wouldn’t have been able to experience what I did without their help! :) Kalan Hauser


I would like to thank my donors for giving a student such as myself the opportunity to learn about a unique culture. Never in a million years would I have even thought of studying abroad like this, simply because this kind of opportunity has been out of my reach. Now I am proud to say that my life, character, and personality has changed and the good memories made there will never be forgotten. Quitze Gastelum


  1. Was this your first time out of the country? Where would you like to travel next?


Now that my first time traveling international has been spent in Scotland, I look forward to taking advantage of any opportunities to take a trip to places such as Greece, Madrid, or even the Philippines. Quitze Gastelum


  1. What are your plans for after high school?


I plan on attending a four-year university after high school. I am interested in studying Media and Film Studies in college. Kalan Hauser


I am hoping to attend a four-year university as a Neuroscience/Anatomy major. As I strive to make it to medical school and find what clicks, I will always allow experiences such as this to teach me new lessons about life. Quitze Gastelum


  1. What advice would you give to students taking this trip next year?


I would say don’t limit yourself. Meet as many people as you can and travel across town, there are plenty of things to see and do! Kalan Hauser


Appreciate every experience big or small. They will contribute greatly to the shaping of their character and will allow them to learn something new about themselves even if they don't realize it right away. Quitze Gastelum