When it came time to travel to Scotland, I could hardly contain my excitement. I found myself anxiously waiting to pack my things and hop on the next train over so I could finally indulge the curiosity I held for the land. I was excited not only because I was the most curious to see what Scotland had in store for me, but because I was finally able to travel to the country where one of my favorite T.V. shows is based.

I was first introduced to Reign   sometime last year by my cousin Alex. I’m so glad she got me hooked on this show because little did I know that I’d one day be visiting the very place that makes that show special. Basically, the show is about Mary, Queen of Scots and the events of her life including her relationships with other royalty. Though the show is based on true events that occurred throughout Scottish history, it’s clearly been fictionalized for the sake of entertainment.

Though I knew I was visiting Scotland, I had no idea I was going to be able to tour the very place where Mary once resided. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is not only where the real Mary, Queen of Scots’ chambers were, but is also the place where today’s Queen Elizabeth resides when she visits Scotland. It’s easy to imagine my excitement when I found out that this was a place we were visiting.

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The moment I walked into the palace, it was clear that this was place fit for royalty. The rooms were decorated with a plethora of beautifully crafted furniture and brilliantly painted pieces of art that were placed on display on virtually every wall. I toured through many different rooms, each with it’s own purpose. Rooms such as the grand dinning hall, morning and night rooms, personal chambers of royalty, and of course, Mary’s room were all absolutely breath-taking and filled with history and artifacts that were used during their time in the palace.

Due to the fact that I hold a clear bias toward Mary, Queen of Scots,  it’s should be no surprise that visiting her chambers was the highlight of that entire day. Id go as far to say that it may have been the highlight of my entire visit to Scotland. The tour to Mary’s chambers started with a journey up a narrow, winding spiral staircase. The staircase was made up of stone stairs surrounded by stone walls that seemingly got more narrow as I progressed up the stairs. The space was so tight that there was padding installed in the ceiling so that tourists wouldn’t hit their head on their way up. Luckily, I’m not very claustrophobic so I was able to appreciate the architecture of the building.

Once I arrived in Mary’s chambers, the first thing that caught my attention was her bed. It looked very royal in the sense that it had a elegantly draped canopy over it, but the bed itself was very small. I thought that was interesting because it my mind, I figure that royalty would have very large, lavish things. I figured her bed would have been larger, more plush, and very over-the-top extravagant. Though it was gorgeously made, it was something entirely different of what I assumed it to be.

As I walked out of her bedroom, I was led into a connecting room that was filled with Mary’s belongings. Things such as hairbrushes, jewelry, clothing, and even a small lock of her hair were encapsulated in large glass cases in order to display them safely to the public. Everything looked so pristine and it was so interesting being able to get an up-close look at these amazing things that were once so normal to her.

Throughout the entire tour of the palace, I kept finding myself comparing everything to the set of Reign. Though I love the series to death, it’s blatantly obvious that the show has been extremely glamorized for entertainments sake. Everything in the show is very overall royal in the sense that everything is gold-plated and diamond-encrusted. Though there things very similar to that, the majority of the real-life things were equally as beautiful, but a little less glamorous. Instead of everything being shiny and golden, most things were beautifully painted, sewn, or hand-crafted. Everything had a very eclectic-artsy feel to it. Being able to compare Hollywood royalty with actual real-life royalty was very interesting.

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Being that a large amount of people haven’t gotten the opportunity to visit actual palaces and see what royalty looks like first-hand, it’s easy to assume that those people are under the impression that the Hollywood-version of royal life is very close to accurate. Similar to how it’s been done with London and Paris, America tends to over-glamorize things in other countries. Most people are under the impression that Paris is this city filled with nothing but baguettes, bicycles, and glimmering streets lined with cute little bistros. Though that has some truth behind it, that really isn’t the case. The same has happened with royal life. American television and movies have allowed me to be under the impression that British royalty is one way, while in reality, it’s different from what I’ve been lead to believe.

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Though I’ve come to learn that things are different than I expected, that in no way means that I was at all disappointed by the things I saw and the opportunities I was granted throughout not only my trip to Scotland, but the entire study abroad program. I came across endless opportunities to compare my experiences to those I’ve had in the United States and for that, I’m incredibly grateful. Those were the moments where I was able to learn the most and really analyze why things are the way they are and how America has such an influence on what we believe things to be. I walked away from this trip with an entirely new outlook on things and I know these memories will be with me forever. I’m happy to say that this has been one of the best experiences of my life so far and I can’t wait to go back someday and explore even more of this wonderful world we live in.