By Katy Yocom
Spalding MFA Associate Administrative Director
“While in Edinburgh, we’ll stay at a hotel overlooking the Princes Street Gardens, with a view of the imposing Edinburgh Castle. Our classroom space is a few minutes’ walk away, through the gardens and past the Scottish National Gallery.”
At Spalding, we believe the best writing springs from a rich accumulation of life experiences.
That’s why we take our low-residency MFA in Writing program overseas to study creative writing while exploring the literature, art, and culture of a different locale each summer. In 2017, we travel to Edinburgh, the historical and cultural heart of Scotland.
Scotland’s rich literary tradition begins with Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson and includes luminaries of the English language from Nan Shepherd and J.M. Barrie to Muriel Spark and Carol Ann Duffy. Its rich film tradition offers Trainspotting, Breaking the Waves, Braveheart, and more. Scottish plays include Black Watch, Gagarin Way, And a Nightingale Sang, and many more.
Curriculum and Cultural Exploration
During residency, students take part in faculty-led workshops in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, screenwriting, or playwriting. They attend craft lectures, readings, and sessions on publishing. They read and discuss Scottish literature and try their hand at a cross-genre exercise. And they’re matched with a faculty mentor and create a writing and reading plan for the independent study to follow.
Edinburgh faculty include Silas House (fiction), Shane McCrae (poetry) Dianne Aprile (creative nonfiction), Lesléa Newman (writing for children & YA), Helena Kriel (screenwriting), and Charlie Schulman (playwriting). See their bios here.
While in Edinburgh, we’ll stay at a hotel overlooking the Princes Street Gardens, with a view of the imposing Edinburgh Castle. Our classroom space is a few minutes’ walk away, through the gardens and past the Scottish National Gallery.
Our cultural tours—some included, some optional–having us exploring historical sites and the natural landscape within Edinburgh and far into the picturesque Scottish countryside.
The summer residency is open to students, alumni, and guest travelers. Read on for a peek at the day-by-day itinerary.
Itinerary: Edinburgh, July 12-24, 2017
July 12: Depart the United States on an overnight flight to Edinburgh.
July 13: Arrive in Edinburgh. (A motorcoach will pick you up at the airport at no charge between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., so book your flights accordingly.) Join the group for our opening dinner.
July 14: Students have a full day of classes. Alumni are free to explore Edinburgh on their own or take an optional guided half-day walking tour of St. Andrews.
July 15: Students are in classes this morning. This afternoon, our entire group takes a city tour, exploring the Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral, the Monuments to Sir Walter Scott, and more. This tour is included for all travelers.
July 16: Students have a full day of classes. Alumni may take an optional guided half-day hill walk the rocky summit of Arthur’s Seat, overlooking Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth estuary.
July 17: Today we take an all-day cultural tour to the Ayrshire Coast and Robert Burns country. Our daylong excursion includes Culzean Castle and Gardens, a clifftop walk, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and Alloway Auld Kirk church. This tour is included for all travelers.
July 18: Students are in classes all day. Alumni are on their own to explore Edinburgh independently or perhaps plan their own day trip by train to Glasgow, a city known for its distinctive architecture.
July 19: Students are in classes this morning. The afternoon, we visit Edinburgh Castle and the Princes Street Gardens. This tour is included for all travelers.
July 20: Students are in classes this morning. This afternoon, all travelers may join an optional half-day cultural tour to Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.
July 21: Students are in classes all day. Alumni are on their own to explore, relax, write, or spend the day as they wish.
July 22: Today is a free day for everyone. We’re offering a choice of two optional tours: a motorcoach tour of the Highlands, for those who’d like to see the beauty of the landscape from the road, and a hiking trip in gorgeous Loch Lomond National Park. Today is also a good chance to take a day trip on your own if there’s a sight you just can’t miss.
July 23: Final day of classes, graduation ceremony, and farewell dinner.
July 24: Fly back to the States or continue your travels in Europe. A motorcoach will take you to the airport at no charge between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., so book your flights accordingly.
For students, the cost for the ground program is $3,558. For alumni and guest travelers, the ground program cost is $2,650. Here’s what’s included:
- A shared hotel room for 11 nights at the Mercure Edinburgh City – Princes Street Hotel
- Opening and farewell dinners
- Breakfasts daily
- A half-day walking tour of the Royal Mile
- A half-day walking tour of Edinburgh Castle
- A full-day motorcoach tour of the Ayrshire Coast and Burns Country
- Entrances to sights included in the above tours
- Airport transfers between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the tour’s official arrival and departure days, July 13 and 24
- Basic trip insurance
Single room upgrades, Cancel for Any Reason trip insurance, and optional guided tours are available at an extra charge. Airfare is not included, and the travel costs listed above are separate from tuition.
The application deadline for the Summer 2017 semester, which begins in Edinburgh, is February 1. For more information about the Spalding MFA in Writing program and the Edinburgh residency, email me or call the MFA Office at 502-873-4400. We’ll be glad to talk with you.
Katy Yocom’s fiction, poetry, essays, and journalism have appeared in The Louisville Review, New Southerner, 2nd & Church, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University.