Sunday, September 1, 2013

Eat, Pray, Love Haggis

So, I lied.  Only about the last post being...the last post.  Everything else in this blog is completely true, because otherwise I wouldn't be a very good blogger, now would I?

I had to go over a Senior Checksheet with my advisor this week, which is just a magical sheet of paper that lets the Registrar know that you are planning on and will be able to graduate on time.  I went to the meeting and went over the classes I had to take next semester - only two, woohoo! - but I did it automatically.  I turned the Registrar's copy in without even thinking about the graduation that would follow nine months from now.  Later, I realized - I'm a senior in college now.  I'm going to be graduating college, and going off into the real world soon.  I remember sitting in my dorm freshman year the night after move-in, being awed and terrified of this college universe, and feeling like the next four years would last forever.  And while they have taken a significant amount of time (because three years can't fly by that quickly), they've still somehow passed me by without me ever noticing.  I was too busy focusing on the next assignment, the next test, the next class that I needed for my major.  I took it a day at a time, and by doing so I forgot to enjoy those days.  I can't help but sit back and regret some of my college life, in only that I didn't live as much as I'd wanted to.

Similarly, I'm sitting here thinking, 'Woah, I was in a different country a few months ago.  I spent five months there.  How did that happen?'  I'm still amazed by this fact, and I think I will be for a fair amount of time (until I travel somewhere else, that is).  But this differs in that I can remember time stretching out in front of me, with forever and a day until I had to go back home.  I took it each day at a time, but I loved every day.  I may not have been happy every day, or thought I loved it.  But thinking back, even to my first night (spent alone and upset in my room, wondering why I'd chosen to do something different instead of just staying at home like everybody else), I was already falling in love with Scotland.  My bus ride from the airport to the city alone showed that, as I couldn't help but stare, fascinated, out my window at all the little cottage-like houses passing by.  They were cute and rustic and so very British that I couldn't help but love them.  As intimidating and awe-inspiring as Edinburgh was when I first arrived, it was still so lovely that I knew I wouldn't be afraid of it forever.

I learned a lot while I was abroad, about the differences between American and Scottish culture, about my own viewpoint on politics and healthcare, about what Europe is really like beyond the beautiful pictures of historical monuments and ancient buildings, about living on my own and making a life, however brief, for myself in a new city.  But beyond that I learned how to enjoy myself, and to enjoy the life going on around me.  I took in every minute I spent in the Highlands, searing it into my brain so that I'd never forget how wordlessly wonderful it is.  Even the time I spent pouring over books and notes, trying to cram fact after fact into my brain, was worthwhile.  I enjoyed it, even if I definitely didn't realize it at the time.  And I've taken that lesson back with me.  This first week of the Fall semester has lasted forever to me.  I've been busy, and I've been stressed, and I've been so tired I could barely keep my eyes open.  But I still find myself in a weirdly good mood at the end of the day, and I never go to bed dreading the morning light.  I've only hit snooze once this entire week (which is impressive for me, infamous for sleeping at least half an hour past my alarm time via constant snooze-button-hitting) and even then I actually sat up in bed and tried to wake up instead of hiding back underneath my covers.  I wanted my time abroad to mean something, and I made it my goal to do everything I could while I was there so that, when I came home, I could reflect on it and think 'I did something this year.'

I remember sitting down halfway through the semester and realizing that I hadn't had a weekend free to just sleep in and laze around my flat since I'd arrived, and I was pleasantly surprised.  I finally had a weekend to sleep in, watch TV, and work on my essays, but I missed the activity.  I missed travelling.  After being back home and spending my time off from work and class sitting around the house or just going out with friends, I definitely miss the travel.  I miss the ability to hop on a bus and go into the Highlands for the day.  If anything, studying abroad has made me want to travel more.  Of course, I've always wanted to travel; but I didn't realize how wonderful it was until I'd experienced it semi-long term for myself.

My journey to Scotland and back certainly wasn't grand or majestic in any way, but it had its own charm and definitely its own lessons to teach.  Reading back through my posts, I wish I had taken more time to write down the little details of my time abroad if only so that everyone else reading this could learn with me.  But I have my memories, which are without a doubt some of the most precious things I brought back with me, and that will have to do.

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