It didn’t help that the first leg of my journey was from Baltimore to Philly. The gate for said flights at BWI airport happens to be the equivalent of Tom Hank’s landing spot in Cast Away: isolated, distant, and completely void of any interesting humans. It also didn’t help that I had just left my best friend in the world, my mom, for the longest we will ever have been apart. And it certainly didn’t help that I was about to embark on a 12-hour journey involving planes, trains, and automobiles to a city across the Atlantic ocean I knew very little about. And, oh right, I was going to live in that city for the next nine months. So there I was, sitting on the floor of the terminal solving a sudoku puzzle, occasionally running to the bathroom to cry without judgmental stares, and desperately trying to remember what sanity felt like.
At this point, the study abroad programs (i.e. the places that take you to another country on group flights and ease your transition) started to look quite superior to my choice of direct enrollment and deciding to be Ms. Independent (thank you Kelly Clarkson). But then it became clear to me that moving to another country by myself is the most challenging thing I have ever done. In addition to the months of anticipation and preparation, the process of actually packing up your belongings and stepping onto the first plane teaches you more about yourself than you’d expect. As we all know, challenges are the best way to grow, and the bigger the hurdle the greater the change. There has definitely been a change, and I am grateful for it.
I’ve been in Scotland for a week now, and I must say this new home is an amazing place. I’m currently writing this blog under a tree on the outskirts of George Square, our main campus. If the streaming sunlight and temperate weather weren’t glorious enough, add in the hundreds of laughing toddlers trotting around with their parents, the puppies and dogs lovingly following their owners without leashes, and the street performers jamming out to their acoustic covers… and you pretty much have heaven. Right here. A place I wouldn’t be if I didn’t have enough strength to trust my own intuition. And that’s probably the most glorious part of all.
Before I left, I received a lot of advice from some pretty cool people. In addition to the “stay safe!” that came from almost everyone, my good friends reminded me to “take it in and make it all that you can” and “be a well, not a fountain” (this gem of a quote was followed by my mom’s boyfriend doing a dance to enact a well and fountain… yes, this is as hilarious as you would expect). If you don’t know what that means, I don’t either really… but I think the gist is to take it in and absorb, without losing too much of yourself in the process.
So here I am, in a new country, having the time of my life and all the while remembering that the journey has just begun. I’ll keep you all posted on how things develop when my classes start, or even when I meet up with a buddy in Germany next weekend, but as for my first week? As the Scottish would say: Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye! Or, “what’s meant to happen will happen.” This week has been incredible. Here’s to exploration! Cheers!