Thinking back on my semester abroad in Scotland, it's almost as if it never happened. It was one of those experiences that often felt too surreal. Like, am I really living in another country? Is this actually my life? But once I got used to going about my day-to-day: attending classes, buying groceries, it was honestly harder to imagine what it felt like to be living anywhere else.
The city of Edinburgh provided an excellent backdrop for me to continue exploring who I am. The locals were friendly, the streets were (fairly) easy to navigate by foot, and the green spaces were peaceful. Quickly I learned that I take many aspects of being American for granted and in particular my liberal arts education. I also learned that loud, touristy and obnoxious photo-taking-to-prove-I've-seen-this-landmark-obsessed Americans exist but I am definitely not one. I can function without wifi 24/7. I'm hella gregarious; and I am at my best when I consistently see friends. Alcoholic ciders and ginger beer ain't half bad. I don an English accent when asking questions. I can seamlessly impersonate a Canadian, adding 'eh' to the end of every other sentence. I can never stop making mix CDs, especially for those poor souls who have never had one made for them before. I love my pen pals and sending snail mail remains very important to me. I am lucky to have seen The Antlers live in concert, twice, on two different continents. Getting coffee alone with someone you may or may have romantic feelings for does not constitute a date. From personal experience, fortune favours the bold. (Seriously. When I am competent and confident, I am nearly unstoppable.) Sometimes you have to chill and not over think things. Self-care is an ongoing process.
Flying home was a strange experience. I felt quite 'adult', whatever that means. The most interesting person I met on my epic journey (Edinburgh to Paris, Paris to NY, NY to FL) was an older woman, probably in her late 60s. We were waiting to board our delayed flight in Paris when we began chatting. A little girl growing up in New York, she saw The Great Wall of China in a textbook once and decided then and there that she would travel to see it one day. And when she did finally experience it -- albeit many, many years later -- she was overtaken with great emotion. "The Chinese must've thought: 'who is this crazy Westerner?'" She kept mentioning other places she's traveled to and even those short anecdotes filled me with such wanderlust. At one point, she shared that she was diagnosed with brain cancer. This silenced me, but she assured me that it's been ten years and that she's fine now. The ultimate takeaway from our conversation is that you never know where life will take you. Having just spent three months living out my dream, I just had to nod as the tears silently streamed down my face...
See you again soon, Scotland.