Study Abroad: Day 1

Lush green countrysides 
Downtown buildings old as time 
Exhausted, in love 

I’m here. I’m in Scotland. It still isn’t fully feeling real yet.

The last twenty-four hours–or has it been more than that? the time difference and my subsequent jet lag has completely thrown me off–have been a total blur. Heck, the last week has been a total blur. No amount of packing or shopping beforehand could have prepared me for the action I was launched into in the wake of my cousin’s wedding last Saturday. Not only was I trying to get packed for three and a half months abroad, we were preparing to receive multiple house guests, I was practicing a two-minute excerpt to play from memory at the rehearsal dinner, I was trying to hug goodbye as many friends as I could, and I was also preparing to participate in a new faculty orientation on my campus as well as to present to incoming multicultural first-year students on diversity and the college experience. I’m not complaining about how busy I was, but I guess I need to be real and admit I do feel a little braggy about it. Holy moly, I survived all of that. All with the most rewarding and successful feelings ever. As if going abroad isn’t already an adventure in and of itself, I’d kicked off that adventure with all the things I love the most–my campus, my passion for conversations about diversity, my friends, and my family.

And now I’m here.

In Scotland.

It’s so beautiful.

I don’t have many pictures just yet–I kept my phone and camera in my bag for the entire first day so I could take it all in for the first time with just my eyes and not through a lens–but I have the whole next three and a half months to blog about it.

murano
Photo from studentcrowd.com

I was placed in Murano Street Student Village, a cozy cluster of buildings about a twenty-minute walk away from the university campus. Each building has one or two flats on each floor. Thankfully, I have a room to myself within my flat–this is the first time I’ve had a single in my college experience, and I’m already grateful to have my own personal space at the end of the day.

I share my flat with four other women: two from Chile, one from China, and the remaining two of us from the US–yours truly from the Midwest, and the other from Austin, Texas. I’m quite optimistic I’m not speaking too soon when I say they’re all so lovely, and I’m so looking forward to sharing our journeys as each of us are here for only this one semester.

(I was also pleasantly surprised that my first impression of my residence area wasn’t as terrifying as previous recorded instances depicted it to be. Just Google “Murano Street Student Village stabbing”… yeah.)

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The bright sunshine and blue skies were so welcome.

I was even blessed with a sunny first day here! Another one of my worries prior to studying abroad had been how the cloudy weather might affect me–in the past, I’ve often described myself as “solar-powered.” I wither without sunshine. But, one quick and nerve-wracking trip to the doctor prior to going abroad told me what I suspected all along–I’m vitamin D deficient. (Vitamin D deficiencies are exceedingly common, and often are linked to symptoms of mood swings or depression.) So I’m on a regiment of taking 2000 IU of D3 daily, and I’ve also recently been able to find a lot of beauty in cloudy days as it is. Still, the bright sunshine and blue skies were so welcome as I strolled down the street to the local Tesco, which is what I imagine can be described as the UK counterpart to our Meijers or Wal-Marts. I bought my bedding and various other necessities for my room and my flat (like silverware, plates, groceries, all that adulting stuff that I can’t believe I’m doing abroad all by myself wow thanks Mom and Dad), and got all settled in.

Before I knew it, it was time for the International Student Welcome. My flatmates and I all traipsed down to “Hillhead Bookclub” right on time together, but we were met with a packed pub. After spending some time in the suffocating but no less exhilarating space filled with international students from all over the world, some of us flatmates decided to call it quits at the welcome event–each of us made new friends who were longing to mingle at a slightly less intense venue. So we explored downtown a little and ended up at a sweet little pub that looked like it came out of Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) where I ordered my first drink abroad–my first legal drink, no less. 

Just a few thoughts on how the rest of the night went…

  1. I have no idea how I’m still standing right now. (I haven’t slept in I-don’t-know-how-long.)
  2. Flying Scotsman is good. Dark, smooth, and evidently so named “Because you’ll be flying high by the time you finish a pint.” (That’s a direct quote from the bartender, and I’m happy to have refuted it with having a half-pint! HA! Ha…)
  3. It took me all of 12 hours in this country to get into engaging, exciting discussion with millennials around the globe about the state of the US society and our upcoming election.

Good night, Day 1.

I can’t believe it’s only been one day. I’m soaking in everything as much as I possibly can. Today was just a chill day of settling in. There was so much more I could have written about that I wish I wrote about–my flight, more about all the people I’ve met, how it really feels to be adulting in a brand new country and culture, how beyond grateful I am for all the beautiful and sweet and supportive and encouraging messages sent to me by my beautiful and sweet and supportive and encouraging family and friends–but I’m literally nodding off as I’m typing this right now and I just needed to get at least something out here before I pass out.

Tomorrow begins international student orientation. In a few hours, I’ll wake up once more, ready and raring to go for a whole new day. Here goes nothin’.

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