Thursday, June 3, 2010

it is time

It was nothing like I thought it would be.
It was everything I never knew it could be.
It was difficult, scary, terrifying.
It was beautiful, full of joy.
It was awkward and complex.
It was freeing and simple.
It was full of laughter. So much laughter
It was full of tears. So many tears.
It was essays, exams, lectures, tutorials.
It was castles, exploring, adventuring.
It was unimaginable, but it was real.

The key word: was. My time in Scotland has come to an end. And I'm beyond numb. Apparently, tomorrow morning I'm saying goodbye and not only am I numb to the fact that I'm leaving, but I'm also numb to the fact that I'm not going to be on this soil for a long time. And even if someday I'm blessed enough to return, the soil will not be the same. It won't ever be the same as it is right this second. This day. But years from now, if I ever do come back, I'll be filled with only the deepest joys, the most beautiful memories. This experience has been the blessing of a lifetime for me. I needed it to grow and see life outside of the box I've lived in for twenty years. And to know that somehow, on a whim, I ended up studying abroad for a semester will always be a reminder that my plans never work out. My plans never included a semester in Scotland, but a greater plan did. And so there it is. My plans never work out. They never turn out how I assumed they would, how I wrote them on paper. They only turn out much, much better. And to be twenty years old and still be able to say that everything has only been better than I've ever dreamed brings tears to my eyes. So as I say goodbye I feel many things, but above all, I am grateful. So, so, so grateful.

Tomorrow morning, I will look out the window of a plane and see Aberdeen get smaller and smaller. Tomorrow night, I will look out the window of another plane and see Traverse City, MI like I've never seen it before. And I've never been so sure of where I'm supposed to go next...

Goodbye Aberdeen. It is time.
Hello home. It's been too long.

(I've taken a picture a day in Scotland of the most beautiful things I have seen. If you have time, take a look.

Also, something I've made as a reminder of my last week:

Blog: El Fin. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

all these little things

This is Miss Mousey. Miss Mousey has been around the world and back now--to Jamaica, to California, to Connecticut, to Vermont, to New Hampshire, on every plane, every family vacation, and now, to Scotland. (And yes, I am twenty years old. If you have a problem with this, well, bullocks to you.) I recently looked at her apart from being my pillow and noticed...she's mighty rugged. 19 years of life for her, and many of them have been soaking up my tears on homesick family vacations or being smushed under face for 8 hours a day, 7 times a week. Still, it's funny to think of all the places she's been. And that I've been. And soon, she'll take her rightful place back on my bed in Williamsburg, MI. So three days left. Here are my thoughts for now.

Top 15 things I will not miss about Scotland:
1. Seagulls of abnormally large size that rampage around Hillhead and campus and try to eat my macaroni pies.
2. The uselessness of my cheap umbrella in the rain.
3. Philosophy tutorials where no one speaks and I can hear my watch ticking.
4. Professors who say, "George Washington was a dumbass," and "America never had an Enlightment."
5. Walking 20 minutes to lecture up a steep hill that, contrary to popular belief, does not become easier after walking it over and over.
6. Drunk older men whistling. And drunk everyone. By 6PM.
7. The lack of Northern Michigan stars. Although once in a great while a few would spring out and make me smile.
8. Having to calculate how much I'm actually spending due to the blasted exchange rate. Example: "Only 10 pounds!" Oh wait, that's like $16.
9. Paying 30 pence to use a "toilet." Oh dear.
10. Sinks that only have a I'll-singe-your-skin-off faucet and a hypothermia-is-grand faucet. It is a skill and an art to use two faucets and attempt to mix them. And getting burned is an everyday occurence... in the literal sense of course.
11. Essay exams that count for 50% and 60% of my grade, taken in an impersonal room of 400 students. And no, you don't know the questions before hand. Fly by the seat of yo ..trousers!
12. If you say pants, it should be clear that you are talking about underwear. That way, when you yell, "Wait, I can't come out yet! I have no pants on!" from the GAP dressing room, you don't feel so embarrassed. Also, don't yell "Paragraphs without periods!" at the airport bus stop. You will have just yelled, "Paragraphs without menstrual cycles!" Say end stop. Always say end stop.
13. Having to look every single way (left, right, up, down, around, backwards) to cross the street. Instead of feeling like drivers should be on the left, I now feel that drivers are anywhere and everywhere and I must sprint around looking every way to cross a street
14. Having to communicate with the people I love over skype. Their faces in computer screens are far from ideal.
15. I will not miss missing people from home.

Top 15 things I will miss about Scotland:
1. Living 25 seconds from my best friend and taking naps in her room from 7PM-8PM when homework isn't the priority and too much daydreaming makes me sleepy.
2. The way the daffodils seem to stare you in the face and yell, "GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE!"
3. Green, green, and more green. The shire has been my home and the comfort of the trees and the river and the benches and the clouds off the sea. These are things I can't forget.
4. Beautiful people from places around the entire world. Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Scotland, England, South Africa, Belgium, Latvia, Switzerland... all with their own stories. I've been blessed enough to hear a few.
5. Closing the 3,613 mile gap with the noise of the the mailbox slot.
6. The atmosphere of a good ole' pub and having the giggles from yummy cocktails. And having my first drinking experiences in a country where they do it right. Slain's Castle, ftw.
7. Hearing bagpipes on the way to class and spotting men in kilts. Yes, kilts are sometimes funny. Mostly though, they are just legit.
8. Running through castles and embarrassing your best friend as a weekly experience.
9. Feeling alone and alive and all things standing in a valley, surrounded by mountains.
10. 288A: My small, picture-filled, thought-filled room. My favorite room I've ever had in my life.
11. Learning that traveling is not so much stressful as it is hilarious. Lochs, castles, cathedrals, mountains, valleys, cities, views. Also, traveling with your best friend is nothing but wonderful. Even if you have to keep a death grip on the map.
12. Tattered maps. Campus maps, London maps, bus-route maps. Tattered because they've been used. And kept in a drawer because they aren't needed anymore.
13. The tree outside my window that I've watched grow and change with every season. On January 29th, it was covered in snow. In April, pink flowers. In June, green again. Always back to green.
14. Secret thinking spots where I've sat and wondered how I came to be in Scotland, why I came to be in Scotland, and how none of those questions really even matter because here I am. And although it hasn't always been easy, I wouldn't change a single thing. Not one.
15. I will miss feeling at home in a country with my best friend, surrounded by the most beautiful woods and sunsets, with more questions that answers, more doodles than homework, the largest range of emotions, the deepest joys that come with feeling alive, and the tears that come with being so far away. I will miss Scotland and every memory that goes along with it.

I can't believe I only have three more days. Three days to say goodbye.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

the goal of living is to grow

"in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how"
-e.e. cummings

and grown we have.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

feels like home to me

It's as if every possible feeling is sitting around in my mind wondering what it's supposed to do when all the other feelings are around.

I found out a few days ago that I'm headed home a week early. Leaving on June 12th would've meant that I had less than 24 hours at home with my family before heading to Hope and it wasn't enough for any of us. Saying goodbye to Scotland a bit earlier than expected is bittersweet. I really dislike that word to describe my time here because it feels like such a cop-out. Maybe I'll elaborate. I look at my calendar and see 11 days left and I immediately create a mental list of every person, every place, every thinking spot that I won't see anymore. I know 11 days won't be enough time to say all those goodbyes, but I know that a week more wouldn't be enough time either. On the other hand, I look at my calendar and see 11 days left and I think about how that's the closest I've been in 4 1/2 months to the people I love. So ya see, I don't like the word bittersweet because there's nothing truly bitter about my time here, and the word sweet sure doesn't do it justice either. So here I am, stuck with no word to describe my last 11 days here. Well, wait a minute...

Sometimes Mary and I play a game. It's called iTunes Shuffle Your Terrible Library. (It's not. I made that up just a second ago.) Anyway, we say something like, "This is the song that represents my feelings about haggis." Or, "The clouds would say this if they could speak." We normally don't listen to all the words and just look at the title of the track. It usually ends with too much laughing, but the day before we left Hope College in January, it ended differently. We played this silly game at our friend Jess's cottage and I was sitting in a big chair and Mary was sitting on the arm and I said, "This song will describe our time in Scotland." I clicked shuffle and we both looked at the song and looked at each other. I hoped it would be true. And guess what?

The only words to describe my time here seem to have appeared on my computer screen on January 23rd on iTunes Shuffle Your Terrible Library.

11 days to go. And I look out my window and know that my best friend is sitting in her room too wondering how that can be. But I know she's there. And somehow, I'm here too. I'm in Scotland and part of me isn't ready for June 5th. Feels like home to me.

(Ermmm, did I mention that I have two beastly exams coming up? Trying to avoid James Watt and other Enlightenment thinkers, epistemology, and the mind-body problem? Write a blog. Woops.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

guru deva om
-The Beatles

The most frustrating part about life is not knowing.
The most magic
al part about life is not knowing.

A few nights ago I swam at midnight in t
he North Sea. With nothing but a mini flashlight positioned as a marker near my clothes, I ran into the cold salt water and jumped over waves in the pitch black hole of I-can't-see-squat! But around me, farther away, I saw it all. The city lights were lines of stars, and the stars were something even greater. Everything about it was pure and raw and beautiful, and while getting lost in it all made me smile, I thought to myself... I have 25 days left. When will I be standing here again? Will I ever be? The most frustrating part of life is not knowing.

A few days ago I laid under a beautiful blossoming tree in Seaton Park on my way back home from class. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon, the sun was the perfect I'll-warm-your-back temp. There were little bugs crawling on my arm (cute ones, I assure you) and purple flowers all over the grass. I could finally taste the thought of days at the beach, ice cream cones, running around in the Pine Grove, chasing squirrels, climbing trees, and hugs. Yes, hugs! The reality of home and the anticipation of a wonderful summer seemed to slap me in the face. In 25 days I'll be sitting under a tree 3,613 miles away from where I am now. Will I be wanting to come back? Will I be scared as four-year plans and research work clunk around at the front of my mind? What will I feel and how will I look back on my time here? How has it changed me? After Scotland, what's next? The most magical part about life is not knowing.

A few things I DO know:
- Ash clouds that keep me from seeing my good friends in Ireland are absurd and obnoxious.

- Studying for my Philosophy of Knowledge exam is less than satisfying.
- 60 minute history lessons with Jeffery Hawkins on Skype are more than amusing.

- University of Aberdeen has a pine grove. And people are finally in it. Juggling!
- If Mary fails her exam, it is my fault because I ask way too many questions.
- If I fail my exam, it is my fault because I ask Mary way too many questions.
-Mary and I are going to an Ingrid Michaelson concert in Glasgow. Holy YES.
- I love it here.
-"Pools of sorrow waves of joy are drifting thorough my open mind, possessing and caressing me.
-The hugs. I can't wait for the hugs.
- "Jai guru deva om." I give thanks to God...Om.

Love to you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Backstreet's Back... Alright?

Five weeks left. Wait, hwhat!? My reactions can be summed up in an absolutely awful, 'I-have-no-words-for-this'-inspired song parody with the assistance of five glorious, oh-so-studly teenybopper icons. Wave your lighters to and fro and feel free to snap along.
Scotland... Ooh...
Even in my heart, I see

Your country is changin' me.
Deep within my soul, I feel
A love for bagpipes, castles, accents, and sheep.
Sometimes I wish I could fast-forward time
To see my friends and family
But right now, I... don't
No way, babyyy.
*drum solo*
'Cause Scotland has a piece of my heart...
Yes, I do realize that is a cop-out for putting my feelings into words, but to be honest, it's a difficult task to explain my time here sin los NiƱos de Backstreet.

Having only five weeks left in this place is quite terrifying:
1) I have two essay exams worth 50% (Philosophy of Knowledge and the Mind) and 60% (History and Philosophy of Science) of my marks. This only means that the preceding week will consist of me + coffee + forced revision and absorption of course material.
2) A goodbye to a beautiful land that isn't, most likely, a "see you soon."

BUT, on the other hand...
1) I'm headed to Ireland for a week.
2) I have a week and a half after my exams to climb Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the British Isles.
3) Goodbyes make room for long-anticipated hellos! (Especially with these goons below.)

Time to tackle my last week of classes and a beastly essay. Cheers, loves.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Don't study abroad with your best friend? False.

Over and over again, people say, "Don't study abroad with your best friend." The thing is, though, those people must've gotten the wrong memo because I wouldn't have done it any other way. This experience wouldn't be the same if Mary wasn't here, and although I like to think I could have done it on my own, it'd wouldn't have been half as hilarious, half as comforting, and half as awesome. On the outside, it may look as though we live in our own little world. You know what? Maybe we do. I don't feel the need to defend this world, and heck! I could care less about the study abroad people and their memo. Today, while I'm waiting to have our sandwich-and-tomato-soup lunch, I'm feeling grateful. I miss my special people at home so much, but a little part of my home is here (we're talking about 4'11"). Life is great. Spring is great. Essays aren't, but hey, they're good when they're done. Speaking of essays.... welp, see ya later!