Thursday, February 25, 2010

The little destroyer

All the classrooms here begin with G, F, S, and T and are followed by a number. The letters correspond to the floor (ground, first, second, and third) and the number is... yeah, you figured it out, the number of the classroom. I was looking at my schedule and I couldn't help but notice that I feel like I'm playing a new version of Battleship, the University of Aberdeen limited edition. For instance, today I went to King's College F7: the Psychology class I added last Friday. Let's just say, it was a big fat "miss." I dropped it not even a half-hour after walking out of the lecture. Sadly, none of my battleship-esque classroom coordinates have been real "hits." I mean, my classes aren't too much of a bummer. I'm just not a heaping bowl of passion for them... yet, at least. If this was battleship, my classes would be like finding the big five-person aircraft carriers. The ones that are like, "Woopdie doo, can't miss 'em!" Like, of course you are there you big piece of grey plastic. BUT: If this is indeed a case of Battleship, Aberdeen edition, I'm in for a treat. You see, the little sneaky two person boat is still out there somewhere.

You know which one I'm talking about. The one that, if you find it, you really can't help but say, "SUCKA! I FOUND THE DESTROYER!" That little destroyer can be so tricky, but I have a feeling it's hiding in one of my classes somewhere, and I'm going to find it if I have to call out every number and letter in all of Aberdeen. Maybe it's the bottom corner, or maybe on this bright green game board full of trees, birds, and puddles, it's smack dab in the middle and I've been dawdling around it this whole time. My classes may not be all that great, but that little boat full of passion for knowledge is hiding and waiting for me to find it. And I know I will. I'm equipped with a noggin, an inside-out prone umbrella in case it rains along the way, some sturdy shoes to climb and run, and open eyes. Well, I probably only need the open eyes, but the crappy umbrella sure makes the journey a little humorous for everyone around me.

Little destroyer of wonder, here I come. Coordinates: UNKNOWN. Opponent: NEAR-SIGHTEDNESS (lost my glasses last week. Sorry Mosmo y Faja). Remedy: Follow heart not bad eyes. Goal: FIND LITTLE VICTORIES IN MY CLASSES. Final Words: HIT AND SUNK.

For a look at me con mi trusty umbrella, watch this:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This is not The Greatest Song in the World, no. This is just a tribute.

A tribute to my Ness
Yo, Ness. Where are you? I've been keeping my eye out all day, it's true. I went on a boat and climbed Urquhart Castle, swimming to me wasn't worth the hassle!? ShortAEY, never thought I'd be on a boat, you say? Well I WAS and you didn't come out to play! You didn't hear my call de monster, which is lucky because you would've hated it. (And nothing rhymes with monster.) I am so bummed you didn't want to be friends, yet in my heart, I'm offering amends. Secret little spunky dinosaur fish, I made a super-duper awesome wish that maybe next time you'll give me a chance and across the Loch we shall swim and dance. Come out, come out! But whatever you do...please don't eat me. (I realize the last line doesn't rhyme, but it was fairly essential.)

Loch Ness rocked my socks right off. (Lie. Socks stayed on.) Loch Ness rocked my world. (Truth. Total truth.)

Somewhere in between the rolling obsidian-colored waves, the snow-capped mountains, the intense castle ruins, the perfectly painted landscape, and the sun lighting up a blue, blue sky, I found myself smiling. Can you believe it? It's true. It felt like I fell into a 3D postcard, and again, Scotland puts my speck of a life into perspective--not in a depressing sense, but a refreshing way. Small speck, big heart. I'm ready to roll.

In other news...
Scotland went from Spring with little budding flowers back to a snowy Narnia. The snowflakes here are the size of gargantuan beasts and they pelt straight into your eyeballs. Is it weird that I love that? (Even when the icy hill from class sends me straight into the mud, complete with many giggling onlookers.) Also, I've been missing my home/homies a lot lately, but I think that is okay. Up and leaving somewhere for five months isn't always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but missing home doesn't mean I'm not loving Scotland. A little both is healthy for me, or a lot of both I guess. Oh, well! Every day is a turning point. And today? Today was yet another reminder that the world is great, that God's love is even greater, and that running through castles is exactly how I pictured. But better.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The little victories

A quirk in the life of Kelsey Freya: when I find a song that I love, it plays on repeat. You may be thinking, "Well, so what... a couple times a day maybe?" No. When I'm in my room, it's playing. My sister and Mary can both attest to this as they have been a victim of my habit for a very long time. Lately, these lyrics have been spinning through my ear buds: This time, I'll be sailing. No more bailing boats for me, I'll be out here on the sea, just my confidence and me. And I'll be awful sometimes-weakened to my knees, but I'll learn to get by on the little victories.

My lifestyle in Scotland, without a doubt, can come off as quite glamorous. I have my best friend next door, endless possibilities for hill-climbing and sheep-chasing shenanigans, and the North Sea only a few miles away. It wasn't until coming to Scotland that I've been able to take a removed glance at my life back home and have realized: shoot. There is life outside and after Hope College. At this point, I have changed my major on paper at least four times and at least 100 in my head. I have read Hope College's course catalog in its entirety, and have read way too many 'find your calling' books from Border's. I have soul-searched and prayed that I may feel drawn to a major, a concrete dream, a calling. I am currently an Elementary Science Education major and Psychology minor, and I'm only now realizing (the 2nd semester of my Junior year) that I have no intentions of working in a classroom. It makes me laugh that both my sister (a freshman) and I are having the same big questions, only she is encouraged to work with them and I am discretely discouraged from having them. But it is now, halfway across the globe, that I realize that God's plan for my life, for anyone's life, is so much more than a major declaration form.

If I make it to 100 years old maybe I'll finally have plan. Chances are though, I'll still have more questions than answers. Throughout these few weeks at Aberdeen, I've realized that I'm not called to answer to a sheet of paper, an advisor, or a cookie-cutter dream. I'm called to pour my heart into every morning, to listen and to love the people that walk across my path at the perfect times. And even when the fear of living my story weakens me to my knees, I'm called to focus my eyes on the simple beauty in life. The way I get lost only to find a perfect thinking place. The way inopportune class changes seem to work themselves out perfectly. The hopeful little origami bird I found sitting next to me on the bus. The little victories. The overlooked gifts. (They are everywhere.)

On a lighter note, there is a seagull outside my window that does the happy feet dance almost every morning. He looks around to see if anyone is watching (which I always am), and then boom shakalaka: he breaks it down. I highly doubt it will ever get old.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head

I'd like to share with you a few things I've noticed:
1) Macaroni pies at Auld Toon Cafe on campus taste like heaven... in a pie.
2) Large, 200-person lectures means anonymity. Anonymity means no pressure. No pressure means way too much room for mind-wandering.
3) Penne pasta is a staple. So is tomato soup. (Don't worry Mom and Dad, we make other things... sometimes.)
4) Hot chocolate and Bailey's tastes very yum for dessert, and once in a while, makes us quite punchy.
5) The toilets here flush like nobody's business. AKA flush and run, or flush and don't run. Always pick the first.
6) My attempts at Scottish, Italian, and French accents all fade back to Borat.
7) Falling asleep to techno music and a pounding bass has become the official lullaby.
8) Naps in Mary's room are better than naps anywhere else.
9) Professors still say the darndest things: "George Washington was a dumbass," "The Americans never really had an Enlightenment," and "Heffalumps are delightful beasties, to be sure."
10) If you volunteer to give a presentation on Freud, be prepared to hear sex jokes.
12) Concerts in second story coffee shops are wonderful (especially The Boy That Trapped the Sun con a cellist).
13) Laundry is expensive; a small room can be transformed into a make-shift drying palace.
14) The day the snow melts is the day the gardening begins.
15) I used to decline sleepovers, birthday parties, and telephone calls left and right because I was the epitome of a home body. Somewhere along the line, I flew across the world. Same girl, same heart... just a bit older it seems.

"And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced teaching us to breathe. What was frozen through is newly purposed turning all things green. So it is with You and how You make me new with every season’s change. And so it will be as You are re-creating me--summer, autumn, winter, spring." - Every Season by Nichole Nordeman

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Let's sit and stay for a while

We walked for a total of four hours through little towns stamped with blue and red doors, strolling on beeping crosswalks and cobblestone roads. We didn't really say a whole lot. Both Mary and I spent our long walk thinking, looking, wondering. When we finally found ourselves at the bottom of the long-anticipated path to the beach, I ran up the steps carved into the kelly green hillside. At the top, I saw the North Sea.

The world is big and I am small in comparison.

Though I do have elaborate daydreams, big thoughts (and even bigger questions), and a heart in wild pursuit of beautiful people, places, and ideas, I'm still oh so small. Not small enough to write off entirely, but small enough to go unnoticed with a cup of coffee and a journal. Scotland's green hills, majestic weather, and perfect bench placement makes it a great dreaming spot. (Ideal for an utterly confused but perfectly content 20 year old.)

Ever close your eyes
Ever stop and listen
Ever feel alive
What a day, what a day to take to a wild child.

(Shout out to Mom and Dad! I know you were waiting for one.)

Watch this to see the North Sea adventure!

Monday, February 1, 2010

There's a bird singing

Every day is a turning point.

Mary cut out an ad from Oprah magazine for me that says just that. It's pinned on my bulletin board along with quotes, pictures, verses, and other simple reminders that I want to hold close while I am here at Aberdeen. Every day has truly been a turning point for me. Every day I become comfortable with a part of my new situation, but every day I am immersed in another part of this life that challenges me. It's as if I always have one foot firmly rooted in my newly formed Scottish comfort zone and one foot plunging forward into a big and scary mud puddle full of campus directions, class tutorials, new faces, and intense courses. And every time I begin to feel settled in the once scary mud puddle, my other foot lunges into an even bigger one. This constant puddle-jumping, from comfortable to uncomfortable to comfortable, is my new way of life. Still, as long as I have my rain boots, I'm able to find peace with each step.

On top of transitioning, it has been our first week of class. In one class, Celtic Scotland, we discussed vikings (which, let's be honest, is legit.) I also went to Philosophy of Knowledge and the Mind. It digs deeply into how we can justify our beliefs and what it means to "know." It feels wonderful to actually be allowed and encouraged to have my head in the clouds.

Finally, while looking for classes, I've managed to create my own round-a-bout through campus, shuffling around with my map when no one is looking. During the time I've spent getting lost and backtracking my way around the university, I've happened upon some of the most beautiful moments and places. I'll leave you with my favorite two:

1) I walked behind King's College (a beautiful building) looking for the Philosophy Dept. and stumbled upon the University Field. The blue sky left room for the sun to literally light up the snow, while two people enjoyed it together. People-watching really is a constant reminder of how beautiful people are. I snapped a picture so that I'll never forget that.

2) I took a longer way back home through Seaton Park and found a river that runs through it. It was just the river, the trees, a bench, the snow, the sun, and me. (And thank goodness my camera!) I then found a steep woodsy hill and, grabbing from tree to tree, I found my way to the top. Just as beautiful as I had imagined. I wasn't so lost.

"Okay, so question. Are your high schools just like in Mean Girls? Because that's what everyone thinks. The plastics. Like, 'OMG'?"-friend from Scotland

Somewhere in the deep recesses of the soul, there is a bird singing. Slow down, listen to the call, and hail the advent of hope. -David Rankin