Thursday, February 20, 2014

6 weeks and 10 castles later...

This week is the halfway point in my academic semester here at the University of Dundee in Scotland. Before I left America I received many well-wishes and one in particular sticks out to me at this stage in my journey. My friend, Tracy, told me in a Christmas card: "You will start seeing the world through new eyes." She should know, she spent a fall semester during her college years studying in Vienna, Austria. I FaceTimed her when I packed for my adventure and she urged me to NOT bring my entire tshirt collection. I admit, she was right. I really didn't NEED two pairs of Nike shorts. 
I wanted to take a post to reflect on what I've learned about the world and about myself through my experiences at Dundee. 
This semester is spurring me on to graduate as soon as humanly possible. December 2014 looks to be the magic date, which means...I've been a senior without realizing it. 
Beyond an academic future, my weeks abroad have reaffirmed what I thought I already knew: I have no plans to break up with Tyler. Ever. 
Money is just money. I worked hard to save for this trip and hoarded every birthday and Christmas check i received in anticipation of these travels. But if I don't spend it on these experiences now, I'll have to use it to pay for boring things like gas money when I get back to America. I'm blessed that I don't need to think twice about booking the Ireland tour to Giants Causeway and sometimes it's okay to buy a cupcake in a little town just because I'm there. It's a pleasure to spend to experience, rather than spending to acquire. 
I almost understand, to a small point, what it's like to keep quiet in a foreign country for fear of language judgement. I know I don't sound like most of the population when I speak here and I dread being called on to read poetry and Shakespeare in class. An American accent doesn't do those authors justice. I honestly sometimes fear being labeled for my American accent. America doesn't have the best reputation abroad. I know it's nothing against me personally, but it's still frustrating. I'm doing what I can to change it, including buying a double flag badge of America and Scotland to sew on my pack when I backpack in March. 
I've truly begun to consider Dundee, and Scotland itself, "home." When I was traveling back from London a few weekends ago, I felt the inexpressible relief of being somewhere familiar the instant we landed back in Edinburgh. In fact, I believe I am on the same wavelength as Lord Byron: 
England! Thy beauties are tame and domestic
To one who has roved o'er the mountains afar:
Oh for the crags that are wild and majestic!
The steep frowning glories of dark Loch na Garr.
Scotland is the kind of place I'd be bouncing out of my seat to return to later in life, comparable to Raleigh. I'm even excited about developments to the city that I'm not even going to be here to experience! I recently saw a rough sketch of a bridge that would make everyone's treks to the largest grocery store in Dundee shorter by nearly half the distance. The project hasn't started, but I love that it's being considered. Dundee is the kind of home that gives me that hummingbird heartbeat, to borrow the expression from Katy Perry. I love the wilderness surrounding tiny towns tucked away under rocky shores bearing the brunt of crashing North Sea Waves. 
The final takeaway I have from living across the Atlantic is, after seeing my 10th castle on Tuesday afternoon, Lorde's lyrics have been brought to life. A Very Lucky Girl will regretfully never be royal. 

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