I write this blog as both a farewell and a virtual hello to our students who have departed back to the US over the last two weeks. The state of affairs in Scotland and in the world have changed dramatically and quickly. Nothing is normal and our lives have paused. Yet during this pause, we and the many of our partner Universities have been working extremely hard to sustain some continuity in your learning as the semester continues. They are doing their best in difficult times, so please be flexible, patient and keep an eye on our updates and their communications.
We are so sad to see you go, but haste ye back again into our virtual presence as our staff work from home and move into a digital world. Look out for our upcoming virtual author talk and we are planning a virtual end of semester event! All around us, our communities adopt ‘stay at home’ policies and our local health services make huge sacrifices to save all they can. Workers risk so much to maintain essential services. But after this all ends, maybe at some time in the future, you will be able to visit Scotland again!
I have been struck by how ‘home’ means something different for so many. But in a time of crisis, home is a place of safety and family, a place of support. For those who study abroad, we strive to create a new home for you and stress that you are not going to be a mere tourist, but encourage you to come to live in a new place and become a local. It is knowing and understanding a place that connects you to a diverse and different community. We often encounter students who feel sad about being away from ‘home,’ and we support them through these difficult times and urge them to establish new and meaningful connections to new places, yet in this instance, home is where all of our students need to be and we thank you for your efforts to return - but take and keep your memories.
As society comes to terms with the new normal, we have to adjust our priorities and Scottish authors have a lot to offer. What better time to read! An essay that immediately comes to mind is Robert Louis Stevenson’s essay ‘An Apology for Idlers’ - chapter two of this text from Gutenberg. This is ultimately an essay about pausing. The capacity to pause is really an opportunity of the privileged and so many do not have that luxury. But if one can slow down and reflect, this essay has a lot to offer. It is through our conversations and our communities that we will get through these times.
BOSWELL: "We grow weary when idle."
JOHNSON: "That is, sir, because others being busy, we want company; but if we were idle, there would be no growing weary; we should all entertain one another.
From the introduction of ‘Apology for Idlers’ Robert Louis Stevenson