Edinburgh, Here I Come (Round 2)!

Virginia Black University of Edinburgh, Scotland


September 6, 2017

I am a notoriously quirky packer. If you asked my family about traveling with me, the first thing they would mention is that not only do I pack and repack my suitcase about 5 times per trip I take, but this all occurs weeks before I embark on an adventure. It doesn’t matter if the trip is 4 days or 4 months- my packing style is always the same. Packing for Edinburgh was no exception! It didn’t help that I also had a handheld luggage scale this time to fuel my borderline obsessive tendencies. My family definitely got more than a few laughs as they walked by my room, catching glimpses of me weighing individual rain boots, coats and sweaters to see if I could stay under the 50lb maximum. Despite the fact that the day I would be flying out of Richmond was 90 degrees, I elected to save some space in my suitcase by wearing absolutely every layer I could without getting heatstroke. Carrying around my huge navy puffy parka the day after Labor Day was definitely a conversation starter! When asked where I was headed by the United attendant alerting me that my flight to Newark would be delayed, I responded with an enthusiastic “Edinburgh, Scotland” and within seconds I had already made a new friend. The woman next to me told me that she is originally from Edinburgh, but has spent the last 41 years as a kindergarten teacher in Virginia. Not only was I thrilled to ask her about her experience at the University where she got received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees, but my parents were also thrilled to hear I would have someone to look out for me as I ventured overseas.

As I’m sitting at my gate it’s finally starting to sink in that I am about to begin a four-month long adventure to a place that has been home to many of my relatives, but one that I will be experiencing for the first time! Having never been anywhere in Europe, my first goal for the upcoming adventure is an obvious one: to do as much exploring, risk-taking, comfort zone pushing and horizon expanding as I possibly can! Other goals include becoming more independent, confident and decisive. I know that things will not always go as planned no matter how many times I repack my suitcase or use my luggage scale to weigh each item I consider packing in my suitcase, but I look forward to learning how to approach obstacles and setbacks with a deep breath! (If you couldn’t already tell from my intensive, bizarre packing routine, I would say I can be a bit of a neurotic perfectionist. You should’ve seen my face as I high fived my mom for my suitcase weighing exactly 50lbs when I checked my bag!) Sometimes I find myself dwelling on small details or stressing about what is to come, and it can be really draining. Instead, I’m really going to work on being more mindful, present, and appreciative of unexpected moments- that’s part of the adventure!

Okay, pause- literally as I was typing that last paragraph, United announced that they had canceled my flight to Newark. Deep breath! Everything happens for a reason? Maybe? Yes! I just found out that there are now 4 other people traveling to Edinburgh. Now I have a kindergarten teacher, a photographer, a University of Edinburgh graduate student and her mom to team up with! We all booked the same flight for the next day, and we even tried to book seats near each other.

When I woke up this morning I never thought I could be any more anxious to finally get to Scotland, but boy was I wrong! Even though I’m more than ready to leave, I definitely enjoyed having my yellow lab Duffy by my feet while I ate family dinner at home one more time, and I’ve had my share of “wow the 4 months really flew by” jokes since coming back from the airport this afternoon. I’m looking forward to my dorm room in Scotland someday feeling just as welcoming and embracing when things don’t go as planned. Stay tuned as I attempt to depart the country for the second time! Edinburgh, here I come round 2!


Pre-Departure Scotland