In my last post, I reflected on the courses I took during my time in Scotland, but now I would like to reflect on the semester in general. This has felt like a very long semester to me. At first, I thought that was a bad thing, but now I see that that is not a bad thing, but something that has helped me grow. For the first part of the semester I was very homesick. It was cold out, I felt like I had too much time on my hands to sit around, and I was missing all of the things that I would be doing if I was at Trinity instead. But a little before the halfway point in the semester things took a turn for the better. I planned some trips, and made more of an effort to get together with my friends during the week, and not just on the weekends. We started exploring more, and I changed my mindset. I had come from such a busy semester last semester, with five classes, two jobs, and extracurriculars, that I didn’t know what to do with myself at first. I talked to a friend, Emma, who studied abroad in high school, and she said that the same thing happened to her then. She told me to focus more on being present, and not to take the time I had here for granted. I realized that I really was doing that a lot more than I thought I was. This whole semester was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am lucky to have had the chance to study abroad.
I went on the Arcadia excursions that I blogged about, and that picked up my spirits greatly, because those were perfect opportunities to see more of the beautiful country that I have been living in for the semester. It was then that I really started gaining an appreciation for Scotland and for being abroad in general. The experience that might have done the most to change my mind about everything was one of those things that you have to believe happened for a reason. I was getting on the train back to Aberdeen after the second excursion. I found my reserved seat and as I sat down, I took in my tablemates and they were a trio of slightly inebriated 40-year-old men. I thought to myself “This is going to be the longest train ride of my life”. It turns out, it was the best train ride of my life. The guys immediately started talking to me, and it turned out that they were extremely friendly family men. They all had small children that they wanted to tell me about, and were very keen to talk to me about why I was abroad, and some of the many differences between the United Sates and Scotland. Talking to them was an important experience and one of my top five moments from abroad. They told me that they thought it was amazing and brave and really cool that I picked up and went to live in a foreign country for 5 months. They shared that they would not have had the confidence to go when they were 21 years old, and that they thought it was fantastic that I was traveling and seeing the world. It sounds silly, but it took until that train ride for me to see that all the things they said to me were true. It did take confidence and bravery to go on the trip without anyone I knew from school, and it was and still is awesome that I have been traveling to all the amazing places that I have been to.
Shortly after, I went to Amsterdam with my friend Emma, and I felt an important shift in my mood and attitude about my experience abroad. Going on a trip to a different country with her, and planning the trip on our own made me feel extremely grown up. It made me feel like I had possessed the confidence to travel to new places all along; I just wasn’t giving myself the chance. After Amsterdam classes picked up, and so did my adventures. If you have been following my blog, you know that I have gone to so many places that have been eye opening and fantastic. I now feel very comfortable traveling to places that I have never been before, and that don’t resemble any place I have ever been before. That was one of my goals for the semester and I feel that I have succeeded in that with flying colors.
In fact, all of the things I have done here have given me a desire to travel and see as much of the world in my life as I can. I have had a goal for my life to go to every state in the US, and I think that I will start on that for real when I get back home. Being abroad has shown me that I can do anything I set my mind to. Some tough stuff has come up this semester and having to deal with it from thousands of miles away from home has shown me that I am stronger than I give myself credit for sometimes. I think that this semester has been life changing. Not in the way that I feel like a completely different person, but I feel renewed and capable of handling new challenges as they approach after graduation next year. I feel like I can now call myself well traveled, and I think that is a lucky thing. I will remember my time abroad for the rest of my life, and it will be something I look back on very fondly. My time in Scotland has made me into the more independent person I wanted to be, and I am very thankful to my parents, Trinity, and Arcadia for the opportunity to study abroad. I highly recommend the experience to anyone, and hope that everyone else who has been abroad this semester feels the same way. I will miss Scotland, but I am ready to close this chapter and start more adventures at home. It’s been fun sharing my experience, and an absolute blast living the experience. Thanks for reading!