Stepping Out My Door

Haley Dunbrack University of Edinburgh, Scotland


September 2, 2016

To begin, I’d like to introduce myself the best way I know how: I’m a reader.  I have been one my entire life.  It probably has something to do with genetics – my great-grandmother aspired to be a journalist and collected hundreds of books throughout her life, my mother read me stories every night as a child, and my grandmother passed on her favorite book to me, The Hobbit; generations of women teaching me how to truly love literature. 

I often think of my life according to the types of books I was reading at the time.  For instance, there was my “long-book phase” where I read dense classics such as Gone with the Wind and The Fellowship of the Ring; or there was the phase where I obsessed over historical romances that took place in foreign lands.  I can track the years of my life based on the books I’ve read, and it seems fitting to me that in the week before I depart for my semester in Edinburgh, I find myself reading The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; a man born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1859.

It feels right in many ways – as if my book adventures are sending me off on my own real-life adventure.  Just like characters in novels and fables, I too am beginning my journey by taking a giant step outside of my comfort zone; into the unknown.  And no, I’m not scared, in all honesty…I’m in anticipation.  I feel ready for my world to crack open just a bit wider, to meet new people who genuinely inspire me, and to learn more about the person I will eventually become.        

After three years at Northwestern, I am a different person, and I fully expect the same thing to happen after my semester in Scotland.  Now, this isn’t some miraculous transformation, rather it’s the general trend of life.  Time changes us.  People change us.  Our surroundings change us.  I will miss my friends, my family, my comfort-zone, but there’s a world to discover.  This time, instead of relying solely on books to take me places, I’m doing it myself. 

My name is Haley, I’m a reader, I love meeting new people, I’m going to Scotland for the semester, and I can’t wait.