During my last couple of days in Edinburgh, everything seemed to be more pleasant, more beautiful, more enjoyable. As I began to realize that every sight I saw, every black tea I drank or scone I devoured, would be my last one, I felt the great urgency to absorb every last feeling. The long and seemingly never-ending walk to campus didn’t seem to drag on as painfully, as I admired all the old houses and peaked into the many bakeries and cafes on my way home. Even the 24 mph winds that blew tears out of your eyes as you walked didn’t seem as miserable.
As I sit at my dining table now, with the windows and front door wide open and the sun filling the room, I am filled with an unsuspected feeling. After studying for finals that counted for 80% of my grade, and enduring the wind, rain, and daylight ending by 4pm, I dreamt about being able to go for a run outside in shorts and a t-shirt. But now that I can go for runs along the beach, and don’t have to time my days according to the 6 hours of daylight a day, I catch myself missing Edinburgh and all of its windswept charm. Even more, it’s hard to believe that my study abroad experience has happened and is now something I reminiscence on rather than look forward to. Starting in high school, I always knew I wanted to take part in the study abroad experience—when I first heard that you could take a semester or year to study in another country anywhere around the world, I immediately knew I wanted in. It seemed like a no-brainer taking advantage of this opportunity.
Now, nearly 7 years later, I have spent a semester abroad and can say that it has lived up to my expectations. Actually, I don’t know if I can even say that, because I went to Edinburgh without any firm expectations (mainly, just a strong desire not to get run over by a car from walking on the wrong side of the road). I had no idea what the food would be like, the weather, the student housing, the transportation, etc. (granted you can easily find this stuff out before you go abroad). Edinburgh took me by surprise with its history and culture seeped into every building and alley, and its success in having delicious Indian curries. The contrast between Old Town and New Town left the city in a fine balance between preserving the past and building the future. And if you ventured outside of Edinburgh, you could find yourself in the artsy and upbeat city of Glasgow, or beneath the peacefully looming Highlands. And if you took the 35 Bus, you could be at the airport in 45 minutes, and find yourself getting on a plane to Amsterdam. When you study abroad it is natural to want to cram everything into the 12 weeks you are there. The 35 Bus to EDI may become your most familiar bus route and you will probably get very good at stuffing your backpack full and keeping your liquids under 4 oz. However, amidst all the travelling, don’t forget to take the long route to class along the canals, or walk into a café whose cakes just smell too good. Some of your best memories will be right down the road.