Love came unexpectedly. It creeped in slowly and hit me this past week. I am in love. It’s the kind that flutters your heart, makes you smile at the thought, and draws you in to drown you in it more and more. Of course, it didn’t start out this way.
Opening scene: When I first arrived in Edinburgh, everything looked bleak. I was welcomed by the city with ice cold wind, miserable rain, and slippery cobblestone streets. But I kept telling myself it would get better. Edinburgh was my perfectly ideal city with its cross between modernity and history and nature. I just had a rough start. Conveniently, my first shopping outing ended up being an episode of my bag ripping and my food spilling out on the streets. It was the perfect beginning to my Scottish romantic comedy, where everything that happened was ridiculous and silly.
Yet I still found joy in the little things. I marveled living next to a castle, trying different restaurant with friends, dancing at ceilidhs, and seeing breathtaking views straight out of National Geographic. I was energized by the freshness and newness of everything I saw and did. Every little decision I made from buying my own food, to cooking my own meals, to booking my own flights were also small moments of empowerment. I felt like I was growing more independent and despite the occasional detours, everything was working out well.
The Climax: I got hurt. It hurt realizing that some friendships weren’t as strong as I thought, it hurt when I was going through a tough time and had to bear the burden alone, it hurt that my exchange friends couldn’t sense my pain or comfort me or that I couldn’t even open up to them out of fear, it hurt that I missed friends and family back at home and am now realizing and appreciating that friendships take a long time to build.
While I’ve been here I’ve been changing, growing, morphing into an independent adult while some people remained the same. Part of the change meant realizing when I shouldn’t waste my time with people who weren’t worth it, moving past the disappointments, and interacting with different types of people. Part of the growth meant being okay with savoring moments on my own when there wasn’t anyone around to share it with or when people back at home didn’t understand what you saw or did. It also meant being vulnerable with people I’ve only known for two months and yet taking that step to open up to them that I would normally only do with close friends. Taking that chance meant some people responded well to it while others didn’t. Yet because I took that chance, I’ve made close friendships faster than I have ever before.
The (Near) Ending: Now I’m in the process of emerging from the things I’ve went through from the homesickness to changes in friendships to developments in new friendships to discovering my passion and to learning more about my strengths and weaknesses. Spring break is now here and these past two days have been nothing but sunshine. I see shorts, dresses, sunglasses, flowers, and changes that I welcome.
More importantly, I found love again. I see the place that I live in as my home, as a place where pain happened, but also endurance, and character through endurance, and hope through the character. Now I fear leaving. Time is running out and I feel like I still have so much to learn, so much to see, do, and experience. I will miss being able to travel with friends, learning, and stumbling upon beautiful landscapes.
I love Scotland. I love it because of what it is but also what it has done for me. Although I’ll have to leave all this behind soon, slowly, with time, I’m preparing to let go. Rather than think of the fear and anxieties of leaving, I treasure the moments of spring, friends, and traveling all the more. Love is freedom and the love that my parents had for me enabled me to come here and love is what drove my growth during my time here. Now, it’s my turn to show my love for Scotland.
KyungSun, you make me want to go study abroad or at least go abroad for more than one week. Preferably to South Korea so that I can fall in love with the country! I’m glad that you have grown so much while abroad in Scotland and your photos are soooo beautiful, calming, and really serene 🙂 Safe travels during Spring Break and I’ll see you when you get back!!