It’s been a crazy week. This is what they call “essay completion week” here; I’m in two honors English seminars and the term essays for both seminars are due this coming Monday, so they cancel their seminar meetings for the week before the essays are due to give students time to work. Strangely enough, though, this is the first real assignment that has been due all semester for these classes. The academic system here seems to me like it’s actually structured to encourage procrastination—it allows students to not do too much work for all but a couple weeks of the semester and then work like mad those weeks if they choose to do so. It’s an odd system to me, but it’s a good thing to be prepared for if you’re thinking about studying abroad here.
Anyway, since it is essay completion week, I’ve temporarily lost nearly all sense of my normal schedule. I only had a few class meetings for my Scottish ethnology course this week, but I didn’t get to attend all of those because, on top of all the essay work, I’ve been sick. That means that a lot of this week has consisted of me staying in my flat, eating soup, drinking tea, and taking cold medicine, all while trying to gather research and write two huge English essays. A lot of students know that frustrating feeling when your body gives out on you just when you feel like you most need to be healthy so you can concentrate on your coursework; that’s certainly been the case for me. The emotional and physical stress I have been under and that sometimes comes with going abroad made it not too surprising to me that I got sick.
You could say that the mid-semester burnout has hit pretty hard.
Fortunately, as hard as it has been there have also been some bright spots in this week. A big one for me was a really simple moment I had on Tuesday when I went out to turn in a hard copy for another paper that was due this week. The University of Edinburgh has several campuses throughout the city, but all of my classes are at the George Square campus. The center of this campus is the George Square Gardens, a beautiful, fairly large city square around with tall trees, park benches, and a circular path with greenery in the middle. Normally I just walk around it to go between the buildings, but on Tuesday I kind of arbitrarily decided to walk through it. I immediately felt more peaceful. It had just rained (quite an ordinary state of matters in this city), and the smell of petrichor from earth calmed my nerves a bit from my hectic week. For me, nature always reminds me of God—it reminds me that I’m a part of something bigger, that someone created all of this, and that God is right here beside me if I seek Him. I really needed that reminder this Tuesday, what with the stress of essays, of being sick, and of the election back home. A simple walk through nature reminded me that life is bigger than my current circumstances and that, while it’s not easy, I’m not alone. No election or essay will ever alter the presence of God in my life.
As I muddle through academic, physical, and emotional challenges, I’m so thankful for the people God has placed in my life to help me through. I continue to be surprised and touched each day by the support that my people here and at home have shown me. I’m thankful for coffee dates with new friends, small group meetings with my church, and friends who will pick me up a box of tissues when I need it. 🙂
And now I’m off to attempt to sing in a choir concert! Till next time!