Last week was a big one for me—it was my 21st birthday and Thanksgiving right in a row! I got to experience what having these celebrations in a foreign country is like, and despite all the ups and downs, I ended up having an amazing time.
On my birthday, which was Wednesday, November 23rd, I took snapchats of all my birthday-related activites (I kind of like using snapchat if you haven’t picked up on that). Here’s what my birthday was like for me in Scotland.
Good start to a day of celebration 🙂
I spent time with both older and newer friends on my birthday, and after class in the morning I spent time with one of my closest study abroad friends I’ve made here in Edinburgh.
One thing you’ll find when you have your birthday in another time zone is that your celebration gets extended! My birthday started here before it did back home and ended later back home than it did here, so that means a longer amount of time for birthday wishes from family and friends. In fact, my first real birthday activities were my family and my best friend from home FaceTiming me to wish me happy birthday, despite it still being the night beforehand in their time zone. Even though I really missed the people who were far away, it was kind of nice to have an extended birthday 🙂
Next came the best part of my whole birthday this year: my best friend from UR flew in from her study abroad program in Europe to visit me!!
It was so very nice to be with someone who knows me so well on such a big birthday. It made me feel a little bit like I really was home. I got to show her around the city on my birthday and over the next couple days, which included going on the Potter Trail together. (That’s the free walking tour of all Harry Potter-related Edinburgh locations.)
Then Faith and I tried out a tea place in New Town called Eteaket that I had been wanting to go to for a long time. I highly recommend it! It was also a great place to catch up with an old friend.
We went to my church’s weekly connect group together where we had dinner, studied God’s Word and talked about Advent, and Faith got to meet a lot of my friends here. It was fun being around so many people I care about on this special day.
You may have noticed that I drank a whole lot of tea on my birthday. Being here in the U.K. has definitely fed the flames of my tea obsession. I’m actually not sure how many cups I had already drunk that day (at least 4 I’d say between breakfast, my rather large tea latte with Gianna, and my entire pot of tea at Eteaket), but did that stop me from having another cup at connect group? Nope.
To finish out the night, I took Faith back through the Christmas markets and we got Nutella donuts from a stand there called the Nutella House. The Edinburgh Christmas Market is incredible. There are all kinds of food and rides and gifts and Christmas music. You can hardly help but feel happy and get in the Christmas spirit when you walk through that market. It was a great way to end the night—before Faith and I stayed up talking for hours and hours, of course, because that’s what best friends do.
That’s about everything I did on my actual birthday. The next day, however, instead of having a traditional Thanksgiving, I actually had a birthday party at my flat with all of my friends here. One thing to note about turning 21 in most foreign countries is that you can already purchase alcohol there by age 18. It does take the impact out of your birthday a little bit and you might have to remind some of your friends why it’s such a big deal to you. However, I did get the experience of being carded for the first time when I bought some wine from the grocery store for my wine and cheese-themed birthday party, so I feel like I pretty much experienced that side of turning 21 about as much as I needed to.
The party was a success, full of food, laughs, Cotton Eye Joe, and also music that was actually good 😉
So, that’s how my birthday was over here in Scotland! I really enjoyed celebrating with my sweet friends here in Edinburgh. It didn’t feel quite as perfect as it might seem, perhaps; especially leading up to it, there were moments where I wanted nothing more than to be home with my family, particularly since my twin brother was celebrating his birthday as well and this was one of the first birthdays where we weren’t together. Like much of my study abroad experience, the pictures make it look more clear-cut than it actually is. You will feel lonely at times if you celebrate your birthday away from home. However, you can still do everything you can to find home where you are. That’s what I tried to do for this special day. For the most part, I think I succeeded in this, but I can’t really take any of the credit for that. God has blessed me in incredible ways here with friends who feel more like family. In all the ups and downs, these people who God intentionally placed in my life have been there for me. I’m so very thankful for that. I’m thankful for the bright spots of light that my friends were for me on these cold Edinburgh nights.
To close, I actually did get to have a real Thanksgiving dinner here with my church! They held an outreach event on Sunday night where we a dinner of American-esque Thanksgiving cuisine followed by a ceilidh, or Scottish dance. I loved the multiculturalism of having an American activity followed by a Scottish activity—like being home, but with a twist! It was such a fun night. It reminded me of a few things that I’m thankful for: my family and friends back home, my church family here, everyone who came to the ceilidh, good food, good tea, ceilidh dancing (because it’s super fun), and the love of Christ. He is the source of all good things and I am so thankful to Him.
Some of my friends from the ceilidh! I danced a little too hard, because my legs hurt a lot now, but it was still totally worth it. I had a wonderful time.
This week I decided to take one pretty ordinary day and chronicle everything I did so you could see a little bit more what my life here is like—all with the help of my good friend, Snapchat. So, here was my Wednesday!
I got up at 8:15 so that I could eat my breakfast and drink my cup of tea before heading to my 9:00 class. On Wednesday mornings, that’s my Scotland and Orality lecture.
I’ve been under the weather for about a week and a half now, but on Wednesday I finally felt well enough to get to class!
The way my class schedule is here, I’ve got a class every day of the week, but it’s usually just a 9:00 class and then I’m free for the rest of the day. After my 50-minute lecture, I headed back to my flat and took some pictures and videos along the way of things that I normally see.
I went back to my flat to work on an English essay for a few hours and also to make sure I was there to sign for a package from my parents that was supposed to arrive that morning. My birthday isn’t until next week, but my mom ended up telling me I could open it early!
It was fancy birthday tea and choocate from London!
Then at 1:00 I headed back out to meet a fellow study abroad friend, Meghan, who I know from back home and was visiting for a few days. We got soup from a place called Union of Genius (which I would definitely recommend for good cheap eats in Edinburgh). It’s so nice to see friends from home when you’re far away!
After lunch I headed back to my flat, but since it was a sunny moment and I was on the lookout for things to show you all, I took a detour through George Square gardens.
Two other things I saw on the way back to my flat:
The church at Buccleuch Place looked really pretty as the sun started to go down.
The sun goes down reeeeally early here tis time of year!
After doing some more schoolwork (I work at home a lot here because the library is very crowded), I got on a bus to head to my church’s connect group. We meet every Wednesday evening at the pastor’s house for dinner and a bible discussion. This week we were talking about how we live out the true meaning of Christmas in a commercialized world (it’s already the Christmas season here because there’s no Thanksgiving!). It’s one of my favorite times of the whole week and I get to be with some of my favorite people here. Unfortunately, I was having so much fun eating food and hanging out with people that I forgot to take a picture of it! But I did have a good time there before hopping on a bus back to my flat and ending the night by Facetiming with a friend from home.
There you have it! I learned something from this blogging experience: documenting my day makes me look out a little more for the beauty in the everyday things around me that I might not notice otherwise. I really enjoyed doing that, and I hope to take that mindset with me on the days when I’m not blogging about everything. 🙂
Now, to make up for not taking pictures of my Wednesday night, I’ll tell you a little bit about my Thursday night. I went out to the midnight premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! (That’s the new movie from the Harry Potter universe for those of you who don’t know.) I was so excited to see this movie, especially since I didn’t get to see any of the Harry Potter movies in theaters and ESPECIALLY since I’m currently living in the city where most of that series was written! A couple of my friends and I took a bus to the theater to go see the movie in IMAX 3D. We discovered that, while there were definitely some Potterheads there decked out in their wizarding wear, midnight premieres in the U.K. are much quieter affairs overall than they are in the U.S. People aren’t very rowdy and they don’t get to the theater hours beforehand like they do back home. Even so, we were so excited, the movie was amazing, and we had a blast!
We’re dorky but we’re fabulous. I’m so thankful for friends like these to have fun with!
Here’s my snapstory from last night. Enjoy! Till next time!