Olivia in Scotland: Peace of Mind

November 14, 2016

Hello everyone!

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.


Sometimes you don’t know you need to walk through a square until you walk through a square 🙂 #citylife 

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!

Naomi at Akita Week 9: 漢字漢字漢字

October 31, 2016

This past week has been pretty slow. People are getting sick and wearing masks to avoid the sickness spreading. It’s getting super cold. I ended up facetiming my mom who was sleeping in my room. I asked her why she was in my room and she told me the AC works better there…I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard that. She’s still using the AC while I’m over here freezing my butt off!

I went for a walk after my classes since I had some free time. A couple of my friends told me that there was a dam about a 20-30 minute walk away so I decided to go find it. I listened to music the entire walk. Only about 5 cars passed me. I ended up finding the dam but didn’t take pictures, as it was already getting dark. There was a small green frog chilling on the fence blocking the dam.

You know how Patrik always gives me coffee in those cup noodle containers? Well, I went to AEON (the mall) this past week and ended up buying some paper cups from DAISO (100 yen store, basically the dollar store). I also bought my own mug since I get coffee from him that often. I went to his room about 5 times this past week just for coffee. While we waited for the coffee to brew, we showed each other music that we recommend. Me with my hip hop music and him with his metal core music. It’s funny how close we are but how different we are, especially when it comes to music taste.

I forgot to mention but last week, Patrik was showing me some Japanese music he listens to and he ended up playing a song by a band named FAKY. I started freaking out because my friend, Diane, the girl I recently visited in Tokyo, used to be in that band. She ended up leaving it because she wanted to do something else I showed him one of their music videos and pointed out Diane and he started freaking out. We both started singing along to the music video and wow, it was such a surreal moment. If you want to check out one of their songs just type in “Better Without You FAKY” and you’ll see Diane with her long red hair.

There was a Halloween party at the Student Hall Thursday night. Isabella and I decided to stop by because my friend was performing. We thought we were going to be late so we ran all the way to Student Hall but ended up being early. We watched the costume competition and two guys dressed up as Cup Noodles won! Patrik was there as well with his skeleton face paint. Jay ended up performing and blew us all away. It was Isabella’s first time hearing him sing and “wow” was all that came out of her mouth.

Most of us went out Friday night for a Halloween party and ended up pulling an all-nighter since we were unable to get back on campus till the next morning as we had to wait for the trains to start running again. We slept all of Saturday and woke up around 4pm! Since we practically wasted the day, we decided to all cook dinner. Isabella and I went to AEON first to get the ingredients. She bought spaghetti and Carbonara sauce. I decided to make Goya Chanpuru, an Okinawan dish, since my mom sent me Spam in that care package she sent me last week. I bought tofu, eggs, and goya. Isabella already had salt and soy sauce so I was set. I had to call my mom before I started cooking to make sure I was doing everything correctly. She also sent me jushi, Okinawa style rice seasoning with vegetables and meat, so I had to make sure I was using the rice cooker correctly.

We had so much food. I made rice and Goya Chanpuru, Isabella made her spaghetti, and Annabelle and Kevin made chicken with some sweet chili sauce. Patrik was the only one that actually enjoyed the Goya Chanpuru; everyone else thought it was too bitter, which didn’t surprise me. Tristan actually said that we should all eat a mouthful of just Goya. I didn’t do it because I didn’t count, as I enjoy the bitterness. So, Tristan, Isabella, Annabelle, and Patrik all took about 5 pieces of Goya and stuffed it in their mouths. It was great. Annabelle made the weirdest face and immediately ate chicken afterwards to get rid of the taste. This makes Goya Chanpuru sound bad…I promise it’s actually delicious.

This upcoming week, we have to give a 3-4 minute speech in Japanese class. We can’t have any notes or anything so we basically have to memorize our speech in just Japanese. I’m actually pretty nervous. For this speech, we had to decide to talk about either something that surprised us, saddened us, or excited us about Japan. I wrote about the vending machines in Japan and how the abundance of them surprised me.

I’m not kidding when I say you will find at least three vending machines on every street corner in Japan. It’s unbelievable really. They have vending machines with hot foods, like hot dogs and cup noodles. They’re everywhere. Back home in Okinawa, right outside of our apartment, there are seven vending machines lined up outside, side to side. Even outside of convenience stores, they have vending machines lined up outside, despite the drinks they have right inside the store.

I appreciate it though because these vending machines sell iced black coffee. It’s a struggle for me when I go back home to the states because the only way to get iced black coffee is if you go to Starbucks or to some other chain store. It’s not as easy, common, and cheap as Japan.

img_0927In addition to the speech I have to memorize, I also have a 漢字 (kanji) midterm to study for and its just line after line after line. I’m even studying for it right now. I’ve been doing well in the class so I’m not too worried about it but this is an exam on ALL of the 漢字we’ve learned so far this semester…wish me luck!

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