Olivia in Scotland: The Final Countdown

December 7, 2016

Hello everyone!

I finished my classes today (which is Thursday December 1st as I write this). I can hardly believe it. The semesters are shorter here than they are back home and in some ways it really does feel like I just started my classes. I’ve also been behind on my work for several weeks now because I’ve been sick, and today marked the day that I finally caught up and finished my last paper for which I received an extension! It took my first all-nighter of the semester to do it, but it’s done.

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I was very tired in my final 9 AM class this morning, but I was happy to see that they’re making the school buildings look a little more festive for the Christmas season!

The odd thing is, with my English seminars, it isn’t really the end for most people in the course; although the seminars only last one semester, they don’t have their exam until the end of the spring semester, and they meet again to review the material before then. It was a strange feeling to be nearly the only one really leaving. They’re all saying, “See you later,” and I’m saying, “Goodbye.”

It’s hitting me now that I have less than three weeks left before heading back home. In that time, I’m taking two short trips out of the country, writing two exam essays, taking an exam, celebrating Advent with my church, and showing my best friend from back home around Edinburgh when she comes to see me. It’s going to be a jam-packed few weeks! In general, I’m planning to do all I can to see the parts of Edinburgh that I haven’t gotten to see yet and make the most of my time in this lovely city, as well as spend as much time as I can with the friends I have made here. It promises to be a challenge to accomplish all this, but I’m going to try my best to make the people here my priority until I leave. I feel that one of my biggest regrets would be not spending enough time with them.

Now, where am I traveling to, you might ask? Well, one of these trips is starting tomorrow (Friday the 2nd)—I’m going to VENICE! I’ve wanted to go there for as long as I can remember. I hadn’t actually planned to travel there while studying abroad, but I discovered that a couple friends of mine wanted to go there and suddenly my dream started to become a reality. It is absolutely surreal to me that I’m finally going to this place I’ve always dreamed about; hopefully it will feel a little more real to me once I’m actually there! For my other trip, I’m going to Paris after my exams with my best friend from back home. She’ll be here in Edinburgh for a few days and then we’re going to Paris together. That’s the other place I’ve probably wanted to go to the longest so I’m absolutely thrilled, and I can’t believe I get to go there with my best friend. It honestly seems too good to be true.

I wanted to take a moment to reflect and re-center as I enter these final weeks. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much easier it is to talk about what I’m doing than it is about how I’m feeling. I’m going so many places, writing so many essays, seeing so many people. attending so many church events. There’s plenty to talk about right now on the more surface level of my life. It’s even easier to focus on that in posts like these when the past month has been one of the hardest periods I’ve ever gone through emotionally and I have struggled with how to deal without that. Going through your first breakup anywhere is really hard, but being abroad during that grieving process carries its own unique set of challenges. Although I did a lot of great things and spent time with people I care about, it wasn’t enough to heal my heart or shake the depression I’ve been feeling. However, after all this time in the dark, I think I’m finally beginning to feel the sun coming out again. (It’s ironic for this rather dark and rainy time of year in this country, but it’s true.) I certainly have not arrived anywhere yet, but I know I’m on my way to healing. I also know that I am not, nor have I ever been, alone in this—God has been with me every step of the way. He has been my strength when I had none.

As I move into the final weeks of my study abroad experience, my prayer is that I am able to fully enjoy what I’m doing and be present with the people around me in every place in which I find myself. I want the memories that I carry back home with me to be good and beautiful ones. For me, when I am actually present where I am, that is when I am most able to feel God’s presence, whether that is through a sunset, a city street, or the person across the table from me. It may be through a simple thing, but when I really look around, I can see the hand of the Creator who made it all and feel that he is right there with me. For my trip to Venice, that will probably mean making sure that I put down my camera enough to let the beauty of the place sink in and allow me to appreciate the sweet friendships of those with whom I’m traveling. It can be very hard to stop stressing about getting the perfect picture and be still for a moment. When I do, though, I am finally present in that place and can find God’s presence as well.

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I found these steps on my day trip to Stirling this last weekend: I intend to “be careful” with how I spend the remainder of my time here, and for me, that means looking around and appreciating what is right in front of me.

I will update you all when I return from Venice! (I still can’t believe I’m saying that.) Ciao!


Olivia in Scotland: A Day in the Life

November 18, 2016

Hello everyone!

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.

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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!

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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!

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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:

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The church at Buccleuch Place looked really pretty as the sun started to go down.

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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!

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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!


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