2015 Fall Arcadia University Evan McCullough External Programs Scotland

Angel Olsen and Autumn Leaves

“This time of year, the nights fall longer. So grow a spine or catch cold.”

So sings Angel Olsen in her song “Lonely Universe.” She has been on my mind a lot lately, and I can only speculate as to why this is the case. For one, I bought a guitar not too long ago, and I’ve been trying to learn a few of her songs in my free time. This may be the reason why I dreamt last night that I watched her perform, and then had a conversation with her. I actually did see her in concert back in August, but for some reason other than the fact that I’ve been listening to her music a lot, she is only now breaching the forefront of my unconscious mind.

I think this has something to do with my current environment. Since I left for my trip at the beginning of the mid-semester break, autumn has hit hard. Daylight savings time kicked in while I was away, and now the nights truly are falling longer—and earlier. I am less ready for these cold, short days than I thought.

photo (5)
A tree in my backyard that has been ravaged by autumn.

In addition to this, it is becoming more and more apparent that we are past the halfway point of the semester. Most of my assignments were due before the break, save for one paper that I had to finish in the two days between when I returned from my trip and when classes resumed. However, most of my housemates are busier now with schoolwork, and for all of us there is a sense that finals are looming. I guess, in some way, the hopeful melancholy of Angel Olsen’s songs and voice reflects this to me.

This is also the point in the semester when many people’s families come to visit them. My dad and sister arrive in Glasgow next Wednesday, and I am very excited to see them. I will enjoy my time here with them immensely, but I know that when they leave I will experience a new type of homesickness that I haven’t yet felt in Stirling. I will have had a taste of home, and this will remind me of two things: that I can’t go home with them, and that my time here will be over before I know it. As much as I miss being home, I know I will miss Stirling just as much once I leave. But I know this kind of thinking is unproductive, and I am chalking up this tiresome reflection to the weather.

Stirling is actually quite beautiful today. It is considerably foggy, and there are now more leaves on the ground throughout campus than there are on the trees. One of my friends just returned from spending a week with her family in different parts of Scotland, and she told me that at one point she and her sister had decided that it was “Bon Iver weather.” I know this feeling; right now I want to do nothing more than listen to Bon Iver and Angel Olsen and look out my bedroom window at all of the fog and bare tree branches. It’s just that kind of day.

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Fog over the loch in the center of campus.

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