2015 Fall Arcadia University Evan McCullough External Programs Scotland

Home and Away

“I can’t wait to see the Wallace Monument,” Cameron said as we hurdled through the darkness toward Stirling. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to see the Wallace Monument at that time, since the lights illuminating the tower shut off at midnight and it was nearly half past already. Nonetheless, we looked out the foggy windows in tired excitement as the taxi we took from Edinburgh International Airport drove past Bridge of Allan, through the University of Stirling, and up to Alexander Court. Our trip to Belgium and the Netherlands was a great success, and we were ready to get home.

I call Alexander Court home because at this point in the semester it has started to feel that way. My housemates, neighbors, and other friends have quickly become familiar faces, and I can’t imagine my study abroad experience without any of them. Even the distance between Alexander Court and the rest of campus has become dear to me—there’s nothing like a commute, even if it’s a 15 minute walk, to make you feel like you’ve earned a seat on the couch when you get home.

I do miss my real home, but I am comforted by the idea that it will all be there when I get back. My time in Stirling is limited, which lends a sense of urgency to almost everything I do here. I try to take every opportunity I can to do things I’ve never done before or that I probably won’t be able to do again. One of those things was the trip I took over the mid-semester break. I flew to Brussels with two friends, Cameron and Libby, who I didn’t even know two months ago. We were shown around Bruges by yet another new friend, Sarah, who went home to Belgium for the break and was a better tour guide than anyone we could have hired (thanks again, Sarah, for making the time to show three Americans around your city). We met Till in the airport in Amsterdam, and his being from Hamburg brought a new perspective to our European travels. When else would I get the opportunity have such amazing experiences with such great people?

Sometimes, though, it is difficult to get everything out of the experience that you set out to get. Being abroad opens many doors, and you want to go through all of them, but you can’t. It is easy to get bogged down with thoughts of all the things you can’t do, including going home. Before I left, I told myself that I wouldn’t let myself get distracted by homesickness, and so far I haven’t, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. The truth is it can be really hard to adapt to situations like studying abroad, and it can be really easy to be overwhelmed by it all. I know what it’s like to feel homesick, and it’s a tough illness to remedy.

I can only speak for myself, but for me, the antidote to homesickness is in my new home away from home, my Stirling family, and having faith in the experience itself. I’ve immersed myself in all these new people, places and things, and so far it’s been incredibly rewarding. I’m fully invested now, and as much as I will enjoy being back at home when the semester ends, I will miss everyone and everything here terribly. I guess that means I’m lucky.

View of Bruges from the top of the Belfry Tower.
View of Bruges from the top of the Belfry Tower.
The Belfry Tower in Bruges. Foreground: Cameron, Libby, and Sarah.
The Belfry Tower in Bruges. Foreground: Cameron, Libby, and Sarah.

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