This is it. As I write this it is currently Tuesday, December 15th, and I leave Scotland in exactly one week.
I’ve written a lot about the ways in which being away from home have affected me, mostly because I’ve never been so far away from home for so long. I’ve written a lot about settling into a new place, getting to know new people, and doing things I’ve never done before. But I’ve also written a fair amount about doing things that are familiar to me and finding new routines, both similar to my old ones and not.
The fact is, going to a new place does not inherently entail any kind of change other than the change of environment. I’ve been done with finals for a little over a week, and I’ve filled that time with activities both new and familiar. I went to Dublin with Levi and Ben the day after I handed in my last paper, and I went to a Christmas market at the Gleneagles Hotel with Rose and Rosalie on Saturday. I have also played a lot of Mario Kart, and I made cheesesteaks for my housemates and neighbors one night.
Living abroad does not guarantee a completely different routine. In fact, sometimes it is rather difficult to do things that I couldn’t do at home, especially in a city like Stirling, where even taking the bus from campus to town costs money. Over the course of the semester, I’ve had a harder time of putting myself out there and doing new things than I thought I would, mainly due to the fact that it is nice and easy to stay in my townhouse and read, or watch Netflix, or play video games, or just sit around with my housemates.
Despite this enticing level of comfort at home, I have made great efforts to do things I can’t do at home. I have traveled to other European countries, I have gone to a horserace in Edinburgh, and I have celebrated Thanksgiving with nearly a dozen international students who had never celebrated the holiday before. I have probably drunk twice my weight in Irn Bru, the national (soft) drink of Scotland.
Now that it is almost time to go back to Philadelphia, I feel no regret. There are many things that I wanted to do and just couldn’t make time for, but I am not upset about that. What is upsetting me right now is how deeply I will miss the life I have made for myself here. I will miss the amazing people I have met. I will miss the relative ease of traveling to a completely new country and experiencing it with people I am still getting to know. I will miss Irn Bru.
While it is certainly upsetting to be leaving Stirling, there is a sweetness to it as well. I am happy to have experienced something that I will be sad to leave behind. I am happy to have met all the wonderful people I met here, and every time I think about them in the future, I will also think about how glad I am to have them in my life, even if I never see them again (which I hope is not the case). Finally, I am happy to be going home, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing all my friends and family, and to share with them all the love that Scotland has left in me.