This year has been a lesson in rolling with what has come my way. I had made plans to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Puebla, Mexico at the two new OU study centers this summer, but through a complex chain of events, I ended up in Scotland for the month of June instead. I cannot believe that I was able to spend an entire month in such a beautiful place, and I cannot put words to how grateful I am to have had this experience. I will continue to post about different aspects of what I’ve taken away, but here is a brief overview of the past month.
I traveled with Drs. Keith and Kim Gaddie on the College of Arts and Sciences’ Scottish National Experience, along with six other OU students. We delved into what Scottish nationalism looked like through history and what the movement looks like today after the independence referendum of 2014. In addition, we examined the portrayal of Scotland through film and literature. Most of our time was spent in Edinburgh, which has been called “the Athens of the north.” The city is the seat of the Scottish Parliament, making it the home of policy and administration of Scottish issues. It is also home to the University of Edinburgh, an extremely vibrant arts community, and many historical monuments. During our stay, we also had the opportunity to visit Glasgow, the Isle of Arran, St. Andrews, the highlands, and Loch Lomond. We spent much of our class time “in the field” through experiences of visiting Parliament and First Minister’s Question Hour, talking to the chief editor of The Nationalist, viewing the Stone of Destiny, interacting with local people, and generally attempting to connect the things we were learning through reading and class discussion to what we could see around us.
All in all, this trip was an amazing first experience abroad. Scotland feels like a second home now and I think a piece of me will reside there always, a place that is so familiar after such a short stay yet still so strange. I have learned so much about Scotland, its people, and myself. I’ve only been back to the States for a few days now, but I can feel that my perception has changed, and I’m still trying to understand those changes in myself. Again, I will say I am so grateful for this last month, the things I learned, the memories I made, and the friendships that developed. I have fallen in love with this area of the world and would return in heartbeat.