Finals have ended. I had said tearful goodbyes to all my friends just a few hours earlier. Everything was in order as I prepared to depart. Since I refused to sleep through my last precious hours in Edinburgh, I sat in the meadows at 4 am, all packed up and ready to go to the airport, and watched the sun rise over the castle for the last time. It was the most beautiful sun rise in the world. This was my last moment of Scotland, watching the silent sunrise over the sleepy city and shine onto the very castle that greeted me 5 months ago. It took every ounce of strength in me to stand up from that bench and say goodbye to the city that became my home.
With every hour that I am away from Edinburgh, the whole experience seems more and more distant, like a dream. It was only three days ago that I was across the Atlantic Ocean with some of my best friends enjoying one of the greatest places on earth, and just like that, I’m back in the real world… which would explain the current depression.
To keep my mind off of the idea of the life I’ve left behind, I’ve thankfully been able to swiftly jump into working on my summer research project. And I am not kidding when I say ‘swiftly.’ Upon landing in the United States, and just after a single, exhausting night at home, my already packed bags and I moved down to campus into my new apartment to start my summer research project. In addition to starting my new job, I was happy to come home to a fantastic reception from my family, all my friends and of course, the superb brood of cicadas that have infested the East Coast. They come every 17 years… thank goodness I came back in time. They. Are. Just. Great.
So everyone knows that the next step of the study abroad experience is reverse-culture shock. I have recruited a couple friends to be on depression duty; meaning that they are on call at all hours of the day in case I happen to see a piece of tartan in my everyday life and start having a ‘Scottish Moment.’ Keeping busy keeps my mind off of the sadness. I’ve been alright so far, but not going to lie, every time I hear ‘Flower of Scotland’ I get a wee bit emotional.
And it doesn’t help that I downloaded this onto my ipod and have listened to it an unhealthy amount of times.
I can’t believe that nine months ago I couldn’t even begin to point out Edinburgh on a map. Studying abroad has been an absolutely life-changing experience that I will never forget. I have grown as a person as well as a student. Learning through immersion and direct, foreign interaction is priceless and more rewarding than any classroom I’ve ever been in. My education has been enhanced through travel, sculpted by my peers, and cemented with memories.
As I stood up from that bench and left the meadows that day, I turned my back to the glorious Edinburgh castle and said goodbye to the greatest semester of my life, but I left knowing I will return.
After all, this is only the beginning.