So it’s been…more than a little while.

Sorry about that.

As for my excuses, should the masses who care to read this blog demand them with mob mentality…I just needed to take a breath.

But whew. Thank God there’s lots of fresh air in Scotland. I did actually keep blogs for my last few weeks in Africa as well, but ran out of internet time. When I read these blogs, later, from the safety of a hotel room with clean sheets, clear running water, and locked doors, I decided not to post them. I spent much of my last week and a half preoccupied with Shamima, a favorite girl of mine, getting sent home from school for unpaid fees. My frustrations with the orphanage workers (‘presumptive caregivers‘, I seemed to call them a lot) and with my own inability to help her came pouring out in my posts mixed with mounting desperation and…a pretty solid heartache. Combine that with my own…well, desperation is really the only word, to flee to safety, warmth, familiarity–anywhere clean, I was a little overwhelmed and so were my blog posts. They were practically bending over from their own weight; so, I deleted them. And then, like I said, I took a breath.

So that means…yeah, I made it to Scotland. Here I am, curled up in bed with my laptop, watching my English roommate Sonia sit very straightly at her desk chair completing next week’s assignments. And first the first time in over a month, I feel ready to assess the state of my world on my little blog, sipping tea from my mug with a cartoon doodle of a carriage and the scroll “HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton, 29th April, 2011” that no British student would ever actually buy. But I’m a JSA (Junior Study Abroad student), so I can do whatever I want.

Scotland is incredible.

It’s really a shame I haven’t been sharing it with you like I should have been—but I’m turning over a new leaf! For now, I’ll have to limit myself to a brief listing of top-notch UK-experiences to date. I almost like how vague some of them are, because I hope when you read them you’re just thinking—what? You did what? Because honestly, that’s how it feels here—like it’s not real life.

A quick list of incredible things I’ve done that have kept me from writing my blog:

  • Went on a trip to the Highlands, led by our trust guide Ross (kilt-clad, obviously) where we looked for the Loch Ness monster, toured a sheep farm (PUPPIES!!!), and a whisky distillery. Oh, and some places with historical significance.
  • Joined the cricket team and…this one has a sub-list.
    • Survived initiation night—that involved being dressed up as a doll, eating way less than my fair portion of my team’s large and disgusting vodka-based jell-o mold, and dropping into cricket stances on whistle-command in the middle of the street.
    • NOT learned the rules.
    • Developed a healthy fear of cricket balls and a new appreciation for helmets (no, we don’t get to use them).
    • Finally picked up that the pitch is round and THAT’S why you can hit the ball behind you.
  • Joined the Fine Wine and Cheese Society AND the Fine Dining Society. Oh, and the chocolate appreciation society.
  • Learned to appreciate Scottish AMERICAN food.
  • Made friends from Germany, the Czech Republic, Vermont, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Russia, and France.
  • Realized I might have had more in common with a South African roommate than an English one.
  • Jumped off a pier into the North Sea (it was as cold as it sounds!)
  • Joined the Polo club and took a lesson from a professional Argentinean polo player named Gustan. After 15 minutes on the wooden horse, he said it was best to just “try to stay on” and real one, and even said I had “good form and much potential” by the end.
  • Fallen in love with a four-year-old named John Paul who refuses to wear anything but footie pajamas when he comes to the church playgroup I babysit for. Note: all accents are 10x cuter on kids with dimples.
  • Taken up golf on the oldest course in the world. Three lessons in and I’m possibly getting even worse.
  • Learned to love strawberry-lime cider.
  • Started to use “blinking” as a swear word thanks to my friend Rosie.
  • Hardly ever left my Hall without at least three layers of warm clothing.
  • Been inside four castles.
  • Read four novels for my class “The Novels of Jane Austen in context”. It takes places the Garden Room of a building very much like a castle, right on the beach. Possibly a bit of an academic vacation from pre-med courses.
  • Made my parents bring me an entire suitcase full of microwave popcorn, freeze-dried fruit, maple syrup, chai tea, and other American luxuries when they came to visit.
  • Found out that Thanksgiving also exists in Canada.
  • Realized how much stuff we have in America.
  • Been “adopted” by academic parents who are incredibly sweet. Ironically they’re both American and my “mom” is from Tennessee…please, no comments on my ability to branch out because trust me, I got good ones.
  • Learned to love vegetarian haggis (Google what the real thing is and you’re curiosity over why none of my non-vegetarian friends will try it will be quenched).
  • Been quite saddened to find that British kids, without variation, will do a surfer dude/valley-girl accent when they try to sound American.

Just compare this to my last post and…I think you’ll understand why the first several weeks were a transition I didn’t have the extra energy to blog about. I went from being in an orphanage that has no clean water to staying in a big hall that hosts school-sanctioned pub crawls, in an ancient town where the crime rate is zero and all the stores close at four in the afternoon. It’s why I needed some time, and why I might even have had better things to be doing.

But, (please read this in the non-creepiest voice you can muster) I’m backkkkk. 🙂 With pictures soon to follow!


Rachel Marie