While writing this piece, I am currently sitting on a flight back to the U.S. after studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh for the past semester. While I’ve written a few blog posts about my experiences studying abroad so far, I thought this post would be a good place to write about my last few weeks in the program and my thoughts on it in general.
For the past 2 and a half weeks I have mostly been traveling around Scotland with some of my family, who fortunately were able to come visit me. We went to a few different places in the Highlands, which is a region of Scotland dominated by mountains and lochs. Edinburgh, where I’ve been studying, is in the Lowlands region, so getting to see other areas of the country was really cool. We went kayaking on a loch and explored an island covered in ferns and bluebells, took the ferry from a town called Oban to one of the Hebrides isles, the Isle of Mull, where we saw lots and lots of baby sheep, and then went to Inverness, which is a larger city similar in some ways to Edinburgh. Scotland is such a stunningly beautiful country, so even just travelling to and from each place was captivating since we were driving past huge lochs, valleys, mountains, and more.
After a week of this, however, I was ready to be back in Edinburgh—it felt familiar to me in a way that was kind of surprising. While I got used to daily life there and in some ways am very ready to be back home, having my family visit me did help me to see the city with new eyes in my last week there. When I first came to Edinburgh, the topography and the sheer amount of history the city has stunned and excited me—but after 5 months of being there, I quite honestly felt like I had seen everything I had wanted to see. But going places with my family that I had never been to before—like a tapestry studio, or a pub with live music—helped me appreciate the city more right before I left.
As I’m still coming home from studying abroad, I haven’t fully processed my time there yet. While much of it was fun and I am glad that I chose to study in Edinburgh, honestly it was hard too. At Oberlin, I see people I know every day and feel a sense of community, which I didn’t really feel at Edinburgh since I was only there for a semester and the school is much larger. It was difficult to be so far away from everyone I cared about and from my home, and it often seemed like something that would be a little issue at Oberlin stressed me out more while abroad because everything seemed so different. I will say, though, that being abroad has given me much more confidence in myself and my ability to navigate challenges that seemed overwhelming. It was an experience that I was glad to have, and one that definitely will continue to shape me throughout the rest of college and beyond.