So I arrived in Glasgow. The fantasy made real.
Scotland is as beautiful as a fairy tale. It really looks like this.
The sun shines golden, the greens are greener, even the clouds are a beautiful blue gray, and the wildflowers that grow everywhere are the most brilliant purples, pinks, blues, reds, and whites.
Granted, by the time I collected my luggage and found my way to the school shuttle bus, it was too dark for anyone to see the scenery or my spectacular entrance.
I boarded the bus bound for my accommodation.
Where it took me two hours to get my keys and find my flat.
Which happens to have a view of the highlands and the train. The train makes me especially happy because 1) the last two places I’ve lived were next to train tracks and the sound of trains passing in the night has become a sort of lullaby for me, and 2) the train sounds exactly like the one out of Spirited Away.
It makes me want to watch the movie every time the train goes by, which is often.
Anyway, I naturally didn’t have room in my suitcase for bedding, so I spent my first night wearing half the clothes I brought with me to keep warm and using my jacket as a pillow. Lots of fun.
The first order of business in the morning was to get a real bed. I walked three miles along confusing roads in order to find a store that sold bedding. Streets here are not marked half the time, change names a bazillion times, disappear/reappear, and are not even close to following a grid system.
All the same, I found what I needed and everything went well until I was walking back and discovered the shoes I was wearing were not as broken-in as I thought they were. Blisters everywhere. It was bad. For the next week, it felt like I was walking on broken feet. I was still in Scotland, though, so I guess the good balanced out the bad.
There was no way it was going to keep me from exploring my new reality.
Complete with accents!
Surprisingly, I only met a couple people I couldn’t understand.
All in all, I was over the moon.
I wanted to see and do everything, absorb absolutely every molecule of the country.
Even though almost nothing was familiar.
When I got to campus, I expected at least a few of the other international students to feel the same way I did.
Instead, I was thrown among groups of spoiled, ungrateful undergrads here for study abroad. They were either completely oblivious of the fantastic opportunity they had before them or they were more concerned with looking cool.
It was very disappointing.
It also made me feel uncomfortably old.
Especially as I went through orientation things I hadn’t done in five years – paperwork, social activities, tours, etc.
They were minor annoyances in the shadow of the school itself, though. You see, I go to Hogwarts.
No, seriously. Hogwarts.
And since the University of Glasgow accepted me where my top school didn’t, I like to think that I was chosen.
There are even magic staircases.
You’re on the ground level, go inside, go up two flights of stairs, and you’re suddenly outside again on the ground level.
I was a bubble of nerdy energy the first time I rounded the corner and saw the school sitting on that hilltop in all its glory.
Adding the fact that I’d never seen a building of such size or age before, it was beyond comprehension.
It was honestly unbelievable. I sat there staring at the quadrangles for hours, and my eyes still couldn’t adjust to it. Even my eyeballs said, “No way. We got something wrong. Let’s do that again.”
In general, across the city and every second of the day, it’s so hard to believe I’m here. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up one morning in the US in my old room in my parents’ house with my old job.
Is all this one magnificent dream?
For however long it lasts, I want to enjoy it. Squeeze every experience I can out of my time here.
The problem with that, however, is that I don’t know how to live.
When I look at Glasgow, determined not to be bored and to push my boundaries, I draw a blank. What do I do? Where do I start? How exactly does one have fun?
Especially when I factor in the fact that I’m alone.
Even after classes start, I’ll have four days a week of open schedule.
That’s an awful lot of time for me to spend alone doing things. Being alone NOT doing things like watching shows on Netflix is my specialty.
Leaving the house is another story.
It’s much easier for me to be the brave one when I’m with other people, so I guess I could always ask someone to go with me to that museum or pub.
But who am I kidding? I’m about as good at talking to strangers as I am at going out by myself.
However, that could work in my benefit. Without people to talk to, I have no one to ask if all that I’m seeing is a dream or not.
So let the dream continue!