Making A Home

Making A Home

Ello loves 🙂

As I walked through this beautiful place I get to call my second home today on my way to class, I began to gaze with intentionality at the things around me. I studied the people who passed by me and the shops and the small bits of nature that have grown amidst this ancient city’s cobblestone, holding the secrets of this enchanting city.
I crave to know them all. Isn’t that what being in a new place is all about? Fully immersing yourself in a place so deeply and so truly that you are no longer an onlooker to the magic but a player in it all.
Travelers of all shapes and sizes, ages and genders will tell you that it is not the pictures you take or the quintessential tourist attractions you check off (though there is indeed much fun to be had and experienced for they are tourist attractions for a good reason). It is, without a doubt, the relationships you make with the people and the places around you. Personally, when I think of an ideal travel experience, or just an ideal life, I picture a place where I can walk through the streets with a mix of both comfort and excitement, where getting lost is not the norm but still a possibility. I imagine a coffee shop or breakfast cafe around the corner that knows my name but not my order because, though I am a regular, I am always trying new things. I imagine friends around me that resemble–thank you Forrest Gump–a box of chocolates. Each with their own unique taste, design, style and core but bound together by their genuine love of life’s capability to be smooth, rocky, bitter and sweet– a consistent mystery that almost always ends with a content fullness. I imagine a journal full of sketched out journeys that those friends dreamt up with me. I imagine that same journal to be brimming with the intimate tiny details of hardship and joy and laughter and tears that when woven together make life something truly amazing.

Now, I have only been in Scotland around 3 weeks now but I am trying to cultivate those things, which I mentioned above. For example, there is a Polish bakery that is just one block down from my flat here. It is run by the sweetest woman who I think is coming to expect us to barge in to her shop 10 minutes before closing nearly every night of the week. She bakes her bread fresh every day and if you go in late at night, she might give you free pastries. A little secret that my friends and I cherish. Though, come to think of it, I think this secret is one that I quite hate to love–my waistline isn’t so fond of all the carbs I seem to be consuming lately but eh, when in Rome, right?
Another place we seem to go all the time (and I am currently at writing this post–see photo) is the coffee shop directly around the corner from Wright’s Houses. Black Medicine Coffee Co. It is a shop that is taller than it is long with seats and tables handcrafted in various types of woods. One of the staff members is a quirky sort of fellow with a mohawk and glasses from Australia named Alex. In short, he is friendly to all, cusses when he drops anything, and bounds up and down the tiny stairs with such amazing agility though it sounds as if he and a hoard of antelopes have just fallen down the entire flight every time. A lot of the Napier students from Wright’s Houses come here because it is so convenient so it is a fun place to sit back and mingle and forget for a while that you are in a completely different country (if that is something you want at all to forget, that is).
Another place we tend to frequent is The Golf Tavern. One of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh, established in the early 1400s, it is filled with people of all ages, sitting in groups and sometimes, though rarely, alone who bond over their love of this pub atmosphere and the wonderful spirits it provides. I used to wonder why they called alcohol “spirits” but now that I have people watched in The Golf, I can understand. Though I do not condone obsessive drinking of alcohol, I can see how it does bind us as hopelessly flawed humans in a common spirit of brother/sisterhood and frivolity. The staff at the Golf is nothing short of hilariously entertaining. They are all pretty young and quite pretty, actually. They seem to really enjoy what they do and for some strange reason I get a little rush of joy when one of them remembers by name. (Mom & Dad, I promise I am not an alcoholic. Truly, it is just for the experience :))

Edinburgh is a captivating city. There is so much here left to see and experience and the fact that I have already been here almost a month makes me feel quite hurried. I am NOT a fan of feeling hurried. *pause for shock as all who know me pictures me flying around a room half naked trying to get ready to go somewhere when we are already 15 minutes late and I have had the past 3 hours to actually get ready* Anyway, I hope that as the next few weeks go by, I am greeted by more colorful people and places that I can welcome into my life as a brick in this new home I am building and as a staircase to a new adventure.

Thanks for reading 🙂 CHEERS Xx <—- me trying to be Scottish.

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A Not-So-Foreign Foreign Issue

**Disclaimer: I had to do this for class but I thought “what the schmell, might as well!”**

Even though I have only been in Scotland a little over two weeks, it seems that the way politics are handled here are not so different from the way they are back home in the U.S. of A. Before I hopped on that 9 hour flight to Edinburgh, I was told by many people to be excited because I was going to be in Scotland during a very turbulent but exciting time–a time where the word “independence” would be whispered with feelings of adoration and beguilement. “How exciting,” I thought. “How lucky I am to be able to be in the midst of a group of people stirring with the same emotions that stirred in the hearts of those who fought for the freedom of America.” A bit nostalgic and a tad overemotional of a thought perhaps, but, hey, that’s just the kind of girl I am.
Upon arriving in Scotland, I was driven to my flat by a man with whom I conversed about the Referendum a good bit. He was an older fellow who seemed to believe it was high-time that Scotland had its independence; he wanted to vote Yes and believed that this country could easily sustain its own economy with oil and, to no stereotypical surprise, its whiskey. Since he was the first Scottish individual I had spoken to about the issue my whimsical picture of the fight for Scottish independence was perpetuated.
The second individual I spoke to about it was a uni-age guy who had some very interesting beliefs that he was gathered from a myriad of different sources. He believed the whole vote to be some what of a conspiracy–a way for the Scottish government to trick the English into giving Scotland more power by threatening a YES vote. An interesting idea to be sure.
The third group I spoke to were two of my classmates who both held a similar view of the issue: disillusionment. Ah yes, now this feels like home. Discussing the topic with them made me think for a quick second that I was back in North Carolina talking about “politics” and the next big issue with a few friends at coffee. They both see the whole issue of independence as an issue that could have maybe had merit at one time or another but due to oversaturation by the media and the ridiculous blind-loyalty of Scottish Nationalists neither of them really want much to do with it at all. I can’t blame them. Oversaturation of politics in the media is something I am quite familiar with as an American, especially as an American student whose home university is very liberal. It seems like everyday the young adults and 20 somethings of the U.S. are bombarded with different viewpoints on a whole host of different subjects but one thread remains common amongst them all: the issue is never really the issue. Now, what I mean by that is the topics the media chooses to speak on are rarely at the actual heart of the issue at hand. Rather, they focus on the fringe issues that get people really heated up and polarized like abortion, homosexuality, freedom of speech, etc. None of those issues are wrong to discuss at all; however, most of them they are abused, used as distractions from discussing the topics, though perhaps less clear and more difficult to handle, that truly affect the situation.
For the issue of the Referendum, this fringe issue that everyone seems to be playing on is the hatred of the Tories and/or the English in general. The YES campaign, according to my classmates, appears to be driven by this essential polarization: either you want to continue to be associated with the English/Tories or you are a loyal Scot and want nothing to do with them. Quite the heavy-handed viewpoint, is it not? This is what politics has become in America and it appears to be no different here. And, because of the plethora of information coming at us from every direction in this world of 24/7 news media cycles, the issue gets lost. It is so hard to discern truth from extravagant lie and because of this, it is so much easier to just sit back and let other people handle it all. We just want our peace and quiet right? Why does anything have to change at all? While I agree with this to a certain extent, there is no denying that if all of the sensible people decided to sit back because they are overwhelmed, that means that the floor is open for all those extremists with their heavy-handed opinions to make the final decision. And, let’s be honest, no one wants that. But how is one to wade through all the muck of the political media marsh in order to find solid ground?
What everyone wants to know is if Scotland can survive on its own, monetarily and politically. But, the majority of what appears to be discussed in the media focuses not on that central question but instead on the perks of saying YES and what a terrible Scot you are if you say NO. Now, don’t take my word for it for I am just a wee American lass attempting to understand a complex issue about a country that is not my own. Even though I am still very much in the dark, I am intrigued. So, ermm, let the games begin??

…this piggy went to Scotland

...this piggy went to Scotland

I had to share this. My friend posted this on another friend’s wall for her birthday and I just fell in love with it and I’ll tell you why.

This little piggy is me.
Small and freckled. BOOM.
Wearing a green top hat. I might wear this if I was feeling super classy. The UK and its fashion sense are quite unique and experimental so who knows, maybe in the next few days I’ll purchase a green top hat.
He is pushing a grocery cart. That’s all I feel like I have been doing lately. Shopping for food. Trying to find the cheapest prices…BUT
There is what appears to be Guinness in the cart…At the end of every food trip we make here, it seems as if we all come to the conclusion that we don’t really need the food as long as we have the beer. And, to the surprise of many people here in Scotland both lad and lassie, my favorite beer is Guinness.

So, in conclusion, I am this little piggy and this little piggy is me. Just a wee lass, getting chubbier by the second, strolling around in a new top hat with a smirk and a pint of Guinness.

Oh, happy day!

Two Weeks Notice

Well. It has officially been 2 weeks since my plane landed in Edinburgh, Scotland–my home for the next 4 1/2 months. Wow, would it be crazy to tell you that it feels like I’ve been here forever? From the people I have met to the things we have done, I feel like I have walked this city my whole life. *pause for flashback* okay well, maybe not my whole life. If I had I probably wouldn’t have misunderstood the angry professor that asked me twice “what I was doing” not “how are you doing?” when I walked into the wrong clossroom. My response was, of course,” I am doing fine, thank you,” thinking to myself “gosh, how nice that they ask that right when you walk in”…Way ta go, gen. Way to go. I immediately scurried away and avoided eye contact with the 30 other students in the room with laughter fighting to escape from their faces. Oh, and I probably would have known not to conversate so loudly on public transportation and therefore avoided the irate fellow who told me and my friend to kindly…”shut the f**** up!” Oh, Scotland. How sassy you are. 

Anyway, other than those two people and the impatient bus drivers, everyone I have met has been SO friendly and kind. The first person I met from Edinburgh was this old woman in the security line at the godforsaken Heathrow airport who encouraged me and told me all the things I would love about the city. The second person was the elderly fellow who drove me in a taxi from the Edinburgh Airport to my flat with whom I conversated about everything under the sun for about a solid hour as we waited for another girl to arrive. He talked to me about things I needed to see, the Referendum (which, if you don’t know, is the vote to decide whether or not Scotland wants to remain a part of the United Kingdom or if it wants to become independent of jolly ol’ England), and the fact that he met Tom Hanks and the creator of O.P.I  Nail Polish because he drove both of their daughters to St. Andrews. In short, this man was a godsend and eased my nervousness quite a lot. 

He dropped me off at 34/12 Wright’s Houses–my quaint little flat. The Wright’s Houses are squished quite wonderfully between one of the oldest and most beloved pubs in all of Edinburgh of which my friends and I are now veritable regulars–The Golf Tavern–and the Chinese Christian Church with its towering and gothic looking steeple. From the moment that nice old man dropped me off at my front stoop, life has been a whirlwind. I feel as if I haven’t stopped moving very much. I am really only still when one of my best new friends Danielle and I are watching….*side eye to make sure no one is looking and whispers*  Gossip Girl or if I am sleeping. That is probably way I am sniffling and wiping nose leakage from my face as I write this…sorry I am not sorry. 

​Anywhoo, I sort of knew it was going to be like this before I left, at least in the beginning. F.O.M.O. has hit me full on, folks. Oh yeah, I’ve got it bad. Fear Of Missing Out. It is in a lot of ways a childish problem filled with insecurity. I just really don’t want to miss out on any bonding and new experiences. I have this problem at home too but this is even worse because I am in a NEW place with NEW people where forming NEW relationships is essential for a relationally dependent person like me. I think that is one of the first lessons I am going to learn here–how to truly be comfortable with just me. Because, the truth of the matter is if I don’t give myself time to be still and reflect then I will lose myself and my energy and my spirit very quickly. 

I am beginning to learn to listen to the “me” inside that gently nudges for time to indulge in practices that create peace and self-confidence like reading, journaling, praying, writing and just sitting in silence. If you can’t be alone with yourself and your own thoughts for more than an hour then how should we expect anyone else to?

So, there’s that haha. On another note, I really do love it here so much. The city is haunting in beauty and the prospect of new people and new adventures around every corner is captivating. My friends and I are already planning trips around Scotland and to other countries, two of which I am supremely excited about…DUBLIN FOR ST.PATRICK’S DAYYYYY…and AMSTERDAM FOR VALENTINE’S DAY (ahh, the city of a great love affair with the temptress Mary Jane). 

My prayer would just be that as my life crosses with others and leads me on new paths, my spirit and self would not unravel but, at each crossroads, pick up a new thread so that at the end of it all, I am more colorful, more intricate, fuller and warmer than before. 

Well, I have so much more to say but if I know anything about the friends and family that will hopefully be reading this, you have already tuned out a bit due to your knowledge of how I get when I ramble on excitedly about something. 

Til next time, CHEERS 🙂 

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