If you keep up with my blogs, first of all, a massive THANK YOU to you, and secondly, you’ll know that in between finalizing travel break plans, preparing for both a new tutorial and the end of term, and hosting family here for a bit, things have gotten a bit hectic (hence my 2+ week hiatus from blog entries). On top of all that, a friend and I took a ten-hour overnight bus ride from Oxford up to Edinburgh, Scotland last Friday night. Take that, Katy Perry.
The title for this entry is not only applicable due to the fact that I was in beautiful, bonnie Scotland this past weekend, but for what I’ll eventually reveal. Stay with me, now.
Aside from a not-so-stellar bus ride and an even more unpleasant hostel situation (thank you mid-20s tourists for having the decency to ask us if we were “disturbed” by your having the lights on late at night while popping bottles of what was definitely not apple juice), Edinburgh itself was incredible. “Incredible” is actually not a sufficient enough word…I’m an English major, and finding a word accurate enough to describe the whole experience is a challenge.
In a similar style as my Dublin post, I’ll start off with the touristy aspects of our Edinburgh weekend:
Sleep deprivation was no deterrent to our desire to explore the city. Our hostel was located in the heart of the Royal Mile, where we explored St. Gile’s Cathedral (which is absolutely breathtaking; unfortunately no photography was allowed inside), Edinburgh Castle, and other equally important-looking buildings.
I also discovered that I quite like cemeteries. I apologize if that sounds dark, creepy, or morbid or all of the above, but I think there’s something wonderful about being in the presence of the most peaceful souls you’ll ever encounter. They’re good listeners.
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE…with the sound of bagpipes.
Day 2, we went on a bus tour through some of the lowlands, particularly the “lochs” (lakes) of Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine, and the Trossachs National Park. See the snow-capped hilltops? We might not have been in the highlands, but it was good enough for me! I’ll definitely have to hit up the highlands next time around, because I do plan on there being a “next time” in Scotland.
Our last stop was at Stirling Castle, with panoramic views of the city of Stirling and the William Wallace memorial (yes, William Wallace as in Braveheart).
Our final day, before taking yet another overnight bus, I insisted to my friend Michelle on breakfasting at The Elephant House, which may mean something to you depending on how avid of a Harry Potter fan you are. In short, this swanky little café is where J.K. Rowling began writing the Harry Potter series, back when she was a single mother living with her sister in Edinburgh. Long before her literary success, Rowling was simultaneously rocking her little one to sleep while typing up the magical world of Hogwarts for posterity. Possibly sitting at the same table where one of my literary hero(ines) might have sat was…I actually have no words. But the oatmeal and coffee I do have words for – they were superb.
As it was St. Patrick’s Day, we wisely avoided the more crowded Irish pubs and settled on The Wee Pub – the smallest pub in Scotland, which was surprising less crowded than the bigger Irish ones.
But before leaving Edinburgh that same night, the view of Scotland that will always remain with me is the one I found at the top of Carlton Hill.
Just towards the horizon, I captured not with my camera but with my mind the view of the sun’s rays breaking through the fog, shining gold upon Edinburgh, something like El Dorado. To my right, I observed part of a rainbow hovering through the clouds. This – I should mention – was the second rainbow I’d seen that weekend.
In Ireland, I (re)learned the concept of my life having purpose. What this ultimate purpose is, I’m not quite sure. I keep imagining and re-imagining myself back in the United Kingdom within the next year or two because I have this strange, insuppressible feeling that I’ll be back again – perhaps not for just a holiday, I hope.
But as it is now, I don’t know. And that scares the HELL out of me. As the weeks pass, I am being continually reminded just how fast the curtains are drawing closed over this term, and not just because my classes end almost a full month earlier than last than they normally would (thank you English university system!). Despite the cold temps, spring is indeed arriving, soon it will be summer, and then fall, and with that my second-to-last semester at APU.
As I have to keep explaining to people who ask what year of school I’m in, technically speaking, I’m in my second year of college, but will conclude my undergraduate career a year earlier than I initially expected. Which is both good and scary, and convenient time-wise and financially, but a bit of an inconvenience at the same time. It means having to make some major life decisions sooner than I’d prefer, and setting foot into the “real” adult world that much faster.
Eight years ago, I wanted nothing more than to be an author. Soon realizing the improbability of being able to live on that alone, I considered an added career as a publisher or editor. Then columnist. Then public relations specialist. And now, more recently, English teacher/professor/tutor, or teacher at an international high school, or English language teacher at an international level. AND also looking at the slim possibility of continuing my studies via M.A. or English Teaching Assistant position through Fulbright-type scholarship programs.
All of this meaning – I have to keep my grades up, polish my resume, start looking at internships/volunteer opportunities, basically do everything in my power to better myself to prove myself. While I don’t think I’ll be stuck in my first job or first post-grad situation for the rest of my life, I still don’t want to find myself in the wrong place right off the bat. And while I know that one circumstance – be it ideal or not – can lead to multiple, different ones down the line, there’s still this inherent fear in the possibility of starting off “wrong.”
Being abroad for an extended period, I’ve been forced to let go of some of the situations closer to home that I can’t be in control of right now. That’s been one of the harder aspects of studying abroad.
I’ve discussed the topic of bravery in previous blog postings. How it’s not the absence of fear, but rather how it takes into account the anticipated end goal being more important than the fear. Not knowing what exactly my next move is going to be is frightening for me.
Going back to the rainbow, though. I think there’s a reason why I saw it twice in two days. Whether or not you believe in the biblical meaning/symbolism behind the rainbow, just admit – it’s amazing what light can do. But the rainbow also symbolizes a promise. Back in the Noah Arkian days, it entailed God’s promise of NOT flooding the entire world again, but in my case, it remains a mystery to me. Based on some less-than-pleasant matters that I’ve been handling here and from an ocean away that I will not publish, perhaps the promise for me is that eventually – I’ll get to where I need to be. I know not where that is at this moment, but everything will be okay (more than “okay,” I would hope) in the end. And as they say, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
An added element of bravery is going forward not just because of the recognition that something is more important than fear, but in spite of maybe not knowing where the path leads. I’ve learned to exercise that first definition of bravery, but need more practice in being at peace with NOT knowing all the steps I have to take going to a destination that I also don’t know much – or anything – about.
Being a “braveheart” is what I would like to be. To not feel the need to rationalize and plan and strategize every move of mine, and simply embrace the unknown.