You came from my fears—my what if’s. You established my hopes—the tingles in my stomach of the places I’d go, the things I’d see. You were born of my stereotypical impressions—kilts and bagpipes and bitter rain. Somewhere on the way you snuck up on me. Here and now I wave my hand to you. It’s been a month and I can say: You were right, you were wrong, you were somewhere in-between.
The Big 3 I bought into:
- “I’m coming home with a Scottish accent.”
So actually, you were right. I had this dream of stealing a new tongue. If I’m being honest, it was more of an obsession. Maybe it still is. Three people this week, all in the same night, told me I sound Scottish. Not sure when I cut my tongue out and got a new one put in. Maybe I’m too impressionable. I find it comes and goes.
But still, it’s more complicated than you thought. Different regions have different variations. Kind of like how a New Englander sounds much different than a Southerner. But to my ear, the variant strands of the Scottish accent all sound vaguely similar. Sometimes I notice a heavier breath formulating the words. If I’m just passing by, I may even mistake the conversation for a foreign language. I’ll catch a word, surprised that I was hearing English all along. You made me believe that would be the case for everyone here. It’s not. Most are easy enough to make out.
The phrases have quite enchanted me as well.
Here you are. Response: Cheers!
I quite fancy you. Having a crush is not a thing.
Loch for Lake. It just sounds more beautiful, doesn’t it?
Are you staying at the uni? Because most people live off campus in a flat.
And my ultimate favorite: That’s cheap as chips. Okay, actually, they don’t say that here. It’s British, an England thing. But I still quite fancy it.
- The classes will be a breeze.
Well, they certainly don’t last long. Seven hours of lecture and seminars versus eighteen per week back at home. But there’s a good deal of out of class reading. There are the essential texts, then the recommended, then the optional. My three classes provided lists of two to three pages of books categorized this way. I have to say, it was daunting at first. Plus, each class only has two to three assignments. Like two papers, or one paper and a final exam. It’s a bit stressful knowing your grade rests on such a small variety of work.
So I wouldn’t say it’s easier. Not that it’s harder either. It’s just different. I catch myself longing for the American education system, but I’m convinced it’s only because it’s what I know. It’s what I have breathed in for 20 years. We tend to attach ourselves to what we understand, what is comfortable. I’m learning to ask why. I’m learning to try, even when it makes me uneasy.
- “I’m awkward. So, naturally, I won’t make friends.”
Only-half true. I’m still the awkward me that came here. But I’m the awkward me with more friends than I had dared to hope for.
It’s kind of like freshman year all over again. Everyone needs a buddy because they came alone. Well, at least that’s the story for us international kids. You didn’t tell me I’d get to spend time with Canadians, Hungarians, Italians, Czechs, Swedes, Germans, Chinese. It’s kind of cool, not only experiencing a different country, but also getting bits and pieces of even more places.
There are the Scotts and Irish folk who have welcomed me too. And you thought I wouldn’t get to know the natives. You were wrong from the very first week; I went to a small group bible study called Navs and a large group Christian fellowship. They blanketed me with hellos and genuine how-do-you-do’s. Church that Sunday at the nearby high school was no different. Just this last Sunday I witnessed it again. A sweet old lady approached me at the end of the service. “I haven’t met you before. Is this your first time here?” And so, as if it were the only conceivable thing to do, she took me around and introduced me to others. Adding, “Your husband may be here, ya know.” This week she even gave me her number. These were Christians who proved to me I am their sister. You, my low expectations, underestimated the power of family.
But you never voiced the biggest one to me. You drowned me in smaller obsessions but failed to let me know, to believe, the greatest expectation of all:
I will fall in love.
I’ve had to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. And it’s not that I’m out taking on these grand adventures every day, or even every weekend. Yes, I’ve explored. I’ve seen new things. And don’t get me wrong, that part has been great. But life here, it’s like life at home. There’s down time, alone time. There’s essays to be written and texts to be read. There’s coffee dates where I still get tea instead (though that’s more of the norm here). There’s ear infections, too. But there’s something about being across the globe that has made me appreciate even those small things just a bit more.
I wish you had told me. Because despite the jitters, the insecurities, the many what if’s, there’s something transcending about experiencing love.