It is so strange to think that there is less than a month left of this crazy Study Abroad experience. This week is the last week of classes at St. Andrews and, honestly, I can’t believe that it is almost over. I should probably be working on my essay now, but I have been thinking a lot about this, and, as far as procrastination, this is one of the more productive things I could be doing.
Last weekend my friend and college roommate, Rachel, came to visit for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately I had a paper due the day after she left, so there was a lot of work that I had to do while she was here, but we made sure to do something every day. She got here on Wednesday night (Nov. 21) and stayed until Sunday morning (Nov. 25). On Thursday night, to celebrate Thanksgiving, Rachel, our friend Stacy, and I made our own Thanksgiving feast. We planned recipes ahead of time (while watching the live stream of the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, of course) only to get to the store and find that there were ingredients missing. Still, we were able to improvise and had a 3 course meal. The first course included fig and fennel bread that Rachel had brought from Glasgow, tomato, mozzerella, and bazil on bread with balsamic dressing, raspberries and blueberries, and a salad made with dried cranberries (part of the care package that my mom sent me with lots of Trader Joes goodies for my birthday) and pine nuts. The next course was the main meal. We had mushrooms with brie in them, roasted eggplant, and turkey breast baked with potatoes. For dessert we had a pumpkin pie (which some people in hall made for everyone) and baked apples. Needless to say, it was delicious and very filling. On Friday we walked around town and saw the castle and cathedral ruins as well as both the West and East Sands beaches. On our way back to hall, we stopped in the St. Andrews Aquarium, which was awesome. We saw a derpy Mississippi Map Turtle, saw seals being fed (one of which was also derpy), saw meerkats being fed, and saw a bunch of other awesome (and some, scary) creatures. On Saturday we got a late lunch at Northpoint Cafe (where Kate and Wills met, for coffee) and went to the Vintage Fair that was taking place in Younger Hall, a beautiful building on campus. I got a present for my mom there, but I don’t want to post it in case she sees this. Needless to say, I think she will like it.
That concludes the update portion of this post. While Rachel was here, we talked a lot about Study Abroad and our expectations and what our overall experience has been like. While it is not done yet, I feel like my feelings are mixed. I really love the beautiful town of St Andrews and being so close to the water if I want to take a walk or just listen to the sea break against the cliffs (my “calm spot” is right by the castle ruins where I can hear the water and see it crashing against the rocks while looking at the beautiful historic ruins). I know that there will be times that I will miss it here. I have, overall enjoyed my classes, including the teachers, classes, and subject matter, but they have not been perfect. Grading has been tough as they expect a different style, so I did not get what I consider to be good grades on the first papers. I am hoping to fix this in my next essay, but it does feel like being a Freshman all over again, but if it counted for more. That has probably been the most frustrating part of the whole experience, partially because my grades are extremely important to me. What Study Abroad has been best for is learning about myself. Before coming, I felt like I had done that in my first years of college, but this experience has forced me to be introspective in a new way. It has only enhanced my love for Penn and the friends I have there and has helped me see what my life might be like in a smaller college town. While I don’t think I will miss Study Abroad every day, there will definitely be days that I will wish I could be back in St. Andrews. I feel fortunate to have been able to have this experience and I know that, in less than a month’s time, when I am leaving, I will be both happy and sad to see it go. I hope I will be able to come back and visit some time, but even if I can’t, I will have my memories, some good and some bad, but all a part of who I am and who I have become.