Well uh, good evening from a cold and rainy Scotland. I spent the whole of today in beautiful St. Andrew’s Scotland. Funny, I know. I’m Andrew. In St. Andrew’s. And even funnier, it was my mother who told me I had to go to check the place out.
So, I suppose in some sense it was destiny that I woke up bright and early on a Saturday to take the two-hour bus out to St. Andrew’s. It was actually a very peaceful bus ride up, a bit of beautiful scenery, a bit of gorgeous rolling fog, and boom! We were in St. Andrew’s!
The first thing Justin and I did (as we usually do) was to get breakfast! Both of us have a horrible habit of not eating before these trips, so when we arrive around noon, it’s always a perfect lunch time. We opted for a typical American brunch: fried chicken and waffles. This has actually been one of the foods I’ve been missing from the US for the last couple of months. That, cheesesteaks, Waffle House, and grocery stores that actually carry what I need to buy for dinner. Especially that last one.
After breakfast, it was time for a walking tour of St. Andrew’s. Only, it was rather rainy, so it was a bit of a brief walking tour. We started at the golf museum and the beach. The latter seems like it would’ve been beyond gorgeous in nicer weather, but alas it just wasn’t meant to be. We then went to explore the university.
The architecture was a lot more reminiscent of a US old college than a historic UK University, but it was still very scenic. We then went to the castle and the cathedral (ruins). This was actually super cool; it was very reminiscent of the castle ruins I visited on the way to the Isle of Skye, but just a bit more in-tact. So very historic.
We then took refuge for the rain. At this point it was just a wee bit cold to be out exploring, so we found a coffee shop, which, funny enough, was the location of that William and Kate had their first date, many years ago. And so, we had a nice afternoon tea, and one of the best scones I’ve had in my life, and then headed back to Edinburgh.
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!