I just took my last final of the semester this morning and while it lifted some weight off of my shoulders, it also feels very bittersweet. A part of me is ready to head home and see my family, but I’m also not ready to leave quite yet. My time here in Scotland has taught me a lot and brought along some great friends and memories.
“I know a certain stereotype about studying abroad is that you will make friends from all over the world and have somewhere to stay when you travel, but it is pretty accurate.”
The semester was going by very fast, then finals happened, and the rest of the time flew by. All of the sudden it is time to say goodbye — to the people I’ll never forget and to the country that has been my home for the last 3 months. I’ve learned that a cold climate can be very beautiful and that the Scottish are a hearty group of people, if not a wee bit pissed.
I’ve also found out that weekly pub quizzes, which seemed so routine and minimal at the time, were actually some of the biggest highlights of the semester. I think when it’s all said and done I’ll miss those quizzes more than the city, the food (I’m talking about Italy here because food in Scotland is pretty bland and I won’t miss it) and even the castles.
The people I met while abroad were incredible and they were the best thing about studying abroad. I know a certain stereotype about studying abroad is that you will make friends from all over the world and have somewhere to stay when you travel, but it is pretty accurate. I didn’t meet people from every country, but I met students from all over Europe and now I already want to plan trips to come back and visit them before I’ve even left.
They were able to inform me about politics in European countries that I was ignorant about and were able to share some of the awesome customs that they practice. The knowledge shared was brilliant and far better than just reading about it because I got the context behind it. They also helped me explore parts of the city I hadn’t yet explored and helped me feel at home in a foreign place I’d come to alone. Now, I’ll be saying goodbye to all of them in the ensuing days, so I have to ask them when I’ll be visiting them next.
However, before I’m headed back to the U.S. I’ll be doing one of my other favorite things about studying abroad.
During the year I had class every day, so traveling to the mainland of Europe was quite difficult. Being in the north of the U.K. in Scotland makes it a little harder to take short trips in Europe versus if you are in northern Italy or somewhere else where you are able to take a short train ride into another country. The train from Glasgow to Paris takes roughly 14 hours one way just to give you an idea how far it is.
Weekend trips didn’t actually have as much time in them as I thought before coming here, so I didn’t actually venture anywhere that far unless I had more than two days to work with. I was able to explore all over Scotland however (I recommend everyone go to the Highlands if you get the chance) and some of England (London is awesome) but I only made it to mainland Europe twice.
Despite this, I am glad this afforded me the opportunity to travel Scotland as much as it did and I think that helped me to appreciate it more. I read far deeper into its history and learned more than I would have if I only visited the famous touristy destinations.
Also, since I was not able to go as much during the year, I’ll kick off winter break with a two week trip around Europe!
There are definitely some challenges to studying abroad (the studying — haha!), but it was one of the best experiences of my life and I would do it again if given the opportunity. I hope everyone considering studying abroad goes for it because it is a life-changing experience!
Goodbye and good luck. I have one last pub quiz to go to!
Emiliano Estrada is an economics major. He is studying at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom during fall semester.