I am equal parts anxious, excited and disbelieving. The next week or so will be spent trying to grasp the concept of my upcoming adventure. There are several things that make this trip abroad different than my last.
1. Nobody is telling me what to do, so if I make a mistake I have no one to blame but myself. When I went to Italy I had detailed instructions from the office at SLU. This time I have had to figure out the whole procedure basically by myself. This has included the ever-extensive and ever-frustrating task of acquiring a visa. Rest assured I have slowly overcome these hurdles, and should be receiving my visa and accompanying documents in the mail within the next several days.
2. I am going into this trip feeling completely blind. I am not really a study abroad student anymore, I am more like an independent adult searching out an ultra-specialized area of study which forces me to go overseas. I have never been to Scotland, I don't know anybody in Scotland, and I have NO IDEA what to expect. It's pretty intimidating but I think it will be exciting.
3. Gone are my days abroad when I was essentially on an extended vacation. My schoolwork in Italy was a joke I admit. I hardly did any work and still got the highest GPA in my undergraduate career. This time I will be cramming an entire masters course-load into only 12 months, and will probably be doing nothing but working. Another thing to keep in mind is that they have different teaching standards in the UK (though I am not aware of what they are I am sure they exist). I have heard that they give much lower grades in Europe and in Canada, because their standards are different. My days of 3.8 GPAs are probably behind me. For Europeans a 65 would probably be equivalent to an 82 here. I will try not to let myself become too distraught if I don't get on their Dean's List (if they have one...)
4. I am going to have to really learn to live on very little. I will be living in an apartment with other students and not with a host family. Therefore I will not already have a fully stocked kitchen and nice people to lend me all of the things I could not fit into my suitcase. I will have to bring only what I absolutely have to, and the rest I will have to buy over there or learn to live without. This concept is causing me a fair bit of anxiety already. WHAT ABOUT SHOES? How the heck am I going to live without all of my shoes....I can't wear brown boots with a black outfit...Alas, shoes are heavy and I will probably have to accept that I will not be able to look as put together as I would like.
I probably wont post again until I am officially landed in Scotland, so stay tuned for more stories of traveling mishaps and blunders. I am very optimistic though, because I am flying with Air Canada and they are just so nice!
Some pictures of where I will be living....