Hello readers! This week I wanted to do something a little different on my blog post. I am going to reflect about my time here with some questions I got on last week's post! First, I want to say that the weather here in Glasgow for the past couple of days has been PERFECT! It's been around 70 degrees with sunshine and a nice breeze. On Friday, Rachel and I went to Glasgow Botanic Gardens and had ourselves a little photoshoot. It was nice to be able to explore a little more of Glasgow before I leave in a couple of weeks. At the end of this post I'll attach pictures of our photoshoot so you all can see the beautiful gardens! Also, Happy Easter everyone! I hope your day has been great and full of praise for Jesus! Today I did something a little different at church. Instead of leaving right away (like I normally do because I'm introverted and anti-social), I stayed a hung out for coffee and treats. I'm glad I did because I met some really cool people. I got to learn about traditional Scottish Weddings and just swap stories about my time in the church and my church back home. Harvest Glasgow has seriously been such a blessing since being here in Scotland. I always feel so welcomed and a part of their church family. Although it's considerably smaller than my church back home, it is so cool to get a different perspective on church styles and personalities.
Now time for some reflection! The first question I got was, "What is your favorite and least favorite thing about Scotland?"
My favorite thing about Scotland would have to be the people. I have met so many friend, happy, awesome people since being in Scotland. All the tours I go on, students in class, all of them are really nice people. I don't think there's been a time I've ever felt super uncomfortable or scared since being here in Scotland. My family would be relieved to know it's a very safe place. I'm sure there's parts of Glasgow that aren't that great, but I usually just stick to the city center and the more touristy parts of town. I also have really enjoyed seeing the country-side. The Highlands are absolutely magical. My favorite Scotland sight would have to be the Isle of Skye. It was so beautiful, and one of the first things I saw in Scotland. There were tons of magical spots, from the Fairy Glens to castle ruins. Our tour guide, George, was absolutely fantastic. He shared many stories about his time in Scotland and knew all the quirks about the Isle of Skye (which granted, was his job). I still enjoyed George's company and life stories he could provide us with.
My least favorite part about Scotland has been finding things to do that are free or dirt cheap. Towards the beginning of the trip, when I had money, it was really easy to go places like a bus to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, but now I find myself cooped up in my room because every time I leave, I spend money! I usually go to Starbucks every day to work on homework, or else I would not leave my room. Don't worry, I bring my lunch and snacks to Starbucks with me so I don't spend money. But other than that, I've mostly seen everything that is free admission here in Glasgow.
"Is there anything you regret you did while in Scotland?"
Looking back, I regret some of the weekend excursions I took. I think I was really excited to see Scotland and all these other places, that I wasn't patient enough to really look for the best deal for them. For example, the Isle of Skye was ended up being VERY expensive, considering we didn't really get to do much besides a tour for one day and walking around Portree (a town smaller than Lone Tree, IA). We booked everything ourselves, with a bus ride, group tour, and air bnb when we could have waited a couple of weeks and booked a weekend trip with ISUk Tours to the Isle of Skye and saved SO much more money. But the Isle of Skye was breathtaking, so I absolutely don't regret going there, just our means of getting there and accommodation. Looking back on the Ibiza trip...yeah I probably didn't need to go there. I think with all the trouble I had with missing the flight, having to spend the night in the airport, and only being contained to the resort, it wasn't worth it. If I could change history, I would have waited for the next weekend or just later in April in general because it was not very warm when we went. That's probably why we got a good price on our resort--because it wasn't the season to be in Ibiza. I think I would go back to Ibiza just to see the Old Town and experience the beaches though.
I definitely don't regret my trip to Amsterdam and Belgium. That trip was so much fun, even though it was super stressful. I was so happy to be able to see one of my best friends, Marta, and to be able to hang out with her for a couple of days! Although my hostel experience was poor and public transportation was NOT my friend, this was one trip that I felt like I needed to put my big girl panties on and figure things out on my own. Knowing I got through Amsterdam and Belgium without an "adult" (wait, am I considered an adult now?) makes me feel like I can go almost anywhere and be completely fine on my own. I think it was because Scotland doesn't feel like a foreign country since everything is in English and the culture isn't that different. Amsterdam and Belgium is not the same case, which is why this trip felt like I grew up and truly accomplished solo travel since being abroad.
The past couple of weeks I've been thinking of that saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side." I honestly cannot stress how true that is. I felt it briefly in Dubai and am definitely feeling that here in Glasgow. When I was back at home, I couldn't wait to go abroad and "see the world" and just be able to explore freely. Now that I'm here, I can't help but seek the comfort of my own home--my friends and family I've left behind. Now don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed my time here immensely. I think when I was preparing to study abroad, I was thinking that I was going to go through all of these personal changes--I would become more outgoing, make lots of friends, and see everything. Well the truth is, I'm still introverted, most of the friends I've made are either from the states or Canada, and I didn't even make it to Ireland or London. I had this picture in my head of what I would be like when I returned home--I would have a Scottish accent, feel like I've learned a ton, and would miss my life of independence here in Scotland. Well I can tell you one thing...I will not have a Scottish accent HAHA! Sorry if anyone was expecting some entertainment from a conversation when I get back home. I think the underlining message in all of this rambling here is that I was looking for fulfilment and purpose in my travels--how many places I visited and how many friends I made--when only God can fill that longing inside me. This semester I have discovered so much about my faith when no one else is around. It's easy to go to church every Sunday, go to C-group meetings, and preach the bible when you're in the comfort of your own friends and family. You want to see how firm you really are in your faith? Try traveling abroad with no one to keep you accountable but yourself. There are times that I've felt so broken, so lonely, and was hurting deeply because I knew that I was lying to myself. But it was in those times I leaned completely on God to pull me out of my own self-pity. Literally, if it wasn't for God, I would have never found Harvest Glasgow, the church I've been attending this past semester. I also am SO grateful for 21st century technology and being able to listen to Cornerstone and the Salt Company's sermons through podcast over here in Scotland. Being able to stay up to date with those sermons, plus the preaching I am getting over here--I am just beyond grateful for God's guiding hand. So my final underlying message in all of this is that the grass is always going to be greener on the other side, so instead of longing for what you don't have, enjoy where you are now and find the beauty in all the little things--whether that's being able to see your friends everyday, or a homecooked meal (my mouth is watering just thinking about it). You never know how long you have in a season of life until it's over, so enjoy every last bit of today as you can.