Happiness is Right Where You Are
This past week flew by before I knew it, to say the least. I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of November! I’m losing count of all the weeks going by and time is flying fast, which feels great! I’m happy life is moving forward and that I’ve been busy enjoying all the fun Scotland has to offer!
School is intense (per usual), but I am definitely in the rhythm of things and feel good about my work. I studied with my new English friend who is really sweet and kind after my Russian grammar class on Tuesday. It’s always nice to work on things together and be with people who are interested in and studying what you are!
I saw a spectacular performance of “Giselle” by the Royal New Zealand Ballet on Wednesday evening at the Edinburgh Festival Theater. I had one of the best seats in the house which was in the middle, close to the stage…all for a student price! I couldn’t have asked for a better night or view. I enjoyed seeing all the fancy details of the production up front and center. The sets, costumes and especially the dancing was simply fabulous. Watching “Giselle” was one of the things I really wanted to do here and I’m so glad I did!
On Friday, I prepared for my upcoming language project with my new Polish friend who I’ll be working with! She’s really great, interesting to talk to and very reliable! I’ve been doing my best to keep up with all my work in preparation for exams next month. I started reading “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy on Friday for my Russian literature class which I am loving so far! I also checked out the Scottish National Museum for a short while after class, which I am definitely going back to since it is so big!
I went to Glasgow on Saturday, which is about an hour and a half (depending on traffic) from Edinburgh. I got to see the University of Glasgow, which is stunning and looks like “Hogwarts”! I was pleasantly surprised at how progressive Glasgow is. It seemed to be much more progressive than Edinburgh and much more spread out, which was refreshing. Edinburgh seems so much more traditional and I’ve heard (from my room cleaner), that the people in Edinburgh are much more serious than the people who live in Glasgow. But everyone has a different perception! I very much enjoyed Glasgow and all it had to offer.
On Sunday, a friend and I hiked Arthur’s Seat, which is located a block behind my dorm and an absolute must-do while you are in Scotland! I haven’t been on a hike since I was in high school and had so much fun! The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking! We talked a lot at the top of the mountain as we tried to hold down our long hair to take photos!
I enjoy writing a lot about my emotions on my study abroad experience here in Scotland. Emotions in a study abroad experience aren’t something one can just “snap out” of. Feelings on a study abroad journey are an important experience to be absorbed, felt and explored in all its good and bad. If everything were easy or felt alright, my experience here would be pretty boring and safe.
Lately, I have realized that studying abroad for a semester is a completely different experience versus traveling on a vacation (even if that vacation is for a few weeks or a month). When you are studying abroad, you are actually living in a different country under a different government with a different culture and different rules. Even if the UK is an English speaking country, that doesn’t mean the culture here isn’t extremely different from the United States. It’s definitely not always a comfortable experience to live here and I’ve had my fair share of my bad experiences as well. These bad experiences have shaped my perspective on the world a lot.
When I transferred to the UW in 2014, I knew it was where I was meant to be. I’ve always felt a strong belonging at UW, even more so on this study abroad. I think studying abroad for me would have been different if I was 18 or 19 again when I was still discovering myself. Now that I’ve been in college for several years, moved away from home, am independent, and nearly graduated… I know myself. I know what I like and I know what I want out of life. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life and it is full steam ahead. It’s quite different to be suddenly living in a dorm around many students beginning their university career. I crave my personal space and room to do what I want independently. I’m at a different point in my life, and that’s perfectly okay.
I asked myself, “Why did I do an exchange if I am so happy in Seattle?” The answer to that question is that I wanted to experience something different. I’m half Japanese, half Scottish by blood. I was raised by an entirely Asian family with no white influence whatsoever. Instead of going to Japan or an Asian country, I wanted to come to Scotland to experience a completely different culture and lifestyle to broaden my view of the world and my perspective on life. One of my favorite songs has a lyric that goes “Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.” Every challenge I’ve sought out or has happened to me in college has only made me stronger and a better, well-defined person- including this exchange. My time in Scotland isn’t even over yet and I already feel the strong impact its made on me and my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met amazing people all throughout this study abroad and done wonderful things… all of which I am so thankful for and greatly appreciate. I had dreamt of studying abroad since I was a little girl and am so happy to have fulfilled my dreams by coming to Scotland and doing this exchange through UW.
But I’m ready to have my life back and live in an environment that best suites my lifestyle, personality and needs. I am so fortunate to have not just one home, but now 2 (Hawai’i and Seattle), that I both love and thrive in. I am truly happy in Seattle at UW which I will never take for granted. However, I don’t regret coming to Scotland. If I never came, I would have never known what I missed out on. Passing up on this incredible opportunity would have definitely been a mistake!
I would also like to express my utmost thanks to everyone who has been supportive so far… my friends and family back home who FaceTime, Skype and talk with me every day and never fail to let me know how much we care about each other. You know who you are and I love you all so much! :)
I’m so excited to return to both of my homes and have my life back! I’ve learned that you don’t have to travel the world to find your happiness. You might just have it right where you are. :) See you all very soon in AMERICA! :)
Until Next Time,