crossing the Pond

I am officially in St Andrews, Scotland.  I have known about this trip for about a year, and I have been so excited to plan it, but it never truly became real until I was hugging my mom and dad goodbye at the airport.  It was so difficult to not start crying as I passed through security (and got randomly selected to undergo extra screening…guess I can’t complain that they were profiling)!  Everything went smoothly, though, and my first flight–to JFK–was only half-full so most of us spread out and had an empty seat next to us.  My layover in New York was 5 hours, with no free internet, so I spent the time reading, eating dinner, and walking around the terminal.  Everyone was so amiable!  Whoever says that New Yorkers are not friendly or nice has obviously never been to JFK.

I was able to watch the sun set over the water as we neared NYC. it was breathtaking!

I was able to watch the sun set over the water as we neared NYC. it was breathtaking!

the outskirts of the city covered in snow and bathed with the light of the setting sun

the outskirts of the city covered in snow and bathed with the light of the setting sun

My second flight, to Amsterdam, left around 11PM and they served us a snack, dinner, AND breakfast.  For about a 6-hour transatlantic flight, it was a lot of food and it was quite good, too.  Eating pasta at 12:30AM while flying up over Canada and across the Atlantic is a pretty unique experience.  I watched Brave while eating dinner: I figured it was an appropriate choice for heading to Scotland and it’s also something I really wanted to see. It was fantastic!  Unfortunately, I only managed to sleep off and on for about 3 hours of the flight.  However, I did have an entire row of 3 seats to myself, so I was able to stretch my legs out.  It’s the little things!

my dinner on the flight to Amsterdam. it was so good!

my dinner on the flight to Amsterdam. it was so good!

Everyone in the Amsterdam airport was quite kind, which was good because I had a 4-hour layover there.  My last flight was only about an hour long and then I arrived in Edinburgh and made it through Customs easily.  I saw so many smiling faces in all 3 airports!  Coming from the friendliest city in America (Charleston), it is heartwarming to know that there are countless kindhearted souls all over the place. When I found my checked bag at baggage claim, I discovered that somewhere along the way one of the wheels had been broken off.  Bad luck!  I had to drag around a 47-pound suitcase with only one wheel, which was not the easiest thing in the world.  I easily met the other students that I would be sharing a shuttle with and we waited less than an hour for the shuttle to arrive.  The driver was very friendly–imagine that!

It got dark as we drove but I was still amazed to be driving around in a different country–and on the wrong side of the road!   I cannot tell you how many times my heart leaped as we rounded a corner and I saw headlights coming at us on the right: I was so sure we were going to be hit!   We passed over a beautiful old bridge, through several quaint towns, and saw lots of snow.  (NYC, Amsterdam, and Scotland were all covered in snow!)  I was so tired by this point that I dozed off several times, but woke up literally as we passed the Welcome to St Andrews sign a bit before 18:00.  A few minutes later and we pulled up at Melville, my new home.   We received a very warm welcome from some of the wardennial team (Warden = RD for you Americans) and I made it my room.

As you can probably tell, I had a very busy first couple of days…and that wasn’t even the whole of it! My night did not end until probably close to midnight, but I will write about that next time as it is currently after midnight and I have my first class in the morning.  Thank you to all who sent prayers and well-wishes my way.  I definitely felt them in my travels, and they are still working now.  Cheers!