Let The Blogging Begin

Hello Readers!

I guess this is my formal introduction to the Erskine Blogging World and so for starters I would like to let you (the readers) know a little bit about me. My name is Robert Duran, but nobody has called me Robert since my first grade teacher, who did so against my suggestion. Since then I have been called a lot of things but most commonly “Bobby”.

I am a North Carolina native and was born and raised in a small but beautiful corner of the world called Kings Mountain. I will spare you the grand story of my life, but a few details will help paint a picture of how and why I ended up in Due West.

At age 12 I became a Christian and joined the church that I still call home, Pisgah Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP for short). As you may or may not be aware, Erskine College is the college of the ARP Church and therein lies the connection. But though I spent the entirety of my young adult life in a church and with people who often talked about Erskine, I never took it for granted that this was where I would end up for my undergraduate education. As a matter of fact I very nearly ended up at another college studying something completely different than what I have undertaken here.

But God has a funny way of making sure that we end up where He wants us to be. In the end there was just some kind of pull, call it what you will, that would not let me turn my feet from Erskine College. And so in August of 2010, I began my freshman year here. I was a late declarer when it came to my major (as many often are), but I found no subject more interesting and fulfilling than The Bible. As it just so happens, the Bible and Religion Department here at Erskine is phenomenal.

No Erskine experience is typical. Even on a campus this small, each person is going to forge a unique experience, and I am no exception. This particular endeavor, my career as a blogger, has found me in the twilight semester of my time here at Erskine. Come December, I am going to be graduating (a bit ahead of schedule) and moving on to the next stage of life with all that it entails. But for the time being I am glad to be able to share my experiences, past and present, with whoever cares to know.

God bless!

-BD

A Little Bit of Tradition

If you hear someone talking about “tradition” in the States, it almost always comes with a negative connotation. At least in my experience it has. I am not sure if this comes from the fact that Americans want to be free from the rest of the world or if it is strangely left over from the protestant reformation or the popularity of the protestant church in the States, but people don’t really seem to value old traditions.

Coming to St. Andrews has already taught me an entirely new meaning of the word. People here love tradition and there are plenty of opportunities to participate. Since being here I have already encountered many lovely traditions that I am very excited to participate in.

Some of the traditions are quite random. They have one here called the Pier Walk. As far as I can tell, several Sundays per year students don their red gowns and meet at the pier to walk… on the pier. They start at one side of the pier and walk down and back. No one is entirely sure how this tradition originated, and yet almost everyone participates. St. Andrews also loves it, and takes hundreds of pictures for postcards and advertisements. I am very excited to participate in this tradition!

Students walking along the pier in their red robes!

Students walking along the pier in their red robes!

My favorite tradition is the St. Andrews tradition of academic families. Every year when all of the new students arrive they are each adopted by an academic mother and academic father. Students are not assigned academic parents, but when an older student meets a younger student they like they might ask if they can adopt them. Some people are academically married and adopt children together, but most parents are not. The first night Tiffany and I went out we were fortunate enough to meet some really sweet girls who quickly adopted us, and a few hours later we also met our academic father. So we have the same father but different mothers… lol 😛 Academic parents help their children not get quite so lost during their freshmen year and also throw a huge party for them halfway through the first semester (More to come on this later!!)

Another thing that is more traditional is the Scottish ceilidh. I have never been to one but… good news! In about two hours Tiffany and I will be at our very first ceilidh for the year! So very soon you will hear all about it! But I best start getting ready before it is too late….. 😛

The First Few Days in Scotland

In case you have been out of the loop on the life and story of Holly, last Friday I left the United States (for the first time) and flew to the UK for my official semester abroad at the University of St. Andrews. I wrote a cute little post right before I left all about how nervous I was and how I thought my heart would beat right out of my chest, but I have no posted since then! Hopefully you were not all too concerned that my heart actually did beat out of my chest due to my lack of posting. Let me assure you, I am alive.

Flying was quite the experience. I had never flown before and I had no idea what to expect. Do you know what happens when you fly somewhere?? You leave the ground! As in, the wheels of the plane are no longer connected to the earth. It is like this: one minute you are just chilling on the runway and the next it is like OMG I AM IN THE AIR HOW DID I GET HERE???? I held Tiffany’s hand and decided I probably didn’t need to worry about a will since I am so young. The whole process from leaving Tiffany’s house to arriving at St. Andrews took about 22 hours and made me wonder how people ever get the motivation to leave their nice, warm, and comfortable beds. I also realized that I could go ahead and cross “flight attendant” and “pilot” off of the list of possible career choices! 😛

Tiffany and I about to leave SC for our flight to Scotland!

Tiffany and I about to leave SC for our flight to Scotland!

Of course, the taxi driver who took us from the Edinburgh airport to the University thought it would be a great idea to drop Tiffany and I off as far away as humanly possible from our dorm! (We live in John Burnet Hall and he dropped us by the David Russell Apartments.) I am shocked he didn’t just drive us back to London and tell us to walk from there!! The walk to our dorm took us over an hour, not only because DRA is a long way off from JBR, but also because we were carrying 70 lbs worth of luggage and we were lost. One could say that we were happy to arrive at our dorm!

Our first day in St. Andrews was spent in town trying to buy things. Because we were only allowed 72 lbs of luggage, we had no space in our suitcases for duvets, sheets, pillows, or things of that nature. We got here at 3 pm and immediately had to leave to try to run and buy things to sleep on before the shops closed in town. Fortunately for us, we still had about two hours left in the day to do this. Unfortunately, about a thousand other students also had the same idea. We went to the local bedding store and found them to already have sold out on every single duvet in the entire store! So we had to run around to other random stores and see if they might be willing to sell us something. We got our duvet covers from the bedding shop, the duvets from a random clothing store, and our pillows from the grocery store (Tesco)!

This week is Orientation (or Freshers) week at St. Andrews. I could probably sum this up by telling you that it is the best experience of my life and also the worst experience of my life. It is the best because I am exploring a new country for the first time and learning to think about and experience things in an entirely new way. So many things that I thought everyone did one way are not done that way here. People here drive on the wrong side of the road, eat strange food, and have oddly shaped currency. (And there are probably many more posts on this subject to come!) It is the worst experience of my life because I do not have any friends yet. Don’t get me wrong, I have met tons of really nice people. But that is the problem. I have met TONS of them! Each person I have talked to for only a few minutes at one social event or the other, but no one for any real length of time. As I am quite an overdramatic person by nature, I am literally quite terrified that I will not make any friends at all here at St. Andrews! Tiffany just rolls her eyes at me and tell me to be patient.

In other news, I have been an absolute failure at life and not taken any pictures since my arrival here at St. Andrews. I hope to begin fixing that, basically, as soon as possible. I don’t own a camera (and the cell phone I got to use while I am here is probably more familiar with communication by morse code than any other form of communication), but Tiffany has offered to let me borrow one of hers sometime!

About to FLY to SCOTLAND!!

Today is going to be one crazy day!!

In fact, it has been a rather crazy week. For the first time in my life I am planning to fly (which I have never done before) and also to leave the country (which I have never done before). I will go ahead and stun you with the fact that I am actually planning to fly out of the country, which is a rather overwhelming combination of these two new things.

Last weekend all of my friends gathered together to host a going away party for me! It was pretty much the best moment of my entire life! I was especially happy because at the party they gave me a box of letters for my trip, so I can read them while I am gone and think of them! My friend also gave me a friendship bracelet she made for me, in Erskine colors, so that I would not forget where I came from while I am away 🙂

After the party was over I stayed at my friends’ apartment. Heather and Sam graduated from Erskine last year and now share an apartment in Greenville. They were the ones who hosted the party and then let me stay with them for two nights and played with me all weekend. Heather and I spent almost the entire day on Sunday worshipping the Lord, by going to church and having our own Bible study. On Monday morning she then drove me to Erskine.

 

It was lovely to see all of my friends one last time before I cross the pond!

It was lovely to see all of my friends one last time before I cross the pond!

Monday at Erskine was crazy. It was the first day of school and all of the students were running around trying to find their new classes and greet each other after a long summer of separation. It was super weird to be there but know that I would only be there for a few hours; I was not there to sign up for classes with everyone else. I was there instead to try to get several forms filled out for graduation and my work-study job, a process which took about 6 hours of running around campus and required about 13 signatures from various people. I had a huge long checklist that I carried with me and it was super fun to check everything off and feel accomplished.

On Monday afternoon Tiffany and I gathered up my suitcases and left for her family’s lake house in Columbia, SC. We arrived and have spent the week with her family, with her parents and also her extended family. Tiffany and I have also spent a lot of time preparing for Scotland. We have filled out paper work and more paper work, ordered bedding to arrive when we get there, and arranged everything we can think of for our trip. Tiffany’s family has been super nice to me all week and I have really enjoyed spending time with them!

Now it is Friday morning. In about 3 hours I will be at the airport, and in about 5 I will have boarded my plane and be ready for takeoff. I am excited, I am scared, I am nervous. I can’t wait; my heart is beating a thousand beats per minute. Adventure lies ahead!