crossing the pond and looking back

This is my first post from the States in over four months!  Jet lag and reverse culture shock are still hitting me, the latter more than the former.  I landed in Charleston on Saturday night , and somehow it still has not completely sunk in that I am back in the States or that I do not know when I will get to return to Scotland.  As I write this, I am sipping English breakfast tea out of a mug with the South Carolina palmetto moon on it, which makes me feel like a traitor somehow.  Also, considering that the highest temperature I experienced over the semester was 20 degrees (~68 Fahrenheit), to come back to a humid 30 degrees (~86 Fahrenheit) in Charleston is rather miserable.  Air conditioning and ceiling fans are definite blessings right now.

Charleston has been welcoming me back by storming every day for the past few days; I woke up to thunder on Monday morning and realised that that was the first thunder I had heard since before I left.  Despite the inconvenience of trying to run errands around thunderstorms, I was definitely excited.  I love Scottish weather–rain and wind and bitter cold included–far more than Southern weather, but I did miss thunderstorms.  The rain reminds me of my last day in Scotland; it was an absolutely gorgeous day, the kind that St. Andrews is famous for, until that evening when it started raining as I was packing.  The weather matched my mood, except for the moment when I found a huge piece of bubble wrap.  When I’m a counsellor some day, I will keep a stock of bubble wrap because I truly believe that popping little plastic bubbles somehow makes any bad day better.

I found it while packing. all of it is getting popped.

Here is the massive piece of bubble wrap I found while packing: now that I am home it is ALL getting popped.

my entire semester packed into suitcases and a backpack. so sad :(

My entire semester packed into two suitcases and a backpack. So sad 😦

But back to being home.  Between sleeping a ton, appointments, doing washing, and catching up with friends on both sides of the ocean, I am still in the process of unpacking.  (I promise my room will be cleaned up soon, Mom!)  Unpacking is almost as heartbreaking as packing up my room in Melville was, but I am [mostly] saved from tears by the wonderful memories that come from stumbling upon each memento and note that I brought back with me.  I have always been teased for being too sentimental, but I would never wish to change this about myself.  I consider it a blessing to be able to love so deeply, even when it brings me heartache.  Saying goodbye to all of my friends in Scotland was more difficult than leaving the States in January, because I do not know when I will see any of them again.  I am sincerely grateful for Facebook and Skype which allow us to keep in contact and see each other.  And I am truly grateful for each person I was blessed to meet over the course of the semester, both in St Andrews and across Europe.  I met truly interesting, kind, and inspirational people from over thirty countries (yes, 30) and all over the United States and I have truly been changed for the better as a result.

It is really strange being home, much as I am happy to see my family.  I am a wee bit envious of my sister, Aimée, who is leaving in the morning for a two-week opera programme in Brighton, England.  Remember her? Extremely talented singer and performer who graduated from Erskine a year ago? Yep. She’s pretty awesome.  I’m really excited to hear how the programme goes.

Despite the sadness at being home, there are many things I’m excited for this summer.  The most recent of these already happened: my parents bought me a car, a Scion xD, as a [very] belated high school graduation present.  I am overwhelmingly grateful for such a gift; I am paying my own way through school and it is a huge blessing to have parents who have the ability to support me this way.

I've named him Hamish. yes, that's a Scottish name. Three guesses why it's Scottish.

I’ve named him Hamish. yes, that’s a Scottish name. Three guesses why.

I am excited to start working again.  I am returning to work at Chick-fil-A, where I worked before starting Erskine.  It is a fun place to work and I like being useful.
I am excited to finish giving gifts to my family! I’ve given my parents and brother the things that I got them abroad, but not my sisters and brother-in-law. Being able to give them their gifts also means that I get to see them in person, which is a happy occasion as well.
I am excited to be able to sing in my church choir again! I have been singing with them for at least seven years and I really missed it while I was gone.
I am excited for July, when I will be a bridesmaid in my friend Megan’s wedding.  Megan was my room mate freshman year at Erskine and I am so happy to be a part of her special day!  And remember my friend/academic dad, Lawrence? He is coming up from Miami to see Charleston and to be my guest at the wedding.  Happy day!

I think this is a long enough post for now.  Sufficient to say, the last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion and a reminder of how blessed I am.  Many more posts to come! I have not forgotten to finish telling you about my Easter travels, and then there is the second half of the semester to talk about!  Until then, God bless and keep you!

also, congratulations to the Erskine College class of 2013! I wish I could have been at graduation.

The voyage back home

Many boxes and bags, 2 determined women and one stuffed grandma car on a 1,200 mile voyage back to my Midwest home = a fun success! After graduation and the celebrations that come with it, we were singing the Mother Goose’s rhyme, “Home again, home again, jiggity jig” It was a fun, exciting and successful trip with a twist of a roller coaster ride of emotions.

What emotions? Sad, happy, excited, anxious, hopeful, etc. Which one of them could possibly be going on after I finished a chapter in the book of my life? All of them! The symbolic scene of the foothills after winding though the mountains brought tears to my eyes. When am I going to see them again? When am I going to be with my friends I built relationships with over the past 2 years? Where does this leave me now? Into the unknown??

Besides the roller coast of emotions it the road trip was a breeze. The GPS’ destination was set, Google maps were printed out AND an atlas was in hand! We were not going to be lost; we made sure of it! The saying, “Having too much of a good thing maybe bad thing” did not pertain to us though. We were able to keep all of our aids straight. Pit stops for gas, restrooms, food, and to stretch helped us keep the trip stress free. After all we were in no rush to get home to work, unpacking and other such unpleasant tasks. Although, set out sights on making it a two day trip.  But squeezed in a few hours for a shopping break to stretch out our legs and see new scenery. 😉 After all, we are girls; shopping is our favorite activity!

The mountains are symbolic to me because it had a profound feeling of leaving the north and entering the south. So the feeling of leaving my home of 2 years was a toughie. Leaving in general is difficult because the uncertainty of what next sets in. I don’t exactly have any plans, but I am making efforts to set myself up for opportunities. As for my friends, we will keep in touch. Facebook, Skype, text messages, phone calls and emails make that possibly and very easy! But seeing them again is up in the air. Spread out across the United States and beyond, we will hopefully work something out!

The road trip not only brought immediate joy, but warmth though out my body that only my friends and family from home can ignite. I am truly enjoying my family and friends who have been missing from my life but not absent in my thoughts and heart.

Making Adjustments

As the end of the school year approaches, most students find themselves dreading exams and saying “I just cant wait to go home.” Well, I found myself as one of “most” students this year as I dreaded my finals and could not wait for those boxes to be packed which is the official sign that school is over! However, I found that as I packed and waited for that day to leave, I had trouble deciding if I was going home…or leaving home.

College began a new chapter in my life two short years ago and I often seem to forget that. Erskine has become a home to me as I live there 9 months out of the year. Sadly, returning to my house feels temporary as I know I will ultimately return my things to Erskine. However, I embrace living at my house for the summer and seeing my family although it requires a few minor adjustments…some better than

1) Making my bed is no longer an option
2) Dinner is not prepared at 5:00pm
3) 10:00pm is considered “late”
4) Midnight trips o IHOP don’t exist
5) I can’t walk next door to see what my friends are up to
6) I don’t drop off my dishes for someone else

The most important adjustment to make, however, is growing up. Having just turned 20 years old, I am realizing more than ever how close I am to entering the real world. Independent adult life is right around the corner. Therefore, I plan to embrace my next two years in the safe zone at Erskine and prepare myself to enter a new stage of this crazy thing we call life.

Sick Days

I am absolutely loving my college experience here at Erskine. Even so, some things are just not the same at college as they are at home–one of which is getting sick.

Although being ill is never pleasant, being sick at college is, as I quickly discovered, generally bereft of those comforts provided at home by my mother’s solicitous care, sympathy, and medical advice. While I may be exempt from certain tasks (such as cleaning the kitchen or going to work) when I’m sick at home, no such luxury is available during the school year…unless, of course, I’m willing to miss a class. Which of course, I would never want to do, lest I miss key information that would leave my liberal arts education sorely lacking or *cough, might show up on a test.*

Consequently, even the common cold becomes a challenging burden when it descends upon one during the school year. Gone are the days of being handed chicken soup by the mother who then kindly sets up a vaporizer in the bedroom and buys another box of Sudafed PM. Instead, one must go to class, take tests, and work as best one can, despite a raging headache and running nose. Of course, I suppose that being sick as a college student is simply part of growing up since…well, when adults are sick (bar some highly contagious, debilitating illness), they simply carry on business as usual.

And, to be entirely fair, though there’s no place like home for the sick soul, friends here at Erskine are amazingly caring and helpful when one is sick. Last year, for example, when I was terribly ill with some flu-like ailment, replete with a high fever, my friend Amber essentially took on the role of mother for the week. She brought me food (since I wasn’t up to traveling anywhere to eat meals), checked on me frequently, and made sure I got air every once in a while. Another friend was kind enough to share the riches of her medicine cabinet with me, and I was feeling better far more quickly than I would have otherwise, thanks to the kind care of my friends.

Getting well, I’ve found, requires something which is a very rare commodity for the college study—namely, sleep. Since the struggle to balance living healthily, thriving academically, and having a social life is one which we all experience in life, I am amused by G.K. Chesterton’s remark that “[t]he trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.” Indeed, holistic health is no easy attainment. But if every aspect of life is interconnected (as the liberally-educated philosopher would argue), and if all of life is under the rule of a sovereign God, then what can better equip us for a life of balance than faithful adherence the principles of Scripture? Holistic health, here I come!

The Blessing of Spring Break

As this restful week comes to an end, I am aware of just how much I needed the time away from school and constant responsibilities, as I think everyone did.  This year I had no choir tour, no trips, and no great plans for the week of vacation; however, it was still a very pleasant break full of lovely weather, time for relaxation, motivation to be productive, and time with family.

Amazing how much a week can make a difference, isn’t it?

I did have a pretty hefty load of schoolwork to get done, with projects coming up, reading to get ahead on, music to work on, final details to plan for my recital, and just plain old homework to do.  The wonderful thing about break, though, is that I had all week to do that, and virtually nothing else that absolutely had to be done.  Being caught up and even getting ahead on work is such a satisfying feeling, especially when you can work on it all at a comfortable pace, interspaced with other activities.

Of course, there were other things to be done while at home: appointments, a little bit of spring shopping, those dreaded taxes, and other odd projects here and there.  I was also pleased to spend time with my family, watch television and movies, read for pure enjoyment, and catch up with friends in other countries (including my madre in Spain!) – all activities that I have little time to do while at school.  I was feeling so unstressed and productive that I even spent time looking into graduate programs.

The difficult part will be going back to school now, back to all the hectic schedules, shorter sleep schedules, and stress that goes with everything.  Luckily, break has not entirely spoiled me, just given me a good rest, mental as well as physical, so that when I drive back to school on Sunday afternoon  I will be ready to jump back into everything with renewed motivation and energy.

So bring it on, college, I’m back again and ready for you.

A little reminder of home

My front yard decorated by mother nature!

My front yard decorated by mother nature!

The snow we were blessed with this week was a little reminder of home. Not just home, but Christmas BREAK! I thoroughly enjoyed being with my family and friends; even if we were engulfed in 30 inches of snow! So, here is a a little replay of my break!

Just a day after my last final I was homebound to the closer North Pole, MINNESOTA! Just a day before I was scheduled to come home, the majority of Minnesota got hit by a blizzard making it questionable to whether I was going to be able to go home on time. 😦  After a 3 hours of delay due to cold weather in Atlanta, I was home sweet home. I was welcomed  by 22 inches of white fluff, breathtaking air, and my very much missed parents.

Ugly Sweater Parties!

Ugly Sweater Parties!

 When I was home, I  tried to soak in everything I wouldn’t be able to go when I got home. Like baking and cooking. It’s nice having a full kitchen and hungry mouths! I use to always cook for my dad and brothers so it’s a fun past time. I also got to shovel snow!! If I still lived in the Midwest I wouldn’t be so excited, but it is fun the first few times! Since I’ve been at college I have shopped a lot less then I use to and I miss it so much! I mostly did window shopping and shopping for others since I don’t like to travel with a lot of baggage. I also got to see my high school and college friends… a lot! Most of my friends and I haven’t missed a beat, which is really cool. I also got to let the little kid in me be unleashed while I played with my 3 little nephews. Man have they grown since I saw them last…. 5 months ago! All those little things make being home so great! I love it!

A little holiday bakng to share the love

A little holiday bakng to share the love

All I wanted was face time with the people that I care about so much and have been with me through thick and thin. That is the neat thing about living so far from home; when I come back home I appreciate the little things. Whether it being the cold, the pigs, shoveling snow or being in short driving distance to see my friends and family. I will hold on to those memories until I’m home once again… after graduation!