Everyone is leaving, returning, graduating, and getting busy all too fast. I am trying my best to see what I haven’t yet seen of Scotland (weather permitting), have a meaningful goodbye with my exchange friends, say goodbye to my senior friends back at UR that are graduating, AND prepare for my upcoming trip around Europe. It’s honestly an understatement saying that it’s been a roller coaster ride. I’m feeling so many emotions in a day and constantly pressured to absorb as much of Scotland as possible, all while the weather teases me like the stubborn version of myself when I don’t know what I want.
I realize that no matter how many gifts I buy, no matter how many pictures I take, or how many meaningful memories I make in these last few days, I can’t capture it all. There’s no way. The other day, I was briefly taken back to my Spain Facebook album, when I traveled there the summer before my senior year in high school. I hadn’t seen these pictures in over three years and I was surprised at how little I remembered. I got pangs of slight familiarity when I saw my photos, but when I compared my photos to my friend Jackie’s photos of Madrid, I had forgotten how intricately detailed and beautiful the buildings were, what each place was called, and how delicious the tapas looked. Most importantly, I forgot what I learned besides the fact that it was my first time abroad.
Fortunately, I wrote most of it in my journal. This is something that I always do. Even back at home, I take time to reflect and write down not just what I’ve seen (because pictures do that for you), but what I’ve been thinking, feeling, and questioning. It’s not a daily thing. I write about every 2-3 days, and to take pressure of myself, I don’t write down everything, but only the things I’m reflecting on that day. It’s not only a great stress reliever, but also my personal way of capturing my growth during my college years. Journaling abroad has allowed me to add that last level of depth to my pictures, souvenirs, and videos. It also weirdly takes an enormous amount of pressure off to find the perfect souvenir for myself. So far, I bought a comic-style map of Scotland (since it listed a majority of places I’ve been to) and a few postcards. But then I still haven’t bought my shortbread, a Scottish flag, or a University of Edinburgh sweatshirt and that’s a must right?
I know in the end, we eventually become desensitized to things. I still have meaningful necklaces, posters, and t-shirts from past travels, but I never really notice them on a daily basis. And when I look at my Scotland posters and postcards, the last thing I want to do is simply say, “Wow, Scotland was so beautiful”. Instead, I want to absorb the lessons I’ve learned here and let my fresh perspective shape my experiences when I return. This way, by the time I graduate, I can look back on my four years, look at those souvenirs, and be reminded of how Scotland transformed how I spent my last year at Richmond.
So here I am, about to leave the place that I have gotten to know, explore, and be a part of for four months. Remember my post about love? Well, Scotland has taught me a lot about falling in love. Like I said, it’s a painful thing to have to let something or someone you love go, just like I am deeply sad in a way that I can never express in words about leaving Scotland. But you know when you’ve truly loved and not just clung onto something out of selfish desire when you get to know, understand, be immensely happy in, and happily, although sadly, let it go when you need to, knowing that it’s brought you much happiness through the joys and trials during your time together and at the end, inspired you to continue on a path towards becoming a better person.