Since I have a bit of time – roughly seven hours to be exact – I felt it a good opportunity to start work on this, the penultimate blog.
There really isn’t much more to say as far as adventures go. For all intents and purposes my time for new experiences came to a close the moment I touched down coming in from Belfast. That’s not to say that I did not have some fun during this past week, for I certainly did. As you may have already guessed, this time was spent with my friends celebrating our last few days together. It was also the time for goodbyes, which, while painful, were diluted in their effect as everyone has had a “see you again” mentality that I do not believe is just wishful thinking. No, the API squad seems committed to keeping in touch, and for that I am thankful.
Thus, this post isn’t so much an ode to my adventures, but rather a personal letter towards not only my friends but the city that gave us so much and asked for nothing in return. Edinburgh, this one’s for you.
Of course there is one story I’d like to share as it does go along with the nature of this post. So let’s jump right in.
On January 12th the API crew, jet-lagged as all hell and still without any knowledge of what the city was like, were treated to a welcome meal at the Old Bell Inn South of the Meadows. I’m sure I wrote about it that week. I explicitly remember sitting with my new flatmate Saskia and this kid Nick from Heriot Watt University. It really is somewhat crazy how much I ended up thinking highly of both of them, and can safely call them my friends at this point in time.
In any event, this was the first time that all of API Edinburgh/Heriot Watt was brought together for the semester. I don’t think anyone would have guessed just how tightly knit this group would become. Seriously, by the time I felt I didn’t feel like I was saying goodbye to simple acquaintances, but my family; my comrades who had been through just as much as I had and more, and profoundly grew from the experience.
We ate, we laughed, and we got to know one another. Following the meal I distinctly remember that it was Ellie who led us to the Three Sisters for karaoke night, where I sang Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” in an effort to show that I was a “fun guy”. Jack then stole the show with his rendition of “Friends in Low Places”, which became something of a theme song for the API group on the whole.
Fast Forward 20 weeks, and it’s May 19th. The location: Usquabae restaurant.
There was no awkwardness. No hesitation. It was a family coming together one last time.
As I looked around the table I had little trouble reminiscing about the plethora of memories that I had made with each person around the table, and there are a lot of them. It was a moment to sit back and reflect, and to celebrate, the past semester. Boy did we, especially later, unofficially, after the meal.
We can’t go back, but we can go forward. I think everyone came to that conclusion a few days ago. Goodbye’s were replaced with “See you later’s”. Travelling to Atlanta or Chicago doesn’t really seem like too much of an effort when you know there are some friends waiting at the destination for you. Hopefully some of them don’t see good ‘ol Vermont as too far off either (wink wink, nudge nudge).
The circle was complete so to speak, and I think everyone knew it. We all knew that while the times we all had will never be forgotten it was indeed time to turn the page and head for home soil. Although, at the same time how do you go back when home soil seems to be Holyrood Park?
There is no going back.
At least not for me.
Part of me will always remain in Edinburgh, and my memories of being there will be imprinted on my mind and body (literally) for the rest of my life.
All of that has to do with the people that made my time abroad, well, Fucking Awesome.
An Ode To You, My Friends
There are so many people that I can speak of, so please do forgive me if I miss a couple.
Non API/API Stirling Amigo/as
Ah Chris, there really isn’t much of a question as to where you fit into my life. Always up for an adventure, I still remember you dragging my ass through Greyfriar’s at 2 in the morning, or ziplining at 3 in the morning, or going hard at the Hive with me as a fantastic wingman. To be honest, you may also be the only 4 year student that I knew at the university. Though it may have been by chance that you were thrown in with some of the API crew, it allowed us to become friends, and to get rowdy on numerous occasions. I’ll raise one to you any day of the week my friend, hopefully we can do so together again soon.
When I first met you Calum, I was sitting in Edinburgh Airport completely exhausted and not knowing who I was looking for. To be honest, I thought Nory was your dad when you both walked in as you two were the first real exposure I got to Scottish people. Your thick Glaswegian accent helped solidify a solid first impression, and though we were only brought together a few times, seeing as you were leading the Stirlingites, it was a pleasure to know you.
Reagan, how is it that even though we only truly met up a few times we became pretty damn good friends? Perhaps it was the fact that we were both bloggers and photographers (damn good one’s at that too!). We really hit it off in Stromeferry though, and if it weren’t for you, myself, and Isla, the divide between the Edinburghans/HW and Stirlingites may never have been rectified. We jumped into Loch Ness together, toured the Sagrada Familia, and climbed Arthur’s Seat together. I think our friendship is the purest example of how people can bond when sharing experiences – for though there were not many there were still some, and through them we became truly good friends in a short amount of time. For that I am thankful.
Isla! Though we really only hung out in Stromeferry you were still a really chill person and fun to hang about. Really the only other of my API Stirling friends, you were a welcome change of pace from the status quo, becoming a new friend in the process.
Alison, though we only met through Reagan, I’m so glad we did. It was clear immediately that our personalities meshed damn well, and it was not long before we were friends. I guess that’s what happens when you critique Picasso and climb mountains together. Good times amiga! Here’s to some more in the future!
Oh McKenna, you’ll always have a special place as one of my 5/5 flatmates. The mom of the flat, you were the first to look after any of the rest of us, and always willing to come along for the ride with the rest of us at API. Thanks for putting up with my random shouts of joy and/or despair throughout the suite, and agreeing that we needed to wage war on flat 7 (loud s.o.b.’s). I don’t know if I’ll ever get out to Iowa City, but if I do I will be sure to stop in and see you!
Man, Fabien, you poor soul. I’m so sorry they threw four Americans in with you at the start of the semester. You put up with all of our shenanigans like a true champ, and for that you were a bona-fide badass of a flatmate. Thanks for coming out on my birthday with us, and thank you for making sure the place didn’t get too destroyed. We never really fully clicked due to the language gap, but you were a good friend and a good person that lived across the hall.
Jes! How could I forget my Spain travel buddy?! You were a great companion to have for 6 days, and a fun ghost hunting friend at that! Thanks for coming out with me on Valentine’s Day – Shebeen’s was awesome! One of the most positive people that I’ve ever met, you never looked down upon a situation. That trait will bring you far in life, and I’m excited to see where you go and what you do!
My favorite Canadian! Britney you should forever be known as an honorary API member! You were at every party and even were at the farewell dinner! We all enjoyed your company, and you were always a positive person and just genuinely nice to be around. Though we didn’t personally have any adventures together you are nonetheless someone I call friend and am glad that I can.
The API Squad
As I said before, Nick, you were one of the first people I really got to talk to in API. The Charlestown kid, man you were fun to hang around. Not easily will I forget your efforts to get to and from HW to hang out with us Edi students. I get the feeling that your loyalty knows no bounds, along with your conviction and determination. Easily one of the most laid back out of any of us, you were a good pal to have and a fun person to be around. Though I won’t mention them here, we both know some stories at your expense that will make us (at least I will) chuckle a bit in the future. You’re a genuinely good guy man, hope to run into you again soon.
Jack…. Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack. Jack. I’m not really sure how well my words here can express just how much your character stood out. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone to just get up, rent a car, and travel the English countryside on a whim. Well, now I do. Admittedly you could be a bit much to handle at times, but I think everyone at API can agree you made things more interesting with your prescence. Your charisma is not lacking, and beneath your exaggerated exterior I genuinely saw a good guy with strong values and his wits about him. We definitely didn’t agree on a lot of things, but we got along enough to be friendly with one another. Vermonters and Oklahomans don’t really mix much as a general rule, but we shed that perception pretty good. All things considered, I definitely will remember you, that much I’m certain of. If I’m ever near the Drummond Ranch I’d like to go hog huntin’ with you at least!
I don’t think I ever saw you without a smile Amanda. Seriously, if there was ever a time when you were down or upset I NEVER saw it! Your bubbly personality was always welcome at 5/5, and though you were a HW student you never felt so far away. Some of my favorite moments from vlogging involve you too, including the talk show bit on Loch Ness. Fanstastic stuff, that! Your enthusiasm and good nature made every event together that much better, and I hope to see you soon!
Morgan, you were far and away the most enthusiastic about my vlogging, and for that I thank you. Keeping up with the task is hard enough on its own, but with your support it really pushed me to keep doing bigger and better things. That, and you were just, how should I put this… chill as fuck to be around! I’ll miss you, and I am sad that you were one of the few that I could not give a hug before I left for home. Though, as with everyone else, I have a feeling that I will see you again someday, and I look forward to that time.
For real Ellie, you may be the reason why this year’s crop of API students got to be so close. Had it not been for you leading us to the Three Sisters after the welcome dinner many of us may not have had the chance to get to know each other a bit better in the first place. Make no mistake, your expertise in Edinburgh, having already been through one semester, was invaluable in helping us all adjust to the town. You were fun, charismatic, and easy-going. Thank you for being you, Ellie. Tank you for that and being my friend, you really helped me (and everyone else) out more than you realize.
My big bearded broski! I remember getting kicked out of a bar with you on the first night since we didn’t have passports on us. I remember hiking Arthur’s Seat with you and mowing down on some BRAW burgers afterward. I remember going to see some jazz with you, and shooting the shit in 5/5. Most of all, I remember your infamous snap to everyone where you were bloodied, missing a tooth, and delirious. “I went to Leith and I lost”, or something like that. Defintiely won’t forget that one! You were, and are, a unique individual, Noah. Never change.
Of everyone in API I don’t think there was anyone as soft-spoken as you, Savannah. Though I don’t feel like we ever clicked on a deeper friendship level, you were nonetheless a joy to be around. I truly don’t know if you are ever capable of doing anything bad to anyone, which is awesome. I’ll always remember you entertaining the child at Stromeferry for hours on end, and while it was amusing to watch I think it shows just how much of a patient and good person you are. Because of that you have a fantastic life ahead of you, and I wish you nothing but the best.
I don’t regret much about my time abroad, but I do regret not getting out to one of your volleyball matches, Sara. I didn’t really know the Northern states had so much of an accent ‘till I met you either. Sorry, but it always cracked me up a little bit to hear your pronunciation of Minn-e-soooo-tah! For real though, your gentle heart and outgoing nature allowed you to go to and see a lot of amazing places on a whim. I think you were also the one and only API member to get successfully tanned on your travels, so props for that! You were very easy to talk to, and there are plenty of times where I remember everyone being genuinely excited by your arrival in 5/5. Keep doing work amiga!
Dory! The artist of all of us! Miss Harvard herself! It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that everyone loved having you around. I will always remember watching you draw up Tara’s card following the highland trip. That act alone has solidified my opinion of you – someone willing to put in the extra effort for someone that they care about – which, I have to say, is pretty gosh darn cool. I’ll miss you, but you won’t be so far away really. Wherever you go, and whatever you do, I know you are going to kick some ass at it!
Hallelujah, I was not the only Browns fan in this API group! Our time is soon, my friend. Ian, it feels like forever ago when we had a chess tourney in Teviot. You proved to be a genuinely good guy; relaxed, spontaneous, and good-hearted. You probably could still seriously drink me under the table though, so I may have to head over to Ohio soon to put that to the test! For real though, your smile was infectious, and you were always a welcome addition to any venture out on the town.
Mr. Clemson! Bro, we need to go golfing when we are both back in the states. At the very least you can help me take some strokes off my game. My “unofficial 5th flatmate”, I saw a lot more of you this semester than I would have imagined, which is not a bad thing in the least. I’ll never forget wandering down Prince’s Street with you on Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican flag wrapped around you like a cape and a sombrero on your head. I will miss you, and I will miss Franklin. Mac and Franklin had some good times. I don’t think there was anyone more lax about a lot of things this semester. Also, you made a damn good DJ in 5/5 on the weekends. But seriously, set up the tee time and I will be there.
“LET’S GO FUCKIN’ DOGS!” I’m not sure if there was anyone more excited for nights out on the town than you were, Saskia. I’ll admit, you were that outgoing in the beginning of the semester where I was not, and because of that I’m not sure we got off on the best terms. Yet, as the semester wore on you grew on me, and by the end of the semester I was genuinely lamenting saying goodbye to you for the last time. You were an awesome flatmate – and boy do you have some stories from this semester (*cough* breaking your bed *cough*). For real though, you grew into a true friend always bubbling over with excitement and energy. Super easy to talk to, we had some good heart-to-hearts near the end of the semester. I will miss those, as well as your UGA stories. I guess I will just have to head down south to make some with you! Like I told you, it’s definitely see you soon!
Our fearless leader herself! Tara, there couldn’t have been a better guide for us throughout this semester. You weren’t just some hired executive expected to just show us things. No, you were our Scottish Lass, our confidant, our friend. You went above and beyond what any of us expected you to contribute to our experience in Scotland. Thank you for just being real with all of us, it was welcome as well as refreshing. A massive cheers to you, Tara. Thank you so much for everything you did!
Emily, along with Lawson and Noah you were one of the first people I hung out with that very first night we arrived in Edinburgh. I remember walking in the opposite direction from all the bars. Eventually we stumbled on a place and were promptly kicked out because we didn’t have our passports on us. It was the first and last time someone would ever require a passport to drink (at least it was for me). I won’t forget your permanent smile and your enthusiasm for every occasion. I think you also may have visited the most countries out of everyone too, which is damn impressive. That can-do attitude will serve you well in the future, and I wish you nothing but the best when you get back to Texas.
Sarah, you kept me from doing a lot of dumb things, which was much appreciated when I would wake up the next morning from whatever adventure we were on the night before. I have a feeling you were kinda, well, less than impressed with some of my antics though. Still, when I needed a friend you never failed to be there for me. You were like my older sister really, just as much ready to go out and hang out with me while simultaneously ready to beat some sense into me. I’m actually pretty jealous that you’re going to be living right next to Fenway too for I love your city. Our personalities may not have meshed to the level that you had with Allison or Lawson, but we were still there for each other when it counted. You were a true friend, and I hope to see you soon.
So yeah, the road trip to UGA is gonna be a thing, right? I’ll pick up Lawson and Sarah along the way and we will be down before you know it! For real though Allison, I almost combined your’s and Sarah’s sections as there was almost no time when I only hung out with one of you. I think that’s a testament to how good of a friend you are. Heck, you and Mathilde are in the running for the longest snap streak ever, right? In any event, I’ll miss trying to get you to talk in a southern accent, and I’ll miss the way every time you laughed you always ended up literally crying with laughter. You were laid back, easy to talk to, and a good travel buddy. Hope to see you soon, too!
Chicago, dude we had some great times. Zip-lining at 2 a.m., finding ghosts at Greyfriar’s, dying of hiking up the Old Man of Storr, watching Lawson almost eat it in Glasgow, and of course hanging out with Hero at Dog House and regretfully going to Hive, because, well, College. You were one of my best friends, always up for an adventure and ready to throw down at a moment’s notice. You also are one of the most talkative people that I have ever met, which is awesome because I am not the best conversationalist and you forced me to lean on my verbal skills more than I normally would have. It sounds kinda weird but it was was a welcome change of pace in my social life. Anyway, don’t be surprised if I take you up on your offer of visiting Chicago soon, I’m already missing the club scene and would love to hit up the Chicago strip with my go-to clubbing buddy!
Ok Lawson lemme get this out of the way: for the first few days I could’ve sworn your name was Austin. Allrighty then now that that is out of the way let’s get down to it. Bud, you were my best friend during my time abroad, plain and simple. Yes, we had a little family squad going on with Emily, Bridie, Allison, and Sarah, but you and I became the broskis of the group. I won’t forget our eureka moment of realizing we were actually travelling to Rome. Who could forget your famous line of “It’s as Popey as I’d hopey!” I know Sarah and Allison won’t let you forget that one, as well as all those times when for one reason of another you made a sound that just sounded unnatural… you know what I mean. Anyway, besides being an awesome flatmate you were also my wingman – you and your Kraken and I with my Sailor Jerry’s – we made quite the pair. Hell man you even dressed up in your blazer for my birthday! Now that is what I call the actions of a true friend. I am beyond stoked that you are only a couple hours’ driving distance from me, and I know we are definitely going to tear it up at both UNH and CU next year. As for this semester, you and I killed it, and together along with Saskia, McKenna, and Fabien we turned 5/5 into a legend. Our story is complex and filled with a lot of good adventures, and I’m excited to know that it’s just beginning. See you soon, friend.
I spent 134 days in Edinburgh.
Subjectively I learned it was the best city on Earth.
Objectively I learned it was the best city on Earth.
Did I mention that Edinburgh is the best city on Earth?
There I learned a lot of things – about the world, about academics, about myself.
Not to mention I grew up a hell of a lot along the way.
There are too many experiences to list, too many adventures that have been left unwritten, and all have transformed me into the person that I have become now.
I will never forget seeing the castle on the hill for the first time, and almost tearing up when I set eyes upon it when I was leaving.
I will never forget looking out over the outlying lands from the top of Arthur’s Seat, or taking in the view of the city from Calton Hill.
I won’t forget the sound of bagpipes on the wind travelling up and down the Royal Mile on any given day.
I will not forget the nights spent on Cowgate, nor my wanderings through the wynds and closes that line the city.
I won’t forget you, Edinburgh.
I know I’ll see you soon.
Someday, with hopefully either my friends, or my new family in tow.
134 days after I arrived, I woke at 4 a.m. on May 24th to head to the airport. Quietly I packed up the remnants of my room, donating my sheets and making sure I had everything ready to go. I took a moment to say one last goodbye to HC, and slowly shut the door as to not wake my flatmates. It was a quiet morning as I took my suitcases across town, past the Royal Mile, down to Waverley Bridge one last time. I could not help but tearing up a bit as I laid eyes upon Edinburgh castle for the final time. It seemed like years ago that I was seeing it for the first time. How naive to the world I was back then.
My flights were uneventful. Edinburgh to Heathrow was quick, and Heathrow to Boston was 7 hours of gritting and bearing it. During that time I managed to write the first 3000 words of this post, watch Passengers, the first episode of Westworld, and read a bit of the Silmarillion. Once we touched down I quickly made it through customs and managed to get both my bags back off of the claims turnstile within five minutes. Before I knew it I was outside of Logan Terminal E, waiting for the Dartmouth Coach to take me to Lebanon. Heavy traffic delayed us over an hour getting out of the city, but some extra sitting at that moment wasn’t going to kill me. Soon I was reunited with my folks at the bus station, which wasn’t anything too emotional since I had seen them only a couple weeks beforehand.
My first meal stateside was at Five Guys: a Bacon Cheeseburger with fries and a Vanilla Coke … #’Murica.
An hour and a half later we were in West Rutland where we picked up my car. After so much travel time just sitting it felt good to get behind the wheel. I turned up Awesome Mix Vol. 2 and quickly found out that my driving skills had not been lost by any means after 4 and a half months, which was a nice surprise.
A half hour later I was pulling into my driveway, home at last. 22 hours of travel time since I had woken up in Edinburgh had brought me home.
I put my car in park, took a deep breath, and spoke a simple thought out loud to myself and to my Dad who was in the passenger’s seat.
“I did it.”
My Dad laughed and said, “Yes you did bud, welcome home.” He gave me a fist bump.
I smiled and walked inside to be greeted by Jade, my newly turned 14 year old Chocolate Lab, who was pretty excited to see me, just as I was excited to see her. That’s when I truly knew it: I was home.
It is with a bit of a sad connotation that I say that there will only be one more post. It may be more than one week away though, as I start my internship on Tuesday, so it may take some extra time to write it up. There aren’t any more adventures, there are no more stories. My time studying abroad has come to a close.
But yes, there will be one more post. It won’t be much, but it will provide a nice capstone to this whole experience. I’m still editing some remaining vlogs too, and continue to post pictures on Instagram. I also have a final project I am just starting to develop, but that will not come to pass for some time. Still, this endeavor that I set out upon four and a half months ago is drawing to a close. Admittedly I have some mixed feelings about it, as I am sad that I have nothing left to write about but am also relieved that I will not have to spend 8-10 hours per post any more. I’m looking at it as an opportunity to find time for some new things to do, which is exciting in and of itself!
For now though I think it is time to sign off. For I am home, and would like to go walk my dog and go fly fishing out on the pond.
Until the next (and final) time then,
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
See you later.