Monthly Archives: November 2016

Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s been an incredible fortnight. Between my shock at the elections, the stress of my studies, the excitement of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and my sadness at realizing I’ll be leaving soon, I think it’s fair to say these past two weeks have been emotionally exhausting. But we persevere, for we are human and there isn’t much else we can do. Where to start?

I’ll go with the controversial topic first and get it out of the way: the US 2k16 Election. Wow, what a mess. And not just for the United States. In the UK, people were shocked and hurt as well about the way things turned out. I’ve jokingly named it Brexit Part 2 on my twitter page, but looking at it, it’s not that funny and it’s not really a joke. As a queer and trans lower-class child of immigrants, I’m definitely concerned for myself and for those that share my marginalized identity. I can’t imagine how it feels for others who have it worse than me. At least I’m out of the country and not having to experience everything firsthand, though I do feel quite helpless and useless from across the pond. And yet, there’s still hope. I see everyday on different news feeds how the American people are protesting and making a stand to let their thoughts be known, how people are not giving up and it makes me excited to go home. It makes me excited to stand with my peers and use our freedoms, the one’s we have a birthright to, to make ourselves heard. I’m down, but I will stand up, just as many others have done already.

Speaking of going home soon, that’s definitely hit me on another emotional level. I’ve made so many friends here, most younger than me, and I keep thinking to myself, what do their futures hold? What does my future hold? Going back to Whitman means finishing my third year and getting ready to be a senior, something that comes with it’s own bag of tricks and treats. Grad school is looming on the horizon, internship and scholarship calls are clogging up my Whitman email, and I’m sitting in a tiny town in Scotland stressing about what all the people I’ve just met are going to do with their lives. It just puts so many things into perspective for me. I’ve almost gotten to redo my whole first semester of college being here, being around others in their first year and meeting the same struggles as I did and still do meet. But the reality is, I have a year and a half left of undergrad left and they all have at least three years waiting for them, waiting for them to discover themselves and their interests, waiting for them to discover their futures and paths. I’m sitting here thinking: oh wait, was I supposed to do that already? And I realize, yes. I was. And I have. I am. I think that’s the important bit in all of this. Not that it’s something to be checked off, already done, or done as soon as possible, but that it’s an ongoing process that takes time and patience and will change many times before it settles down. I think, as a student and adult in this day and age, I have to be okay and come to terms with that.

I think I might be starting to.

In some ways, I’m very lucky to be where I am. So many of the people I’ve met at St. Andrews came into university knowing exactly what they would be studying in great detail with specific tests to be taken to determine if they could even do what they want. If they didn’t pass those, if they change their minds, it’s going to be a bit more difficult to change that it is for me. I mean, I got time to think it through before I even declared my major and I can still change it if I found it necessary. The other day, I met someone who was 16. She was 16, born in the year 2000, and was in university on a one-way track to becoming a doctor in the medical school here and yes, yes, I understand that the systems here work differently and for Scottish/Britons, she’s not that special of a case. But what I’m getting at is that I’m four years older than her, born in a different decade, century, millennium, and I still have so much leeway, so many options just because of where I go to college in the US. It’s liberating. It’s odd.

Is this what growing old feels like?

Maybe I’m too young to be thinking like that. I’ve only been around for two decades, but in light of the things that have been happening, both in the world and in the United States, it makes you think in a whole new light. Being in a foreign country and university definitely does wonder on perspective. I know I’ll be glad to go home, going back to Whitman and those I left behind. I know I’ll be upset about leaving St. Andrews and Scotland, leaving the relationships I’ve made behind. I get a bittersweet taste at the back of my throat just thinking about it. But it’s life and it’s not forever.

I have so many options and I have so many choices. I’m going to start taking them and I’m going to start making them.

Wish me luck!

Jetzt Ist Sommer Video

This is the link to the video that I edited and starred in for a German project. The song is Jetzt Ist Sommer (Now Is Summer) by the Wiseguys, a German group. I’d say they’re a pop band, if anything.

The people in the video with me are (in order of appearance) Daniel Gross, Josh Samuels, Emma Austen, and Linus Erbach, all first years taking my German course with me. And yes, they’re all so much better at it. It’s been great working with them and learning from them.

Here’s the link! 


October Is Octover

And that’s a wrap!

The wonderful month of October (or, for some, the month-long holiday of Halloween) is over and November is settling in quite well. Trees slowly change color in St. Andrews and litter the streets with their colorful leaves. The salty wind blows off from the North Sea and makes everyone’s faces numb. It’s my favorite time of year.


Frank N. Furter actor, by Maxx Borges. Byre Theatre, St. Andrews, 30 October 2016


Rocky Horror Cast, by Maxx Borges. Byre Theatre, St. Andrews, 30 October 2016

The Halloween season was wonderful! One of the biggest events of it wasn’t Halloween itself, but the day before where some friends and I went to go see St. Andrews’ Rocky Horror Picture Show! I was sorely disappointed I would be missing Whitman’s Rocky Horror while I was abroad, but then a friend of mine bought several tickets and invited me along. It was an amazing experience! Many of the performers attend the University of St. Andrews and all of them did an amazing job. My favorite part were the goody bags all viewers were given and then prompted to use during the film and performance. Toast was thrown. Party hats were worn. I was pelted with rice during the opening wedding scene since the people behind me couldn’t throw far enough to the stage. People were bedecked in splendid costumes and the lady who won the costume contest was dressed up exactly  like Colombia! Her costume was an exact replica and I was blown away. She looked wonderful.

Besides that, I’ve mostly been studying, which is a good thing! I’ve had some new modules introduced that are very interesting and all about cognition and perception. It’s definitely a throwback to Psych 101 and I am sincerely enjoying it.


In My Inherited Robe, by Maxx Borges. Andrew Melville Hall, St. Andrews, 2 November 2016

One of the most exciting things that has happened to me, though, is that I got a robe! Let me explain; I’m not getting all excited over a bath robe with rubber duckies on it, though that’s something I would probably get excited about, to be completely honest. No, the robe I’m talking about is the gowns that students at St. Andrews buy during their first year to wear to their fourth year graduation. The best part is that I didn’t even have to buy mine; an amazing alumna of Whitman College that also attended St. Andrews for her study abroad sent me the one she had back when she was here. She graduated in 2003 from Whitman college and had been hanging onto it. It was so sweet of her and also a testament to how Whitman affects people. She was still checking in on abroad blogs, still connected to her Alma mater, and made the effort to reach out to me, someone doing what she did over 13 years before. I’m going to continue the tradition by passing on her robe, now mine, to a first year student and friend here. All I ask is that she do the same. I’m writing our names on the inside and our graduation years. Who knows? Maybe someone will get back to me about their robe and how I was involved in their accumulation of it. Maybe they’ll be emotionally moved by it. I know I was so moved when that alumna sent me her robe.


Dagaz Rune = Awakening/Realization with Whitman Colors, by Maxx Borges. AMH, St. Andrews, 2 November 2016.

It’s like looking back in time for me. She even sent me photos of Whitman College in the late 90s and early 2000s, as well as a photo of herself in the robe that I had received. You can really connect with people that way, be transported back to a time when someone else was in your shoes, doing what you’re doing, and seeing things from a completely different perspective. I was really moved by it. Attached to the whole package was a post card wishing me luck and reminiscing about when she was in the same hall at St. Andrews that I’m in. Its so weird. In both the photos from Whitman and St. Andrews, I feel like I’m having a huge wave of déjà vu. These are places that I’ve been to and see, experienced in my own way and yet, I’m looking at them the way they were seen through someone else’s eyes. Maybe it should be disconcerting, but I think there’s something beautiful in it as well. That, and the fact that Whitman was able to foster this meeting between two very different generations following in each other’s footsteps and finding some similarities along the way. These are things you just don’t think about until you leave that Whitman Bubble and venture out across the country and the Atlantic ocean only to find that you’re not completely alone out here, regardless of what you thought before. There are always connections to the past and the world is such a small place, in all the right ways, after all.

Well! That was emotional! To lighten the mood, I’ll also mention that over Independent Learning Week, my German course had to get into groups and make lip-dub videos of German songs. I got the honor of editing the video since one of our group mates wasn’t there. Also… it just needed editing. I’ll post it to the blog a bit later for everyone to see (don’t worry, I have permission from my group mates).

So that’s that, for this week. Shout out to one of my former bosses for sending me a post card during the event at Whitman. I super appreciated it and it made my week!

See you all next week!