October 29, 2014
This past weekend, through IES, I went to Scotland. It was an amazing trip. Something about Scotland really grabbed me and I can’t seem to shake it off. The Highlands and the cities are beautiful; it doesn’t matter if it is cold or rainy.
Our midterm break trip to Scotland involved petting and feeding reindeer, sailing on Loch Ness, going to a seaside town and finally making our way to Edinburgh. And every single place we stopped, no matter how different, seemed practically perfect. (The one complaint I have is that it was hard to find vegetarian meals.)
I was struck by the fact that I was so comfortable in Scotland in such a short time. Perhaps if I had stayed longer, I would have found sides to the country that rub me wrong. But for now, I can idealize Scotland in my mind and memory.
It’s an odd feeling to return to London (the city in which I chose to study) after experiencing such a connection to another place. Plus, getting off the train at King’s Cross, I was struck by the difference in air quality. There’s no denying that, especially compared to Scotland, London air feels like you’re inhaling smoke.
However, none of this is meant to put down London. I do love it here. There’s so much constantly happening that you could never see it all. But you feel like you’re in the midst of something big. I feel like I really am a part of London. It’s just sometimes nice to experience a slower, cleaner, cheaper city.
London and Edinburgh are both part of the UK, and yet they are so different. I suppose you could say the same thing about any number of cities in the US, but Edinburgh has a completely different cultural feel to it. I’m sure many Scottish people would agree with me given the fact that I saw so many signs to vote “yes” for independence.
One major difference between London and Edinburgh is the level of preservation. I love seeing modern art next to a department store in a four hundred year old building next to a newly built structure in London. I find the contrast irresistible. But in Edinburgh, none of the buildings I saw looked modern. It made the city seem slightly sleepy. And that’s lovely too. Walking through Edinburgh, one is transported into the past. It’s no wonder that so many authors, including JK Rowling, chose to write there. What could be better for inspiration?
I know it’s not being asked of me, but I think I would recommend studying abroad in London and visiting as much of Scotland as possible. London has so much – and can easily connect you to so much more – that it will have something for everyone. It definitely has something – actually, many things – for me.