A Letter to My Future Self: I Hope….

Dear Future Self,

I hope you remember how nervous you were to start your program at Glasgow.

I hope you remember standing in your room trying to get a year’s worth of clothes into a single suitcase and realizing that, even if you managed it, there’d be no room for your yarn and knitting needles.

I hope you see the changes in the mirror, the extra length of your hair and the new marks on your face.

I hope you remember your nerves and your fear and the effort it took to go to Glasgow, and I hope you kept pushing through it all until you were exhausted and satisfied.

I hope you’ve done well. I hope you’ve immersed yourself in your studies and joined the clubs you wanted. I hope you spent days in the library, and I hope you chose to start drinking coffee instead of giving in to the pressure and the work.

I hope you’ve loosened your priorities and left room for romance, and I hope you’ve developed friendships that make it all worth it.

I hope you ate things that were so good you went back for more every week, and I hope you developed a finer taste for whiskey.

I hope you laughed and cried and yelled in anger and pain, and I hope you’ve laughed and cried and yelled in bliss and pride.

I hope you could give a good shot at translating this into Gaelic, and I hope you’ve developed a slight Scottish twang to bring home to Mom and Dad.

I hope you’ve learned so much that you’ve realized the extent of what there still is to learn.

I hope you look back at me and think, “She was good, and she brought me here, but this version of me is better.”

I hope you pushed yourself.

I hope you’ve been afraid.

I hope you still run, and I hope you can run really far.

I hope you’re looking forward to seeing your family again, and I hope you get to see your good ol’ American friends again.

But most importantly, and this is really where I hope you’re listening…

I hope you’re truly happy, and I hope you’ve done the things you wanted.

And I hope you made a difference.

Sincerely,

Your Present Self

5 Things To Do Before You Leave the Country for a Year

1-Visit friends and family

This is a must if you won’t be seeing them for a while. Social media and video chat is great, but nothing beats seeing someone face to face and being able to hug them goodbye. If it’s possible to bring the group together or into a few smaller gatherings, that’s helpful, but if you can’t do that and have the time, try to go see them individually.

It’s worth it. You’ll soon be sitting in another country missing them.

2-Finish all the projects you’ve been putting off

For me, these projects are mostly yarn related, such as finishing knitting boot cuffs and two pairs of gloves as well as finishing spinning all the alpaca wool I have. It also includes finishing some books and the entirety of NCIS on Netflix (2.5 seasons left) and putting my hermit crabs in a new home for their new family.

Whatever it is for you, which might include more responsible work-related projects or home-improvement, if it’s not something that will travel internationally, try to finish it before you leave. Just be realistic about the time constraints.

3-See your favorite places

Is there somewhere in your hometown you like to hang out in or a restaurant you’ll really miss? Do you hike the same trail once a month or meet your friends at a certain bowling alley? Do you love going on trips into a nearby city?

Do it before you leave so you have the experience fresh in your mind when you hop on the plane.

4-Eat your favorite foods

Family recipes don’t travel well unless you know how to make them, so eat as many as you can before you go. Have your favorite ice cream and your all-time favorite breakfast-for-dinner meal. Be picky about making sure you enjoy it.

Then drop the pickiness and be ready to try a bunch of new foods in your new home.

5-Remember why you love your home, but also why you’re leaving

It’s difficult to walk away from things you’ve known your entire life and go somewhere different. Even if it’s a country that doesn’t seem very different, like Canada or England from the US, it will come with its own customs, vernacular, and quirks. You’ll have to learn them, and while learning them, you might end up thinking “it’s better at home.”

That’s normal, so before you leave, set yourself up to take the culture shock and homesickness head-on.

Remember your home. Make a list or make up a song or just think about it. What are the things you’ll miss? What are the things you won’t? What do you draw on when you’re sad or happy or angry? Will any of those things be able to come with you?

Spend some time with it.

For me, I think about my dogs. I think about the way my dad will still cover me with a blanket if I fall asleep on the couch and he thinks it’s cold, and I’ll remember that my mom always has Rita’s coupons in her car. I’ll think of my brother coming and going, always moving, and I’ll think of the people that gathered to bid me farewell, and I’ll think of the goofy friends that’ll still be hanging about the campus I’m leaving.

When you’re satisfied, change gears and think about why you’re leaving. What are you excited for? How does this play into your dreams or goals? What are you worried about? What groups are you going to join in the new place, if any, and why?

I think about Gaelic, and Outlander, and all the questions I seem to have when working with Celtic or Scottish material. I think about my goal to have a doctorate, and my desire to know if that’s something I truly want or just think I want. I think about the thrill of living in an actual city for the first time in my life and all the food I will have access to. I think about the dancing group I want to join and the running club and the knitting group. I think about cafes and tea.

With all these things in mind, when you find yourself frustrated or overwhelmed with how different things are, you have things to draw on to remind yourself that it’s okay to miss the things you love, but you came to the new place for a reason, and you were determined to enjoy it or at least give it your all.

And reminding yourself of that before you leave will help you remind yourself when you’re away.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

PS-What would you add to this list? What projects do you want to finish before you go? Any advice for future travelers?

10 Things I’m Excited for in Glasgow

1-Learning about my university

The University of Glasgow is about 12 times bigger than my undergraduate institution. It’s located in a large city, whereas I grew up in suburbs and went to college in a small city. My residence is a 25 minute walk from campus, whereas it took me ten minutes at the most to get across my entire campus. It will take me a lot longer to learn to navigate this campus than it did my undergraduate campus.

I’m excited for the chance to live differently and see how I fare in a different environment.

2-Meeting those in my program

Usually when I talk about Celts or Scots or anything Celtic related, really, I get stares or a “that’s fascinating” or “really?” because only my capstone advisor knew enough to have a conversation with me. It’s intimidating, but also really exciting, to be entering a program of people who most likely know more than I do, and to be working with professors that have years of knowledge to pass on.

3-The library

I was an English major, so of course this has to be on the list. I have about a week and a half of mostly down time to get to know the city and campus, and I will definitely be spending a lot of that time learning the layout of the library and seeing what kind of gems I can find among the bookshelves.

4-Seeing my accommodation

I’ve read that there’s a sink in my room. I can’t wait!

5-Meeting my flatmates

I will be living with a currently unknown mix of fellow uni students for the next 9 months at least, probably the next year. They will help shape who I am as a student and as a member of the Glasgow community. Meeting them is of vital importance to my first few weeks in Glasgow.

6-Exploring

There’s no better way to get to know a city than by just wandering around until you know you won’t get lost. Plus, I’m finally creating a set running program, so I will be able to plan my routes around getting to know the city.

7-The food

I currently have about a dozen restaurants and cafes saved on Google Maps that I need to check out in the first month I’m there so I know where to go when I have cravings.

8-The Yarn Cake

knittingOne of my hobbies is yarn arts, including knitting, spinning, and crochet, but mostly knitting. The Yarn Cake is a cafe/yarn shop mix, so they have cake and tea as well as yarn and yarn supplies for sale, and they have a knitting night. I’m already hooked (ha, crochet pun).

9-The weather

It’s been in the 90s far too much for my comfort, and it’s not fun to run when it’s over 80 F (26.6 C). Right now, it’s in the 60s in Glasgow (15-20 C), and the 60s are fantastic running weather. It’s also ideal fall/spring weather, which is becoming rarer in the northeast US.

It’ll feel cold while I adjust, but once I do, I’m going to be loving it (until it drops into winter mode, at which point I will need to embrace the chill).

It also gives me an excuse to wear my recent and current knitting projects, which have been useless in the heat.

10-The dancingmurtagh dance

Scottish Country Dancing and Highland Dancing will now be within reach for my physical and viewing pleasure.

 

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani