There have been a few loving social media comments suggesting that our studying abroad has been more heavy on the abroad than the studying. I can see where this particular conception has been derived. While I assure you all that much mental effort has been expended over the fall semester, we have benefited significantly from what the Scottish understand to be a proper holiday. Our exams were complete December 17, and we began spring classes on Jan 26. In the five weeks we had off, we have made a great effort to use our time here to the fullest. From Italy to France to Switzerland, we were regularly blown away by the history and the beauty of our temporary home. We were particularly lucky that this all happened with some of our favorite people.
My parents’, the aforementioned Campbells, arrival in mid-December began our steady stream of visitors for 2015. Until June, we have at least one friend or family member visiting per month. I love it. I spent most of the exam season motivated by the knowledge that in just a few weeks or days that we would get to show my parents all of the best parts of St Andrews. One summer, I got to give tours of Southern California to English learning high school students. I think I may have missed my life calling.
My parents have been to Scotland before. A few times actually, so while spending time in St. Andrews was a high priority, our little town basically takes about 4 hours to really see completely. And that includes a walk up the cathedral tower. We decided then to split our time with a few days in the UK together before flying to Rome for Christmas. Though Italy was truly unforgettable, spending time in Scotland with my parents was incredibly meaningful. Though Jeff can claim actual direct Scottish ancestry in the last 50 years (Happy Birthday, Grandpa Scotty!), being Scottish in the most American sense of the word has always meant a lot to my family, especially my grandfather. Though he may not have been with us, I know he would have enjoyed seeing us all on the streets of St Andrews,
Enjoying a pint at our favorite pubs,
Driving through the highlands covered in snow,
And of course, more whisky drinking.
We spent a night in a beautiful manor in Pitlochry, decorated to the rafters for Christmas and complete with full fireplaces, perfect for cards and more whisky before flying out of Edinburgh for Rome.
The Scotland leg of our whirlwind winter may have been short, but I am so glad we were able to spend this time all together. My family, or at least my dad and I, are pretty sentimental people. I still get quite mushy thinking about how lucky I am to have had this chance to be with them in a place that meant so much to my grandfather and his family.
And just to embarrass my mom a little, because she deserves it. My mother often teases my father and I for our attachment to things, sometimes things that are by there very nature a little unpractical, but deeply emotional. Yet, while they were here, my mother, the pragmatist, wandered into a kilt shop and purchased a very tiny kilt, a very tiny kilt that will have no use for a very long time.
And while it is was little ridiculous at the time, I am grateful that though my ancestors may have immigrated to the States hundreds of years ago, my family will keep holding on to its well worn Scottish roots and passing down traditions that are a little over done and very cheesy because they remind us of such a magical place as this.