Greetings, readers! It’s official: I’m back in the Land of Men Who Wear Pants. Re-assimilation has been a strange, strange process. Due to scheduling conflicts with summer classes and jobs, I was unable to fly back on the IFSA-Butler group flight and made the 8-hour voyage solo. (Way longer than the 6 hours it took to get there!) In a daze I exited the plane, attempting to get a cart for my luggage from one of the dispensers, only to do a double take at the machine that asked for “bills” rather than “notes.” This was followed by judgmental looks from the man at customs as he glared at my bottle of Scotch, sneering, “Are you even 21?” While this wasn’t exactly a warm, patriotic welcome, the weather quickly compensated with eighty-degree sunshine as a contrast from the forty-degree Scottish rain I had left behind.
The intervening days since then have been a mix of cultural highs and lows. Upon re-entering my house for the first time, I found new cushions on the couch that my parents purchased in the Highlands while visiting me. This touch of Scotland in my own American living room was a perfect combination of two places I’d come to love, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, it actually caused me to cry, taking my family and myself by surprise.
I also experienced minor cardiac arrest at finding a bottled mix for Hot Toddy’s (a traditional Scottish drink including whisky, honey, and ginger) in my local supermarket. While this encounter didn’t precipitate tears, it was yet another friendly touch of Scotland in my American environment.
Additionally, I am very fortunate in that two of my close IFSA friends, Richie Monsaert and Lorraine Simonis, are also Philadelphians, and spending time with them has eased the adjustment. I have to be careful not to bore family and friends by talking endlessly about going abroad, but with Richie and Lorraine I can fully unleash my European nostalgia, reminiscing about everything from The Hive (an Edinburgh club that’s a wee bit dodgy) to Tesco (a Scottish supermarket chain.)
In the end, it has truly been an amazing ride, and I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and the subsequent growth I underwent. One blog post is simply insufficient to try and conclude everything I’ve felt and experienced in the past six months, so I’ll simply sum it up with a message to Deirdra, Caiomhe, and Ruth, the IFSA-Butler Scottish program coordinators: keep a corner open in your office for me, I’m coming back to Scotland as soon as I can.