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Familiar Faces

Time July 26th, 2016 in 2016 Summer, First Generation Scholars, Scotland | No Comments by

It hit me two days ago. “Hit,” is an understatement, more like pelted me in the face. So much so, that when I FaceTimed my parents and my dad cheerfully said, “we’ll see you in just two weeks!” I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my face. The realization that I’ve been away from my loved ones for so long finally set in after being in multiple foreign countries for over six weeks.

I’ve sculpted out time in my schedule (nearly) every day to FaceTime, email, or text my close family and friends. I don’t think there’s anything better than receiving letters or postcards written by the hands of loved ones. So I’ve been fervently scrawling to everyone back home. But GOSH DARN IT communicating through a lifeless computer screen, and even colorful postcards, don’t quite suffice to real face-to-face embrace. Read More »

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Time July 25th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by

Where do I begin? Scotland is beautiful beyond belief. Europe is marvelous and full of never-ending adventures, waiting to be discovered. Classes are intriguing and keep me engaged. I run, hike, do yoga, and eat like there’s no tomorrow (life is short, eat dessert first).

This past weekend my friend Kelsey and I jetted out of Edinburgh right after class on Wednesday to arrive in Oslo, Norway at midnight. We had a seven-hour layover at the airport until we would arrive at our ultimate location–Copenhagen. Being adventurous and outgoing gals, we excitedly bought train tickets to get into the Oslo City Center, only to discover that the train doesn’t operate until 5:15AM. I sadly regarded my useless ticket and ended up finding a chair to attempt to sleep in until our morning flight. Alas, we did not get even a wink of sleep; the excitement for our much-awaited trip to beautiful Denmark was too great for us to bear. Seven sleepless hours later, we were off to the City of Spires. Read More »

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The Last Supper

Time June 22nd, 2016 in 2016 Summer, Scotland | No Comments by

The date was Sunday, June 5 and it was absolutely stunning in the beautiful city of Chicago. The sun warmed my rather pasty skin and shone brightly on my blonde hair that was bent over a textbook, dutifully studying for my final exams. Despite the warmth from the sunshine, I could not help to feel anxiety creep through and diminish the sun’s powerful impact on my physical and mental well-being. “Ding. Ding. Ding, ding, ding…” my phone began dinging incessantly, refusing to let me finish my work. I slammed my book in exasperation and glanced at my iPhone. The fam group chat was blowing up. The first message read, “Three more days!! Are you xcited?” from my mom, followed by “OMG only three more days?!” by my sister and “Yahoo!” from my dad. My end of the texting conversation was met by absolute silence. I grabbed my textbook and phone hurriedly and sprinted up my DePaul dormitory stairs, tripping and nearly killing myself in the process. Was I excited? Absolutely yes!! Was I terrified? Probably more so than the previous emotion. After an entire lifetime of dedication to school, work, and running, years of saving, and months of planning, I was finally going to realize my dream in studying abroad. What if it wasn’t all that I panned it out to be?

My boyfriend and I took the L together to my sister’s apartment and walked over with my family for a lovely dinner. This lovely dinner was the last time I would see my family as an entity for months. As I looked around the table in my hangry state, I wanted to cry. Mostly because I was starving and wanted to exert my pain in some way, but also because I was leaving the people that love and care about me the most. The pizza and rabbit salads arrived, and my hunger subsided. I then came to my senses and realized that they would love me just as much in Scotland as they do in the states. I am so incredibly thankful for my superb support system.

They have pushed me through the challenging years of high school, which I would define as endless AP courses, varsity sports, three part-time jobs, endless mounds of homework, occasional meals and showers, and more homework. “Education is the only doorway into brighter future!” My parents would encourage in their Polish accents. When I did not believe I could achieve my goals, my parents would reinforce that I could; their love and belief in me was and continues to be unconditional. They left Poland in their late teens to start a new life with greater opportunities for my sister and I. They left all that they knew to build from the bottom and provide for us. If that’s not love than I don’t know what is.

So thank you, dear parents, for providing me with unconditional love and support. Thank you for investing in me what you wouldn’t dare to invest in yourselves. Love you guys and I’m looking forward to making this the trip of a lifetime. I cannot wait to share my incredible experiences with you!!

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First Few Days

Time June 22nd, 2016 in 2016 Summer, Scotland | No Comments by

My stomach dropped as the plane began its descent. I eagerly tore open the window and let the sunshine stream in and wake up my grumpy neighbor. I took in my first sight of Scotland and couldn’t stop the wide grin from spreading across my face. I hauled my luggage from the upper compartment and scurried to the baggage claim area. Shortly after, I was met by two representatives from IFSA Butler, Deidra and Jolly, along with three other wonderful young women who would soon become my close friends.

The drive to Stirling only took about one hour, yet every single moment was simply stunning. I had never seen so much wide open land and fields! Cows and sheep roam freely in rich pastures of emerald, chartreuse, juniper,  and shamrock shades of green. We dropped off our luggage and went out for lunch near the University of Stirling at a lovely sit-down place with a spectacular view of Scotland’s abundant nature. I looked at the menu anxiously, as my hanger was ramping up in intensity. I read Duck Salad with a questioning look, but I’m glad that I tried something new. It was incredibly tasty!

The first two days flew by in the blink of an eye. We went into town to explore our new home and acclimate ourselves with our new surroundings. We visited the Church of the Holy Rood, where King James VI was crowned King of Scots. Morgan, Courtney, Erin and I then went up the street a ways to pay a visit to the Stirling Castle, which housed breathtaking views as well as previous kings and queens. Dumyat Hill is located right by Beech Court, where we are staying. What a remarkable hike!! Dumyat provided us with breathless views (literally) that were well worth the hike. I’m so grateful that I found a group of friends that are as optimistic about taking advantage of our gorgeous surroundings and opportunities as myself.

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