Quaint and Quiet
We left Edinburgh and drove for two and a half hours through the Scottish countryside to end up in what you might call the ‘middle of nowhere’. Penrith, with a population of about 15,000 is the largest town in the district of Eden, located in northern England. To put that into perspective, my home university, which is considered small-medium sized, has about that many enrolled if you count both undergraduate and graduate students.
Life in this town appeared so simple. The homes were all relatively similar in size, the streets were rather quiet except for a few people walking their dogs here and there. The main downtown area was no more than a few streets and alleyways filled with coffee shops, convenience stores, toy stores, and small boutiques. People were friendly; it seemed like all the shop owners knew all the customers, and many were baffled to see two American girls walk into their showroom.
There is something to be said about someone who can appreciate a lifestyle such as this. Coming from a more hustle-bustle environment, it was difficult for me to appreciate the modesty of the town. Being able to walk around and feel familiar with most people you see is certainly a good feeling; in this day and age of technology and big cities, we often forget what that is like. So much of our daily lives is spent among strangers, among people who know nothing about us besides what they can learn from the clothes we are wearing, and we’ve learned to accept that this is normal. We say thank you and good-bye to shop owners, but often don’t bother to dive into deeper conversation. We have been trained that a superficial exchange is good enough. Although a quaint town may appear dull to an outsider’s perspective, it is obvious that the people establish deep and long-lasting connections with everyone around them, which is something that a lot of us seem to have lost touch with.