Post Script: Homestay
Since my laptop has crashed, taking the footage from the semester with it, my final final anecdote will have to be told the old fashioned way: written word.
Like all other abroad students, I participated in a three-day long homestay. My host parents were named David and Susan. They lived in an old-fashioned farmhouse in Stirling, Scotland. Their quaint and beautifully curated home sitting on green farmland surrounded by gardens, was sort of the pinnacle of what I pictured country-living in Scotland would be before I left. Susan and David were talkative and welcoming; they introduced us to traditional Scottish meals (including haggis, neeps and tatties – duhlish), gave us a tour of different sites (including Stirling Castle, The Kelpies, and the amazing Falkirk Wheel) and poured us cup after cup of tea over stories about previous exchange students they had hosted, and comparing common practices and products between the U.K. and the U.S.
The moments that I really cherished were ones that were very, for lack of a better word, human. They were experiences one can only encounter through coexisting within a group, rather than ones planned on an itinerary. For example, Susan had a persistent cough that I at first thought might be the result of smoking, but unlike the tobacco scent of my grandfather’s house, hers smelled like rain and clean tile. She apologized for it on the third day, explaining that she was prone to throat infections as a result of being quote, “allergic to children.” I laughed when she said this – she did not. I thought that an odd diagnosis considering not only had she and David hosted approximately 150 other exchange students over the years, but was also a primary school teacher. In another instance, Susan’s car engine had to be jumped when we were leaving the Falkirk Wheel. She was apologetic, embarrassed even, and insisted that the two other students and I continue to wander the grounds and entertain ourselves while she tended to the engine. We did for a short while, then returned to help with the car. I really enjoyed these episodes. They were familiar; reminiscent of charmingly idiosyncratic exchanges when traveling with one’s family. Of course, I also loved sitting on plush chairs in front of a fire place, playing board games. Susan and David were extremely lovely all around, providing comfort and warmth.
I continue to recall my experiences abroad almost daily. I miss Scotland very much, and hope to return soon.