Where have three months gone? I am just now realizing the little time I have left in the wonderful city I have called ‘home’ for the past semester, Edinburgh, and am wishing I could rewind the clock. Studying in Edinburgh has illustrated a whole world of opportunity available at my fingertips, as I have the power to act on each opportunity and live in every glorious moment given to me. Each student on my program is working at an internship across the city; my internship is at the Crowne Plaza Royal Terrace Hotel, allowing me to greet visitors and tourists from all over the world each and every day. Many guests will ask me what I am doing in cold and rainy Scotland, as I am from South Florida, allowing me the chance to rave about the EPA Internships program and Edinburgh itself.
On my flight over to the U.K., I promised myself that I would take advantage of every opportunity presented to me and live my life away from home to the fullest, unsure of the next time I will be overseas. I am proud to say that I have done exactly that, as I have been researching exciting destinations to travel to, getting to know the other students on the trip and my colleagues better, and stepping out of my comfort zone in regard to trying new foods and activities. It is important to remember that our time spent abroad is limited, and that we must exist in the present to our fullest extent. On each weekend trip, the friends I travel with and I do our best to see all of the main attractions, meet the locals, and try whichever food the country is notorious for. For example, in Amsterdam, my friends and I booked a canal tour, meeting locals along the way and getting the chance to try Stroop waffles and cheese from Holland. These are the memories I will take back with me to the United States, the moments I fully immersed myself in the culture of a beautiful city unlike my own.
Not only is it crucial we take advantage of any and all outside travel opportunities, but putting aside time to explore the city in which we call ‘home’ for the semester will prove to be significant. My friends and I have taken advantage of Scottish cuisine, trying haggis, neeps, Scotch pie, and fried Mars bars. We have made it a point to hike Arthurs Seat, a beautiful lookout over the top of the city, once a month. Further, we have explored the culture of the Scots and have attended classic celidh dances and dinners, creating fun-filled memories that I will later share with those back in the United States. Edinburgh, itself, is both rich in history, nature, and its distinct culture, making every turn around the corner exciting and presenting me with the ability to learn more information relating to said event, writer, royal, or piece of architecture. Both my peers and I are able to identify key figures, buildings, and places around town that relate to what we are learning in the classes we have been taking on top of our internship. I wish I could rewind the clock back to when we first arrived in Edinburgh, then a city full of new people, buildings, food, and ideas. However, I am grateful for the little time we have left to explore the city that is knee-deep in history and thought, as I will attempt to make the most of our remaining days here and manage to ‘look up’ from the daily paths I take to walk with a new perspective and purpose in my step.
Finally, the internship aspect has played a great role in my study abroad experience, as my colleagues at the Crowne Plaza are now thought of as friends and a team, rather than as mere coworkers. Although I am content with my duties and feel comfortable conversing with guests now than ever before, I wish I could rewind and learn a plethora of other aspects pertaining to hospitality. To think that in four more working days I will officially be done interning in Edinburgh is, in all honesty, a very sad thought. Although highs and lows are associated with any position one may hold, I have so enjoyed every minute of my internship and feel as if I have truly bonded with my coworkers. We have discussed matters relating to Edinburgh such as what attractions to visit, what traditional recipes to attempt to make, and what restaurants to try. Moreover, we have conversed about their growing up in Edinburgh and other parts of Europe, my life in Florida, our families, our education, political and social topics, and have laughed through it all. It is important to note that certain people will enter your life and leave your life for specific reasons, and although I may never see some of my coworkers again, they will always impact my work experience as a whole. In the last few shifts I have as a receptionist, I will make sure as to inform them of what an influence they have had on my study abroad experience and how appreciative and blessed I am to have been able to interact with true Scots in Edinburgh.
Although rewinding the clock would be exciting and would permit both me and my peers to relive some of the most exhilarating moments of our lives, I am content with how the semester has panned out and am looking forward to sharing stories with my friends and family from home. At this point in the semester, it is easy to regret this and that, yet it is important that we look forward and plan the remaining days we have accordingly in whichever wonderful city it is that is ‘home’ for the time being. I will be sure to take advantage of the next two weeks, as I hope for two more weeks full of laughter, sunshine, friendship, growth, and memories that I will be ecstatic to share for years to come.
Alexandra Wiley, Furman University (Edinburgh, Spring 2018)