"Have you ever felt found, not knowing you were lost?" So begins JWU student Jacqueline Gonzalez-Cuba's moving study abroad exploration in Scotland.
Have you ever felt found, not knowing you were lost? It feels like a sense of relief, a sense of comfort. I never could have imagined traveling half way around the world would present me with such a sense of belonging. It’s been just over one week in Scotland and I feel the lingering of my inevitable departure. I still have about another three full weeks left, but already I miss it. I’ve never felt drawn to a place as I do now. How amazing it is to slowly fall in love all over again.
Each morning I wake up to an open window, breathing in the fresh air of the northern mountains. I hear the bellowing of the geese in the nearby loch and I see the towering Wallace Monument hovering above the trees in the distance. My view is remarkably breathtaking.
Short bus rides to the Stirling Town Centreoffer a marvelous sensory experience. Walking along the cobbled road you will hear the sound of bagpipes playing effortlessly and the clinking sound of pence and pounds offered by locals and tourists alike. Nostalgic shops line the sidewalks, filled with tartans, whisky and chocolates galore. The wind sneakily wafts the smell of fresh haggis under your nose, playfully coming from the corner pub. The Victorian architecture appeals to the eyes with its deep arches, stone walls, and creaking wood floors. The mist and fog add to the mystery that is Scotland. The locals would agree that a day is not complete with at least a little drizzle of rain. A short walk anywhere and you are romanticized by the weather, the sun coyly playing hide and seek.
But beyond the weather and the rough surface, Scotland offers a history rich with pride. Its inner core offers a story of heartbreak, rebellion, acceptance, victory, defeat, lust, and love. Although there is an irresistible presence of the ‘tartan monster’ for tourism purposes, the landscapes and scenery reveal the truth. Scotland is gilded with green, untouched natural murals, once visited by royals, rivals, wars, and independence. Scotland gave birth to stories such as Braveheart, Nessie the Loch Ness monster, and most recently Harry Potter.
To hear tales of long ago is to live them in your dreams. It is easy to fantasize a life with royals such as Mary, Queen of Scots, or even the current Queen Elizabeth (the first in Scotland). It is hard to imagine a life without taking a drive, where the scenic route is every route.
To fall in love with Scotland is effortless and irrevocable.
Do not miss one moment of Jacqueline’s electric study abroad journey, follow her JWU Student Blog.