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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Why Not Glasgow?

Glasgow, Scotland was my second study abroad choice. Okay, that’s a lie, it was more like my fourth. First was Paris, then Havana and then Amsterdam. I’ve wanted to go to Paris since I was 14. But I didn’t meet the deadline for one of the school-sponsored French study abroad programs.

Every day it seemed there’d be a new study abroad opportunity to places you couldn’t pay me to point out on a map. Destinations like Diessen, Germany; Jeju, South Korea; Bucharest, Romania just to name a few. It truly never occurred to me to see Scotland on my own, it just wasn’t on my radar. But after scouring Lonely Planet and YouTube videos, I saw how beautiful it was. After another rough Boston winter, I could use some beauty. I wanted to be less ignorant, and more of the global citizen I always professed to be. 

I applied to the Summer School at Glasgow Caledonian University program and I got in! I had spent the summer working 50-hour weeks and barely saw my friends, but my bank account was popping more than ever. I usually just ball on a budget, but I deserved every present I got for myself.  Working in retail is no joke. Not that it wasn’t a good experience! But which would you choose? Glasgow or a beige department store interior? I could do without mysterious blood in the fitting rooms, occasional fires, and pissy customers. But I digress.

I procrastinated on getting a visa, and was almost certain that I’d get deported when I entered the UK. Somehow, I’d brought all the documents I’d need for a visa upon arrival, and the immigration officer barely batted an eye before stamping my passport. The plane ride was rough, with no WIFI and my seatmates hogging the arm rests but all I could think was “Wow I’m on a plane!” I’ve wanted to travel for as long as I could remember, and I was finally doing it!    

The next 17 days were, in a word, exhilarating. Turns out I’m not allergic to being outside. We went on an Edinburgh bar crawl, took a sunrise hike, went to a Ceilidh (a Scottish country dance), visited Loch Ness (she was friendly), and saw Stirling Castle. We cooked masala and a delectable dessert named Badam Kheer with Indian students from my sustainability course. (Plus, I saw so many Highland cows, their hair is epic!) My jet lag never went away so I spent the whole trip looking like I had pink eye, but I was having the time of my life and hardly noticed. There would be times when I felt homesick, but a quick call to my best friend helped me realize this was where I belonged.

Oh right, I also studied about waste management and came up with an entire project on recycling prescription bottles in a more sustainable way. I could never have imagined myself doing this before Scotland, but then again, this was a summer of firsts. I was the only black girl, but I was proud to represent.

Then came the morning of my flight back home, and, of course, I found myself repacking. I even had to leave some clothes in my room. R.I.P beautiful £40 Topshop jean jacket. I forgot my glasses and almost missed my connecting flights, but made it at the last minute after asking a nearby traveler where gate such and such was. My seatmates weren’t very talkative on my first flight, however, this girl came hunkering down the aisle of my return flight looking so bohemian, before plopping down next to me and offering chocolate. She was a tall blonde and blue-eyed, a half-Dutch and half-Lebanese goddess. It turns out she’d spent the summer in Morocco and was coming from a layover in France. This girl had the same idea as I did, having spent the summer working, and when she had some coin, she bought a one-way ticket to Morocco. We spent the next five hours talking about travel, environmentalism, and Paddington Bear. I haven’t seen her since, but we plan on grabbing Ethiopian food together, and maybe, one day, we’ll meet on another flight.  

I’ve always had the travel bug and lived a life with wanderlust murmuring. So as soon as I got home, I began to plan for my next flight: Berlin. Because why not?