Published: August 11th 2008August 11th 2008
As it turns out, it's a little more difficult than I expected to simultaneously move out, pack, and plan for a trip all in a week. Oh well... sleep can always be removed from the to-do list I guess. I think I could pretty easily run on pure excitement at the moment. I do, however, need an occasional break, which is why I am currently sitting in my almost completely empty room with a yogurt and the question of what exactly I plan to write.
I guess a worthwhile entry would be an explanation to the question(s) of why
So here goes...
Why inflict catastrophic financial hardship on yourself and family just to study abroad?
Okay, the catastrophic financial hardship may be a stretch. But it does take a little more work than a normal semester at ISU, so why do it? Well...
I travel for the culture. The Study Abroad Center at Iowa State has one of my favorite posters, which reads "Culture shock is a good
thing." I can elaborate. The United States has a population of ~300 million. The world has a population of ~6.7 billion. So, with a little math, Americans make up about 4.5% of the world. I want to know about the other 95.5%. They have just as much relevance in the world today as you or I, and number quite a few more. If, for example, I want to do some sort of service work in my life (I do), a question I would ask would be, "where is help needed most?" Once again using a little math, chances are it would be somewhere in the 95.5% rather than here in the US. And if I want to work in other countries, I think the proper starting place is in gaining an understanding of what separates a place from anywhere else - its people. I think too much of the trouble today can be traced back to a misunderstanding and mistrust of people from other cultures.
So I travel for a better global understanding. To learn exactly what a life is like in another part of the world. To meet people from further away than Des Moines. To learn about the history of the world. To learn about the world today. To learn about where everything is going. And to experience other cultures firsthand, and embrace them.
Oh - I'm also a sucker for beautiful architecture, scenery, and coming back with cool pictures.
Why Edinburgh, Scotland?
Sadly, my foreign language skills are lacking at the moment, although I plan on fixing that sometime in the near future. My only knowledge besides a little English is some very broken Spanish - not enough to live in a Spanish country. And French, the language I'd like to learn, takes some time (and classes). So who knows if I'll get to that. At any rate, my language deficiency narrows my travel opportunities down to pretty much either Australia or the UK. Australia seemed to American to me, plus the UK is just a hop across the channel to the rest of Europe and all of its diversity. So the UK it is.
But now where in the UK?
Well... in order to explain this, I have to make a slight detour and add something else to my list of something I'm a sucker for: castles. Big time. Probably since I was old enough to say the word.
Now, as I'm browsing through cities I can study in, I come across a picture of Edinburgh. And it's built around the ruins of a castle, on a cliff. I immediately researched the city a little further, and found that not only does it have plenty of ancient architecture, but is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with the largest festival in the world held there every Fall. I was sold. The fact that I was surrounded by the Scottish countryside just added to my desire to live in Edinburgh. Plus, I just feel like there might be a little more character in Scotland than England. If nothing else there's a cooler accent...
OK, I'm beginning to feel guilty about my lack of activity... back to packing/planning/moving!