This is Aaron, drafted by my beautiful wife into writing a "guest-post" of sorts for the blog. Which I do super-reluctantly, since I am by nature an introvert who hates talking in any form and . . . ok, who am I kidding, I've been wanted to do one of these for a while, and Sarah finally relented. :) So, for this post, you're stuck with me. But hey, the pictures still come from her and are as gorgeous as always!
It occurs to me, somewhat belatedly, that we may have never really explained how we wound up in Scotland. This can be very easily done. First, this:
And third, of course, is this:
I mean, those are three pretty compelling reasons, am I right? But seriously, the decision to go back to school in the first place wasn't easy. And when it comes right down to it, moving to ANY foreign country is difficult. At least we spoke the same language, mostly (Glaswegian dialect is incredibly thick sometimes). At the end of the day, though, no matter how beautiful the countryside and inviting the people, it's no easy decision to move across the ocean.
For us, the decision was years in the making. I had always planned on going back to school, and Sarah (being the awesome, amazing, world-beating woman that she is) was a big fan of the idea. Originally, I applied to schools stateside, but thanks to some technicalities with my degree, none of the schools in the states which had the degree I wanted would even look at my transcripts.
Speaking of the degree I wanted . . . it's a degree in Chinese Studies. So we're talking about a relatively uncommon degree. We'd considered going to China for the degree, but there were some concerns with that idea. Then, rather out of the blue one day, Sarah was doing some internet browsing and discovered that the University of Glasgow (founded in 1451) offered a one-year MSc program in Chinese Studies. That discovery started us on the path. I began contacting a professor at the university who headed up the program, and that developed pretty quickly into an application, which led to an interview, and then my acceptance into the program.
Then came a delay. Weddings, as awesome as they are, (and I highly recommend them), do tend to turn into time-and-effort black holes that for a short time demand nothing short of virtually all your attention. We were married in May, which meant that by the time the dust settled it was June, and with an August departure date for a foreign country - yeah. Too much, too soon, too quickly. I emailed my professor again and asked if I could delay my enrollment a year. The school granted the deferment, and we pushed everything back from 2014 to 2015.
With that decision made, we settled down in our hometown in SC for one more year. It flew by, and before we knew it, 2015 arrived and planning for our departure started to take high priority. And let me tell you, it took some planning, especially with the cats (who, being cats, doubtless think that all the extra time and money we've spent on them is only their proper due). But like it or not, Sarah has converted me into a cat person, and leaving them behind was never really an option. So we packed up our lives into 47 different boxes, agonized over what to bring, sorted, sifted, and sorted some more, and all the while planned a route to get us from SC, USA, to Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
And having finally arrived and gotten more or less settled, I think we both think it's worth it. The University is pretty impressive. Founded in 1451, U. of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the UK (behind Oxford, Cambridge, and St. Andrews). The campus, located right in modern Glasgow, is the "new" campus, built in the late 1800s. The main buildings especially have a very medieval style, one that my wife says, "looks like Hogwarts." (There's apparently some debate over how much the University's architecture influenced the descriptions of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. Google it, it's a great Internet rabbit-trail.) The university feels like the nearly five-hundred-year-old institute of learning that it is, and for me, it's been exhilarating.
Just as important, Scotland in general agrees with both of us. Now, we've managed to arrive during an unseasonably nice stretch of weather. As our neighbor, Fiona, says, "If it's dry, it's nice," and we've had only scattered showers with lots of sunshine. Everyone assures us that the weather will turn, and when it does that may change our tune. But we both love history, and Scotland is as saturated with that as it is with rain. Castles, towns, the hills themselves all have stories, and we can't wait to hear them.
So, while it's been a long and somewhat tortuous path, we're both excited to be here, and are really looking forward to our adventures! Cheers!