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Six Months in St Andrews ✨

I'm officially six months into living in St Andrews! That means I'm halfway done with my Master's degree. Woah. Kind of insane when you think about it. Scotland has been home since September, but I don't think a place fully becomes a home until one day you suddenly notice that the tap water tastes normal. I must have hit that mark around month three or four, because I have an unpublished blog post sitting in my drafts titled "Home Is Where the Tap Water Tastes Right."

I've been slow to update everywhere except my Instagram accounts, but settling in this semester was much easier than the move here! November was a whirlwind of deadlines and papers and late nights in the library. In December, I took the train down to London and stayed with my good friend Amalie for a few days before heading home to Georgia for a few weeks. Maybe I'll make some itinerary posts later about our travels sometime soon!

Missing home comes with the territory of moving across an ocean, but I really do love it here. The sun finally sets at a normal time (almost 6pm!!), February was full of cold, clear days and lots of rainbows, and Vitamin D has done wonders for my mental clarity. Can you tell I'm Georgia-sun-deficient? I can't wait to experience a 10pm sunset this summer. I'm far less excited for the 4am sunrise.

Rather than go into detail about everything I've been up to since October, here are a few highlights:

  • Last month, I gave a paper at the St Andrews Institute of Medieval Studies. If you're at all interested in what I'm writing and researching, I recorded my presentation and the entire Q+A afterwards. Comment and I'll send you the link!

  • I've started writing fiction again! Regularly!! My friend Julia and I are both working on fantasy novels and have begun a weekly tradition of writing together. Maybe one of us will even leave St Andrews with a full draft.

  • Medieval studies of any kind greatly revolve around Christianity and church history, so my friend Elise and I started a Bible study for our cohorts towards the end of November. We're blown away that our academic buds want to read and discuss the Bible with us every week, and we've had a blast planning out the spring semester.

  • Over break, I spent a day in Oxford and still remembered how to get everywhere. It was really special to return five years later as (what feels like) a totally different person. Oxford is the reason I'm in St Andrews, and I'll never stop being grateful for my time there.

  • I've been to a couple ceilidhs (traditional Scottish dances) by now, and I have never been more out of breath from laughing and spinning in my life! I highly recommend them if you ever visit Scotland.

  • I saw the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) on November 25 from the beach below the castle!! That might be the most magical sentence I've ever written about myself. The aurora showed up way better through a long exposure shot, but I could actually see it moving with the naked eye. Huge check off the bucket list!

This semester, I'm taking Old English and Medieval Literature in Context. I still don't have a handle on the grading system, but since hardly any other uni grades on a 20-point scale, I'm not too worried about it. Tea, hot water bottles, and biscuits are necessities in the cold winter weather. I haven't seen more than a light December flurry, but I'm hoping the damp chill and incessant winds give way to a little snow at some point.

Earlier today, a thought popped into my head. You know the Season Four Reboot that most shows have? That strange point where the showrunners decide to drastically change something about the show that either works incredibly well or massively fails? Some shows fall prey to a slump instead of a new beginning (I'm looking at you, Buffy), but some do it right. Take Gilmore Girls. Rory graduates and heads off to college, and we're introduced to brand new locales, characters, and plot lines. The protagonist is challenged and stretched... hopefully in a way that doesn't cause the show to jump the shark.

I feel like I've hit my season four. New, uncharted territory. I miss the small things about home (mostly food) and the big things (mostly people and dogs). But the "new characters" in my life have become good friends. I have routines and Bible studies and a beach to walk on when I need the peace found only at the sea. I'm learning how to attend church as a member, not as a volunteer or contractor. I constructed a medieval cathedral out of gingerbread. I've tried haggis a few times and can genuinely say, I'm a fan. I turned 27. Taking the train will forever be novel to me. Carrying my groceries has forced me to be frugal out of sheer necessity because I can only fit so much in two tote bags.

I haven't stopped learning or growing or walking since moving here, and I couldn't be happier about any of it. I'm coming alive to textual research again, and I almost have more assigned readings than I have time for. I definitely don't have time for all the books and articles I want to read for my own personal research and need to read for dissertation prep.

A year is a long time, but it's also really not. I've been in Scotland for six months, and it's already time to think about what's next.

Obviously, that looming "next" is my Old English exam next week and my dissertation proposal that's due the week after. No need for the Sunday Scaries about the future quite yet. :)

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