I’ve started this blog entry nine times so far. Ever since I got my nomination to go on exchange in January, going on exchange has become my defining characteristic. I’ve thought about it so much that I am not sure what I think any more, but here is what I have found:

My family is spoiling me, probably to squeeze out every available minute of my company in these last two weeks. I’m not complaining, because it means that I get to eat chicken pot pie and roast beef with Yorkshire puddings in the same couple of weeks as barbecued hotdogs and corn on the cob. I’ve lived my entire life with them, and I am not a tremendously sentimental person, so all of this fussing isn’t a big deal to me now. This is for them, really.

Most of my fears are mundane, like having difficulty taking my violin as carry-on. Also Legionnaire’s Disease, scurvy, mono, hearing loss, gouged nonstick saucepans, noise, “beef” from Tesco, my flatmates eating up all of my food, sounding pretentious when I call them “flatmates”, and the flatmates themselves. This is assuming I don’t die on the plane first. Mostly, I worry about leaving my dog, who can’t know that her favourite petting machine is flying across an ocean soon. I also suspect that the feeling of having forgotten something will persist well after I’ve left the plane. Other than the odd worry, though, while I am theoretically very excited, the actual reality is my amygdala must have anaesthetized itself, because asides from the odd instance in which I wake up in a cold sweat and involuntarily curse in fear, I don’t actually feel much.

I suspect is that is because my brain has not yet wrapped itself around the concept of living and studying in Scotland. I had a dream a few nights ago in which I finally arrived, stepped off the airplane, and Edinburgh looked like this village:

Pictured above: one of the most boring experiences of my young life

Pictured: the most boring experience of many young lives

This is obviously not Edinburgh, but don’t let those flags fool you into thinking that it is even remotely close to the Scottish-English border. Would this fool anyone? I doubt it, the English got everywhere. In case you didn’t go to elementary school in southeastern Ontario, these are all snippets of Ontario’s most boring theme park:

upper canada village admission

Though still basically Britain with a worse climate, at the time.

I think my family still hopes that I will not go through with this. Honestly, I think if I didn’t, my thirteen-year-old self would travel to the future and shoot me. I have read far too many fantasy and adventure books to not want to see more of the world. In fact, one of the reasons I stopped writing was that I felt I couldn’t authentically write a proper adventure if I rarely left my own small city and never saw real challenge or excitement. Though this is in a sense a tame adventure, I think it’s a good start. I hope that I will adjust well, and I secretly hope that I like Scotland enough to not want to leave. Mostly, I’m looking forward to not having to say “Edinburgh” as much. Though after countless repetitions I can now say it to the approval of a certain Englishman who is half Scottish and more than half mad, I never could squash that feeling of absurd affectation. I lied earlier, I’m extremely excited about the whole thing. Younger me would expect nothing less.


me: I bet you’ll be happy if I don’t get into the exchange program   (because they’ll miss me so much)

my mom: you know we want you to get in

my dad: – actually –

my mom: but you’ll have plenty of opportunities if you don’t

my dad: – actually, we’re pretty excited, we’re gonna go into your room, crack open all the stuff

my mom: get a hazmat team

my dad: it’ll be great!

my mom: and there will be less mess, and we’ll get to eat spicy food, and there won’t be any more 1 am showers

Thanks, parents, thanks.

Scotland, there’s a difference, you know. People’ll get angry if you say England and you actually mean Scotland. “Britain” is generally okay, “UK” works.

I fly down to Edinburgh at a specific date in early September. I still need to finish the damn application essay. It’s always those last few sentences, I aim to have it done by the end of this weekend. Says I.

And my passport application still hasn’t reached Washington, alas. For some silly reason all north american passport applications are done out of D.C. I’m a bit miffed, the Queen is actually on our money, so we should be the ones to have a processing center. They don’t even make them in D.C, they make them somewhere in Britain. Hmmph.

Tomorrow, I’ll get the thing done tomorrow, preferably before my house is overrun by Scottish people  and I may be asked about it. What is this about the scottish people, you ask? I will almost certainly write a thing tomorrow, but it has to do with extended quasi-family, and their visiting family. I use “quasi-family” for people who I have a family-type relationship – in the case of these people, my parents have been friends with them for well over two decades, and I’ve seen more of them than I have of actual aunts and uncles. I used to be best friends with their daughter, and the overall type of interaction is that of extended family that also generally like each other’s company. My blood-and-various-people’s-marriages extended family is made up of decent enough people, but the dinners are rather awkward, since nobody would voluntarily interact were they not related. For some silly reason most of my quasi-family is some kind of British. It’s just the way my life works.