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.


We’re leaving for New York City tomorrow, which is pretty exciting. I’ve never been there before, so it should be fun. What I find kind of funny is that right now, I don’t feel as apprehensive or excited as I usually would for a trip that is even smaller than this one – I think my anticipation for going overseas has kind of dwarfed everything. It’s still going to be exciting and fun, because I don’t get out much.

Update: I lied, I’m getting excited, I’ve been looking at the map on mapquest and it’s like they crammed the whole world onto a tiny little island.