Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm Going to Scotland!

I’m going to Scotland.

Let me repeat that, with the proper emphasis.


It’s still seven months away, and it’s been a long process so it all feels a bit surreal now, but the fact remains: in September I will head off to St. Andrews and spend a year there.

Let me tell you how this happened…

The picturesque town of St. Andrews
I’ve always wanted to go to the UK. One of my dreams has been to go on a “literary pilgrimage” across the British Isles visiting all the places that my favourite authors have lived. I could see a play at the Globe, visit Milton’s house, have a drink at the pub where the Inklings met… my only problem was having enough time to do everything!

In early December an email arrived in my inbox advertising a scholarship opportunity for studying at St. Andrew’s for a year. Since I was just at the beginning of my Christmas break and had very little else to do, I was able to devote plenty of time to the lengthy application. I had to fill out 18 paragraph questions (detailing everything from my volunteer experience to my future career plans), send official transcripts, and write an essay about the famous golfer “Bobby” Jones (the scholarship was provided in his memory). In the beginning of January I got back in Ontario, dropped off my application, and waited.

Coat of Arms
A couple weeks later, I got an email informing me that I was selected for an interview. An interview? I had no idea an interview was involved. I was nervous, but also excited, and waaaaay overthinking it. Eventually January 28th rolled around and I went in for my interview… and I think I can quite frankly say that, aside from the enormous stress, this was the most fun interview I’ve ever had. All six interviewers were pleasant and friendly, and I felt comfortable from the instant I walked into the room. As it turned out, several of them even liked Doctor Who, and chatting for a minute about David Tennant made for a lovely icebreaker. J

At the end of the interview I was informed that I would learn their decision by Wednesday at the latest, which was yet another shocker, as the website stated that decisions would be made my Mid-February. For the next twenty-four hours I obsessively checked my email until finally, on Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of class, I got the message: “Decision letters are available for pickup.”

Imagine the stress! I had to sit through the remaining twenty minutes of class (apologies to my professor for paying very little attention), before dashing out to catch the bus to the Exchange office. That half hour was quite possibly the tensest time of my life. I arrived at the office at the same time as another girl, and we both picked up our envelopes.

One of St. Andrew's lovely old buildings

I opened mine, and the first word I saw was ‘Congratulations!’ I could barely refrain from jumping, and I definitely couldn’t stop smiling. I just repeated “Oh my God, thank you!” over and over all the way back to King’s. Then I pestered everyone for the rest of the afternoon showing them my acceptance letter… J I’ve got to thank all my Facebook friends for being so supportive and excited for me; it really means a lot. I plan to keep blogging more often over the coming year as I learn more about the exchange. Sometime over the next week I’ll post again about what exactly St. Andrew’s will be like.