Tiffany Vedamuthu

Scotland… before you’ve even been there most of us can picture this
far off fantastic land full of lush green rolling hills, bagpipes,
kilts, Loch Ness monsters and rich accents. Movies like Braveheart and
Harry Potter have really driven home this idea of magical rugged
landscapes and rich culture. But seeing it in movies is nothing like
being there, you can’t even fathom it until you set foot there.

I, by some divine grace, had the ability to study abroad there in the
Fall of 2006. Six years ago seems like an awfully long time now but I
don’t think the vivid image of being there will ever fade from my
head. Traveling with the WIS program was more than just “studying
abroad”. Sure there was lots of studying, I spent many a damp, cold
night in the eerie attic study hall of the Dalkeith House with my
laptop churning out papers and reading textbooks; I think I
purposefully went up there in hopes of hearing a haunting voice or
seeing something surreal and there were many nights where I got
goosebumps and went running back to my roommates… but there were
also the meals in the dining hall where you could almost see the
ghosts of times past and wonder what it would have been like to be
there in a grand ball gown, there was the library where you could just
picture a duke leisurely reading books, and the people, oh the people,
the warm and delightful people, never have I visited anywhere that
made me feel so at home.

It’s not just the local people you meet though that make this magical
place feel like home, all the people you meet from the UW system form
a bond while you are there, they become a second family. Some of my
best friends, still, are the ones I traveled with while I was there
and your access to travel is beyond compare. I did not take as much
advantage of travel as I feel I should have but I did have a stunning
long weekend in Ireland where we sampled Guiness and tromped around
with the locals. Then there was a weekend I traveled, by myself, to
Fort Williams in Scotland and rode the Harry Potter train on one of
the most breath taking trips of my life. There were castles, beaches,
stunning cemeteries that were more like parks, museums, art, and
ghosts.

Scotland is more than just a place to visit. It gets inside you. I
don’t think the chill, damp, cold you feel in Scotland is the
weather… I think that chill you feel is Scotland seeping into your
soul and taking ahold of you, making you yearn to return. Once you’ve
been there it’s almost as though you’ve discovered another “home” and
the funniest things will make remember your time there and bring up
bright vivid memories. For me its things like hot cocoa, a pashmina
scarf, the late days of fall in Minnesota. I’ll sometimes find myself
purposefully bundling up in my rain coat and going outside in the rain
closing my eyes and hoping when I open them I see the stunning
Technicolor green that’s worthy of the Emerald City and taking a big
breath in hopes of the crisp fresh Scotland air filling my lungs.
When I talk about my college years WIS always comes up and first thing
out of my mouth is “it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life,
and I’ve been dying to return since the day I left.”

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