Catching up over whatsapp yesterday with a best friend who lives in Houston, from family updates, to US politics to... snowy Christmas!
My first Scottish December: a storm
This won't be my first Christmas away from home. But yes, this is my first December in Scotland. And it began rather in a unique way.
I was on my way back to Glasgow from London, with a sleeper departed at almost midnight on Wednesday the 4th. The train was already stationary when I woke up at 8 AM the next day, practically in the middle of nowhere. We were stranded. Someone said something was broken, but then the train staff explained (with my limited ability in understanding his Scottish accent) that something collapsed and there was no way through to the Glasgow Central Station. The plan is to change direction to Edinburgh, and passengers are to find their way to Glasgow Queen Street Station from there.
Ok. I got it. I told myself. Don't worry, you'll be fine. You've been to Edinburgh and you know how to get on the train to Queen Street. This is your first long trip on a train, in a foreign country. Perfect. You won't forget this experience. And only another woman on the coach, but I think these men look alright.
I was busy with my own thoughts as I observed how calm people were; for five hours we were stranded on the train, without certainty of what the authority would do -- yet a different cultural dimension I noticed in the laid-back Scotland; in where I moved from and lived for the recent nine years, a train breakdown is considered a major national disaster, with the event becoming headlines in the media, forcing the CEO to step down.
Adjusting with the local weather is not all. As I was pondering about my first encounter with the harsh weather of Scotland, I recalled a conversation just a day before, with one of my flatmates (who is also my classmate):
Xin Yi (in her usual Malaysian/Singaporean style of English) : "You're going to London alone?! Alone on the train?"
Me : "Yeah."
Xin Yi : "Arent' you scared??! This is UK, this is not Singapore, you know."
Me (softly, with an acute honesty): " .... Actually... yes, I'm scared. (sighs) But I think I'll be fine. .....
I should be back in Glasgow at around 7 am tomorrow. Otherwise, can you call the police if you don't see me by lunch time?" (half-jokingly)
Xin Yi : ???
Although Xin Yi spent her time working in Singapore not as long as I did, we both knew how safe the small country is, how well-known its reliable structure and hence what it means for us adjusting with the life in the UK, safety-wise. She's got a valid concern there. Moreover, an industrial city, Glasgow has its own place for crime rate. And my upbringing background is not helpful at all -- raised as the center of attention in a close-knitted family, with a protective mother, I'm still learning to be more a street-smart kind of person.
Yet another 'storm'
A different kind of 'storm' came to me later at the end of the week. As I was hugging my Scottish adoptive parents goodbye at their home last Sunday I was suddenly hit by a strange storm of sadness – I don’t know where I’ll be next year. One year feels way too short to fall in love with people and this city, only not to know for sure if I am to leave them behind or being with them at the end of the journey.
A couple of close classmates told me, maybe it is way too early to let my heart be ripped off by this thought. Maybe it is. But I knew I’ve made one of my best life’s decisions by coming here. And I’ll do the same thing all over again if I could.
End of Term 1
Time flies when you're having fun! This is our last week of class, after three exams this week we will be done with Term 1.
Heeding my mentor’s advice on the modules and exams, sleep deprived, group study – all done with full force of anxiety – had practically filled my last three weeks of this term.
I can say that I enjoyed being back in school; look forward to the second term on the 6th January. 'Till then, I'll enjoy the break by visiting friends in the region :-)
I don't know what the future holds, but I hope you'll be part of it.
See you again, Glasgow!
The Piano Guys - Angels We Have Heard on High