Scotland Travel Image Gallery

I know it’s been a minute (plus a month and a half) since I’ve shared much of anything here, but I have a good reason! After two international trips in less than three months, with a road trip to Colorado sandwiched in the middle, I needed some time to decompress. Life, work, family, etc. happened, so I let it all wash over me before making my way back here.

I’ve been mulling over in my head how to write and share this post because it has literally been five years in the making. Five years ago, I was dropped off outside of AKD Hall at the University of Stirling, Scotland, forced to carry my two oversized bags up four flights of stairs, attempting to be brave and not start weeping in the echoing corridor. For the first week, I was convinced I would never make a friend, let alone more. Luckily, I was wrong.

It is rare to meet a tribe of five amazing women anywhere in the world, even rarer to find them all living on the fourth floor of a Scottish university dorm, even rarest to make a pact to meet up once a year in a different state/country and actually do it. From the beginning, we said our 5th year would bring us back to Scotland and, despite constant changing schedules and a million moving parts, here we are together again where it all began.

It doesn’t come much more full circle than that.

Back to the beginning: Stirling

We stayed in Stirling at the Willie Wallace Hostel for two days, trekking across campus, climbing Dumyat, and hitting up our old haunts, Dusk and FUBAR, until 3 or 4 a.m., pretending to be 19 again.

[Click the images to view the slideshow]

Highland Adventures

Scottish cities and university towns are great, but the Highlands call to me. While I had spent time in the Highlands before, it was a trip of firsts: renting and driving a car on the “wrong” side of the road, visiting the ancient Clava Cairns at sunset, discovering a knock-off Harry Potter bridge off of a dirt road, and actually seeing Scottish sunshine for five full days.

[Click the images to view the slideshow]

I won’t ever be able to describe fully what this place and these people mean to me. I can only say they are the reason behind the person I am today. Uprooting my life, even for just four months, to fend for myself in a new country was the most challenging thing I had done in my then 19 years of life. It’s one of the very few moments in my life that I can confidently point to and say, “That’s when it all changed.”

Two weeks before embarking on this solo study abroad trip, I got my first tattoo. I wanted to commemorate going my own way, taking a risk and accepting whatever may come. I kept going back to the first poem I really connected with, the ever cliché The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I decided to get the title of the poem tattooed on my side. The last line of the poem that resonates the most with me reads, “I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” It’s assumed the difference he alludes to is positive, impactful, worthwhile. Yet, he never says what difference it makes. We as readers fill in the emotional blanks.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what difference it makes, rather that there was a difference at all. For me, the poem spoke of picking a path, putting one foot in the front of the other, and accepting the outcome, good or bad. I could at least walk a road less traveled and say that I tried, even if I failed. Lucky for me, it did make all the difference, in all the best of ways.

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