#ISPYAPI – A Study Abroad Reflection

This guest post comes to us from University of Arkansas- Little Rock student, Reagan Martin who is currently studying abroad in Stirling, Scotland. You can read more about her journey abroad at http://reaganmartin.com/

I’m wrapping up my last few days in Scotland and as this trip abroad comes to a close, I can only be grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had here. Not only have I been able to explore nearly all of this beautiful country, but I’ve managed to squeeze in several other trips across Europe as well. I have so many to thank for helping me achieve this adventure, but for this blog post I’d like to focus on the program that brought me here, Academic Programs International.

Flying into Scotland four months ago was just as stressful for me as it was exciting. It was my first time out of the US, my first flight alone, and my first experience not knowing anyone around me. API made it easy. As soon as I landed, I was surrounded by eight friendly girls in the same situation and a red-headed Scot who seemed to want to help me (I couldn’t understand his Glaswegian accent to save my life). Little did I know that my relationships with these people would soon become lifelong friendships.

“You never really travel alone. The world is full of friends waiting to get to know you.”

The Scot I mentioned? Yeah, that’s Calum. API gave us a fantastic resident director who cares just as much about our success as we do. He has a wicked sense of humor and makes himself available the minute we need him. API is the only program I know of that provides an on-campus mentor that actually understands what it’s like to be a student. Calum is very understanding and helpful, and having his own past study abroad experience makes him more than qualified for his job. He has become a great friend of mine, and I’m going to miss him dearly!

Over the course of the semester, API has taken us on over ten excursions across Scotland. I’ve learned a ton of Scottish history, seen amazing cities and gorgeous country-sides, been introduced to numerous Scottish recipes, and probably had too much whiskey for my own good. Without API, there are so many places that I wouldn’t have gone, people that I would’ve missed out on meeting, and things I wouldn’t have ever guessed to try.

Curling:

Curling is the perfect example! Just last week we went to an ice rink where curling coaches actually worked with us and taught us how to perform the sport. Being a southern girl from Arkansas, when else would I ever get the chance to go curling? I actually was really good at it! You would have thought that Erica and I were training for the Olympics because our coach was critiquing us like we were professionals.

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Dumyat:

Our next excursion was a hike up Dumyat, the incredible mountain on our campus. It was a tough climb with an insane amount of wind, but the view at the top was so worth it!

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When I look back on these best four months of my life, I can’t help but be proud of the person that I’ve become. World travel has made me modest and more culturally-rounded, but it’s also impacted my life in ways I would have never imagined. I’m leaving Scotland with everything I’d hoped for and much more. I’m returning to the States as a confident, strong, and independent woman with memories I’ll cherish forever.

I hold back my tears as I write this because I know I will be back again one day, but Scotland has really become a home to me. I am going to miss the accents, the views, and the friendly locals. I’m going to miss the rich history and pride of this country. I’m going to miss the beautiful walk to class and traveling, writing my blog and exploring new ways of life. But most of all, I’m going to miss the people. I’ve made so many new friends here, from my API family and flatmates to my boxing club and classmates. I’ve been to ten new countries and met new people in each place, some that I will never see again. While for the most part, I’ll try to stay in touch with these people, it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that I’ll no longer see them every day. While some of them will only be a few states away, a lot of them will be oceans away. I’m not worried about it, because I have so many beautiful memories to remember them by, but I can’t help but be sad that it’s all coming to an end.

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. You’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

–Azar Nafisi

While half of my heart is breaking every day that I get closer to going home, the other half is healing. There are so many people that I love and miss in the United States, and I am so excited to return! I can’t wait to cuddle with my pets and boyfriend in our cozy home, hug my family and spend hours telling them my stories, go out with my friends to my favorite unhealthy American restaurants, and get tackled by my sweet kids at work that missed me so much. 2017 has been my best year yet, and I don’t plan on stopping here. I’ve got much more to accomplish this year, and I know that if anything, after this journey I am capable of so much more. It’s time for me to take what I’ve learned here and apply it to my life, and I can’t wait to see the success that comes out of it.

Studying abroad has really changed my life, and I appreciate all of my regular readers that have taken this journey with me. This isn’t the end of reaganmartin.com, but for now this is all I have to share. Keep your eyes open for that guest blog, because I still have some friends that are traveling! Until then, thanks for reading. Cheers!

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