Relentlessly curious traveler, learner, reader, writer, in constant search of the next grand (or tiny) adventure. 

 

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© 2017 by Erika Firestone.

A Wee Year in Scotland

September 30, 2016

 The last time I blogged was over 14 months ago, a few days before I moved to Glasgow, Scotland to pursue my Masters in Human Rights and International Politics. I knew very little about Scotland before moving here (I had spent three days in Glasgow in 2014), I knew almost no one, and I was taking on a politics degree with no formal academic experience outside of Mr. Beazley's AP PoliSci course in high school. I was nervous and excited... and things turned out far better than I could have ever anticipated.

 

In 13 months, I've gotten to visit 15 countries on 3 continents (all things I could have and should have blogged about....). I sat on dirt floors talking to women about their lives in Rwanda, swam at sunset off the promenade in Nice the eve before the Paris Attacks, gorged on Pizza in Italy, stood in awe of Switzerland's mountains and also in shock of their prices, had a deer friend show me her home in Romania, rang in 2016 in Germany, celebrated the Christmas season with my 18 little friends in rural Haiti, wandered the tiled streets of Lisbon, went on a dire hunt for food with Marissa in the dutch countryside where we stayed in a yurt, celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, felt the underlying tension in Belfast, and took every chance to see the Scottish beauty around me. Every time I took a flight home, it landed back at Glasgow International Airport.

 

 

 

Glasgow is a magical place. There are no proper words to describe it, but everyone you meet here will say the same. It is a bustling city up in a cozy corner of the world. While it has problems of its own, it is the most progressive, inclusive society I have ever lived in. The pubs are many, and the people flock to them as sacred social spaces. I have certainly spent my fair share of afternoons and evenings talking politics and football over pints of Guinness, Tennent's or Best. The people are so kind. I have never been ANYWHERE and doubt I will, where people are nicer and more helpful than Glaswegians. Everyone wants to have a chat, whether it's a cab driver or someone waiting in the queue at the bank. It's hard not to feel at home when people are welcoming, and life is a whole lot better when people just talk to each other. 

 

So the actual reason I came to Glasgow? to study! (I did A LOT of that). Grad programs are one year across the UK, which means essentially no breaks for 13 months. It's efficient, cheaper and ... abroad?! Did I mention I had class in a castle?? The most valuable aspect of this year has been that my love for learning and academic discourse reemerged. One of the best weeks of my life was spent at the University of Birmingham in England where I got training in international conflict resolution. I hope to continue pursuit of academia in the years to come. (Doctor Firestone has a ring to it).

 

 

 

 

The Human Rights and International Politics course gave me far more than a bunch of heavy textbooks and the ability to recite the Universal Decoration of Human Rights by memory. I made a whole crew of incredible friends from as far as Taiwan and Bulgaria, to as close as Canada and Chicago. We really lucked out in group dynamic. I'll never forget our weekly pub quiz at the Dram, constant food parties, watching the Euro games at the Old School House all summer, and our time together in Geneva. It's cool knowing I've got friends to visit around the world and it's even cooler to know that while the world is not doing so well, I know a group of really caring, intelligent people are going out into it to make something better. I love you guys.

 

This year has been a dream. I am so thankful to this country and this university for making me a better version of myself and for giving me a wider lens through which to view this beautiful, wild world.

 

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