Update from an Edinburgh hostel

It’s 8 AM, and I’m sitting in a hostel room in Edinburgh. Susan, Janet, two German men, and a backpack occupy the the other bunk beds around me, and I can hear quiet city sounds filtering in through the open window next to my bed – an occasional church bell reminds me of the time, the bar buzz from last night replaced by gentler reminders of the city’s pulse.

With seven days in the Highlands now behind me, I feel a cold pressing into my sinuses and a deeper appreciation for Scotland rattling adrenaline-like through my veins. My notebook is full of pressed flowers and scribbled notes, all ready to be turned into blog posts.

As I prepare to turn these raw thoughts and experiences into posts, I took a moment to think about how I would approach shaping ten long days packed with new experiences into posts, those limiting, boxy structures that have to contain some humor, some intrigue, some insight, and some suspense. Chronological posting just wouldn’t work – writing through each moment of my trip in detail would be tedious both to write and to read, and by the time I wrote through the last day, I’d be missing out on the opportunity to post about moving into St. Andrews. Pushed forward and forward, I’d become bogged down in a backlog of lists and planners, trying to recreate how I felt and what I realized from lists of events and jotted down thoughts.

Another challenge is the sheer volume of material. Each day of our tour included half a dozen stops, some for photos and some for more in-depth exploration. We traveled in a diverse group of 30, and as I got to know each personality, I realized that I could write an entire post about each individual. Another component was the old friend/new friend dichotomy of traveling with my best friend of ten years and a new friend who has added an important new facet to my life. As my Facebook and my email inbox flooded with information about new classes being offered at UVa (whyyy am I missing out on a seminar with my favorite English professor, a Nabokov class with one of my best friends, AND an MA course on Modern British Literature/Art/Film?!) and dozens of social events, I have heaps of thoughts about what it means to be absent for an entire semester. Not to mention the new foods I’ve eaten, the fact that I’ve fast forwarded to my 21st birthday due to a different drinking age…the list goes on and on.

And this was just my first week in Scotland.

Although I’m going to have to pack my computer up again and get ready for a day of exploration in Edinburgh in the next few minutes, I wanted to send off a quick post to let everyone know that my blog isn’t dead and I’m happily writing away in my head. I believe that literary form should reflect content, and posts that tease themes out of my overall Highlands experience will best capture the layers of realization and discovery that have slowly built up. I’ve planned some posts that will synthesize some of these important aspects of my Highlands Tour, and I’m really looking forward to settling in at St. Andrews and finally carving out a few peaceful hours to work through them. Stay tuned.

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