Ruminations in the Rain

“Anne laughed and sighed. She felt very old and mature and wise- which showed how young she was.”

-L.M. Montegomery, Anne of the Island

And thus begins a new year, a new semester, and a new decade for little me. Normally I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions, yet as 2014 descended upon us, I thought I could give it a try. Nothing wrong with a bit of change, right? Our own world is never resolute: it is static, frantic even, in its movements. As I begin this new year as an official “twenty-something,” I have resolved to do some things differently.

Mainly, I think it would be beneficial to stop worrying so much about the future. Sometimes I think that young people are too focused on making plans to accommodate for tomorrow that they are left with nothing for today. Yet this is not an error of ours; we are told at age fourteen that every avenue we pursue bears either rewards or consequences. We are told at age sixteen that one test decides our fate, and to not mess it up. We are told at age seventeen to decide what we want to be when we are fully-fledged adults, to decide where this change needs to take place, and to essentially plan our adult lives despite still being children. To me, this is quite the flaw: I know very few adults who have actually fulfilled what their seventeen year old self, even their twenty year old self, had intended for them.

This got me thinking: as I am so fond of adventure, why not look at life as the grandest adventure of all? Quest narratives often take such unexpected turns: beloved characters die, allies sometimes turn out to be the villain in disguise, and the ultimate destination may prove fruitless when compared to a richer unknown. Part of my “New Year’s Resolution” is to stop worrying so much about the destination, this end-stop that so many people have tried to tell me is the most important aspect of life. I have resolved to give simple living a try. Right now, I really don’t know what I want to do after university. A few weeks ago I had the wild idea to pursue the Peace Corps after I graduate, to fulfill my desire to travel even further while making a difference in the process. As I am young, passionate about learning and exploration, and able bodied, what is holding me back? Or what about trying to finish my book before I graduate, thinking more about that manuscript than the diploma placed in my hand? I have even considered trying something new, like acting, as another room for my creativity and fondness for theatrics seep into.

Though I still desire continuing my education beyond the undergraduate level, out of my insatiable curiosity, I need to tell myself that I have all the time in the world to do so. I must never doubt that a Masters or PhD will come to me; I am motivated enough to make such things happen. Yet I think it is high time for me to simply slow down. Amongst those who know me, I am famous for the phrase “comfortable mosey;” this is my preferred pace of locomotion, regardless of the occasion. Late for an appointment? Comfortable mosey. Walk down by the seaside? Comfortable mosey. Yet why do I eschew this pace in the great timeline of my life? It seems silly, really.

Thus arises my new manifesto: enjoying life. There are so many things I want to experience, yet “growing up” as its most commonly perceived is not one of them. As I begin a new decade in my life, I hope to fill it with as many new experiences as possible, and simply forget about tomorrow for a little while. Making myself anxious over a future I really cannot control only detracts from the beauty of the everyday. I can already count on one unforgettable thing that will happen this year: my first trip to mainland Europe. Who knows what else could happen?

It is now time for me to challenge you to try something new. Though “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door,” as Bilbo once said, it is worth the risk. Think of the adventure!

Originally written 28 January 2014

Home For Christmas

Between intensive revision for my exams, Yuletide festivities, running, and horseback riding, I have barely had a moment to relax! In exactly six days I will be flying back home for the Christmas holiday, and I could not be more excited. This semester has been particularly taxing, so I am very eager to once again be in the comforts of my own home surrounded by those I love.

I had my first exam of the semester last Wednesday for Comparative Literature. The exam venue was Lower College Hall, located in St. Salvator’s Quad. So whilst furiously scribbling about The Song of Roland I was surrounded by imposing portraits of various St Andrews dignitaries. Only in St Andrews! My next exams are Tuesday the 17th for Ancient Philosophy and Wednesday the 18th for English, then I am free! Immediately following my last exam I will be heading to Edinburgh to spend the day at the annual Christmas Market with my good friend Catriona, so photos to come! Then it’s a day of cleaning, laundry, and packing, then I am off to the airport to begin the trek back to the homestead.

Meanwhile, St Andrews has been garbed in its most resplendent holiday finery. Lights are strung across Market Street, the fountain is all aglow, and each shop window has its own unique and festive display. It is so magical! The only thing that could make it even more perfect would be snow, but alas, it has been quite temperate the last week so one can only dream!

Perhaps what I love most about Christmas though is the opportunity to give gifts. I enjoy hunting for unique treasures that remind me of people who are important to me. However, I received a very unexpected surprise: my closest friends all purchased gifts for me, and not just for Christmas, but for my impending twentieth birthday as well. Here is a sampling:




For as long as I can remember, I have been the friend that would cross oceans for people who would not even think to hop a puddle for me. Often, I care so much for others that I am left with absolutely nothing. This has led to some very saddening trust issues. Yet the generosity of the friends I have made here at St Andrews astounds me.

Sometimes it feels as though our modern era of Facebook, Instagram, and other digital platforms has diminished what it means to genuinely know others. Gone are the days when one had to earn intimate knowledge, such as someone’s wildest fantasies, for all are packaged so neatly onto various social media websites. I feel as though this deluge of information somehow renders others clueless, since such is so readily accessible that they rarely take the time to actually learn wee details about others anymore.

Yet this simple act of gift giving has restored my faith in others a bit more. Never before have I had friends, people without the ties of blood to bind them into paying attention, evince such kindness. So small a gesture as taking the time to place me in my favorite book, for example, shows a thoughtfulness I have yet to know in my peers. I am so used to going to great lengths for others while they only show me cruelty and rudeness in return that I almost cannot accept these wonderful gifts of kindness my university friends have given me.

Going beyond just the material aspect of these gifts, this holiday season at university has been a completely new experience for me. This time last year, I was alone in my cold and impersonal dorm room, counting the agonizingly long hours until I could be in my mother’s arms once more. While I do love being at St. Andrews, the holiday season really brings out how much of a homebody I am, turning me into a homesick and grumpy mess of yearning.

However, something has changed. I am now beginning to see the value in friends as being a surrogate family. The kindness my friends have shown me this semester is almost unparalleled in my life, as I am so used to having others mistreat and manipulate me simply because I’m “the nice girl.” I seek refuge from this in my family, yet being so far from them has left me a bit lost. Yet for the first time in my life, I am now beginning to see that friends can be genuine people and as trust worthy as one’s own family. We are all in the same situation: miles from home, attempting to navigate this foreign world of young adulthood, and all the while trying to successfully obtain degrees. This sense of community amongst my peers is something I have never before experienced, and while it still makes me a bit hesitant, I am slowly beginning to trust others, appreciate their generosity, and see them as honest and genuine people.

So to all of my wonderful friends who have helped make my time at university better, I thank you. Though I do my best to hide it, being so far from home is a daily struggle: when I am upset, I have to wait until it is a reasonable hour to phone home. I cannot go home or see my parents whenever I wish. I have to remain poised and graceful despite feeling anger and hurt when others feel the need to tell me how “stupid” my accent sounds. Sometimes I feel like I just plain don’t belong. However, the time and effort you have all taken to make me feel welcome is appreciated beyond measure. For the first time in my life I feel as though I truly belong to something which is not established by my parents, but my own. Thank you for being there.

Originally written 15 December 2013

Giving Thanks

This year I decided to take it upon myself to host a Thanksgiving celebration for myself and nine of my closest friends here at St Andrews. All of these friends hailed from places outside the United States: Australia, Denmark, England, and Scotland. Thus, it was for many of them their very first American-style Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time that celebrates togetherness, yet being so far from home can at times be quite isolating. It meant so much to me that these special people chose to take part in this tradition, as it really made me feel more at home.



With the table decked in maroon and white we began the feast. As I am my father’s daughter, I bravely elected to cook for ten people mostly on my own.


To say this was an ambitious task is an understatement. There was much stress involved in trying to find what to serve as a main (turkeys needed to be preordered and wild duck is currently scarce), trying to time everything just right for serving (the squash ended up cold), and just trying to not fall asleep on my feet! But was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Being away from home has really given me some new perspective on Thanksgiving as a whole. As children, most of us believe Thanksgiving is just a time for eating an unruly amount of food or dodging awkward dinner conversations. However, I find that the more time I spend asserting my independence, the more I look back towards home and those I really rely upon. Before coming to St Andrews I was eager to “escape” my hometown, my “weird” parents, and other such inanities. Now I think just the opposite. For many young adults, going away to university does add a new dimension to life: learning to be independent. Yet adding the facet of living abroad to this already daunting change has really opened my eyes to what is important in life. I now cannot wait to return home for every holiday. I speak to my parents at least once everyday, and I find myself turning more and more into my mother.

What I am most thankful for this year is the fact that I not only get to branch out on my own in a foreign country, navigating both adulthood and Europe, but also that my home is waiting for me to return whenever I need to. My parents are the most supportive, selfless, and loving people I have ever encountered in my life. If one day I am but half as generous and kind as they are, I will think that my life amounted to a great success. I think perhaps my unwavering belief in the goodness of others comes from speaking with and observing my parents; any time the rudeness or egocentrism of others makes me sad, my parents are there to restore my faith in others. Though I wax poetic, I still feel as though words are inadequate to describe such wonderful people.

To extend this final note of reflection, this year I am also thankful for people in general: for the elderly couple strolling hand in hand, for people with funny laughs, for giving people, for mothers, for people who struggle to contain their joy for even the simplest things, and for people who inspire greatness others. All of these interesting and unique souls have such wonderful stories to tell, and I only wish I could hear them all. I believe that people do have goodness about them, which can manifest itself in different ways, whether it be simple gestures, the way they laugh, or how they pay attention to the world around them. People are truly remarkable beings.

Originally written 30 November 2013

Musing at Midnight

Currently I am procrastinating an essay, but this contemplative mood spurred by my scholarly pursuits has left me thinking of anything but comparing Purgatorio and The Qur’an. 

As my twentieth birthday is rapidly approaching, I have been pondering what this next phase of my life will include. I consider this milestone as “real adulthood,” and therefore a time of change. I acknowledge that I still have so much to learn about myself, and this knowledge will not magically appear the morning of December 30th. However, lately I have been feeling as though it is time to make some adjustments to who I am as a person that will ultimately benefit me as I grow.

We all have character flaws, and sometimes these flaws are what define us as a person and help us learn from mistakes. Not all flaws are terrible and tragic, but they can be somewhat of a hinderance in life, personal relationships, and other such realms. I admit that I am a timid person. I am too shy to voice my desires and opinions. I put the needs of others ahead of my own needs. I have a hard time seeing the value of myself.

Some of these things are not inherently bad. Perhaps one of the things I actually like about myself is my generosity: making other people smile is one of my great joys in life. Sometimes, though, this generosity is manipulated into something that can make me somewhat melancholy. I recently came across a great quote that I thought I would share: “Stop crossing oceans for people who would not even hop a puddle for you.” These words really resonated with me. I have often found that I give so much of myself to the people I care about that little to nothing is left for myself. I spend so much time worrying about others that I take no time to worry about myself, and after nearly two decades of doing such, I have grown very weary.

Now I think it is time to start. I am afraid to do so though: I am afraid of The Selfish. I have always firmly believed in selflessness, yet I may have crossed a line. I need to stop constantly concerning myself with others and begin thinking about things that will make me happy. Balance is key to any life well-lived, and I think that is what my life has been lacking.

Slowly but surely I am making my way towards self-acceptance. Part of me feels as though with this will come the urge to defend myself against an off-handed comment, the courage to introduce myself to that dapper gentleman I see everyday, and the confidence to wear Maggie with pride. I approach this change with trepidation, but perhaps my life needs a little risk, to step outside this framework that has obviously not been working and rebuild.

Originally written 28 October 2013

Treat Yourself

The past two weeks have been quite chaotic, as the faint buzzing in my ears from residual stress and caffeine intake can attest to. So far, in a mere two weeks I have managed to:

  • Finish the entirety of Dante’s Purgatorio 
  • Read The Qur’an
  • Read the entirety of Plato’s Republic
  • Discuss the true meaning of justice in a philosophical paper
  • Write an essay on the double entendre in Old English riddles
  • Read some Canterbury Tales (in Middle English, mind)
  • Begin a swimming routine at the Fife Leisure Center
  • Compete in a six kilometer cross country race
  • Embark on a nine mile pleasure run

How I managed to accomplish all of these tasks in such a short time, on top of regularly attending my lectures and tutorials, is beyond me. Though I enjoy being a busy bee, I feel as though I have had barely any time to devote to the people who are important to me, such as my parents. While I make a point to Skype with them at least once a week, I feel as though I haven’t seen their faces in ages. Quite distressing indeed.

But soft! This coming week is known as Consolidation Week, which offers a bit of respite in the long haul to the holiday in December. I will not have English or Comparative Literature classes all next week, so I have some time to breathe, get my coursework completed at reasonable times (perhaps even ahead of schedule!) so I may begin preparing myself for exams and my eventual return at Yuletide.

Amongst the haze of coursework, though, I have managed to squeeze in some wee adventures. Last Saturday, after a very vexing bout with an Old English essay, I woke up and decided to go to Pittenweem on a whim. I mostly just liked the name. Pittenweem is a wee town on the Fife Coast just south of Anstruther; it seems as though I am continually pushing south on the Fife Coast in my adventures, seeing what lies just beyond the bend in the road.

Pittenweem was a delightful coastal town. If one ever finds themselves in this area, I highly recommend a stop at The Cocoa Tree. Here I ordered stick-to-your-bones bean soup to warm the coggles of my heart on this blustery day, and needless to say, it made me red in the face and jovial. Also, The Cocoa Tree is renowned for their hot chocolate. Essentially you are drinking a melted chocolate bar. Can a place be any more perfect?

This jaunt was part of a grand scheme I have adopted for second year that I have deemed Treat Yourself (as the youths say). As some of my followers have discerned, I was actually quite melancholic upon my return to university. Perhaps it is a certain woe that comes with being a twenty-something: the expectation of being an adult yet having none of the knowledge to be such. This has been a constant source of worry and vexation for me as of late.

However, I slowly came to this realization: I can either be completely consumed by this uncertainty, the self-doubt that comes with being a young adult, or I can simply laugh at the sky and enjoy being young. I am trying so very hard to do the latter. Lately I have been doing things for myself more; a sort of “self care” regimen in order to be a happier and more carefree person. Such things have included:

  • Spending time down by the sea
  • Wandering aimlessly and smiling at all the passersby
  • Asking people politely if I may pet their dogs. Thanking them.
  • Writing more.
  • Cooking tasty and wholesome meals for myself (and maybe a friend)
  • Being more generous
  • Going on spontaneous adventures
  • Exercising because it makes me feel strong and lively, not solely for weight loss or any other such nonsense
  • Not worrying about my appearance
  • Laughing more freely
  • Learning to accept compliments

The more I take time for myself, the more I see the positive outcomes. My struggles with body-image have slowly been fading away. I look and feel healthier. I find myself smiling more often. I am falling in love with the exuberance of life once again. Though there are days when the melancholy creeps back, I simply call my most favorite person in the world, my mother, and everything is peaceful once more.

Also, I have been quite inspired by the film The Dead Poet’s Society as of late, and adopted carpe diem as the sub-heading to all of this rejuvenation. I think the two go quite well together, treating oneself and seizing the day. Life, especially as a young adult, is all about seizing opportunities to make each day magical. I intend to do so.

Originally written 19 October 2013

Raisin Revenge

Raisin Weekend is in five weeks. Running into my academic mother in Tesco last night reminded me just how excited I am for Raisin this year. For a second year, Raisin Weekend looks a bit different.

In second year, the academic children must organize what’s called a Raisin Revenge for their parents. The whole idea is to “get back” at your parents for all of the “terrible and embarrassing things” they made you do on Raisin as a first year. However, since my academic parents were quite kind, I have no horror stories. Essentially, Raisin Revenge is for the second years to return the favor of a good time over Raisin Weekend for their parents, especially since those parents are now stressed fourth years working on their dissertations.

Now, a bit of my academic family. I have heard from numerous sources that I have been blessed with one of the best. My academic mom, Ali, is one of the kindest people I met at St Andrews. She’s quirky, friendly, intelligent, and all around n lovely person to be around. She is very fond of costume parties and Halloween, thus, every family gathering here in St Andrews involves some sort of fancy dress. For example, one could not attend her surprise twenty-first birthday party without being in costume. I went as the Mad Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland. Also, my academic siblings all get along quite well. We are all quirky and have our personality traits that mesh well together, so every family gathering is pleasant.

In order to make this the best possible Raisin for Ali as her last hurrah, two of the more outgoing siblings, Sam and Kendall, organized our Raisin Revenge six months in advance. And what children would we be if we did not have a theme? This year, we decided to keep the medieval theme alive from our Raisin and put on a party loosely inspired by Game of Thrones. Long live the King in the North!

Originally written 25 September 2013

Second Year Commences

Beginnings are often the hardest part of life. I find that this is especially pertinent as I addle my brain for what to write. The trepidation, the “what ifs”, and the constant longing to know the future are enough to drive one mad. Such is the nature of my thoughts whenever I begin a new chapter in my life. Who will I meet? Will they affect me positively, negatively, or not at all? Will the direction I see myself traveling change? Is this really what I want in my life? What new joy will be had? Sometimes I feel my predictions overshadow actually turning the page and reading on.

That being said, I was hesitant to resume my studies after such a long period of uninterrupted exposure to the technicolor of my thoughts. Being able to concentrate on things I enjoy, such as writing, now have to take a back seat to stress over marks on coursework, revising for exams, and reading Plato’s Apology (which is dry as hard tack). I’m already consumed with doubt over my essay writing abilities, whether I will pass my exams with better marks this semester, and the ever looming threat of making Honors next year.

However, this first week, as St Andrews has a knack for doing, has pleasantly surprised me. I am learning such interesting skills that I perhaps would not have access to until a Masters program back in the United States.

For example, English kicked off with a forty-five line translation of the Old English Fall of Man, detailing Eve’s temptation by the Devil in serpent form and the subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Having already dipped my toes in Milton’s Paradise Lost, I am familiar with the story, but reading a different version in a (let’s be honest here) completely different language is so fascinating. How the English language has evolved in such a short period of time is one of our topics of discussion, which is a mystery I am keen to solve. Also, learning how to translate Old English puts me one step closer to my fantasy of becoming Indiana Jones. If I can understand the basics of a dead language, learn the bullwhip, and drink from my Holy Grail, I am well on my way to a lifetime of harrowing adventure in the name of academia!

Even Comparative Literature, the module I detest, actually sounds quite intriguing this semester. We are studying quite a broad topic in literature: Good and Evil. This is one of the areas of literature that fascinates me, due in part to Paradise Lost, so I am interested to see how the course handles the theme. Also, I am keen to discuss the role of villains in texts; this is actually an area of literature that fascinates me to the point of wanting to pursue it for my dissertation, so finally getting the chance to study them will really help with this decision.

A final point to note is my English tutor. This semester, I made sure to choose my tutorial group based on the quality of the tutor and the direction of their research. I have selected Dr. Christine Rauer, who focuses on Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse mythologies and folk lores. This being another subject matter I am considering for my dissertation, I am eager to try and establish a relationship with Dr. Rauer and pick her brain about such a fascinating subject in literature. My fondness for learning really bubbles over when I discuss this topic, since I am so incredibly interested in the folk tales and oral traditions of the Celtic world. It is my hope that Dr. Rauer could offer guidance in the course of my studies and really help make up my mind about just what I want to study.

I apologize for such a long discourse about my intellectual pursuits. However, that is the main reason why I am here, plus, being the nerd that I am, I do quite like learning intriguing things, such as how to translate Old English. Yet, to sate the “entertainment” side of this blog, here are a few more updates from my first few weeks back in St Andrews:

A Room of One’s Own

This year my really good friend and I are living in an apartment in the center of town. Though I have only been here a few weeks, the situation is leaps and bounds ahead of my experience in university accommodation last year. We have dubbed our dwelling The Green Dragon, as an ode to our beloved Tolkien, and filled our abode with homey and cozy pieces. Here is a peek at our sunny and Nifty Fifties inspired kitchen.


Major Changes

I have also officially changed my major from Joint Honors Comparative Literature and Philosophy to Joint Honors English and Philosophy. I could not be more pleased, and what a relief this is. I finally feel as though I can relax in my degree subject and really focus on what I am passionate about. Onwards to Celtic mythological glory!

New Friends and Old

Though I already have a solid group of friends that I enjoy spending time with, I am eager to meet even more people and really expand my network of acquaintances. I recently had tea with a very nice girl who had Comparative Literature tutorials with me last year, and we both are keen to become better friends with one another. We are actually quite similar: quiet and shy at the start, but I’m sure once our friendship grows our true selves with come through, and it will be as though we’re old chums. As for the suitor department, as I am sure all are dying to hear about since I tend to be a wee bit secretive, I regret to inform my readers that I am alone, as per usual.

This summer I learned that one of my closest friends, Justin, has been accepted to a six week study abroad program in London for the spring semester. Though things are just in the talking stage, we are hoping to spend some time together. Having a friend who will know London a bit will be great, as I have yet to travel to London, and I of course love showing people around to my favorite St Andrews haunts. Justin and I have been good friends since we were just a wee three years of age, so I am beyond thrilled to share this next phase of my life with a friend so important to me.

She Rides Again

After much consideration, and a summer of pony fun times to boot, I have decided to join the St. Andrews equestrian team. Try outs for the official competitive team are next Wednesday. Apparently, thirty-five riders have indicated they wish to try out, and only eight spots are available. I am so nervous! Though I have fourteen years of experience, those three years out of the saddle really took their toll. While I did my best to get back up to speed this summer, I still do not feel completely confident, much less competition ready. However, if I just keep telling myself that I am going for the love of riding, I think I will be much better for it. If I do not make the team, I can still train with them and get time in the saddle, which is what I want to do the most.

Originally Written 21 September 2013