Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

17 June 2011

Getting to Dundee.

How did I get to Dundee? First, Dr. Salvo created the opportunity by setting up this program. Second, I built up the courage to spend thousands of dollars on fees, plane tickets, and spending money so that I could advance my knowledge of my major, of the world, and of myself. Third, I had to convince myself to actually get on the plane.

I’ve been on board with this study abroad since the ground floor. I’ve always wanted to go abroad, especially since I had never traveled out of the country in any other situation before, and although I’m coherent enough in Japanese to get around Japan, I didn’t think that signing up for a year in a country where I couldn’t speak English and didn’t have a supporting network would be a good idea for my mental well being. Thus this is the perfect gateway to international travel. This is a relatively short trip, this is an English speaking country, and I’m here in a structured capacity with friends I’ve known most of my college life. I think this is a great way to acclimate myself to not being with my core support structure and for me to realize that I can in fact do things without that structure.

Learning that you can stand on your own two feet is important for everyone to learn sometime in their lives. I’m not talking about being able to cook for yourself, do your own laundry, and get a paying job. I’m talking about something that not everyone actually learns: that you can do things by yourself. You can travel by yourself. You can be away from your family, friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends; they will still love you when you get back. You can indeed make new friends in new places. You can rely on yourself. This is something that I feel I’ve definitely learned so far this trip.

For instance, I had never been on a plane before two weeks ago. Not even a small one. I’m terrified of roller coasters, not because I’m scared of heights or even of traveling 60 mph uncovered, but because I’m encased in a metal contraption that could plummet into the lake that the rollercoaster so serenely passes over (at least the ground would be quicker). So when faced with getting on a metal contraption that flies over water for 6 hours, I was understandably nervous. I anticipated that getting up to cruising altitude would be like that initial climb on a rollercoaster. But it didn’t matter. I had to go through this period of discomfiture to get to the good part, so I did it. And it really wasn’t that bad. I was scared but I did it and I am happier for it.

So although I didn’t detail how I physically got to Dundee, I think this is a good representation of how I mentally got here.


salvo said...


I wrote a similar response on Friday (it is Sunday now) and it got lost. I am sure I said everything better and clearer then, so if anything comes across strangely, know I said it better in that lost message.

"This is how I mentally got [to Dundee]." I really like that turn of phrase to describe your post.

Thanks. Thanks for your post. At the end of the first week, I am starting to relax myself. You and others have expressed a certain satisfaction with Dundee, and I was concerned that folks might be disappointed because it isn't Edinburgh or Glasgow. But Dundee has its own rewards.

Second: I'm particularly struck by the openness in your description of your own experience traveling. It's easy to put on a veneer of (false) self-confidence. I've been genuinely impressed with the way you (and others) have gone out and met people: at the University and beyond, and the way you've been able to start representing those experiences. Facing the unknown; accepting discomfort and forging ahead.

Finally, this is a great way to "prepare" for further travel. Scotland is certainly a good first step, either in preparation for further travel to Europe or to other destinations (I know you have your Japanese dreams).

I have also taken your post as an opportunity to reflect on my own expectations. I was exhausted after our first full week of class, but I have been so impressed with everyone's work and attitude. We've still a long way to go, but I do want to acknowledge everyone's work and attention. Can't wait to discuss Glamis castle with everyone. I've been on my own travels as well.

Karen Gulbrandsen said...


Michael shared the link to your post so that I could meet you virtually. I love seeing your pictures and hearing about your travels to Scotland. Your story reminds me that I didn't get on a plane until I was 23, flying from Madison, WI to Austin, TX. I was with my cousin and he loved flying, especially during take-off when you really feel the force of gravity. I don't share that love. I am always thinking about how much longer until we can get out of the metal contraption.

I'll keep watching for your posts about your travels. Have great a great time!