I've been having flashbacks. "Which bank do you use?" "Where do you shop for groceries?" "How do you find a job?" All of the questions I asked just a year ago are now resurfacing with the incoming students and families. It's therapeutic that our struggles and successes can help others, and relieving that we don't have to be new again anytime soon.
We've been in St Andrews a little over a year, and are reflecting on the differences a year makes:
1) Closer friendships. We are surrounded by many wonderful people, and we've been fortunate enough to build relationships with them over the past 12 months. Now, time together feels like a warm cozy blanket, instead of early dating jitters. We are still very excited to meet incomers, but we no longer feel "new."
2) A "settled in" feeling. I know which stores carry which items, I've found the shortcuts around town, and I would be disappointed to leave. Going back to the USofA is the end goal, but I am content here for the next few years.
3) An appreciation for a different culture. "It's not bad, it's different." I repeated this to myself multiple times when we first arrived. Now, I'm the one that gets slightly annoyed at Americans who complain about silly inconveniences. Not only have I picked up Scottish words and phrases from my lovely coworkers, we eat dinner later, drink more tea, and have embraced a new perspective. Being that it is election season, we hear that "America is the greatest country on earth" almost daily. While taking pride in your home country can be very positive, it's also good to realize that other countries are wonderful as well.
4) Visitors! Having friends and family travel to this small corner of Scotland to see us, and pay a lot of money to do so, is humbling. I guess we offer free lodging, and St Andrews is historically beautiful, but nonetheless, we love visitors! Up next? Kenneth and Janelle Owings and Sierra Snyder!
5) Academic rigor. Garrick just covered this in his last blog post, but the University of St Andrews' School of Divinity continues to be ranked above Oxford and Cambridge. Wow.
6) A pretty decent view:
If you'd like to be inside my brain a year ago, refresh your memory with one of our first blog posts: 13 Days as Scots. (I'm cringing that I referred to us as "Scots.")