Archive for September 2007

The Wind and the Wait

September 27, 2007

It’s already wintry here, with temperatures near freezing last night. The worst of it is the wind, which whips off the ocean and through the streets, assaulting anyone brave or stupid enough to be outside. I’ve also found that my ideas about dealing with the cold–formed in Texas as they were–are wholly inadequate. A Swedish friend actually had to teach me how to walk in the cold, with strides much longer and quicker than I thought possible.

It’s “freshers” week, so the school–and the pubs–are dedicated to welcoming first-year undergraduates. For the rest of us postgraduates it means lots of forms to fill out, bank accounts to open, phones to procure, and etc. Though there are an infinite number of errands to run, it mainly feels like we’re all in stasis, waiting for classes, papers, books, waiting for Monday to come so we can begin what we came here for. As for me, my first meeting with my supervisor is on Tuesday. Can’t wait. Can only wait.

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Scotlandings

September 23, 2007

Family & friends… this is my blog. Enjoy.

I arrived in Scotland yesterday, flying into Edinburgh around 8:00 am. Ended up hanging out at the airport for about 2.5 hours, and surprisingly not because of customs (they didn’t even have customs officers there). St. Andrews had a welcoming party at the airport, but I hadn’t registered for it, so the earliest bus I could get on was at 10:30. At the airport there were girls walking around in dark blue uniforms with short, flat-brimmed hats with light-blue bands. I think they were security or something. Weird.

Riding in the bus to St. Andrews, you see patchwork hills covered in farms (lots of lettuce crops), grazing fields for sheep, and the occasional house. Then, all of a sudden, you are in a tiny village with houses pressing against the narrow street. Looking at the prim gardens and homes, I am reminded of the Presbyterian creed of everything being “properly and in order.” The Scottish seem to have made a way of life of this, and their tastes are minimalist and impeccable, if conservative.

My room is on the second floor of a hall (dorm) that houses only postgraduates. A twin bed, desk, and three chairs and dressers of various sizes are my only furniture; the room feels spacious but not empty. I’ve seen a couple of other rooms by now, and mine seems to be much bigger, perhaps because it’s a corner room. Being on the corner also means I have two great views, one into the stone courtyard, where there is a grated well, and the other into the hall’s garden and orchard. Some unbelievable views, but not quite as fantastical as when one steps out of the courtyard; directly across the street are the ruins of the ancient Cathedral of St. Andrews and St. Rules Tower. Hard to believe I live here!

The strangest part about being here is the way some things are only slightly different from life in America. Drivers on the opposite side of the road, in the opposite side of the car; the (white American-looking) person who asks a question with a Scottish accent; no oil and vinegar at Subway; a librarian laughing when I ask if they’re open on Sunday–these things give the perception that reality has been slightly skewed, but only slightly, so you’re apt to doubt that things really are any different.

My sleep schedule is pretty bizarre right now. Yesterday, I slept from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm, and then from 5:00 am until noon today. I spent a lot of the time in between trying to sleep, but ended up reading and writing a bunch. Got through the first section of Stanley Hauerwas’s “Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America.” That guy is amazing; he’s usually right, even when his arguments are bad. Then I tried to sleep some more but ended up thinking about my dissertation in detail. I got so involved in it that I eventually pulled out my computer and wrote a couple pages worth of thoughts and ramblings. Finally, I managed to sleep!

Today I walked around town with my new friend Derek. He’s from Oklahoma, but tells everyone he’s a Texan because he was born there (in Georgetown), and doesn’t think anyone outside of the U.S. knows anything about Oklahoma. He talks really fast, and is about the nicest guy you can imagine. We walked around the Old Course for some time (which is hallowed ground for him), and went up to a bar on the fourth floor of the Old Course Hotel (built by the Kohler family, of Kohler, WI, and Kohler faucets). There we found a beautiful view of the Course and the North Sea.

That’s about all report. It’s around 11:30 pm, and I’m going to make an effort to get on a regular sleep schedule. Bye for now.