It was obviously quite dark at first, but as we ascended up the steep path, we passed through the clouds and were able to enjoy the rising sun in its tranquility. By the end, our pants were soaking past our knees-- and our socks were audibly squishing-- and yes, we were more than exhausted. We were so proud of ourselves, though, especially after so many of our friends saying that we wouldn't even make it out of bed. And as soon as we decided that it was sufficiently light enough outside to be considered daytime, we headed back down, had a cup of tea, and fell right back asleep.
What will I miss most about Dollar?
-Apart from all the obvious answers-- friends, boarding, etc--there are quite a few special things I experience in daily life that I will miss when I'm gone. I'll miss a friendly "are you alright" in the morning, which is the common greeting here instead of "how are you." I'll miss the entrenched daily schedule that is so typical of secondary school, which I've always found comforting. I'll miss the normality of eating beans on toast with ketchup for breakfast. I'll miss hearing nice Scottish, English, German, Serbian, and Montenegrin accents every day. I'll miss going to Edinburgh on the weekends, or maybe Glasgow. I'll miss house meetings, wearing the Form VI Tie, Morning Assemblies, and register in the mornings. I'll miss being a Dollar pupil, and the pride that comes with it.
What am I taking home?
-I've brought back a few souvenirs for my loved ones, and lots of British goodies to feast on upon my arrival. That's sort of expected, though. What I'll cherish the most are probably the hundreds (thousands?) of pictures I've taken-- and, of course, the memories that come with them. More figuratively, I'm bringing back my newfound knowledge from school: random statistics of the British welfare system, glaciation processes, Luke's three faces of power, and who knows what else has been crammed in my brain during weeks of study leave. I also can't forget all the traditional recipes I've tried here and loved, like scones, yorkshire puddings, shortbread, and cranachan. And I am so bringing home some British slang to annoy everyone with in Culver. Cheers, hiya, soz (sorry)posh, and banter are first on the list. Trust me, they are all cute and wonderful words, and they sound awesome intertwined with Hoosierisms.
What were my greatest accomplishments this year?
-Similar to my experiences at Culver, I find myself most satisfied with my academic work, likely because I put so much pride and effort into it. This doesn't sound too humble, of course, but I can't help but feel pleased when I reflect on how well I did in Advanced Higher Geography despite "crashing" the class without passing any Highers. Or, for that matter, impressing the Modern Studies department with my knowledge and passion of politics from AP Government. Being accepted into Chamber Choir was also a significant achievement for me, as was being chosen to play for the Rector's Burns Night gathering and a wedding. Lastly, I'm proud of how well my practicality skills have improved as a result of traveling so much.
What was the best place I visited?
-This is one of the hardest questions I've asked myself so far. How do you choose between the ancient ruins of Rome, the gorgeous memorials of Berlin, the class of London? After visiting so many internationally acclaimed monuments, museums, cities, and natural wonders of the world, it's almost impossible to pick my favorite destination. However, I think Kary would agree with me when I say that Paris was a particularly remarkable and memorable visit: as Audrey Hepburn has famously stated, Paris is always a good idea. Not to mention, it's been my life goal to make it to France for years now. It is the center of so many historic events, culture, and famous artifacts, so it is extremely difficult to not be entertained. I'd like to go again sometime, hopefully when it's a bit warmer, to enjoy the banks of the Seine again.
What was my happiest moment?
-This one is quite easy for me, actually. There were undoubtedly countless "happy" moments, but one stands out in particular: the Form V/VI Christmas Ceilidh. I remember dancing in a circle, surrounded by my closest friends, all of us twirling and jumping and laughing to the live folk music. The only way I can describe my feelings at the time? Pure bliss. Some honorable mentions were almost winning the Battle of the Bands competition, running around Circus Maximus with Hamish, seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, and performing "Carmina Burana" during the Usher Hall Christmas Concert, but honestly, I can't imagine anything beating what I felt at that particular time.
How have I changed?
-This might be better answered by others other than myself, so I guess I'll find out upon my return. I'm not the best judge of myself, but I do feel more relaxed and laid-back than I did at the beginning of the year. Through my first days alone in the country, I was one big bundle of nerves, and now I feel more able to go with the flow. I'm definitely more comfortable with myself, both with my personality and my body, and much more independent than I was before. As mentioned in a previous post, I feel like I'm getting better at catching my biases before they show, showing less judgement overall. These changes will undoubtedly manifest themselves when I get to college, which is one of the reasons why I am so glad that I took the opportunity, but they also simply help me enjoy life more. I'm the happiest, most motivated, and most determined I've ever been in years, and I don't see that going away anytime soon at all.