They say preparation is half the battle. Well, I have to say, the lengths involved in getting ready to spend my next two years in Scotland as a part of the College of William and Mary’s University of St. Andrews joint degree programme really has made this summer feel like just that: a battle.
Mercilessly, my flight to Scotland is today, and the seemingly never-ending list of housekeeping to-do’s that have kept me on my toes all summer has finally come to an end. After an arduous multi-step process, I had my student visa approved; I’m almost hoping I get sick while over in the UK to make the exorbitant National Healthcare Surcharge worth it. I booked my flight and arranged for transport from Edinburgh Airport to St. Andrews (about an hour and a half outside of the city). I applied for and received a housing/accommodation offer, and I’ve figured out my plans for international banking and cell phone service. I’ve packed my bags, cramming probably more sweaters and rain gear than necessary into suitcases that I pray do not exceed the fifty-pound weight limit, and I’ve coerced my little sister into baking me going-away cookies. Really, the only thing left is to mentally prepare myself for what is essentially another freshman year.
It’s a strange feeling, starting over so early after having just gotten to make a home for myself at the College. I know nothing about the campus, organizations or general student life of St. Andrews, and although I’m heading over there with a cohort of other joint degree programme students I already know, I feel almost as I did exactly a year ago before move-in day: uncertain and a bit wary, but nevertheless incredibly excited. I take comfort in knowing that just as last year, for each of my concerns and anxieties, there are new experiences to be had and new friends to be made.
So, my suitcases are lined up by the door as I wait for a cab to take me to Newark Airport, and despite all the uncertainty and possibilities that lie ahead, I can at least say I’ve won this half of the battle. After all, if I can figure out how to use the UK visa application website, two years abroad should be a piece of cake.