One week ago, at this time, I began having butterflies in my stomach about the reality of being abroad for six months. Now, a week later, I don’t have words to describe how much I’m loving my time here.
Sept. 13-14, 2015: The flight was incredible. The plane took off from Philadelphia while the sun was setting and I arrived in Glasgow as the sun was rising. It was a breathtaking sight. After arrival, I sat outside the airport in the crisp, cool Scottish weather and waited for the FirstServe coordinator to meet me so we could go to Tilsley College together. It was so exhilarating to be in a different country alone, furthermore this being my first time abroad. Before I knew it, I was at the college shaking lots of hands and hearing lots of names and being rushed into orientation. It was a full day with introductions, awkward group photos, and processing all the newness.
It’s mind blowing that I’ve only known the other FirstServers for a week now. We all clicked so well so fast. From left to right in the picture above: Ella is from Leeds, England, Sam is from Manchester, England, Lottie is from Dunbar, Scotland, and Jayne is from Banbridge, Ireland. I was thrilled that we were instant friends, as I was unsure what our personalities were like and how they would mesh before the program started. I have no doubt that our friendship with each other will only continue to grow closer and thrive both during our time at Tilsley and even when we split ways and go abroad. We also quickly became friends with the 25 or so full time students at Tilsley College who are in either the 1st year or 2nd year of the course.
Sept. 15-18, 2015: Wow, I didn’t realize how busy my time at Tilsley College would be. The FirstServers are only here for a month, but for our time here, our schedule is as if we were full time 1st year students. After breakfast and morning devotions, we have lectures from 9:15 am to 1:15 pm, Monday-Friday, on Theology, Old Testament studies, and Christian Living. The professors were not afraid to make our first week intense. Assignments are already piling up, and although I don’t get a “grade” per say, I’m still encouraged and expected to complete all the work that the full time college students do for the time I’m here. It’s tough stuff, but I’ve already loved the lectures. I can’t wait to have this month at Tilsley to learn, learn, learn about subjects I’ve always wanted to dig deeper into.
After lunch, our afternoon and evening is open for studying, doing homework, or just for free time. It’s been lovely to have good talks (or “chats,” as the Brits would say) with all the amazing people here. I’m especially close to the FirstServers and love hanging out with them (and the college students) in the lounge or out and about. One afternoon, we went to the town center area of Motherwell, the town the college is in. The buildings are beautiful! I love noticing all the differences between America and Scotland, including differences in speech & language. Taking in the newness has been tiring, but so good. I haven’t been able to stop smiling since getting here.
Sept. 19-20, 2015: I was so ready for this weekend by the time it came around. Saturday, the FirstServers went to Glasgow for some sightseeing and shopping. It was quite entertaining to see a bagpipe player jamming out on the street. I went into this weekend telling myself I’d catch up on sleep, but that’s too hard to accomplish with so much to explore and so many people to talk to. Saturday evening, almost all the college students and FirstServers went out for Chinese food in Motherwell. It was a blast to have time together outside of the college campus. There is a married French couple doing the Tilsley first year college course and they have three adorable children. The cuties finally broke out of their shells this weekend and it’s been wonderful to play and spend time with them, specifically the 8 year old girl. It forces me to practice the couple years of French I know from high school. Sunday (today), the FirstServers were assigned to go to the walking distance, Brethren church Roman Roads. It’s intriguing to experience church services that differ from your usual. We will also go to an evening, young adult, Bible study there.
So, just like that my first week is over. As you can tell, it went brilliantly well. I couldn’t have expected or asked for a better first week. This upcoming week, the schedule will be similar, but our church placement events begin. On Monday, Ella and I will be leaders at the kids group at King’s Church. We have a similar placement on Friday. So, our free time in the afternoon on Monday and Friday will be used for these placements. With all these church groups, there are local outreaches. Next week, there is an opportunity for volunteering at a soup kitchen. I’m excited for both the scheduled placements, but also the local outreach opportunities that will pop up during my time here.
Just as I’ve experienced and enjoyed for my past two summers working at Black Rock Retreat as a camp counselor, I get to be a part of an exceptional community here at Tilsley. It’s really cool because the youngest student is 17 whereas the oldest is 57, with people of all different ages in between, but everyone gets along together as a united community. The age differences do not separate us at all.
I’ve learned so much in just a week, both in my head and in my heart. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about the basics of Theology, the specific course being “Doctrine of God, Creation, Humanity and Fall,” and am learning how much I need to learn about the Bible, specifically Old Testament, in Old Testament biblical studies. Furthermore, through the friendships I’ve already created, I’m learning a lot about what friendship is and how to be a friend. The whole concept of friendship was something I was struggling with this past year, even more so this summer, and am still working through, so it’s relieving to begin getting over that. Hopefully this week, since I’ll know the schedule better and be more settled in, I can find some more rest time and personal time. I haven’t had hardly any time to myself which is a bit tough since there’s so much to process.
I very much enjoy writing blog posts. I hit two birds with one stone by keeping a blog because I am able to reflect back on my week and record my memories which is great for myself, but it also keeps you all updated. I hope you enjoyed reading it! Please let me know if you have any suggestions/questions/comments etc.
I added a “photos” tab to my blog! Check out all my pictures there.
Until next week…
p.s. don’t miss the funny youtube video I put on my homepage!
if you want to check out the other FirstServers blogs, here are the links: