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Transitioning to College Abroad: Slowly But Surely I’m Adapting

As I transition to college in Scotland, I’ve been thinking a lot about restraint.

Part of this is due to the European lifestyle. Everything is recycled, electricity is not automatic but rather a conscious decision (outlets come with switches to turn on and off, like a light switch), and everything is more expensive.

Part of this is also due to the differences between the UK academic system and the American one; most notably, I will only take three classes this year, so I have a much more targeted schedule.

And part of this is in how I’m reacting to all of this change.

Surrounded By Restraint

I’ve tried to restrain my emotions, which are running kind of high right now. Emailing my parents has provided a consistent stream of communication and reinforcement and someone to tell all about what has been going on. Facebooking with my friends is a sweet reminder that, even though I’m a couple weeks behind, we’re all in this together (#togetherbutapart). Skyping with my little sister is a good half-way mark between phone calls and actual in-person interaction.

I’m consciously staying in tonight because I’ve been busy non-stop for a week straight just trying to get settled in. In this way, I’ve had to restrain my instinct to get everything done.

The bank can wait until tomorrow; the phone can serve its purpose even though I can’t make calls. I’ve been making a lot of to-do lists, both because there is a lot that needs to be done and because it gives me a chance to budget my strength and energy.

Adjusting To College Freshman Year

Staying in tonight also gives me a chance to reflect on all the good things so far. I’ve met a lot of people from all over the world. My flat has two Scottish girls, one Canadian also studying abroad, and a German girl. The three girls I met at a meeting for incoming English students were from London, Jersey (an island off the coast of England), and Finland. Last night, the group of guys and girls I went out with resorted to calling each other by our home base (“Glasgow!” “Cleveland!” “Toronto!”).

Even though the transition to college is known to be a period of extremes, of experimentation and extroversion and big moments, it’s been important for me to scale back and go slowly.

I hope that the more comfortable I become in this new place, the more I’ll be able to let loose and be a little less reserved. I also hope that the restraint I’ve exercised thus far won’t inhibit me in making friends and adapting to my new environment. Betting on my experience last night, though, I think St. Andrews will welcome even the slow ones like me.

Emma Freer

Emma Freer attended Ruffing Montessori and Laurel School in Cleveland, Ohio. Emma gave the senior speech at her high school graduation.

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