Ah, semester two is upon us. Prepare the lances, open the gates… and charge. I’ve been adamantly waiting for the start of classes. Usually one is less than ready to become absorbed by reading and essay writing… but I always find myself the happiest when surrounded by learning… I feel a real sense of purpose and belonging.
I love attending lectures and listening to people talk about subjects they are passionate about. Growing up, I felt very isolated from my peers (albeit, looking back on it now, much of it was probably self inflicted). I never knew what to say during a conversation and never seemed to share any of their interests. Socially, I’ll admit I was a more than a tad awkward and quite shy. I loved talking with people, but large groups made me tired and overwhelmed (and this still do). Perhaps that made me appear stand-offish. My best friends were my parents, my cats, and my books.
I buried myself in study. I latched onto the Middle Ages. And truthfully at 13, who does not love the idea of great queens and valiant knights and conquests of valour? I covered my walls with charts and maps. My room was full constantly with piles of books from used bookshops and the public library. I read as much as I possibly could, bringing books with me everywhere I went. My dad and I would hold exergetic debates over historical events, I remember quite fondly one discussion, during my second year of highschool, of how the Third Crusade would have gone differently had Frederick Barbarossa not drowned in the river. My mom would roll her eyes.
At that age, and now at 19, I really want nothing more than to learn as much as I can. The connections we make to the past are indispensable for our futures. History is what binds people together across the ages and like a whisper can tell fantastic stories if one sits quiet enough to listen.
The opportunities I have been given here are not ones I take lightly. I have the chance to shape my future, now, at this moment. As Lin Manuel Miranda wrote so ferociously, ‘I am not throwing away my shot.’ I have had successes, but cannot be complacent. As I told my parents over break, ‘Three of my essays this semester were firsts… I’m going to try to see if I can make that five this semester.’ Especially, as I enter into the second half of my second year. Graduation grows closer. If I want to continue to be surrounded by the history I adore, and I very much do, I have to stay focused.
I guess, it was the intrinsic human fear of failure which drove me for the longest time. I feared I would never made it out of America, now I suppose, seeing as I have had the appetizer, I am awaiting the main course. I am not so scared of failure much anymore, as instead of focusing of the negatives, I try my best to stay positive. Just coming back from the shop with enough food to last me a few weeks, I realised, as I turned the key to my flat, where I had been two years ago – accepting my offer to study here in Edinburgh, in a country I had never been, and a continent I had only first visited two years prior. By accepting, I did not allow my fears of failure control me anymore. Now I just have to build up the confidence to reach my arms wide, grab it, and never let it go… which is easier said than done.
I still have much to learn, and I know that I will never learn everything I want to… but at least I know what makes me happy. As I listen to world experts talk about the subjects I adore, or run my hand along the the vast shelves in the library full of books I have yet to read, or walk the ancient streets of Edinburgh, or climb peaks up north I think a lot back to the young girl from Kansas who wanted nothing more than to see the places in her books. How, each night, she would look at the map of the world she had pinned to her ceiling and knew one day she would finally find her place. Everything I do now, I do for her.
And additionally, future-me with an excavation all her own and a cat named Henry, what I do now is for her as well.
As I said, I do not take my place here lightly.
So, goals for this semester:
I) I plan to reach farther and aim higher. I am finally taking a course in Medieval History and I hope it is everything I want it to be. However, I cannot be complacent in my background knowledge. I must use this as an opportunity to learn even more than ever.
II) Attempt to be more sociable. Remembering to put down the books and actually interact with people… ones who have not been dead for the past six hundred years.
III) Be more productive during the day and not leaving large amounts of reading to the day before. I have a very bad habit of this.
IV) Stay. On. Top. Of. Laundry.
V) Remember that this is a subject that I love dearly and not allowing my studies to become a chore.
VI) Not take myself too seriously and remember I am still a huge nerd who may or may not have just spent the last ten minutes looking for her glasses… when they were already on her face…
Classes start tomorrow and I have lectures in both Archaeology and Rome History. I am very glad to be getting back to my studies and cannot wait to see what I can learn this semester. News on this summer’s upcoming archaeological dig is coming soon, I just have to finalize a few more things… but I can say that I am quite excited about it.