I need to be youthfully felt, because I never felt young.

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Thanks for coming to my blog, this is where I will be discussing the end of my undergrad studies and navigate higher education as a first-gen student.

The name of this blog comes from the Hozier song, Jackie and Wilson, off his debut album. It easily is one of my favorites and it best describes how I feel at this point in my life, and from speaking to my fellow classmates I am not alone in feeling adrift trying to find a place in this highly connected and disconnected world.

As many first- gen students most of us have to work multiple jobs, while attending school and trying to manage to maintain a social life, anything resembling a healthy life style, all while running on little sleep and way too much caffeine.

All this makes many first-gen students feel older than their short years and confused, as they may not be where they feel they should be at in life. I want to invite you to deconstruct this bogus notion of imposer syndrome and reclaim our youth.

Things will get better, I’m sure. Let’s navigate this time in our lives together.

Why do I Feel Like I don’t Belong Here?

Despite all the work I have done to prove myself, all the hours I pour into bettering myself and my skills I can’t help but feel I am just pretending. Or I even worse that I am doing all this for nothing.

It is common advice for building confidence, ‘fake it, ’til you make it‘, but tI have been doing that my entire college career and I still feel like I lost my mom at the grocery store and trying not to loose my s*@!t. And I’m not alone in feeling this. Maybe you feel this way too, and there is a name for it. Imposter Syndrome.

According to Psychology Today, imposter syndrome (IS) is not a disorder, but rather patterns of behaviour, usually fed by fear of being exposed as a fraud. I am totally guilty of this. There have been countless times when I look around a room, be it in class, a work meeting, or a waiting room waiting for a job interview where I feel that I am not good enough. Or that I am the butt of everyone’s joke, like ‘we’ll take anyone at this point, even her’. Which is a wild thought given that my work speaks for itself.

I’m good at what I do, my ideas are good. So what causes me to think so low of myself? And it is partly that I know I am good at what I do because I get the recognition I deserve but I always have this gnawing feeling that people think higher of me than my self-perceived level of skill. I seem to disregard all the effort that I have put into myself and my skill set, often comparing myself to others and seeing my success as luck or being in the right place at the right time.

But this fear of not being good enough is complex. There are times when I feel so confident about myself and like I got this. Usually when I feel like I am more knowledgeable than the person(s) I am speaking to, but when it comes to my peers I freak out thinking that they’ll for sure be able to spot all my flaws and call me out on them. But it all boils down to these three self deprecating habits:

  1. I am a perfectionist. I want anything with my name attached to be perfect, a true reflection of my level of skills.
  2. 2. I fear failing, in a way that I work so hard I burn out, I never want to seem like the person who isn’t 100% into anything.
  3. and I undermine my achievements. I make it seem like all the work I put into my passions is ‘no big’ when in fact I want to be just as happy as those around me. Over time this has led me to become emotionally dead. I can’t remember the last time I had butterflies for something that really excited me, yes even coming to Scotland. I know I am excited but has lost the feeling.
Valerie Young, internationally recognized Impostor syndrome expert, speaker, & author, during her TedTalk in 2017

I found a great article on Muse that references one of the leading IS expert, Valerie Young, here she catagorises the ways imposter syndrome can make its way into your life.

  1. The Perfectionist, wanting everything 100%, even if it’s not possible
  2. The Superperson, putting in so much work to prove that you’re committed to x.
  3. The Natural Genius, getting frustrated when things don’t come naturally as most other things do.
  4. The Soloist, feeling that the only way to succeed is to go it alone.
  5. The Expert,feeling that I’ll never be an expert in my field and that no matter how qualified I am, I will never be ‘qualified’.

And I have traits in all of the above. So to enjoy my success and regain control of my life I have to unpack these traits and re-learn to let go. I belong in the place I am today. I worked hard for it and so have you.

Until next time, be kind to yourselves.

-Rose xx

A Highland Tour with Breathtaking Views and a lot of Heart

When I got to Stirling, it was a whirlwind of events the first few days. Moving in, orientation, and quickly starting lectures that Monday.

The one thing that sparked my interest during orientation was mention of a three day highland tour. I thought that it was just the thing for me, as I have a bucket list that includes exploring the highlands.

So I took the plunge and paid for a three day tour with Heartland Travel (£134). I was sold on the idea for two reasons: 1. we are picked up from the uni and got dropped off at outside of our flat (no extra cost getting to/from Edinburgh) and 2. accomodation was all sorted for us, while the accommodation fee was separate, it was totally worth the £25/night.

We stayed in the Station Master’s Lodge in StromeFerry, in the middle of nowhere facing the Stromeferry train station and the a loch right behind us. Though it was much too cold and I was much too tired to explore the surrounding areas. I’m sure, if you booked earlier in the season and not the end of October you will find warmer weather and enough light for a quick wander around after hiking all day. The rooms were much nicer than most hostels I stayed in and the beds were so much softer than the old springs I have in my dorm. I was very pleasantly surprised at how nice it all was and would 10/10 recommend.

So the important things: What did we do that made this trip worth the cost?

Well, we did all the things. We…

started the trip with a stop to Doune Castle,

Stopped at the Glencoe Mountains and saw the Three Sisters,

walked out to Glenfinnan Viaduct, most famous for being the bridge/train for Hogwarts Express,

took a hike down to the Fairy Pools,

visited Eilean Donan Castle,

a hike up to the Old Mann of Storr,

a scenic drive to the Quiraing,

a hike to the Fairy Glen,

drove out to Loch Ness and a quick wander around Fort Augustus,

stopped to see Ben Nevis and The Commando Memorial,

and finished our trip visiting the Black Linn Falls, which had an the best view from Ossian’s Hall.

So, for the moment of truth… was the tour worth it?

If I am to be completely honest and unbiased, yes. The guided tour was worth every pence I spent (and, yes that includes losing my debit card on the Isle of Skye). It was so nice to see the best parts of Skye and not have to worry about driving, getting to meet new people (many who turned out to live in the same block at the dorms as me), being told the stories of the land and really getting a sense of who the people of Scotland are.

Our guide, was such a lovely human, passionate not only for his small business, but for his country. He is warm and inviting, getting many belly laughs out of you during drives. And you can get a real sense of who he is as he shares the story of each stop we made. I never felt comfortable hopping on tours in bigger cities like Edinburgh, feeling like another tourist in a machine hopping off one bus to catch another after a few pictures were snapped. This tour gave us so much (more than just the pictures taken, but hey, they are great to send home to my folks) and I would love to do it again to see Scotland in the spring or summer.

The tour company is Heartland Travel and offers a range of tours that range from adventurous, like the three day one we went on to four day tours out of Edinburgh, to private tours. If you think this could be right for you I am attaching the link below. https://www.heartlandtravel.co.uk/

-Rose xx

My Favorite Things So Far

As week five comes to a close my collection of train tickets and photos are begging to be shared with you all. So I am going to share some of the places that keep me falling head over heels with Scotland.

Let’s start in the city I flew into, Edinburgh. This city is the reason I fell in love with Scotland and made it my goal before finishing my undergraduate coursework to study here. Aside from all of the hills that make my calves burn and my ankles quiver, the city has so much to offer.

But my absolute favorite thing so far, has to be going to the town of Callander to hang out and feed Highland Coos. Pulling into the Woolen Mill and seeing two Cows made my day, as their adorable faces drew me in. The Mill sells all your typical Scotland Souvineers, with some very cheeky postcards and calendars you’ll want to bring home for the sheer laugh, it also sells bags of veg you can feed to the cows. For a pound you I got to live my dream of feeding and petting a Highland Coo. It was definitely worth the 30 mintue taxi ride and the walk back to Callander in the rain.

In the last three years, I have started the tradition of visiting a pumpkin patch with my younger sister each fall. I quickly learned that all my flatmates were saddened by the thought of possibly missing the opportunity this year.

That is until my determined flatmate, Lauren, found one in the outskirts of Stirling for use to visit. So we loaded six of us into a taxi on a rainy afternoon to pick our own pumpkins, neeps, and tatties. While this was more muddy and cold than the pumpkin patches back home, I’m very happy to say they were some of the best potatoes of my life.

When I studied abroad in England, my depression kept me away from joining social groups/societies. This time around I have joined SUDS, the Stirling Uni Drama Society. I got to assist in a make up class for other less experienced members and I assisted in doing the stage make up for the fall show, Arthur Miller’s A View from a Bridge.

What I look forward to in the next couple of week is the end of reading week and the Heartland travel guided tour of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. Keep your eye out for the review and recommendations of guided tours of Scotland. -Rose xx

4 Weeks Down, 11 More to Go. Where is the Time Going?!

When you decide to study abroad there is a lot to take into consideration. The location of the program you want to be a part of, the cost, and most importantly the length of time you will be abroad. The length of time will really dictate what you be able to accomplish. For me, my semester is 13 weeks long, leaving me to want to make the most of my time here. “What will I see today?,” “where am I going to this weekend?,” “can I finish that homework before my train?,” and “what time do I need to get that train to make it back for class?” are questions always running through my head these days.

Or, perhaps a day trip to picturesque Culross.

So I am here this week to talk to you about time management. The big difference I feel this time studying abroad is that time is moving so fast and there is so much I want to do in the short amount of time I am here. That is including making travel plans months ahead of time, and last minute. Not having class everyday is great because it allows me to make day trips to the nearest biggest cities, like Glasgow and Edinburgh. But I also am part of two groups for my classes that need to meet outside of class. So what do I prioritize?

When I studied abroad in my third year I always felt that the students who were in semester long programs were always in a rush, and never around. This time around I can understand why. We are ending week four today and I feel like I have so much left to see and very little time. So much so I feel a wee bit of pressure, but I am using it to propel me forward into action.

I found that being very strict with my time has been best. Limiting my time on my phone has been the hardest, but it is necessary. The pace of life in Scotland is much slower than back home and that is working both for and against me. I can catch a very early or a late train, but if I take that late train to whatever city am I going to be able to get a meal? If I forget my toothbrush will I be able to get one at the local shop? While these things may seem like small inconveniences, they are important to consider, as these small details can add to the stress of travel.

Finding ways to travel while taking class schedules into consideration has been one of the hardest things to do. When looking at tickets the cost of midweek tickets gets me very excited, but then I have to remember I do have other commitments on campus. As much of a planner that I am, I have to remember that no amount of planning can ensure everything will go according to that plan. As the Scottish autumn slowly begins to bring colder weather and more rain, the eminent promise of delays looms over my travel plans. Will weather cause me to lose hours and thus, money?

My best advice is give yourself more time than you think you will need just incase a heavy rain makes more people rely on public transport to get where they need to go. On a rainy day what is normally a 10-15 minute ride into town, can easily turn into a 30-45 minute trip as more people need to get on and off at what seems to be EVERY stop.

Sometimes the delays occur due to things out of your control (aka the lovely Scottish weather). This past weekend I was on a train back up to Scotland from England and the train I was on was delayed by 30+ minutes because of weather causing delays with other trains and no space on the platforms. So instead of getting home at 5, I was back at my dorm around 8. Don’t fret, if you miss your train, if you ask a staff member they will usually tell you what train to catch and offer advice.

Classes have been i session and for me, taking upper level (4th year at the University of Stirling, may be 3rd year courses elsewhere) I am still trying to figure out what I am doing. However, the reassurance I have is that my classmates are just as confused as I am. I’m taking two classes where I am working in groups, and in our confusion have taken the initiative and taking a very hands on approach to tackle our term projects.

Filming a crisis communication video on iPhones for our Social Media Marketing Strategies Class (a 3rd year compulsory course at the University of Stirling)

Setting up meetings and deadlines for our small goals has been helping us keep on track and bring questions to our lecturer on the one day that we meet for class the following week. We are keeping each other on track and holding one another accountable. So this is a huge help in my time management. For a person who usually despises group work, I’m very happy with who I am working with.

That is all the time I have this week. Thank you for your support, and have a productive week.

-Rose xx

Depression, My Travel Companion.

I studied abroad my third year in college. And everything was grand and amazing until sometime mid-second semester, when I stopped going out for anything but class. I was barely eating and cried myself to sleep most nights.

Edinburgh from atop Calton Hill.

After a trip to Edinburgh, I did some deep reflection on my recent emotions and my actions. I finally admitted to myself that was a bigger problem that I had been ignoring. So I made an appointment with my GP (general practitioner, essentially,your doctor’s office) and we talked about what I was feeling, how long I was feeling this, and his suggested treatment was therapy and medication.

Since that day I have been more in tune with my mental health and found that my depression comes and goes. It hits some days like a ton of bricks and at other times it is like it is not even there. However, that does not mean I pretend nothing is wrong with me. Asking for help, for space, and most important of all setting boundaries is what has been helping me have fewer and fewer “low days.” This was something I knew I would have to stay on top of during my semester at Stirling.

I talked to my therapist and we found a way to keep myself on a positive mental health track during the transition and until I could establish my support system abroad. The University of Stirling has been super helpful in just that. The study abroad office and the university itself have made the resources for students with disabilities readily available and easy to access. I am quite impressed how easy it has been to set up my support system and how I have been able to flourish in this new environment.

The travel part:

Now, I travel alone most of time either for my education, pleasure, or work. Thus, i am alone on my own for long periods of time. I have to find things that keep my mental health at the forefront. Since my first time abroad I have had to learn how to keep myself composed, calm, and resilient in the face of the stresses that travel brings.

This changes with every voyage. Sometimes just finding a quiet place to sit and people watch is enough. Other times a certain comfort is what I need to make everything better. Every now and again I will have a beer at the airport, depending on how bad the airport experience was. This last time going through LAX was so rough, I was stressed out beyond belief and I found my solace in the Goose Island (restaurant and pub?) in O’Hare. I had two IPAs while reading I’ll be Gone in the Dark By Michelle McNamara.

The manner in which McNamara wrote pulled me in and kept me wanting more. I found myself deeply invested in the case. So much that I avoided finishing the book for weeks because I didn’t want it to be over.

Reading true crime/ listening to true crime podcasts, such as My Favorite Murder, have become my go to while travelling. They give me something to listen to and escape what I am doing for an hour at a time. I get so enthralled by the details, that hours of research went into. It also makes me feel so supported in my belief of “fuck politeness” and the sense of community that comes with being a “Murderino.”

While travelling as a woman alone is hard enough, I suggest that you let your body tell you what is right for you. Sleep when you feel safe (such as the 8 hour flight to Edinburgh and not some random airport bench), make lists to ease packing and sightseeing (this one is huge if you have limited time in one city), eat what you want when your body asks for it (it’s totally ok to indulge when your travelling), but what I find most importantly is being aware of your surroundings. I cannot stress this enough, so many small issues (like losing a wallet or missing a train/flight) can be avoided if you remain aware of time, location, and your belongings.

Travelling Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Travelling with friends brings another type of stress. For me, personally, it is not trying to be too “bossy,” but what are you to do when you have a few days or hours in a new city and want to see, do, and taste as much as possible?

Arthur’s Seat from the Hollyrood Palace gardens.

My best advice is don’t plan a trip until you can make it a few days with the same people. This can be your flatmates, classmates, new friends, etc. Everyone handles travelling differently and can bring out nasty parts of personalities that can lead to a bad trip. So my best advice is do a wee bit of exploring in your new city and find who you think you could spend long periods of uninterrupted time with.

Secondly, I advise of getting together having a cuppa and writing down all the things you want to do. This can be when your booking tickets and doing research. This allows you to take everyone’s interests into account and from this make another list (hey this gal loves a good list) and that will save you from standing outside thinking of the next thing to do and will maximize your time. You can do this one of two ways: setting a strict itinerary or leaving your list open to unplanned adventures.

I was able to do so much in one day in Liverpool thanks to this list than I had trying to search for “things to do in …” into Google.

I hope this advice helps you in travelling alone or with a group. I have learned these tips from trial and error and I pass them on to you. Best of luck and safe travels. x

First Week of Classes and Celebrating William Wallace

Classes began on Monday after arriving in Stirling. And aside from getting used to a new campus and new classes the week was a blur. The shock from enjoying the first few weeks off in over ten weeks with no days off, to classes was abrupt. I’m enchanted by the new city and the quaint atmosphere, so I am finding it a wee bit hard to focus on my studies. Though, I will admit nothing prepared me for the longest class day for me, Monday.

View from my morning walk to class.

My classes begin at 9:00 a.m. on Monday and overlap for an hour until 10:00 a.m., which is a new experience for me. Usually I have such a set schedule that I know where I am going to be at anytime months in advance. Coming to study in Stirling has taught me patience and how to land on my feet when obstacles are thrown my way.

I need to take both of theses classes, I asked my professor what he thought I should do. He told me “you’re an adult, that’s your choice to make.” Which, in all fairness is true, as my 25th birthday is two days away from my writing this post. I chose to attend both, and miss one hour of a FOUR hour lecture, as I find both have equally important skills for me to learn.

Having to choose attending one lecture and being late to the other is weird for me. But apparently it is a common thing here. And the watch again feature of Canvas used at the University of Stirling is great! I can turn back to the lecture and hear anything I may have missed during that overlapping hour. So in reality, I’m just having to catch up an hour at home. Not so bad when I only have class twice a week.

Things may be off to a slow start, but from my calendar I can see things are heating up. I’ll share those things when I can, but rest assured exciting things. Things you can only View from [a] Bridge.

The Wallace Monument from Wallace High School, host of the Wallace Wah Hae
Stevie McCrorie warmed up the crowd for the fireworks display towards the end of the festival.

The first week of classes was also full of welcome events, including the Wallace Wah Hae. The Wallace Monument, honoring Scottish hero,William Wallace turns 150 this year. All the international students were invited to the Wah Hae, despite the gloomy weather, the local food vendors and live music kept us warm. The festival was to commemorate the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The bridge which still stands to this day! (And I get to see it on my ride into town.) The city is alive with history and I will take the opportunities to see all of it as my schedule permits. As of now, I am getting ready for a quick weekend trip to the Scottish capital and one of my favorite cities, Edinburgh.

I am going to Edinburgh with my flatmates, a new experience for me, as the last few times I visited the city it was with my partner. So I’m excited to see the city with a new perspective on my own and through the eyes of my flatmates who have not gotten to explore the city as well as I have.

Our Flat 31 bunting, to be hung at The Wallace Monument in October.

I am also hitting a low point with my depression, a lot of things have been going on such as: changing classes, getting lost and being late to classes causing stress, being away from my family for my birthday, getting a wee bit ill, and to top it off, my period. To fend off the symptoms, I have found myself cooking and trying to eat well. Walking around the loch on campus and getting involved with societies on campus.

Next week, I will discuss travelling alone and with friends with depression. As for now, I am going to finish packing to enter my 25th year in one of my favorite cities, and begin the next chapter of my Mid-Youth Crisis.

A Warm Scottish Welcome

There is nothing like Move in Day to sink in the idea of living in your host country. No Move in Day is complete without lugging your suitcases and cursing yourself for packing as much as you did.

Did I really need ALL THOSE PANTS?!?!

I see the 50 lb. limit set by airlines as a personal challenge.

Why, yes. I am living in Scotland after all. I don’t think the shorts and dresses from back home will keep me warm, come the winter months. As I rationalized my packing choices and made the final push onward to the last leg of my journey.

Arriving in Stirling it was a lovely day, warm and sunny (unusual from my past experiences in Scotland). A perfect welcome to my new home for the next few months. As I left the train station with my two heavy suitcases, and a backpack I quickly decide to take a taxi to my accomodation. A wise move. The University of Stirling campus is spread over 300+ acres and the student accommodation I am calling home is at the very back of campus. A good 25-30 minute, very hilly walk from the main entrance.

As the taxi makes its way through campus, I am in complete awe that this is where I get to learn. The campus is stunning! It is lush and green, there’s a loch in the middle of campus full of a variety of waterfowl, you can see the Wallace Monument from campus! As we made our way down the winding roads a straight-up castle pops up, followed by a golf course, and finally the student accomodations.

Only in Scotland would a university campus feel so magical complete with 9-hole golf course and a castle.

I check in and grab my keys, drudge my bags up the (one flight thankfully!) stairs and meet my new flatmates who got there earlier that morning.

The room, is smaller than my last dorm, but it has everything I need. New sheets and a pillow. A closet with some storage, a desk, etc. The view is charming, and makes me feel totally immersed in the campus. Needless to say I am super excited for the next 13 weeks and seeing what they hold. Everything from program led field trips to a 3-day guided tour of the highlands led by a local.

Now, to the reason I am here: the STUDY in study abroad. I am taking my upper division Public Relations courses to meet my graduation requirements back home. I am anticipating a challenging semester as I gain a new perspective of my field. I am taking a research methods class, a social media strategies class, and a digital journalism course at the University of Stirling.

With that being said, I am off to prepare for lectures this week and will report back on how I find the classes next week.