Monday, September 17, 2012

Living Simply or Simply Living?

This is actually my first article for the Holcad, which I'm extremely nervous about because I wasn't sure what to write. Hope the Westminnie fans like this. It'll be in the paper (hopefully) Friday :)

When studying abroad, there are only so many items you can fit into a suitcase.  For me, clothes was the biggest issue.  As a girl, it's hard to eliminate your favorites, even when you know they'd be impractical for the weather in your new home.  Shoes, jewelry, room decorations, and books also were stripped to a minimum or completely eliminated altogether.  After about 20 hours of packing, I finally had one trunk, one carry-on suitcase, and my trusty Jansport backpack to take on my long journey to the land of the Scots.
The hardest challenge I've faced so far at The University of Stirling (after the packing fiasco) is adjusting to a new environment with a lot less "stuff" than I would normally have at Westminster.  The biggest adjustment thus far is being without an iPhone; it almost feels as if I lost an essential organ.  Even though it was rough the first week leading an iPhone-less life, I've noticed myself striking up conversations with people more and more often because I'm not staring at a screen.  It's no secret that our generation can be seen walking around like zombies while they text their friends, but in Scotland, it's rare to see students consistently on their cellphones.  Out of all the interactions I've had with new acquaintances, I honestly can't remember one conversation that was interrupted by rude side-texting.  As much as I wish I could constantly refresh my Twitter and Instagram feeds, being iPhone-less is one of the best things that has happened to me so far on this trip.  I've been able to fully immerse myself in conversations with people which seems to be a skill that our generation has been slowly losing over the past ten years or so.
This new experience has taught me how to enjoy the simple things in life.  I've had to revert back to the basic necessities because the cost of living in Scotland is almost triple the cost of American living.  One pound in Great Britain is currently equal to $1.60 in the US;  it might not seem like that much of a difference when looking at small numbers, but once I purchase something that is 100 pounds, or 160 dollars, I have to start monitoring my spending or I'll run out of money in no time.  As a new student, the University luckily offers multiple free events for new student activities and clubs.  Even if it's a introductory meeting for the girls' rugby team, you can be sure I'm there eating tea and crumpets.
Owning a lot less clothes has enhanced my creativity,  buying fresh fruit and vegetables (because it's cheaper) has increased my health, carrying around less technology on a daily basis has increased my social life, and having fewer visual stimulants in my room has increased my focus while working on homework assignments.  Most people might think I'm crazy for enjoying a life without an iPhone, but this cutback, among others I've had to make, is causing this journey to be even more than I had hoped.  I'm not living simply; I'm simply living.


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