My educational journey has been less like a marathon and more like a really long game of hopscotch. I came to QMU at the beginning of the year to finish off my Sociology degree. It was faster than doing it in Canada, and it meant I’d be able to study in beautiful Scotland. In the fall I’ll start the Arts, Festival and Cultural Management program. Of course, this year was not at all what I had expected.

There were a lot of delays getting everything sorted out. My partner was supposed to come with our dog shortly after I’d secured a place, but the mountains of paperwork set them back two months. When I arrived in Edinburgh, I was all alone with nowhere to live and a nasty cold. Long story short, I found a flat and my loves did arrive safe and sound. I could finally focus on classes. Then the strikes started.

The staff at QMU were lifesavers during this time. I think I’ve met at least once with almost every department in Student Services. Sometimes I came for advice, sometimes a place to cry, and sometimes for a cup of coffee and a chat. The folks in the International Department have a way of making you feel valued.

Just as I started to feel fully settled and focused on coursework, the lockdown started. I started isolating a few days earlier than most people in the UK because the lockdowns in Canada happened sooner. I lost my job and debated returning to Canada. We decided it was safer to wait it out here instead of risking travel.

I don’t say all this to imply that this year has been a negative experience. The fact is that, in spite of all these unexpected hurdles, I am truly grateful to be here. My advisors have found ways to check up on me, and they always ask about my dog. I list the challenges because they show how much resilience comes from support. It’s not the year I’d expected, but I’ve yet to have a year go as planned.

I love Edinburgh. I love the blossoms and the uneven roads and even the heat. (The cold Scottish winter I’d heard so much about was suspiciously absent. This year I spent my first Christmas with the ability to feel my toes.)

Every day, when I walk Django by the Water of Leith, I look at the tulips opening and the last of the daffodils. Spring reminds me that things will open again. We will step out into a changed world, where we will grieve and flourish and hesitate and do all those other human things. I am glad to spend this period of uncertainty in university, knowing that whenever the time comes to rebuild, I can approach it from a place of hope.

Charlotte Cranston

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