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16 March 2007 @ 07:38 pm
So Scotland...  
This entry may or may not be heavily influenced by the fact that I just spent 3+ hours in the library and only managed to get through one chapter of one book.

I've never been so heartsick or homesick in my life as I am now. Though it's amazing to be surrounded by a different culture and live in a completely new environment, see a really cool old town and meet some interesting people, I miss everything that I am used to so much. I miss Meredith more than I miss anything and in retrospect, have decided that spending an entire semester away from her was a foolish and hasty decision on my part. Thankfully, she's going to be here in about 9 days. Unfortunately, I already miss her for AFTER she leaves. I'm unbelievably happy about her coming here. It's LONG overdue. I need my Meredith. But I also recognize that she's going to be here for 11 days and then I go another 6 weeks until I see her again. It's pretty awful when put into perspective.

I also find myself missing my family. Missing JMU. My friends. I've been pretty good about keeping up with my closest pals but it's certainly not the same as getting lunch at D-Hall or going to Ambassador meetings. The downside of going somewhere and experiencing something completely new to you is that the sense of normalcy doesn't come. And maybe it never will. I used to think that I was adventurous and a socially active personality, but I've come to realize that I'm most comfortable with people who know me the best. It feels like freshman year all over again, except worse, because I'm not rooming with some guy who knows me already. I don't mean to overdramatize the situation, because I have met some good people here, it's just that I know that my life-long friends are back in the states.

Finally, and perhaps more important than missing friends (but certainly not more than missing Mere) is that I've decided that professional history is not really something I think I want to go into. I've loved history for the longest time - it makes me think and use my imagination but it also instills a sense of pride and accomplishment. That's why I'm tied so close to American history - it makes a difference to me, to us, to our lives, to our country. I believe in the importance of studying it. However, I don't really think I want to be involved in the compilation and resuscitation of history. To be consumed in primary sources and read all the different historians' theories and be familiar with the most detailed minutiae -- it overwhelms me, and not in a good way. I have had some serious issues fitting into the academic environment here - one of extreme independence and very little instruction - and I feel as though this is what would be expected of me in the upper levels of studying history. It's just not for me.

And the more I think about it, the more I remember why I fell in love with the career of teaching high school. It's more than the history. While I do believe that teaching history is important and I want to do that, I believe even more in the importance of teachers in general. It doesn't necessarily matter what I teach or what they learn on a curricular level. What's important is the presence of a strong personality that says and does great things for students, providing an example and an ally. The best teachers I've had, I go back to them and tell them about me, not just the things they taught me. Teachers in the secondary level have such a unique impact on the development of personality and confidence and intelligence. That's where I want to be - not stuffed away in some archives or in an office full of books.

And that having been said, the life of a schoolteacher is certainly more accessable for me. I know for a fact that with the pace I'm at now in the program I'm in, I can be teaching in the next 2 years. It would take me much longer to get a PhD in history. I don't want to move all over the country for the "right program" in a PhD. I want to stay in Virginia. I'd like to live somewhere in the southeast after that. I want to have a family with Meredith and come home every day, grade some papers, maybe coach a sports team.

The reason I know that I want to be a schoolteacher and not a college professor is because I love teaching history more than I love history. It's that simple.

Now - back to Scotland. All the things about being heartsick and homesick having been said, I'm making the very best of it. I'm not going to sit around and pout about how I miss the love of my life and the familiar things to me. Part of this for me is learning to be mature enough to get through a tough situation like this. I can't let myself be down - I need to seek out things that can make me happy here (currently, history papers do not make me happy, but I can't let those things go just because I don't like them). Also I need to be able to look my parents in the eyes and tell them the thousands of dollars it costs to be here are worth it. So though I wish several times a day to be in Meredith's apartment with her and Molly, I need to make the best of the situation.

This place is gorgeous. I will say that I've never been anywhere like here before. Part of me also feels like though things seem tough now, once I leave I'll have a better perspective on what this whole abroad term means to me -- a better appreciation for why this was a good thing.

I've been here for about 7 weeks. Meredith gets here in 9 days. When she leaves there will be about 6 weeks left. Essentially, things are about halfway over. If the second half goes as quickly as the first half did, there will be no need for heartsick livejournal entries.
state of mind: melancholymelancholy
(Anonymous) on March 21st, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
heey Kevin
I was really interested to read this entry and hear some about your time in Scotland. What's tricky about studying abroad is that the whole time you're constantly evaluating the situation, trying to make sure everything is going as well as it can be - when really you've just gotta live in the moment. I like how now when I look back on my time in France, my perspective changes a little each time and I can appreciate experiences all the more being further away from them. Hope that made sense and that your homesickness ebbs a little after you see your family and Meredith. -Jennifer D.