30 Things I Miss

Today marks 30 Days that I’ve been on the ground in Scotland. I adore it here, no question. Glasgow continues to make a great impression on me pretty much every time I go outside, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things about home, Mount Holyoke, and the United States more generally.

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  1. Family – Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Back home I left my mom, my dad, my three brothers and my younger sister, not to mention my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that I adore. It’s hard not to see them regularly, and knowing that some of them I won’t even see when I go back to the states in January, but let’s hope Skype and Facebook will tide me over.
  2. Peanut Butter – British people aren’t big on peanut butter, so most of it that I can find is expensive and sold in small jars. I love peanut butter on apples in the morning, pretzels in the afternoon, and sometimes just on a teaspoon from the jar, so it’s been tough not having a good, steady supply.
  3. Pandora – At home I use the website Pandora quite a lot, which is an internet radio site. Basically you type in a kind of music you want to listen to (be it a certain artist, song, or genre) and Pandora’s algorithms will create a radio playlist of similar songs. I love it because it means I can discover new music very easily, and I don’t have to constantly pick new songs on Youtube while I’m trying to do something else. Sadly, due to copyright reasons Pandora isn’t available in the UK. Sad face.
  4. Not Having a Huge Time Difference – Admittedly back home I had to struggle with my British friends being 5 hours ahead of me, but now a majority of my friends and family (not to mention blog readers) are five hours behind me, which is a pain when you’re trying to catch up.
  5. Mount Holyoke College Art Museum – In my first year at Mount Holyoke I spent a lot of time in MHCAM for my art history and history classes and just because. When I got to work there as a curatorial intern, I came to love it even more. I like being able to research objects (I might only be studying Medievla history one semester, but at any one time at work I could be researching 20th Century African beadwork, 21th Century Queer American Photography, a 15th Century Italian Altarpiece or 19th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints) and contribute to something bigger than just my academics. I miss it dearly.
  6. Working – Actually, you know what, I just miss working in general. In addition to working at MHCAM I worked at the Media Lab on campus as an art printer tech (the big fancy printers the studio art students print their work on) and Adobe suite assistant/tutor and it was really nice to have a productive routine (and not to mention income.) My favorite work schedule was Sunday mornings, when I’d go pick up a bagel, a coffee, and a banana and go read in the empty lab before everyone else got there. My visa technically lets me work, but I don’t know where I’d be able to with my experience. Oh well.
  7. Being able to Understand Everyone – I’m a lot better at parsing accents now than I was back in 2012 but I do still have to sometimes ask people to repeat themselves (or just smile and nod and hope they didn’t ask me a proper question.)
  8. Rain – What?? You’re in Scotland, you must be sick of rain by now you might say. Well, it actually hasn’t rained much here since I’ve been here. Today was perfectly clear and even a little sunny. In contrast, over the summer Baltimore has thunderstorms at least every week. They take the edge off of the hot summer days and are usually extremely lovely. I miss them.
  9. Netflix – Because of reasons I can’t quite understand, UK’s Netflix has a tiny, tiny selection of not very good movies compared to its American counterpart. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a documentary or trashy historical fiction series playing in the background while doing other things but the selection is just bad.
  10. Evening Blogathons – My dad runs a serious blog about history, art, current events, politics, and science and I run my Goth blogs and Art History blog. When I’m at home we tend to sit next to each other at the dining table after dinner and blog together, exchanging links and chatting about things that come up. It’s a nice system, and a good way of bonding.
  11. Mountain Day – One weekday morning every autumn the president of Mount Holyoke College announces Mountain Day. Classes are cancelled and everyone is invited to hike a nearby mountain and enjoy ice cream at the top. Not only is the day fun, but the build-up to it is very quintessentially Mount Holyoke. I miss that excitement.
  12. Not Having to Use a Plug Adaptor – It’s one more thing to worry about, as far as I’m concerned, and I’d really just rather not have to. I considered just getting a UK charger for my laptop so I wouldn’t have to bother… maybe I will.
  13. Patapsco State Park – The state park (or “the woods” as it’s called in my household) is where we go let our dog Coraline off the leash to chase deer, and where I generally go when I want to walk and have a think. As long as you go during non-peak hours, you’re pretty much guaranteed a nice solitary walk. There are lots of parks here in Glasgow but, being a city, they’ve generally got a fair few people in them at any one time (and you’re not supposed to go at night, so, there’s that too.)
  14. My Parents’ CD Collection – Both of my parents have an absurd amount of CDs that are great to put in while we’re making dinner or baking or just hanging around in the kitchen and dining room. Unfortunately, I can’t find the music of some of my favorite folk artists on Youtube, so it looks like I’ll be missing them until I’m back in January.
  15. My Books – Back home I not only have my own (very full) shelves of books but also access to my parents’ books, which I generally read for fun. While there are libraries here, my parents tend to have impeccable taste so I’ve very rarely picked up a book and disliked it. I miss having that.
  16. Heath Bars – While Britain has Kinder Buenos (which are superb and also on sale at my local Tesco) the United States has Heath bars, which are my absolute favorite candy bar. When I go back I might stock up on some absurd amount of them, just because.
  17. My College Friends – My college friends, collectively called the ‘BGC’ (for ‘Big Gay Clusterfuck’ or ‘Big Gray Cats’ depending on who you ask), are my backbone of support and my closest friends. They’re amazingly talented and driven people with diverse interests who are nonetheless very close to each other and very fun to hang out with. I miss having them only a few minutes walk away.
  18. Pizza Night – Every Friday since before I was born my family has ordered out pizza for dinner. It’s a tradition I miss when I’m gone, especially since (given the size of my family) it’s one of the only times I get to sit down with them and actually talk and have dinner.
  19. Not Taking Exams – Humanities classes at Mount Holyoke rarely have an exam portion (usually just a longer take-home essay), whereas all of my history classes this semester do. I’m nervous about this because I tend to like to revise essays multiple times. Also, two of the exams are at the end of the school year! In spring! Even though the classes are only in the fall semester. What?! This country is bizarre.
  20. Having Lots of Classes – I promise I’m not trying to bang on about how bad this country’s educational system is but I’m only taking three classes a semester here. At Mount Holyoke I’d take five classes, usually, so this is a bit weird to me. I’m just glad it isn’t going to put me behind for graduation…
  21. Brand Recognition – You don’t really notice it until you’re in a foreign country but knowing the reputation of people and places is a really big part of being in a particular culture. Understanding what stores have a reputation for being a rip-off or what parts of town have a reputation for being dangerous. Again, this is one of those things you really just have to accumulate over time, so hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be better at it.
  22. Having US keyboards – Obviously I usually use my laptop for blogging and such, but there is a computer lab in the same building as my classes and I’ve been using it to do some research before heading home and walking back to my dorm. The UK keyboard isn’t *too* different from the US one, but they moved the ‘@’ symbol which I use to log into a lot of websites so it’s pretty annoying.
  23. My cats – The cat I was closest to, Hermione, became ill and passed away this spring at around 14 years old. There is no replacing her in my heart, she was a very special cat, but that doesn’t stop me from missing my other cats, Zoot! and Pippin. There’s just something about curling up to read with a cat in your lap and tea by your elbow that can’t be beat. (Seán has a cat, but she doesn’t like me. :( )
  24. Not Being Lost – It seems like every time I go outside by myself in this city I have a “What” moment and get hopelessly, terribly lost. Yes, I get Google Maps instructions, I’m just apparently terrible at navigating. So much so that earlier this week I was lost on my way to meet up with Seán and apparently I looked so stressed out that a man stopped me in the street saying “Hen, you look like you’re about to fall over. Sit down.” We did breathing exercises. It was great. Being lost, though, isn’t.
  25. Late Night Firepits – My back porch has a little fireplace on it and over the summer it’s the perfect place to spend a night with my siblings and friends, drinking and chatting and spending time together.
  26. Birds – At home we have a rather large garden which plays host to a lot of wonderful birds, including Blue Jays, Robins, Goldfinches, Hummingbirds, and Cardinals. While Scotland has magpies, which I adore, I do miss the little brightly colored birdies.
  27. Having a Phone – I don’t generally call people a lot while I’m at home but having the ability to text someone to ask a question or get directions (a ha ha ha my life) would be super convenient. I’m technically supposed to get one this year, I’m just dragging my feet a little bit.
  28. Late Night Blanchard Runs – Blanchard, Mount Holyoke’s student center and destination for all things fast-food and late night snacks, was only a few minutes walk from my dorm. While it’s probably a good thing I don’t have easy access to coffee and mozzarella sticks at 11:30 at night, I do miss it sometimes.
  29. My Decorated Dorm/Room – This is pretty shallow, but having a completely undecorated dorm room can be a bit of a downer. Hopefully I’ll pick up some postcards over the course of the year to give it more life.
  30. Not Standing Out as American – Today at a bus stop a man next to me asked me directions to a store. When I pointed it out, he jumped a bit and looked surprised at me because he “hadn’t expected” me to be American. Being an American hasn’t ever been a very big part of my identity, I’m not exactly what you might call a patriot, but over here it’s really become that and it’s not something I’m too happy about. Oh well.

So, that’s what I miss about home, Mount Holyoke, and the United States. Luckily, there’s enough here to make up for it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad to be visiting home again in January. And, I’ll be honest, for every thing I miss there are three reasons I’m glad I’m here now, so it’s not all bad at all.

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About Mary Rose

A student blogger with a passion for travel, tea, and the art world. I’m also a published short fiction and poetry writer, an amateur photographer, and a burgeoning wine snob.
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