Fear of Missing Out. It’s an expression you will hear pretty frequently if you are considering studying abroad. It is also the reason most of my peers at home have given for why they are choosing not to study abroad. Now, the intention of this blog IS NOT to criticize choosing not to study abroad or to discredit FOMO as a legitimate reason for staying on campus for all of your college career. The truth is that if you choose to go abroad, you will surely miss out on things at home. And, if you choose to stay home, you will surely miss out on experiences you could have had abroad. The intention of this blog IS to make you think about the REAL FOMO and the way you go about your daily life, regardless of where you are.
Since the second I arrived here, I have been actively seeking out things to do in and around the city of Aberdeen. I have gone to museums, tried new food and new restaurants, joined clubs for sports I have never played, and travelled around the area. I have already created a pretty close group of friends with some other students studying here from the U.S., Canada, and Switzerland. All of these students are doing the same thing as me: going out and trying to see as much as they can while they are here. It is nice to have a group like this, because we can travel together, making it cheaper and more fun.
The first excursion we took was to a city just south of Aberdeen named Stonehaven, home of Dunnottar Castle and The Bay—a delicious fish and chips shop. It’s about a three mile walk from the train station to Dunnottar castle, but it feels a lot shorter because of the beautiful view of the Stonehaven bay and lush green cliffs scattered with nesting sea birds. The next weekend, we headed even further south to a town named St. Cyrus with the University of Aberdeen’s Conservation Society. We hiked a couple of miles from the bus station to a trail that wound back and forth down the face of a cliff leading to the beach. We made our way down the coast to an estuary filled with all different kinds of ducks and birds before walking back to the cliff-side trail. On the way back we spotted a couple of seals poking their heads out of the water not too far from shore and stopped to climb some coastal rock formations where we found a few star fish and crabs.
Last week, my flatmate showed us around “Fittie” or Footdee as it is now known, a historic fisherman district in Aberdeen. Then, we were all able to catch a free tour of the Aberdeen Maritime Museum. Both of these experiences were helpful in understanding the history of the area we live in, which I will be sure to include more about in a future blog.
This past week I went to visit Loch Kinord in the Cairngorms. The Cairngorms is a mountain range and nature reserve east of Aberdeen. A couple of my friends and I made a fairly last second decision to catch a bus and head out to hike the area. Unsure of exactly where the trail that we were supposed to be hiking was, we walked 2 miles north along the side of the road and cut through a cold, wet bog to stumble upon a path toward the visitor center. As we later found out, the bus stop is no more than 100 feet from the start of the Loch Kinord trail, but none of us minded emptying out our boots and wringing out our socks too much. After picking up a couple of maps from the visitor center, we hiked west on a trail to see the Burn O’Vat, which is essentially a really large hole in a rock formation formed by running water. We climbed up the side of the waterfall that poured into the stone canyon and hiked a ways down the stream that ran underneath fallen trees and dodged between moss-covered rocks before spilling out into the Burn O’Vat. Then, we doubled back and sat on the rocks at the base of the waterfall to enjoy the lunches we’d packed before continuing our hike out and around Loch Kinord. Remnants of a church and of village hut circles marked the path around the loch which wove in and out between a woodland landscape, a bog, grassland, and some surrounding farmland.
I am amazed at how much northeast Scotland has had to offer so far, and I am excited to continue exploring until the end of the semester. However, all of these little excursions and adventures have also made me think about the way that I go about daily life at home. What all would West Michigan have to offer if I were to bring home the same adventurous mindset I have here? How many gems of natural beauty and preserved history have I been surrounded by for the past three years and not taken advantage of? That’s my real FOMO—the fear of unknowingly missing out on opportunities every day. As a result, when I come back home I will be challenging myself (and would encourage anyone who reads this) to be more aware of and to take better advantage of the opportunities around me.