In May 2019, I visited Scotland for the first time and fell head over heels with the country. It was a land of gripping stories, peaceful lochs and towering hills (and hairy cows, of course). I’d been looking for postgraduate programmes in the States, so I decided to expand my search to the UK. As if by fate, I found the perfect course at the University of Stirling in Scotland. I now find myself living among the Wildlings beyond the Wall…
As it turns out, the Wall in Game of Thrones is a reference to Hadrian’s Wall which historically marked a boundary between Roman Britannia (England) and Caledonia (Scotland) according to a BBC article. Wildlings are commonly known as Scots (lol).
My home in the North (well, Central Scotland) is a tiny and quaint village. When I say quaint, I mean picturesque and posh. Seriously, this town is filled with Victorian mansions surrounded by immaculate gardens. In contrast, my building is a small block of flats from the 1970s. It’s quite the opposite of Victorian. Still, I love going for runs and walks through the neighbourhood. My love of architecture is constantly ignited.
So far, I’ve managed to find a myriad of trails in the nearby woodlands and hills. The most alluring ones are goat paths snaking through acres of Bracken ferns and thick moss.
The other day, I followed the sound of rushing water and came across a steep and narrow gully containing several cascades. The smells, sights and sounds made me feel like I was in the Haunted Forest (in a good way). Further along, I saw trees like the weirwood trees of Westeros. They were so deeply rooted and proudly standing.
Perhaps what I love most about this fairytale land is its ever-shifting temperament; Scotland is moody (like me). When I first set out on a walk, the sky might be overcast and the air damp with thick fog. Within the hour, the sun breaks through the clouds which then melt away to reveal brilliant, blue skies. The rays pierce through the canopy and bathe the greenery in ethereal, gold light.
What I love most about Scotland is its vividness. In this country, I always feel immersed in sensation. Water feels wetter. Sunlight feels brighter. I think it only seems that way because Scotland is so temperamental. Each moment is transient and greatly contrasts the next. It’s a viciously beautiful form of whiplash, and I’m incredibly lucky to experience it. Here’s to living in Scotland! Slàinte mhath!
As you know, I’m excessively fond of trees. This week’s thank you goes to Trees for Life, a Scottish conservation charity that’s “rewilding the Scottish Highlands”.
Scotland has undergone devastating deforestation for millennia (yup, that’s thousands of years). In an effort to restore the natural environment, Trees for Life has planted almost two million trees and returned other plants and wildlife to the Highlands. Check out the full story here, and please donate if you feel inclined.
Thank you, Trees for Life!