“Occasio ægre offertur, facile amittitur.”
Having now received the results of year three at university, it is with great pleasure I write instalment number three of my university annual blog report.
At the end of last year, I had begun to prepare for my semester in the USA, which now I reflect upon feels to have been far longer than six months ago.
Towards the end of August, I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by Stephen (Dad) and Uncle Liam (who lives in California, and whose flight was almost twice the length of ours) on the first leg of the journey.
Study abroad is an experience I had planned to seize upon since leaving high school, and so the opportunity to study at Salisbury University, Maryland, was impossible to turn down.
Spending two nights in the US capital Washington DC, we made the near-three hour trip to Salisbury by Greyhound, arriving in Salisbury at the late hours of the day on Sunday 23 August.
We had been driven to the apartments, University Village, by a legendary Uber cab drive, who almost became our personal chauffeur for those few days, not to mention a tour guide.
For all his organisation, after arriving Liam shouted to Stephen: “Steve, where’s your bag?”
“Aw! Sh-“, he replied, knowing his bag was now trundling its way back to the Uber driver’s house.
Before I could let Stephen and Liam go, we cleared out the apartment – including a rather miserable and noxious-smelling lettuce in the fridge, which Steve attempted to tackle before subsequently throwing-up in the toilet.
Just before Steve and Liam left, I met Ethan Hungelmann, who would become my closest friend and flatmate whilst in the USA.
Without delving into the details of my entire trip, I would specifically like to thank Ethan, Jasmine, and Ethan’s family for the warm welcome and friendship I received whilst there.
I cannot overstate how grateful I am for what they did for me, and the fantastic times we had together whilst I was there – hopefully, there will be many more soon!
There are a few reasons for why I am grateful. Firstly, simply for the long political talks, comic book discussions, and general hilarity that Ethan and I had together.
Second, for Ethan and Jasmine staying at Crucial Tattoo Studio for six-and-a-half hours whilst I got my first tattoo, and particularly Ethan for all that after-care stuff which we don’t want to go into.
Thirdly, for Ethan’s final confession that it was, in fact, his damned lettuce that made the vegetable drawer reek for about a month after it was disposed of in a controlled environment.
More could be said, but I feel an exhaustive list would double the word-count, and I want to thank others: Taylor Dittmar, for being such an incredible friend during my stay, and who came to visit Edinburgh at the start of the year – I am sure we will be seeing one another soon.
Also, a shoutout to Sarah Dunn who, as a fellow University of Stirling student, it was great to have around to keep my grounded.
Finally, to all those others I met in and around Salisbury University: Leo, Andy, Kevin, Frano, Flora, Caitlin, Angelica, Chris, Paula, Pilar, Brad, and on.
Also, to Mr. Robert Barber. Bob came into my Political Communication class to talk about the need for being an informed individual, and to not be “cellophane”, but to make yourself mean something.
I was lucky enough to work with Bob, a former businessman, on his book about providing the tools for good leadership to young people.
It was an exciting opportunity, and allowed me to learn about this brilliant man’s life philosophy, as well as think about my own.
Coming back from the States was, admittedly, tricky – especially dealing with the mother’s reaction to having a quarter of my back coloured blue.
Naturally, it felt odd getting back to the living-at-home way of life, but I am glad the USA allowed me to get a flavour of living away from home for a long time. It is something I had not done before, I would not be daunted by doing again.
One major thing I did notice in the States: I missed my friends and family, of course, but I missed Scotland.
Tha mi à Alba, but I had toyed with the idea of emigrating as soon as possible. Since I came back, I knew that was madness, and a few people may have noticed my rather bronze complexion from hiking almost every day.
The spring semester flowed much like any other, at least to some extent.
I was fortunate enough to have been selected for the Journalism Work Experience module at the end of the previous semester, and learned I would be spending a week at The Herald in Glasgow.
This was a phenomenal experience, and if you want to follow a career in journalism, PR, or writing I suggest you take any opportunity you can to get such an experience.
Keeping in journalism, I am extremely grateful to the people at the BBC Freelance team, who allowed me to be a Stringer again for the UK General Election, and to be one of only two BBC Stringers in Scotland for the EU Referendum.
Another “thank you” should be said to Edward Blades, a tutor at Fife College, who allowed me to speak to his HNC and HND Politics classes about Plato and university life.
Edward is un personnage génial, who assisted me with my Advanced Higher Modern Studies, and whom I hope to work with again in the future.
After what felt like hardly any time since semester started, it was finishing, and the time for electing the new committee for Brig Newspaper began.
I am pleased to say I was elected Deputy Editor, but I extend the greatest of congratulations to the rest of the team: Dan, for becoming Editor-in-Chief, especially, but also Warren, Craig, Bety, Amy, Stuart, Jamie, Jacqueline, Craig, Hannah, Harry, Amy, Ailsa, and Hayley.
We said “adiòs” to a fantastic group of writers, including two-time Editor-in-Chief and Champion of the World Lucy McLellan.
I wish all of you the best of luck, and hope to see you soon.
The second success to the latter end of the semester was being selected as School (or now, Faculty) Officer for the Stirling University Communication, Media and Culture division.
I commend all the other students who put their name forward for such a crucial role, and hope to perhaps bring some of their ideas to the table when we kick-start in September.
Lastly, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by long-time friend Daniel Beale on a “scholarly” (AKA beer-tasting, “oh! Look, it’s Rousseau!”) trip to Geneva.
This trip was incredible, not least for being able to see Daniel again after a long-time of not getting to meet up. I am writing a short book on our travels, which I may post on here in time.
And so, that brings us close to the end of the year: exams went well; horizons were broadened; and I began to focus on what my end goal is, namely an MLitt in Intellectual History, followed by a PhD.
I would like to bring your attention back to the quote at the start of this (now 1000-word-long) post:
“Occasio ægre offertur, facile amittitur.”
Opportunity is offered with difficulty, lost with ease.
There are a number of translations to Publilius Syrus’ quote, who lived in the first century BCE, but its message is captured well in all of them.
Do not waste a good opportunity – that is easy, getting one is hard.
This year has taught me just that, and that one should cram as much into one’s time as possible. You are the creator of those opportunities, and if you put your hard work to nought, then it is a shame for yourself.
Next year is dissertation year, and this summer I will be preparing for that, alongside learning Spanish.
Hopefully, during the semester, I have the chance to add Gaelic to this, as that is what I plan to study for my journalism dissertation.
If you read this far, thank you for your time and patience with my writing about myself!
This is the penultimate instalment, now it is time to go the distance.