Sunday, March 15, 2015

What will I miss about Scotland? The Place.

I was traveling for work this past week, so Tuesday included a 5:30 am start and a trip down to London, and then Guildford, to meet up with colleagues at one of our @digitallifespan partner Universities. At dinner last night, one of my colleagues asked me what I would miss about Scotland when I left (as I plan to do) in seven months. Despite having written several blogs about what I like about Scotland, the first answer that came to mind was not unique to Scotland - it's something we had in Providence, RI, too.  It is community - both Dundee and Providence are small enough cities, and have vibrant neighborhoods, so we feel like we belong there.  You run into people you know - at a coffee shop, in the post office, on the street.  And you can walk a lot of places. Especially in Dundee, but also in Providence, there are commercial streets near residential areas - urban planning done right. Both cities are big enough that are things to do - cultural events, restaurants (well, okay, Dundee gets half-points on restaurants), sporting events - but they have a small-town feel.  150,000 people is my kind of small town.  So when we return to Tucson, the metropolis of 500,000+ (1 million in the greater Pima County area) where you can't even walk to the corner store (what corner store?) I will miss that community.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, sheep in a location that could be Scotland.
The second thing I told my colleague I would miss is something I was reminded of as my boss and I drove from Dundee to Edinburgh Airport (at a you-can-see-unGodly-from-here hour) on Tuesday morning. As we passed out of the city, almost immediately we were in the countryside.  And not the countryside of the US, which still has large towns everywhere, interspersed with uninhabited mountains or forests.  Or in the Midwest, miles and miles of corn or another monocrop.  I'm talking about driving 10 minutes outside the city, and it's rolling hills, sheep, cows, farmhouses...and that continues until you're 10 minutes from the next city.  Bucolic.  It would be like [I imagine] stepping back in time in the US, when there was more rural life and agricultural focus - in Scotland, these are still main foci, celebrated at the Royal Highland Show in June (which, confusingly, is not held in the Highlands). 

Of course we will miss friends that we've made here in Scotland - that's a given. But we will miss the place as well!      

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