So much of studying abroad is making the most of those days that you aren't headed to Paris, planning a trip to Prague, or getting ready for a ball. It's finding exciting things to do in your local area that will make your experience so much more worthwhile and cause you to feel much more connected to where you're studying. Often day trips are the best way to do this. They let you explore a new place and still stay close enough to home that you feel like you're establishing your roots. This past weekend I was lucky enough to head about 20 minutes out of St Andrews to go horseback riding. My friend, Katie, found this beautiful estate that offered trail rides and, of course, none of us could say no. As we were piling into the cab early on Saturday morning, we were all a bit tired but excited. As we got there and met Tilly, Susie, Bob, and the rest of the crew (horses of course) we became a bit nervous as some of us had never been on a horse and for others it had been a very long time. As soon as we got going, though, we were all just thrilled to be out there. We rode through fields, and in true Scottish style, past a castle. Afterwards we had a lunch at a fantastic bistro and headed home.
P.S. I'm sorry the photos are not top notch. I took one of them while getting scolded for letting go of the reigns. Hopefully they will do!
That night I had dinner with my friends from Holy Cross. Many of them had been riding that day, but it was nice to see them all. One of the biggest challenges of studying abroad with other people from your school at home is striking a balance between spending time with them and people you meet while studying abroad. It is too easy to just stick with the people you came here with and hang out with them most of the time. I cannot recommend enough though making sure to befriend people who are studying full-time where you are abroad. Some of my best friends here are people I met once I got here and when I look back on my experience at St Andrews many of my best memories will be of the times a spent with them. On the other hand, though, many of the people I came from Holy Cross with I was not friends with before I came here and will be when we all get back, which is, of course, wonderful as well. While it is essential to meet new people, It is still important to keep in touch with those you came with. They'll understand better than anyone the challenges of studying abroad and will give you a welcome reminder of home. So every once in a while invite them over, make some pasta, have them bring salad and dessert, break open a bottle of wine (or a few), and just spend time together.