Page Forrest (C’17) is a junior at Sewanee, studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland this semester. She serves as Managing Editor of the Purple and will be writing a regular column for the paper while she is away.
I love Christmas. Spending time with my family, the smell of pine trees, red cups at Starbucks, and multiple rewatchings of Love Actually – it’s all wonderful. In the U.S., the day after Thanksgiving is considered the earliest socially acceptable time to start prepping for Christmas. However, in the United Kingdom, no one celebrates Thanksgiving. No one had fourth grade Thanksgiving parties dressing up as pilgrims and romanticizing colonialism. The lack of a designated date to begin the Yule festivities left me wondering when it was acceptable to start decorating in Scotland. I got my answer right after Halloween. Instead of waiting until the end of November, most British companies just transition from orange and black to red and green almost immediately. Starbucks broke out the red cups a full two weeks earlier than their U.S. debut, and the street decorations will go up before December even begins. As much as I love Christmas, I’m worried I might get burnt out before December 25. The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint, even if you feel like you need to do both to work off all the pies and cookies. We’ll see how long the holiday cheer lasts before it gets tedious – hopefully no one will turn into a Grinch before then.
Work at the Parliament is picking up speed. I spend a lot of time writing, whether it’s letters to constituents or motions for member business. This week my member of Scottish Parliament took part in a debate on the floor regarding funding research of the mental health of women during and post pregnancy. He asked me to draft his speech for the debate a few hours beforehand. After giving him the speech and going over it with him, I was able to watch him read it during the debate in front of other MSPs, which was a surreal experience. Yesterday we hosted a reception for Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan (SSK). Some of its members had recently gone as a delegation to Diyarbakir, a city in north Kurdistan. Learning about their trip, a fact-finding mission to talk to refugees who had fled from ISIS in Shengal, was fascinating. I enjoyed learning more about Kurdish politics and culture, especially given that Nashville has the highest Kurdish population in the United States. Little things every day remind me of Sewanee in ways I was not expecting. Fog rolled over Edinburgh this past week, and I’ve decorated the wall by my desk in the Parliament with pictures of Sewanee. Yesterday my MSP announced that he would be growing a mustache (autocorrect just tried to change that to “moustache”) for November to raise awareness for prostate cancer. Perhaps he’ll have more success than every freshman boy who invariably tries to grow a beard his first fall at Sewanee. I’m mostly jealous that you all will be registering for classes at a remotely reasonable hour. Because of the time difference, I will be trying to sign up for classes at 2:15 in the morning – not something you exactly want to deal with when you’re barely awake.
Cheers until next time, YSR, and EQB!