Abandoning a Safe, Familiar Life for the Unknown

I knew that moving to Scotland was what I wanted. I have wanted it for a long time. Almost too long, I think, as I was beginning to feel like it should be kept as a glorious dream to dwell on as an ever-present exciting possibility. I believe my mother has done this very thing with her long-time interest in travelling to India. I recently re-read Paulo Coelho’s excellent novel The Alchemist, which addresses this very issue. If you’ve read The Alchemist you will understand how I was re-inspired to live out what I felt was my correct path. If you haven’t read it, do it now.

I’ll wait.

Good, right? Paulo Coelho is a freaking genius; everything he says is wise and deeply truthful.

Paulo Coehlo

The circumstances that lead me to move to Edinburgh at this point in my life are fairly standard. Firstly, because I wanted to, as has already been established. I also graduated from university this past June (2012) with an Honours Degree in Greek and Roman Studies (my Thesis explored the comedic playwright Aristophanes’ use of homosexuality) and a minor in History. Since I have absolutely no desire to become a teacher or professor, this became immediately useless.

“Go to University,” they said, “you can get any job you want,” they said.

“Go to University,” they said, “you can get any job you want,” they said.

I don’t regret my degree in any way – I loved every single second of it (even when I didn’t). But after graduation I felt an overwhelming feeling of “Now what?

My third reason was an amicable yet heartbreaking break-up with a man I had been very much in love with for over three years. I would have followed him into oblivion (oblivion being small-town Canada; so NOT me, yet where he wanted to end up). A recipe for future resentment, it wouldn’t have worked out.

With no more heavy ties to Victoria, it was the best timing I could ever hope for.

I began the necessary arrangements – gave notice at my well-paying restaurant supervisor job, and began getting rid of my furniture and excessive possessions. I donated about 70% of my closet, and I will therefore feel like I’ve contributed quite enough to charity for a few years.

About a month before my departure date, however, I injured my knee at work. I was on crutches for a week and a half, and still needed to pack up most of my apartment (an attic suite only accessible via a number of rickety stairs). I had to call in favours from busy friends, friends’ fiancés (thanks again, Graham!), and generally rely on the generosity of others when I was usually very happily self-reliant. It was probably the worst week of my life – newly alone in the apartment, injured, helpless and facing yet another major change I was imposing upon myself. I felt like maybe I was going insane.

Eventually I completed the slow process of paring down all of my possessions to fit into two suitcases (what I thought to be the bare minimum I could live with), and moved in with some girlfriends for the last couple of weeks in Victoria (my parents had moved to Ontario a year previous, and felt just as helpless in not being able to help me through my tough time). Once I was off the crutches, I felt like I could maybe still accomplish my travel goals, albeit with a significant limp.

Finally, I left Victoria, and the last bitter couple of months, behind.

When I landed in Glasgow, I walked out of the airport feeling exhilarated.


I’d arrived! I was here! Has anyone mentioned ME yet? I walked up to a friendly-looking man to ask where I could catch a bus to the train station to get me to Edinburgh. The man replied to my question in a very heavy Glaswegian accent. “Oh, pardon me?” I asked. He repeated himself. “I’m sorry, could you say that again?” He did. “So, um, it’s , um, that way?” I pointed a random direction; he shook his head and said the same thing again. I thanked him and I as I left, all I could think was: what have I done?


About amblingalana

Just a Canadian girl who abandoned British Columbia to try her luck in Bonnie Scotland. Feminist, long-term travel enthusiast, aspiring writer.

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