Lost in Alba…

I’ve had a fair share of travelling experience in my life, solo and with family, but one that holds a special place in my heart is Scotland (Alba in Gaelic). It has continued to do so since my first trip in 2013.

I might have mentioned this in my blog in the past – when I returned from my 6-day trip in Scotland, bedazzled, I wrote on my bucket list to ‘study/live in Scotland’. Those are the precise words. I would never have imagined that I would cross off the achievement 7 years later.

My time in Edinburgh was nothing short of living THE dream. Hands down, it was the best experience of my life! Although it might have been my first time away from home, but doing what I wanted (nothing sinful, ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ‎) whenever I wanted gave me the freedom and peace of mind I had been longing for.

From hikes, to taking the train to a new city, taking a trip a day before lockdown, to crossing the same paths everyday, there was always a vibe to everything in the city which was calming and fulfilling. I found amazing friends and lost the ones that weren’t meant to be. The city broke me in some ways but made me in many others.

Leaving the city was like letting go of a loved one. I wished for myself to never have to leave. I long to go back and I wish that I get to revisit soon.

In 2013, I left a piece of me in Scotland. In 2020, I left my entire soul.

We’ll unite again, oh dear Edinburgh. I patiently wait for that day to arrive.

My big move… (Part 2)

…to Edinburgh!

Read Part 1 over here.

My sister and I flew in to Glasgow to visit the Dumfries campus of University of Glasgow. I had emailed and arranged for a meeting with the programme administrator and the programme leader. We left the next morning to Dumfries – had no idea what was in store for us. It was nearly a 2-hour train ride from Glasgow city centre to the town of Dumfries. Or should I say the village of Dumfries. It was a completely isolated town/village,and there were literally 3 taxi guys who could take us from the station to the campus. Yep. We somehow managed to call one and reached the campus a tad bit late. The administrator welcomed us and started showing us around the campus building. Impressive. We sat with the programme leader and discussed the course and how likely was I to get into the tourism course with them. He was a nice old man, did not sugar coat anything and the conversation was honest and productive. The administrator then took us around the library and told us the accommodation was just a few minutes of walk. She also told us that this village was isolated and just to bring in some population, three universities opened their campuses together in Dumfries. She also told us how bad the weather got the previous year: they were all stuck in their homes because of the snow and this stopped classes for days before it got manageable to be outside. This made me think thow weird it was to move all their tourism-related programmes to this campus where no tourism existed!

On the way back I told my sister that this did not seem the place for me. And she agreed.

We had Edinburgh Napier University planned for day three, and had set up an appointment with the international officer at the Craiglockhart campus. We experienced a 30-minute delay in between as the train services to Edinburgh stopped due to a technical fault on the railway lines, and all the trains that were supposed to depart after us had been cancelled. At least we were lucky enough to have stopped half way into our journey. We caught the train again and naturally reached late. The officer himself was late at the campus, but was there before us. We met him in the rotunda, got a tour of the campus and got answers to the questions I had prepared. He was kind enough to invite me and my father for an alumni event they were hosting in Dubai, and I obviously accepted it. After leaving the university, we visited the Bainfield and Orwell university accommodation but unfortunately could not get a room tour as they were in full capacity. Anyhow, we were famished so went straight to Pizza Hut right opposite the Bainfield accommodation to have lunch. We then left for the train station, picked up our luggage, went to the airport and flew to London to our sister’s. 

Our next stop was the University of Winchester’s School of Art, which was around 2 hours away from my sister’s place. The MSc was in Art Curation and we had arranged to meet the coordinator and get a tour of the campus. It was pretty impressive, we got a chance to meet the programme leader as well to ask a few questions. The campus was located in a small, modern town and and was accessible to pretty much everything. However, the degree itself was not my top preference, so I left without feeling WOW-ed by it.

Although we were supposed to visit Loughborough University, who were offering MSc in Sports Marketing, we decided not to for the 5 hour train journey that was ahead of us. So a straight no to that!

We then spoke to our dad of all the options, and I decided that Edinburgh Napier was the best choice out of the three. My dad was still not convinced but agreed to attend the alumni event with me in Dubai, which we did. He spoke to the Dean of the Business School, the alumni coordinator and a few of the alumni and was FINALLY convinced to send me to Edinburgh Napier University to pursue my postgraduate degree!!! WOHOOOO!

And so from that day to this. I have been in Edinburgh since January 2019. I am done with my masters dissertation and will receive my results in July. I will be graduating soon, but not sure when it will be in this pandemic. Nonetheless, Alhamdulillah. I am so grateful to Allah for this experience and this time. I am going to cherish it and miss it. But now I am eagerly looking forward to what’s next and where will life take me from this point onwards.

I know the ending was rushed, but I had this draft saved since July 2019. 

Reblog: ‘The Truth About Travel and Homesickness’ by Phil’s Next Stop

“This clingy, nostalgia-inducing attachment shouldn’t be something to avoid or ignore. Accepting it as a building block of your perspective, a cornerstone to your identity, can help enrich the time you spend away from home.


Homesickness is inevitable; we all come from somewhere. It’s as certain as the color of your eyes and size of your feet. It stays with us because we know where we hail from and who awaits us back home.”

This is the only way I can share Phil’s post. I stumbled upon him a few weeks ago at work while searching for blogs that were not too technical, easy to read and somewhere I could find inspirtation for my own blog. In other words, blogs that are written concisely yet not too fancy.

This post speaks for all those living away from home. I myself can relate to each and every word of it. I also believe no one could have written it better than Phil.

Go ahead and read the entire post: https://philsnextstop.blog/2019/06/05/travel-and-homesickness/#comment-91

P.S. Phil, if you’re reading this: thank you!