The sun rose over London Heathrow Airport as my plane touched down. I jolted awake with a start, but then smiled as I looked out the window: I’d made it! After 10 Hours I was in United Kingdom. My first trip to Europe! I was in my third change of clothing after ten hours flight with delays. Very tired and exhausted I disembarked British Airways to begin my journey.
For years, I’ve been on a personal mission to complete my masters in Mining. This vision became real when I was awarded a Tullow Scholarship from the Tullow Oil Plc. I thought of it as the turning over of a new page in a diary and every new experience needed to be recorded.
The journey began at Heathrow airport where I humbly approached the Customs officer and informed her that I was late for my last flight to my final destination, Scotland. The Customs officer, very friendly, sent me directly to the queue where I was able to be cleared within minutes if not seconds. My first impression of UK was a country of convivial atmosphere with some of the most benevolent airport staff around the world.
After boarding my last flight at Heathrow airport to Scotland all I wanted was sleep but I could not sleep much as I was again jolted awake with the announcement by the pilot that the plane was landing in the Scots Land. All I could think about was people dressed in kilts. To my surprise and to date I have not seen anyone in kilt except photos on the walls in Scotland; I hope to do so before I leave.
Boarding the train from Edinburgh to Dundee, I was amazed with the scenery; the place looked like a scene from an ancient English movie. Scotland is very unique for its landscape and such a landscape will make one anxious to begin a journey in her land. No wonder I was anxious to begin my one year journey in this land.
I had arrived a week before school began and therefore had time to sort things out and prepare for classes the next week. It is very important as a Tullow Scholar to arrive at least a week before your classes start so that you can settle in comfortably, walk around and prepare your mind for what is ahead in the upcoming weeks. And it was worth it because the one week of rest prepared my body, mind and soul for classes the following week. And oh, during my first week, my first visit was to the place where all visitors go to when they arrive in any foreign country for the first time; The Mall.
My Induction came and went along with the exposure to Scottish culture through the many activities that the University of Dundee offered; one such is a ‘Taste of Scotland’.
My first day of school felt like a UN conference with all international leaders meeting in one place from different countries, speaking in different languages. Everyone mingled to enquire if anyone was from their country to create long lasting business and friendship ties. This was my first time in an environment where I was interacting with so many different nationalities so I lost tracked after a while; 120 students with each having a unique personality. I however did not lose track of my fellow Tullow Scholar, Yvonne Leah, who was on the same course with me. Earlier, I had met Emmanuel Ackah-Blay, another Tullow Scholar in University of Dundee but on a different course. Yvonne and I spoke for hours but it was mainly on our journey of becoming Tullow Scholars; a journey, which was not easy but worth it and also about Kenya as it was my first time meeting someone from Kenya. I was so amazed about the stories I heard about Kenya, and was even more amazed when the Swahili language was spoken by some of my African Classmates. There and then I added Swahili as a learning language on my wish list.
As the weeks went by I met people from Malawi, Australia, Ukraine, Vietnam etc. For me this was a learning experience as I was being exposed to different languages, cultures and cuisines. It was an exposure to a different Identity other than My Caribbean Identity. For example, during the weekend, I spent the afternoons cooking Asian dishes with my flat mates. I also went on a trip to the Piltrochry Hyrdo Dam and visited the Drunkend Catheral Church. I enjoyed every bit of my first weeks.
This notwithstanding, my first three weeks were also challenging. A three week Induction course that was from 9am to 5pm every day and ended with an examination, left me spending late nights at the library with classmates, trying to figure out what the Economics lecturer taught in class that afternoon. The truth is leaving my bed each morning to begin lectures comprising of Economics, Law, Management and Finance from 9am until 5pm, for three consecutive weeks made me to take up get-out-of-bed challenge. Thankfully, I won the challenge. Having being selected for a Tullow scholarship, which most are not privileged to be awarded, I decided not to focus on how challenging the journey has started but to give my all to achieve good grades, while enjoying Scottish culture, and different cultures.
Now as I look forward to the rest of the journey, I reflect on the arduous yet ambitious scholarship selection process and have resolved to focus on a statement by my Dean during the welcome reception–“THINK BIG THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX, THEORISE, PRACTICE AND ENJOY THE RIDE. IT IS GOING TO BE ONE GREAT YEAR”.
About the author
Zola Williams is 2014/2015 Tullow Scholar from Guyana. She is currently studying LLM Oil and Gas Law and Policy at the University of Dundee.
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