Following my previous post about my one year long stay in hostels in Edinburgh (in 2011-2012), I will here write about where life took me next.
During my whole time in Edinburgh I was planning my epic trip around the world. In my free time, all I did, aside from socialising with fellow travelers and hostelers – and drank Guinness and Whiskey, was researching how to work my way around the world. I was determined to travel through Russia and Asia by land, working my way to Australia and stay there for up to a year.
I was planning to start in Stockholm, traveling to St Petersburg by boat, take the train from there to Moscow and then change to the Trans-Mongolian railway and cross through the whole continent. Using the Seat61 guide I planned the trip and my stops in detail. Two of my must-stops were Ulan Ude and the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, to travel to the famous Lake Baikal. The journey takes about a week without stops but I was planning on staying for a day or two in a few different cities so I’d spend around 10 days in total travelling through Russia and into Asia, in a 4-berth sleeper. The cost would amount up to around $1000, if booked privately and ahead.
Yet, having planned the trip in detail, life took me onto other roads.
While I wanted to travel the world, I also had other dreams that I wanted to fulfil before globetrotting for real. I realised when backpacking from one country to another, without more of a mission than just exploring the site that something was missing. I wanted to have some sort of fulfilment to accomplish during my travels, something that would add extraordinariness to it. I wanted to be able to capture my adventures and transform them into stories that can have an impact on other people. I therefore decided that my dream of being a freelancing travel writer was the dream to be prioritised. In other words, the first thing I had to do was to go to school to learn the skills to become a proper writer.
As I had fallen in love with Edinburgh and Scotland it was an easy decision to stick around. I had found myself a new home and although I was eager to travel, the adventures could wait. At that point, all I wanted was to stay in Scotland, and write. However, in-between my year in Edinburgh and my studies in Scotland came Brighton, as I had just missed the annual deadline for international students. The ten months away from Scotland felt like an eternity without an end, especially as I was just waiting to hear from Scottish universities, to find out whether or not I had been accepted. I don’t think I ever in my life have wanted anything so much.
I received my first unconditional offer from the University of Stirling, to the joint honours’ programme in English Studies and Journalism Studies. My gut feeling told me that this was the one I was to accept, even though I received yet another three offers within the next few weeks.
My friends were shocked when they found out that I had declined an offer to study at Napier in Edinburgh, they thought I’d stay in the Scottish Capital. But something didn’t feel right about studying in Edinburgh. I didn’t want to risk bursting my fairytale-bubble, so studying there, living a serious day-to-day life didn’t seem ideal.
I thought that if I stayed to study in central Edinburgh for years, the escape resort it had become for me would soon lose its fascination as daily life and its routines interrupted.
Stirling, located only 47 minutes away by train, therefore felt like the perfect next door second option to Edinburgh. Besides, the campus is surrounded by nothing but sheep, cows, woodland and has an amazing and gorgeous lake on site. Additionally, all first year students are guaranteed on-campus accommodation, which made the move a whole lot easier when coming from another country.
So life took me to Stirling, where I stayed for three years. But again, when having finished three out of the four years of my university course, I had gotten a reality check into the world of traditional journalism, which ultimately led to my decision to try to jump straight ahead to freelancing and building my own brand, rather than working for small, local papers for years to make myself known.
Plans had thus once again changed so I decided to graduate early and move back home to Stockholm, where I now have lived since May.
Australia, traveling and the Trans-Mongolian railway are still always at the back of my head. But as for the time being, other things need to be prioritised.