Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three Months in Scotland: Three Things We Love Most About Aberdeen

So yesterday I bummed myself out by writing about all of the things I miss most about life in the USA, but trust me when I say that Scotland more than makes up for the hardships of living abroad, so please don’t go feeling sorry for me just yet. To prove it, here are just our Top 3 favorite things about Aberdeen:
3. Running trails, forest walks, and hiking paths.
Jonathan and I love to be outdoors, and the entire country of Scotland is set up like a National Park. Within 40 miles of our house, there are upwards of 100 sponsored hiking trails, and within 1 mile of our house I have access to about 6 different running trails, and I can easily drive to other running trails throughout the city if I feel like changing it up a bit.
The city itself is also very pedestrian friendly, and we are so grateful that we found a house close enough for Jonathan to walk to work. It’s a nice bit of quality time that we get to spend together, walking to and from his office every day, and it still amazes me that we get by with sharing a single car. Talk about a lifestyle change, especially coming from Houston.
And all of the outdoor activities that we love go hand in hand with something else we’re enjoying about Scotland: the climate. I’m sure this will be quite opposite once we head into Winter, but after the scorching summer we had in Houston last year, we are welcoming the cooler temperatures and a bit of rain.
It’s just so nice to go for a run and not feel drained afterwards simply due to sheer heat. I think Scotland is just about the perfect place to train for a marathon because the climate is so conducive to long runs. My personal best here has been 10 miles, which is no marathon, but quite exhilarating nonetheless. On cool, sunny mornings, I just feel like I could run forever. Or at least long enough to tire Bailey out.
2. Living in a small city.
As much as we loved living in Houston, the sheer size of the city was quite intimidating and exhausting. It was such a pain to have to sit in a car for 20 minutes just to go 6 miles, and to drive 30 miles in any direction and still be surrounded by urban scenery. We love that Aberdeen is a much smaller community which makes it quicker to navigate, pedestrian friendly, low on crime, and easy to escape.
Several of the gorgeous hikes we’ve done are just 30 minutes away from our house, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of the beautiful landscapes throughout this country. On a clear day, I can see both the mountains and the sea from my jogging trails. For a girl who grew up in the flatlands and swamps of Louisiana, that is just incredible to me. 
1. New Friends.
Of all the things we’ve enjoyed so far about life in Aberdeen, our new group of friends is certainly our favorite. Though I think that Jonathan and I could make the most of Aberdeen between the two of us, it’s so much fun to be able to share the experience with a community of friends who are all on this crazy adventure along with us.
I think that once you go ex-pat, you self-select into a group with very similar values, interests, and goals. On top of that, the transient nature of Aberdeen encourages friendships to form quickly, so that we’ve felt instantly enveloped by the community here.
Our social life is thriving more than ever before, and for that we are so grateful. Before coming to Scotland, our biggest prayer was for God to bring us each one good friend, and our cups are overflowing. Seriously, as natural homebodies, we have to seriously step up our game on order to keep up with all the fun activities going on around us. No more 10 pm bedtimes for us. I even managed to stay awake until 2 o’clock in the morning last Friday. Watch out!

But it isn’t all partying or social events. I feel like there is a group of women and couples here that I have instantly connected to, and I am forming friendships that will last far longer than our assignment in Aberdeen will.

We feel truly blessed to have Aberdeen as our temporary home, and I could easily rattle off a hundred more things that I love about this city, but I’ve got to go meet up with some of those good friends I just was telling you about. I hope you have a splendid day!

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