Thursday, October 5, 2017

Life in Our New Home: Mayward Family Update

A foggy St Andrews Cathedral selfie, with a puddle-stomping toddler in the background

The kids near West Sands

Our new home.

In the quad of St Mary's College, the Divinity school

St Andrews Castle
Copeland and Eloise on their first day of primary school in Scotland.

On September 5, after a few red eye flights and a brief wonderful hiatus with our friends, the Bartons, in Connecticut and New York, we arrived at our new home in St Andrews. In so many ways, the adjustment has been much smoother and simpler than we anticipated. Within the first week of arriving in St Andrews, we set up a bank account, acquired new cell phone plans and Internet (albeit we had to wait three weeks for the Internet to be activated, for reasons still unknown), obtained our biometric cards (which are essentially our visas and IDs while living here), and settled into our cozy two-bedroom bungalow.

Now we've been here a month. There have been moments of stress and exhaustion, and the kids have taken some time to adjust to a few particular aspects (especially attending a new school). But we're genuinely enjoying life here in our new home. Here's what we're loving about St Andrews so far:

Walking. We walk everywhere! With so many pathways and streets, and in such a small town, we find that walking works best so far, rain or shine. Our home is less than a 5 minute stroll from the kids' primary school and two local grocery stores. We're near a path called Lade Braes, which meanders throughout the town alongside a creek named Kinness Burn and goes by a number of parks, a pond, and a large knoll called Hallow Hill. The center of town a 10-15 minute walk; my office space across from the St Andrews Cathedral is 20 minutes. While it's taken some adjustment for all of us, we are thriving here. Katie and I have always loved going on walks and hiking around. In the locations we've lived where that was more difficult, it felt like something important was missing in our lives. St Andrews' walkability suits us wonderfully.

Food. While we've yet to attempt haggis, we've really enjoyed the meals we've eaten. With our family's dietary restrictions due to food allergies, food can be tough, but we have discovered so many more things we can eat, especially me. Among other things, I'm allergic to soy, which is in the majority of packaged food items in North America (go check your cupboard--you'll find soy in nearly everything), but it's rare to find it here. After an evening cup of tea, we eat a lot of baked goods, particularly shortbread. We've also found that food prices are comparable to the US, if not less expensive. Did I mention baked goods? Because, shortbread.

Culture and pace of life. In the month since we left, the US has experience devastating wildfires in the Columbia Gorge, hurricane and tropical storm disasters in Texas and Puerto Rico, the worst mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas, threats of nuclear war from North Korea, and all the vitriol and immorality stemming from the current US president. Things are slower and quieter in St Andrews. It grieves us to hear of such tragedy from a distance, and there are times when we wish there was more we could do to help from afar beyond our prayers. Still, St Andrews feels like a sanctuary, a small enclave of decency and beauty in the world, and we're thankful to experience it for a season. We have encountered so many friendly and genuinely good people here, not only from Scotland, but from all over the world in this small-town university setting.

Community. Before we ever arrived in St Andrews, we had already experienced the kindly embrace of the Divinity school community. Through email and social media, our questions were answered and worries were calmed in the weeks and months leading up to our move. Upon arrival our new friends, the Morleys, came by with a ready-made dinner for us. Since then, we've met so many wonderful people and received a myriad of invitations for meals, drinks, and conversations. In our first church visit, we were greeted by a host of professors and postgraduate families. Over and over, people asked us, "What do you need? How can we help?" When a professor's husband asked me what we needed, we semi-jokingly said, "A coffee maker." (Coffee in Scotland is nowhere near what coffee is like in the Pacific Northwest.) Though we had just met, he said he had one we could borrow, and dropped it on our doorstep that afternoon. It's just a small example of the hospitality and generosity we've encountered; at times, it feels very much like an Acts 2 community, a taste of heaven on Earth. The postgraduate community at St Mary's College--the Divinity school--is wonderfully inviting and life-giving.

We've heard from a number of the PhD families entering their fourth year of research that they're reluctant to leave St Andrews when the studies have come to a close, as they've loved their time here so much. I can already see what they mean.

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