All done.

112 days since It wall started and I am sitting in Pittsburgh Airport waiting for my flight to New York and then onto Edinburgh! My legend of a mate Gabbie ran me down to the airport this morning, which was very nice as after the emotions I have went through in the last 24 hours I couldn’t have thought of a better way to be seen off! Its been a week of ups and downs…not only because the Tories made gains in the local elections or France turned their backs on ignorance in their national elections but because I was on the home stretch. Before all the reflection and memories, what have I been up to for the last week?

Waking up after Toronto was tricky as we had had such a great weekend, so when I got up all that faced me was exams, essays due, a presentation and saying goodbye. Quiet the comedown eh. However, I rolled my up my metaphorical sleeves and got on with it. Started by hammering out an essay on how the Tories have failed the Scottish people through their policies of apathy towards the number of children living in poverty. Its unbelievably easy to write opinion papers on the Conservative governments failings. I gave my final presentation with my team mate, Megan, on variances in PA state campus’ in relation to substance abuse citations. We used socioeconomic statues, in the form of government loans borrowed, as our independent variable. A class that I feel will help a lot for my upcoming dissertation. Thursday brought my final International Relations exam and US History since 1920 exam. Four classes I have greatly enjoyed, learned a lot and will be keeping in touch with my Professors, at their request, in the future. Just a Research Methods paper to write in JFK this afternoon. Easy!

5pm on Thursday it was all over. Time for the block party!

16. block party

It took a while for the parties to really kick in here but over the last few weeks there have been a few bangers! The Block Party was up in University Village (off campus housing) and was on the ‘bring your own bottle’ vibe. We went for the trusty case of Keystone Ice…12, 6% cans for $8 (£6.20). It was great to see everyone together one last time, even the young team! Mabel and I had a fashion disaster too…although it must have been easy for the guys to find us in the crowd.

16. greg mabel

Friday was a great day to say bye to the crew. We headed to the brewery, had a bunch of drinks, great food and a good laugh! Not much more to say than that. Thanks for coming out guys. And thanks to Lisa and the guys at my work…three months late I finally picked up the gift voucher you guys bought me…Free Meal!

16. crew at dinner .jpg

Saturday brought our final outing to the bowling alley. #highroller

16. greg bowling.jpg

Myself, Mabel, Thomas, Tim and Carly (Tim’s lady friend) headed up to the bowling alley to chuck some balls, eat pizza and sink some cans. We decided to go for the Olympic style names. AUS, SCO, BEL, MEX, USA. After two games I did not manage to win either. I tied for first in both games. Nail biting stuff, mostly for Thomas. It was a really good laugh. After, we headed to the bar for a few and I said good bye to the home of the $3 three pint pitchers. Goodbye Ginger Hill…you have been very good to us. I don’t know how, when or even why but I hope to step foot in you once again!

16. bowling crew

And that’s us up to Sunday my last day at Slippery Rock University. It was a weird day. We met up to eat something, grabbed coffee and I packed up my room. It was nice to sit in the art building and chill for the afternoon as Mabel painted me something for the man cave at home on a spare canvas she never used. She is unbelievably talented, but we will get onto that in a minute. The one thing that kept going through my head was I am super excited to get home to Edinburgh but I will miss the people here so much. It’s weird to be dropped in the middle of a rural area of another country and told to get on with the people that are in the same situation. I seriously lucked out!

Start with the Belgians. When I arrived here, I knew there weren’t any students from the UK so It was nice to meet some fellow Europeans that looked as confused as I did. Whether it has been dancing away in Pittsburgh, teaching me Flemish, hearing Tom complain how much he hates Slippery Rock, hearing Bella shout ‘Geeee’ everyday although she wasn’t talking to me or just having beers on Tuesday night Karaoke, you guys have been great. I feel I have now perfected my impression of Tom’s broken English when he is tired, which to be honest is very insensitive but pretty funny! I look forward to see you guys in the future. We aren’t that far away!

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16. bella greg

My local (Well New Yorker) American Gabbie! It’s crazy that if I had never laughed at your t-shirt in the QMU library we would have probably never met. I am glad I shouted you out in that lecture we were attending and grabbed some drinks in Edinburgh before I headed out here. You never once thought twice about running us down to Pittsburgh, run me down to the airport or answer any questions I had, regardless to the fact you are the busiest person I’ve ever met! Was great to meet Zac too. Here hoping I see you this Winter break.

16. greg and gabbie.jpg

Timmy. Tim-o. Tim…yeah. I haven’t laughed so much in my entire life at the stories you have and the way you act. I knew the second you walked in the room on the first night wearing that LA Clippers beanie and donning a sweet moustache we were going to be mates. Whether it’s being the only two white guys in that club in Detroit, drinking as many beers as we could in 20 mins in Cleveland, singing ‘Land down under’ at the bar or just listening to you talk really loudly about ‘Yanks’ in the dining hall surrounded by Americans, I will miss you man. This picture sums up Tim perfectly. During ‘Greek Week’ he decided to start his own fraternity. He went for ‘A’ ‘U’ ‘S’ to celebrate his home land. Very few people got the joke. Classic!

16 tim..jpg

Finally, Mabel. When I first met you, you were probably the quietest person I had ever met. I think for the first two weeks I had only ever heard you say “Hello, I am Mabel and I am from Mexico”. Thanks for not caring that when I went to Uni the first time around, you hadn’t started high school. We had a great weekend in Pittsburgh, an absolute banger up in Toronto and cheers teaching me to paint and mix the colors (kind of). You’re welcome for all the Scottish words I taught you, the difference between ‘in’ and ‘on’, how to use a semi colon (;), teaching you the piano and giving you some horrendous chat up lines to use when you travelled alone. I am amazed at the art you make and I know you don’t want me to do this but I believe it’s great. Here’s some of your best bits!

16. mabel art 1

16. mabel art 3

16. mabel art 4

Thank you so much for the painting.

16. mabel art 2.jpg

I know you wanted to keep it…I will display it proudly…hopefully one day it will be worth some cash, then I could maybe afford a flight to Tijuana for some tacos…although I very much doubt you’ll be there. I look forward to seeing the ‘new’ Mabel again in August and always remember…Es Daya Bonita!

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I have travelled to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Orlando Florida, Cleveland Ohio, Detroit Michigan, New York City, Vancouver British Columbia, Toronto Ontario, Billingham Washington State and Southington Ohio. 13 flights, all six American Airlines, apart from the one I’m writing on right now were late but hey ho, at least I’m not being dragged off the plane. I got to see my family in Canada, good friends in Toronto and visit the home of the Detroit Lions. If anyone reads this blog and has the opportunity to complete an exchange…do it. You would simply be an idiot if you didn’t.

16. halls leaving.jpg

And that’s it. My last blog post for #Maturestudent. Two of my professors pulled me aside before I left and said it would be a real shame, one used the words a ‘waste of on undergraduate degree’, if I never did my masters, so hey you never know. I might be back again. Time will tell.

16. flight

Bye.

What I am reading: Skagboysby Irvine Welsh. (Let’s be honest I haven’t read this is about a month). I did read a psychological profile of Donald Trump in USA today yesterday and it won’t be long before he loses it completely. Fingers crossed.

What I am listening to – Mahalia – Diary of Me & Moose Blood – Blush.

 

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