Kindness Abroad: Edinburgh

October 10, 2017

Nora Smith, 18, was raised in Detroit and is currently a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh where she intends to double major in Psychology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. While in high school, Nora founded a mental health awareness club called My Mental Health Matters. She currently works in the Youth Development Lab at her university, studying adolescents’ perception of risk and was recently elected business manager of the school’s Campus Women’s Organization, a gender equality advocacy group. In Nora’s free time she enjoys being with her family and dog, eating bagels, and exploring new museums.

During the months of June and July, I studied abroad in Scotland. I found the experience to be eye-opening. I have fallen a bit in love with each country I have traveled to. I get a rush from traveling. Traveling allows me to be my true self, while I am able to explore and learn about what is around me. Traveling also opens opportunities for me to find new things out about myself. Edinburgh is very high on the list of the best cities I have traveled to; I don’t know if I’ve ever loved a city more than this one in the lowlands of Scotland. I have been able to find what this city means to me and leave a piece of myself here – a piece of my heart. Edinburgh is an unbelievably accessible city, allowing me to confidently and comfortably be on my own and find my place during my time here.

Edinburgh opened my mind to see positivity in the world we currently live in. I was fortunate enough to experience environments around me that were kind and welcoming.

The Edinburgh City Art Centre gave me hope for the world around me. A focus on protests across the world, which included signs from a recent Edinburgh Women’s March and “Ban Trump” artwork. The showcase allowed me to see that we continue to fight together to get rid of bigoted ideas that we currently see in societies.

A mural on the University of Edinburgh campus gave me a sense of power. “Support Women of Color: still brown, still breathing, still woman, still magical”, it read. It is continuing a fight for equality that women are fighting for. Women of color face harm still within our society. This mural continued my strength to fight for women’s equality. My sense of the world has very much expanded. These issues are more than just local or national ones – we are fighting the same things across the globe.

A coffeehouse made me feel continuously welcome. Each afternoon would be spent filling my ears with funky tunes and filling my belly with scrumptious treats. My nerves would be calmed by every act of kindness I experienced within Filament Coffee; it was always a kind group of people packed into the little space. I would consistently begin to feel more positive before our group activities were scheduled to meet, just from interacting with the others in this coffeehouse.

During my last trip to Filament, the morning of my flight, I found something unexpected – something I had seen many times before, but for some reason, it stood out to me. “Take what you need,” it read, with just one option left: kindness. At that moment, I didn’t need to take it because I had seen so many acts of kindness around me while abroad and my heart was happy.