Monday, June 21, 2010


I thought I would post my entrance essay from my application to the University of Edinburgh for the Master's programme in Highland Studies. I'm rather fond of it. Oh, and the Celtic Festival this past weekend was brilliant, albeit quite hot. But great company all round, fiery fiddlers, and bullfrog bagpipers.

Why Highland Studies?
I was sixteen when I first set foot in the British Isles—in Ireland to be specific. Consequentially, Ireland is and will always be my first love. It was among the colored doors and cobbled streets of Dublin that my love began to grow, and in the rolling, sheep-dotted countryside of that emerald isle that it was solidified. Spending time with the people soon thereafter intensified even more so my belonging to the land, with my sarcasm and dry wit so readily accepted and returned. Soon after realizing that the majority of my family’s heritage came from all corners of both isles, the best-received compliment anyone could pay me, with my dark curls and blue eyes, was, “you look Irish.” Having been keenly interested in all things Irish for quite sometime, I met my now husband my first year in college. Said husband is decidedly Scottish in his own heritage, right down to his flaming red beard and strongly stout Scottish build; not to mention a certain penchant for Glenfiddich, that, and a stubbornness rarely seen this side of a mule. Slowly I began to realize that while Ireland’s hold upon my heart was steadfast, that did not mean there was not room for another passion to stake its own claim there—another passion that seemed so similar to the first that they might just simply stop being first and second and become just one large Celtic entity entwining my heart within its intricate knot work. I now realize that my love and passion for Ireland can be just as easily translated into love and passion for Scotland as well. I can just as effortlessly imagine myself getting lost amidst the culture, music, language, and heritage of Scotland as I have Ireland, in fact all those things seem to become more parallel the further back into history one travels. That being said, the nuances in these cultures also interest me, and I intend on not only studying Highland history and culture, but also later on going to study the Irish equivalent as well. But for now, it is the Scottish call that is stronger, buttressed with the heartrending cries of the pipes, those that stir my very core to its cause. Because, while my soul might be emerald green, my heart is tartan-clad.
But what is it about the Celtic people that draws me so? As I sat, hands poised over the keyboard, thinking about the best and most truthful way to answer this question, I realized that the same thing that kept me from completely putting into words the way I feel about the history of the isles is the answer to the question. It’s the mystery. It’s the stone circles scattered across the land, and the way that I cannot quite disbelieve the mysterious and magical things said to happen there. It’s the way I could never explain to my friends when I came home just how much I was changed by setting foot in Ireland. It’s the way my chest tightens when I see photographs of the land. I want that feeling and change and mystery to be so much more than part of who I am, I want it to be what I do.
A formal education, I feel, would extend my passion into something tangible, something concrete, something more than just an interest or hobby. As a writer, and one highly influenced by Celtic culture, a deep knowledge of the subject would be invaluable. As an eventual mother, I would be able to instill in my children the love and appreciation of their heritage even more so. And as a teacher, either formally or informally, my knowledge would help those searching and yearning, as I am now, finally find something to which to holdfast.


Amethyst said...

I do so love this essay. You have many reasons to be proud of it! Lovely. (My Word Verification for this post is "Tablypet". I think that's funny)

Wave Power said...

I myself reside in the USA and I have never been to another country. This is not because of the lack of want, but because I am 17 and I really have no way of traveling. Although I have always wanted to travel around the world. Reading this post really made me think about how there is so much more in the world, and how I want to travel and immerse myself in other cultures.

bookishme said...

I was so glad to read how much our trip to Ireland had impacted you, more than I knew. You are poised on the cusp of a wonderful adventure and I am so happy for you and for Jeremy!