It is crazy for me to think, about a year ago this time, I was getting ready to apply for the job out in Boston. Along with my application for Northeastern, I had also applied to HPE and Audi. I had an interview for HPE and to my distress Audi hadn’t even replied. It turned out the application bounced back as it was the wrong email address. Luckily enough one of my best friends Farhan ended up getting that job anyway, a brilliant candidate. However, the story of finding out I got the job is actually quite a funny one.
Before moving to Boston, I worked at a bar in Glasgow called Malones. Every year there is a Christmas party that’s infamous for being taken a little too far. We dress up, have a nice meal and then head out. Sophisticated right? If only you could see it! You really think from working with people who drink far too much, push their limits and waste tones of money on shots for the opposite sex in the hope they find them more attractive, that we, would behave. This is not the case. After our lovely meal we were given a free bar for the night. I only had two drinks as I had my second HPE job the next day. I wasn’t sure if I would get the Boston job or not so wanted to keep my options open. I knew I wanted to travel, visit new places and to be honest I had nothing really holding me here. I was single, my parents were in South Africa for half the year, so apart from good friends and family it seemed like a no brainer. The HPE job definitely was a bit more attractive to me in terms of the actual work and job requirements. Yet, I knew the cultural competence I would obtain would carry me further in terms of personal development. So after my two vodka cokes, not three because I didn’t want to be mwi, we went to Kokomo.
Keith our manager had got us a booth and everyone was just in great spirits. By 1am I knew I had to leave, I couldn’t risk being hungover and tired for an interview that was meant to be a presentation. After I said goodbye, desperately wanting to stay out, I visited Bistro and got a taxi home. I opened my laptop to watch prison break, chips in hand, pajamas on. It was funny because this is something I NEVER do. Usually I just go straight to sleep after a few drinks. When I opened my laptop I had an email from Jessica Ketchen. (My soon to be boss) who had emailed me to offer me the job. I must have read the email at least 5 times before I processed what it said. I had alcohol in my system and was paranoid I was just misinterpreting a rejection letter. Americans are known for being really nice so it seemed a justified fear. However, It was definitely an offer letter, I was going to Boston, I had got a placement and there was no need to go to HPE the next day. In true Ailsa fashion I went back on the town and celebrated with my friends. I was shipping up to Boston in six months.
Looking back now, it feels like yesterday I found out I was going. Though I can tell I have grown a lot as a person in these short four months, it has been some of the toughest months of my life too. I’ve had to start from scratch making friends, learn how to complete a new job, understand the culture, pay bills and organise my life on my own. I appreciate that these things are basic requirements of an adult, but I never realised how easy they are to do when you have people around you to help and advise you.
There has also been so many ups. I have made friends from over 15 different countries, learned about their food and humour and their goals. I’ve visited the city I wanted to go to all my life twice and I finally saw the view from the top of the rock and the statue of liberty. It was a feeling like no other, your lungs feel full of air, like you’re almost inflated by what you are seeing. If anyone hasn’t been to NYC yet please do, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
I went to Florida and got over my six year old anxiety of theme parks. “It’s just a small ride Ailsa I promise”. Those who have been can confirm, Space Mountain is not a small ride. My brother has been my reason for trust issues since then! I’ve also got further travel plans for DC, Oregon, South Africa and if i’m lucky even Columbia. Finally, I have been able to live in one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse cities I have ever visited. Everyday I look around at the landscape of Boston and can’t believe how lucky I am to be here, enjoying this journey I am on.
I knew I would miss Scotland when I left, but I had no idea how much. I was speaking to a girl from Columbia and I asked her how she was enjoying in Boston. She said something really interesting that has actually stuck with me. “You need to travel to learn to love home”. I don’t want to come across as one of those people who say things like “yeah like I really found myself back in nam, I threw away my phone and gave South East Asia my soul”. Firstly because that is extremely patronizing and secondly because I’m not an arsehole. However, travelling has really helped me realise what I want in life, and what is important. A great job is important (which I am lucky to be in at the moment), but your family and friends are the sails that keep your ship moving. I have always loved Scotland, but stepping away has made me realise its worth. Absence truly makes the heart fonder.
In summary, every day I see how lucky I am to be in the states, working with by far the most intelligent people I have ever met. Meeting friendly and interesting people and generally improving my cultural competence. Ultimately though, I am from one of the best countries and I honestly believe despite the wind, the rain and the people that moan, Scotland is the best place in the world.