top of page
Anchor 1
  • Writer's pictureFrank Pastula

LOST IN EUROPE: Misfortunes of Epic Proportions

By Frank Pastula

Barely catching our 26 euro flight. Driving our rental Toyota for hours down unknown roads… on the wrong side. Losing power in our cabin, stranded in the middle of a national forest, during the UK’s largest windstorm in decades.

After touching down in Edinburgh, I quickly realized that I was home. It was 45 degrees with high winds, and I couldn’t have felt better as a Michigander. It was practically shorts weather.

Over the next few days, my friends and I would embark on a journey taking us to seaside castles, whiskey distilleries, sheep farms, and our temporary home, an airbnb nestled in the middle of the Cairngorms national park. Among the many home cooked dinners from Morgan and evenings by the fire, one night stands out to me the most.

"Breathtaking would have been an understatement."

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and while we had been hiking, a storm had been brewing that would soon make headlines. Arriving back at our cottage, we noticed the wind start to pick up a little more than usual. Then a lot more. Our power instantly shut off, and we came to the realization that our wood burning fire would be the only thing to keep us warm during the night. I would have contacted our host, but there were no bars in the Cairngorms. Not even Vodafone could save us. As we watched the trees blow and snap from our window, a brave hero emerged from the distance. Fighting the wind with every step, it was our lovely Airbnb host, an old woman named Lucy, walking with a hunch so the near 100 mile an hour winds didn't blow her over. To our surprise, she greeted us with candles to help light our evening. As she handed them to me, she yelled in a heavy Scottish accent, “A story to tell your grandkids, eh?”

We spent the rest of the night by the fire, listening to the wind howling through our little chimney.

Fast forward to a couple days later, walking through the maze of weathered rock and cemetery that is Edinburgh, I became quickly lost among my surroundings. With nowhere to go and every direction to turn, I found myself following a sweet melody in the distance. Music drew nearer with each step as I reached the top of yet another hill in my seemingly endless quest. As I approached him, the man next to me was singing the beautiful song “If I Go, I’m Goin” with a raspy voice that echoed throughout the corridor he stood in. The view was indescribable. Breathtaking would have been an understatement.

As I looked out over the lit windows of apartments that strung along for miles ahead, I was struck with awe. Each window with its respective story; a glance into a life that I’d probably never see again. And here I stood, thousands of miles from anyone I’ve ever known, yet I felt so at home. This would be the moment where I tell you I felt like the main character, right? Well, I’m not so sure about that, but the couple making out next to me certainly was. You see, this may not have felt like the first day of my life, but it certainly reminded me that I was far from my last.

I took in my last glance, tipped the man singing beside me, and caught up with my friends at the bottom of the hill. And ran on the tarmac the next day, almost missing my flight home.

These moments were just a glance into my thanksgiving weekend in Scotland. But they’re also a glance into your semester abroad. A semester that's filled with adventures, misfortunes, laughs, and in the end, memories that you can tell your grandchildren.

You'll find yourself feeling at home in places that you would have never imagined; remember this when it gets stressful. Whether that be on one of your adventures, or the stacks of the JFRC library; take a picture, write down a memory, take a deep breath. Remember how lucky you are to be here, and be thankful for it. Oh, and turn Professor Ever’s papers in on time.

79 views2 comments


Anne Wittrick
Anne Wittrick
Feb 17, 2022

Remember if you get stressed out in the stacks of the JFRC library, you can always ask the librarian or the library assistants for help. Oh, and turn all the Professors' papers in on time, making sure your bibliographies are top notch.

Great piece Frank, thank you.


Feb 17, 2022

honestly the best trip of my life :( <3

bottom of page