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Scotland is an incredible place with rich cultural traditions, a plethora of mysterious and exciting historical tales, and many breathtaking locales. In addition to being the home of the Loch Ness monster, the Elephant House Café where J.K. Rowling famously wrote Harry Potter, and many awe-inspiring castles and natural landscapes, for the month of July it will be the home of UW-Parkside sophomore Kailyn Standiford.
Standiford has been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Dalkeith, Scotland, during the summer 2018 semester. Standiford, a 2015 Park High School graduate from Racine, Wis., is pursuing a psychology major, and a health communication minor at UW-Parkside.
Standiford explains that the significance of this scholarship goes beyond the excellent opportunity of learning in a beautiful and truly special place. It is validation and recognition of her hard work and academic achievement. “Receiving a scholarship for any reason is a blessing I cannot even begin to explain,” she said. “Having people recognize hard work and dedication to help you fund schooling on a home campus or abroad is just something for which I am beyond thankful.”
While in Scotland, Standiford will get to live and attend classes in the historic Dalkeith Palace situated in the beautiful Dalkeith Country Park. There are many famous castles and buildings in Scotland and the scenery provided by the Scottish Highlands is enough to inspire anyone.
The history of the palace and the beauty of the surrounding grounds provide a one-of-a-kind learning environment that Standiford realizes she will be fortunate to experience. “The Gilman has given me the opportunity I never thought I would have,” she said. “Traveling in any form is a passion for me. I love the adventure and the freedom. I’m most excited for the beauty I will be able to see, whether it’s from the scenery or the culture itself. Having a mental illness makes traveling abroad a very scary thought. My goal is to find pieces of myself that I’ve lost through my battle.”
Standiford’s struggles stem from events in her past. “I have anxiety and depression,” she said. “I have faced a lot of trauma growing up causing me to experience a lot of PTSD. These things cause me to not trust anything or anyone. Which sounds really cliché and silly but it’s true. It’s hard to tell what’s fact or fiction sometimes.”
She hopes to be an example to others who have struggles and show that study abroad is possible and beneficial despite the challenges it may present logistically and financially. “I want to show others that no matter what their struggles are, there’s a way to make studying abroad possible,” Standiford said. “I want others to know that it’s possible to have these kinds of experiences even though they’re struggling with their own battles.”
This once-in-a-lifetime experience also represents an opportunity for Standiford to face her challenges and be an example to others. “As far as traveling goes, I have to not only worry about my health and medications but I’m going to be in a complete other country with its own set of social norms. I’m beyond terrified but I’m doing my absolute best to push through and make this trip happen. Being by myself and not knowing exactly what to expect is my biggest worry,” she says.
Although she is not ignoring the struggles this adventure will present, Standiford is excited to embark upon this journey and says she is ready to start this next exciting chapter of her life.