Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome to King's College Aberdeen

On our recent house-hunting trip to Aberdeen, Scotland, my father and I had an hour or so to wander the grounds of what is to be my school for (Lord-willing) the next three years. Allow me to introduce you to the place:

King's College, the first of the schools that became the University of Aberdeen, was established in 1495. Today the university is comprised of over 15,000 students, almost 4,000 of which are postgrads such as myself. The latin motto is initium sapientiae timor domini, which means "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." I wasn't aware of that until recently, but that phrase is actually pretty important to me.

When I walk to school from our home a couple minutes away it will be down this cobblestone street called "College Bounds." On your right is basically an ancient city wall with doors and rooms inside and on your left are slightly newer buildings. This kind of visible connectivity with the past is one of the things that I love about Europe, and will be a source of inspiration I'm sure.

Keep walking and through the trees you glimpse the Crown Tower which adorns the northwest corner of King's College.

I loved my college and my seminary, so don't get me wrong, but I have always felt this nagging lack of ivy-covered stone walls in my educational experience. This particular building looked really cool at night with the lights inside shining through the greenery.

Just some of the architecture around the college. At the school's entrance a unicorn holds the Scottish banner and a lion the English. That's kind of how it is I think. Scotland holds the heart of Brittania's fantastic and almost mythological history, and England, while retaining a sense of that, is more the contemporary world power.

The sign on the door says "J. Webster." I haven't met my professor yet, and didn't have time for it on my visit, but we were walking along this wall and I glanced at what looked like a hobbit door and there was his name. Far as I know he is not a hobbit, though. In fact, from the way people talk about him, I am beginning to expect to meet a giant of a man!

And here is the Crown Tower at night. In the courtyard behind and below it is the door to my particular training ground: the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, within the Collage of Arts and Social Sciences. In six weeks I will be a student there. In less than two weeks we move. With many of the biggest hurdles to getting there behind us, I am beginning to get pretty excited, not to mention grateful to God for this opportunity and intimidated about the challenge ahead of me.

Incidentally, I haven't decided yet what to do with my blog while I'm off doing PhD studies in Scotland. I never really wanted it to become my diary, let alone my travelogues, but my fear is that the demands of writing for school will drain me of any ability to write anything worthwhile here.

However, I can't deny that the lurkers and conversation partners I meet here have become a part of my life. I don't think the online world can ever replace local community, but as we spread far and wide across the globe I think it can be a great meeting place and supplement to our social webs and well-being. Truth be told, I have actually found in these last few months that some of my most vital encouragement and support has come from people who I now more often than not meet with here. Thank you.

Yesterday as I had lunch with a friend I realized out loud that whether or not I get a career or a book deal or anything tangible from this PhD (believe it or not, nothing is certain in this department), my driving passion will continue to be to explore life and Christianity for its meaning and to share that life and learning with those around me. So I think it would be wise to keep blogging from Scotland, even if I have less energy and time for thoughtful writing or discussion-sparking. So I'll probably try to post on here at least a couple times a month, even if it is just to share where my personal journey has taken me. That said, I would rather not turn my blog into narcissistic stream-of-consciousness self-exploration supported by the delusion that people care to read, so don't let me go there okay?

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have in one way or another helped me toward what is for me simultaneously a life-dream and a daunting challenge. I'm extremely grateful for and consciously will be ever-intertwined with the community with whom I've been blessed to share life.


Colin Toffelmire said...

I do hope that you are able to keep blogging, at least a little. I've valued your thoughts and insights over the past few years and I suspect they will deepen and broaden due to your time at Aberdeen. That said I'd pass on a bit of advice that my supervisor and I talk about from time to time. Be sure that, while you're working on your PhD, you are conscious of your priorities and intentional about the way you allot your time. Sometimes things we like to do just have to fall by the wayside because of things we love to do and things we need to do.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

" fear is that the demands of writing for school will drain me of any ability to write anything worthwhile here."

I understand that. Spreading yourself too thin is a quick path to mediocrity.

Thanks for the introduction to your school.

It seems the aesthetics of Aberdeen will probably contribute to, rather than hinder, your happiness. I'm pleased you are entering such a beautiful world.

Congratulations, again.

Dale Harris said...

Congrats, Jon.

Pictures #2 and 3 really got me-- it's a little nicer walk to work than the walk we had across the wind-blown, former air-strip runway in Caronport to get to Archibald library (though that too, I guess, had its history and charm). My thoughts and prayers go with you. May all you learn and write and read and think bring glory to Jesus and shape you in his image.

Have fun.

jon said...

I had some good companions on that dusty walk though...

thanks you guys.

joel said...

looks beautiful, congrats man. You deserve it!

ErinOrtlund said...

If you don't update this blog a lot, maybe you all could start a family blog? I wish I had started a blog in Scotland but at that time, it was not such a common thing to do.

evision said...

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