Austin Leininger

Globe Americas

My year abroad in Stirling, Scotland through the EAP program at UC San Diego was an amazing and life-changing event. Arriving home from Scotland, I wanted to get back on the plane and go back. I still want to live there at some point, and may have the opportunity through a priest exchange with the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The people there were quite simply real. They were down to earth, friendly, had their priorities straight and were gracious and filled with gratitude for the blessings in their lives. By contrast, many Americans are self-centered, have an entitlement complex, have misplaced values based on media and materialism, and are quite simply spoiled. That’s not to say that Americans are bad people, but my own values and nature truly resonated with the people of Scotland.

So what made the experience so amazing? I know a big part of it is my lifelong fascination with castles, the middle ages, Scottish history, etc. But it was also an amazing opportunity to study in a new context, to actually experience the history of a place by going there and living in it. The culture, the Scottish highland and country dance, the cuisine, the amazing climate (I LOVE fog, wind, and rain!!), the living history, the change in driving and walking… it was one of the most wonderful years of my life!

I had a kilt fitted whilst studying there, which I wore for my wedding in 2003, I am continuing with my (limited) Gaelic and plan to learn more, and much of my favorite music comes from my time there. Broadening my horizons was a big part of the experience, and one which I plan to continue as I make plans to travel to far and distant places in the coming years. Ray and Verena were a big part of making this experience possible, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

As for life and other such stuff… I graduated with my Masters of Divinity on May 20th, got hired as the new Assistant Rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on May 26th, got ordained on June 3rd, and packed up and moved to Davis on June 12th! What a whirlwind of events! My wife Jane, our dog Ginger, and our cat Fred have all endured the move with patience and grace, and are all very pleased to be living in Davis now!

Austin Leininger
Scotland, 1998-99