The Far Side of the World

By Ian MacDougall ’14

While this may be the title of one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, it also shows how far the helping hands of Wabash Alumni are willing to reach. Like many of my fellow students, past, present, and future, I seized one of the best opportunities Wabash has to offer. This semester I am fortunate enough to study at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Yes, this is the same St. Andrews known as the “Home of Golf.” Anyways, over here, I get to enjoy not one, but two weeks of spring vacation. I planned my whole break out in the first weeks of February to save money on all my travel. In my typical lacking common sense style, I booked travel, then rooming, and finally looked at bus fares (hint: look at bus fares first!). My plan was to leave Friday the 15th from St. Andrews on a bus to Glasgow, hop on a train for Manchester, catch a United game the following day, leave Sunday to head for a village called Oban (where the Clan MacDougall officially resides), Monday through Wednesday afternoon explore the coast of Scotland (beautiful views), grab a train from Oban to Glasgow that night, take the bus back to St. Andrews, and play unlimited golf at the Old Course and the other six courses the next week and a half.

However the Monday that I was relaxing in Oban, I realized that my train would get to Glasgow after the last bus of the evening for St. Andrews left. Realizing that I could be out another 30 plus pounds (that’s two weeks of groceries), I frantically began thinking of where I could stay. A quick side note, I am NOT a hostel type of person. All the other people I met from Glasgow were from the University football (soccer) teams I played against, and let’s just say they were not too thrilled about this American goalkeeper at the end of the game. I noticed that there was still bus service to Edinburgh after my arrival in Glasgow, so my mind quickly turned to a night there. Again, besides the football pitch, I did not know that many people in Edinburgh, let alone know them well enough to stay for the night. As I was browsing through the hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh (not cheap at all), I saw an email from Scott pop up in my inbox. Then, I remembered skimming through and then deleting an email Scott sent out about a year ago. Luckily for me, I found it sitting in my trash. The email referred to a new service called Bash Bunks.

I figured why not give it a try, even though the chances of an open Wabash bed in Scotland were the same as the Cubs’ chances to win a World Series. After logging on through the MyBash page on the website, I found this massive map of the world with little red indicators all over the United States. There were places in New York, Florida, and California, but surely enough, one small dot landed in Edinburgh, Scotland. Almost immediately, I submitted a request and began praying. You see, the site calls for two weeks advance notice. James Jefferies sent me the email of a young Wabash Alumnus to contact about a room for that night. Mark Osnowitz ’12 told me that I could crash on his couch for the night. Instant relief consumed me. He gave me his address and number and told text him when I got there.

Unfortunately, my train arrived late, meaning I would have to wait another 30-45 minutes to catch the next bus. Mark just told me to have a safe trip. I got off the bus around 11:15 at night and began following the Google Maps directions on my phone. A nice cool evening through one of the best parts of the city, I got to his flat around 11:45. To be honest, for a young married couple earning postgraduate degrees, I was shocked when I walked through the door. The apartment was beautiful, even with a brief tour I still managed to locate a few items with a smiling Wally Wabash. I think a picture was the only way to appreciate their place. Mark showed me to the living room and the couch that would serve as my bed for the night. I probably passed out within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow. The next morning I was up rather early to take the first bus (I had a tee time that afternoon). Lindsey, Mark’s wife, graciously woke him up so I could say thank you and good-bye. A total of 7 hours in Edinburgh reaffirmed my appreciation for Wabash. A simple click of button online and a helping hand from one Wabash man to another alleviated all that stress I felt Monday evening. Obviously, I don’t think my rooming issues were not the intended reasons to use Bash Bunks. However, if I ever need a room for an evening when I have to travel for an interview or a project of some kind, I know that, if it is in the US, a Wabash man will be there to help me out. Just like in the States, the Gentlemen’s Rule and the traits Wabash instills in us are clearly evident on the far side of the world