Upon arriving at the Scotland airport we (Jon and I) were greeted and picked up by Beth Bogue and Pastor Andrew Quigley of the RP Church in Airdrie.  Once in Airdrie we were each shown our new home away from home, our flats (apartments) that we will be living in.  Later that evening Beth had us over for dinner, and we met one of the young people from the Church.

Sunday morning came very early considering the time change that we were not used to.  Once at the Church we were warmly welcomed by the congregation.  There were many new faces and names to remember but well worth it.  The smiles and excitement in their introductions made it clear that they were thrilled to have us as much as we were thrilled to be there.  Sunday lunches take place at a different person’s house or flat each week.  The first week was at the Quigley’s home.  The meal was a traditional meat and potatoes Scottish dish with tea and biscuits to follow.  The Quigley household has six children which led to a fun afternoon, including a walk around the town of Airdrie.  Airdrie is city-like on a small scale.  Houses and flats surround the center of town along with shops, charity shops (thrift stores), grocery stores, tanning salons, and restaurants such as Dominoes pizza, Mr. Kebab’s, and Subway.  The post office, banks, and the train station are also located among the stores.  There are Sunday evening worship services at the Church, so we returned to the Church, and afterwards along with the other “young people” of the Church go to Beth’s flat to hang out. Which meant the first week we met anyone we hadn’t met yet and got to know them all better.

            Covenanter Theological Institute (CTI) is an opportunity for students, such as myself, to study a subject, in my case Biblical studies with a mission emphasis, in a different manner than I’m able to at Geneva College.  Instead of sitting in lectures and being quizzed and tested or writing papers on a subject by a deadline and then moving on, CTI has the students read.  It is like a bank: you get out what you put into it.  A CTI student is able to sit down and process the information being read and think through the material while applying it to their own life.  Pastor Andrew put the CTI curriculum in this sense, “It can be the easiest semester you ever have as a student, or it can be the most challenging.”  It can be easy if you simply read the material for the sake of reading it, but if you challenge yourself and work through the material and process it, then the CTI Semester in Scotland will be one of the most life- changing, best semesters you will ever have.

            The schedule of CTI is as follows: Monday through Thursday at 9:15am-1pm you read in the classroom located in the RP Church.  The reading materials are a total of eleven books.  After a lunch break a seminar is given by the teacher for the purpose of review of the material read and verbal feedback of what the student got from that material. This takes place from 2pm- 3:30pm. Wednesday afternoons are special and exciting: CTI students are taken to a historical landmark, which more than likely deals with the material being read.  This week we were taken to Glasgow to see the Cathedral there.  The history of that Cathedral is the model for many of the Cathedrals in Scotland.  They were Catholic, and during the Reformation, in order for the Cathedral to remain, the people had to physically defend the walls. They were successful in defending it, unlike many others that are in ruins.  It still remains a Cathedral today; the Queen, when in Glasgow, even attends the Cathedral.

            Fridays there is no reading, instead an opportunity to serve for the Church as part of the ministry practicum credits.  I am involved in Mums and Tots.  In the evenings there are youth clubs.  This week there weren’t any, but next week they will resume.  Since there was not youth club, a bunch of teens got together to watch movies.

Saturday there are no formal plans. This week we celebrated a birthday among the teens and had a ceilidh in the Church building as a party. It was a very fun way to get to know people better and learn dances at the same time. 

So far I have thoroughly enjoyed the books that I have been reading.  I am making great friends.  And learning how to cook and budget while living on my own.  The Semester in Scotland CTI program is brilliant.  If you are interested in the program or want to keep in touch with Jon or I while we are studying across “the pond,” keep checking in for updates on the blog of specifics that we are doing each week.

Christy Lear