[Day 63] Scotland for Dummies

When we first arrived in Edinburgh, as an introduction to Scottish culture, they had us sit and listen to two gentlemen in suits talking in a monotonic Scottish accent for 4 hours. They had powerpoint slides and everything, and they just read things off the slides like tenured professors who have stopped giving a flying duck. I went out looking for water but before I knew it, I was walking to the nearby ice cream shop and ordered myself a nice, mouthwatering scoop. When I came back, Delenn whispered: “My god you missed it. This guy just read Scottish words off a dictionary for half an hour. Every time he finished a word I thought he would stop, but he just kept going.”

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Unrelated photo but I took this in Scotland and it’s pretty

As a result, we embarked on our soul searching journey in Scotland knowing nothing about this country, and found out the hard way that Scotland is such a peculiar little place that cannot be more different from its neighbor England. For the greater good, I have gathered our collective knowledge of Scotland and put it here. You’re welcome!

Weather

We were there during the warmest month of the year and every single one of us was bundled in our Eskimo jackets. On my first day in Edinburgh, three different people asked me if I had an umbrella and I was like: “What is an umbrella? I live in Cali-frickin-fornia.” I propose that they change the names of the four seasons to: winter, slightly warmer winter, snowing winter and holy-fuck-why-hasn’t-everyone-moved-to-California winter.learn365project_weather.jpg

They have that term to describe their weather: dreich. What’s dreich, you asked me?

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Food

Their food is both British and Scottish: British in a way that it’s bland and Scottish in a way that is kinda gross. Their national dish is haggis which is sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver ground into a paste with oats and barley, then stuffed into the same sheep’s stomach and boiled with spices. In the US, it would never pass USDA inspection but in Scotland, hotels serve it for breakfast. Not gonna lie, I kinda like it.

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Haggis, whisky and tatty. Image: Foodfolio/Thefoodpassionates/Corbis

They are also very proud of their deep fried mars bar, which is basically deep-fried chocolate and caramel. It’s sweet, oily, and basically a bite-size heart attack. It’s used by my friend Emily to haze unsuspecting travelers when they first arrive in her country.

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Drinks

Whatever they tell you about the Scottish and their drinking is true. People drink like crazy–any occasion can be an occasion that warrants a drink. I guess that makes sense, with all the shitty weather and awful food they have plenty of reasons to drink. I remember one day Zaki and I went out for a drink and Zaki was like: “Whoa don’t people here go out? The streets are so empty.” But then we went to a pub and it was crowded to the roof.

They love their whisky so much they have this dessert called Cranachan which is just cream and whisky and strawberries. It’s amazing.

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Yum! Image: Mackaysholidays

Cèilidh

A must do, much better than a pub crawl. It’s a social dance to Scottish folk music. It’s fun going as a big group but it’s also a great opportunity to talk to people when you’re not panting. You’ll be sweating so wear something comfortable.

Patriotism

The Scottish voted to stay in the UK in 2014, and now as the rest of the UK voted the leave the EU, everyone freaked out and wanted to have another independence referendum. Jeez Scotland, make up your damn mind!

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i cri evryteim

Also, they hate it when you reference Braveheart as “Scottish”.

Friendliness

There is this joke: “Once, there was a Scotsman who loved his wife so much he almost told her.”

All joking aside, I think they are much friendlier than the English. I’ve had a few people starting conversations with me on buses, while the same thing would be considered weird af in England. If I accidentally make eye contact with someone in a coffeeshop, I can expect that person to give me a smile. It’s very normal to go to a pub and share table with strangers. I guess they kinda have to, since pubs here are always so crowded.

Accent

If you think the English accent is sexy, wait until you hear the Scots speak. My god I love their accent. Unlike the English, they actually pronounce “t” and they swallow syllables in way that makes panties drop. I need more people with Scottish accent in my life.

Shopping

They don’t have street bazaars like in India or giant shopping malls like in Thailand, but they have Topshop and it’s legit. We went there 3 times a month and we got something every time. Their kilts are also super cute. That’s about it, really.

Gun laws

Sorry gun enthusiasts, by laws, no one should have any reason for a hand gun in Scotland. Their Olympics shooting team has to fly to England to practice. Scot policemen are not armed. If you see a policeman with a gun then something bad has happened. Tbh I don’t even know why I know this.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a city of a perfect size: big enough to always have something interesting going on and small enough for everything to be in a walking distance. As my friend Emily put it: “Edinburgh is ridiculously pretty.” Everywhere you see is picture perfect. Now, only if you could get the sun up to take that picture.

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I’m going to miss this country 😦

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[Day 63] Scotland for Dummies

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