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.”
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!
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 California.” 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.
They have that term to describe their weather: dreich.
Their food is both British and Scottish: British in a way that it’s bland and Scottish in a way that is endearingly challenging. 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. I love it.
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.
Whatever they tell you about the Scottish and their drinking is true. In Scotland, any occasion can be an occasion that warrants a drink. I guess that makes sense, the shitty weather and awful food give people 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.” 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.
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.
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.
Also, they hate it when you reference Braveheart as “Scottish”.
There is this joke: “Once, there was a Scotsman who loved his wife so much he almost told her.”
All joking aside, I find the Scots friendly, at least much more than their neighbors. I’ve had a few people starting conversations with me on buses, while the same thing would be considered weird in England. If I accidentally make eye contact with someone in a coffee shop, I can expect that person to give me a smile. It’s very normal to go to a pub and share a table with strangers. I guess they have to, since pubs here are always so crowded.
If you think the English accent is sexy, wait until you hear the Scots speak. I love their accent. Unlike the English, they actually pronounce “t” and they swallow syllables in a way that makes panties drop. I need more people with the Scottish accent in my life.
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.
Sorry gun enthusiasts, by law, no one should have any reason for a handgun 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 is a city of a perfect size: big enough to always have something interesting going on and small enough for everything to be within 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.
I’m going to miss this country 😦