It took me three hours on a bike to fall in love with the city of Edinburgh, three days for the city built on seven hills to feel like home and three weeks for me to learn to look the right way when crossing the street. And even longer to write this blog post.
Due to some old fashioned writers block and lack of time, this blog post merely serves as a short introduction to The Scottish Ways and points out some of the differences in culture that I’ve noticed so far. It should not be taken very seriously.
Starting off, I do need to say that I have, so far, absolutely loved every single moment I’ve spent in Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland. There is something magical about this country. Something mythical about the Highlands, where you can see ten rainbows in one day. Something grudgy and medieval about Edinburgh, where it’s not hard to see where J.K Rowling got some of her inspiration from. And something quite amazing about the fact that the Scottish national animal is a unicorn. Only a country like Scotland can pull that off.
However, as an international student, there are some peculiarities about the Scottish culture that needs pointing out:
Whereas the the typical Swedish exhortation starts with “please”, the Scottish like to threaten you. It’s often explicitly pointed out that something is against the law. Like smoking indoors or watching BBC iplayer without a TV license. If you were to harass their bus drivers they are also kind enough to beforehand inform you that they will always seek the highest penalty. But do not fear, the bus drivers are quite nice and won’t provoke you.
There are other things that differ as well. While the typical Swede tend to find wall-to-wall carpeting eye-scratching, especially the green one with white, orange, blue and black dots, the Scottish seem to think these kinds of carpets go especially well with orange curtains.
If the wall-to-wall carpeting don’t send you running, the lack of insulation in the walls and the operating hours of the heaters in you room might. Why they only have the heaters on three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening is beyond me, but I would guess it to be against the law.
You won’t need to worry much about the running part though, there are quite a few obstacles in the way to stop you. Apart from the pubs, located conveniently every five meters, you will soon notice that where you think you have the traffic figured out, you haven’t. The traffic lights of Edinburgh is a phenomenon of its own. They will have you waiting for the green light for, what feels like, an eternity, and because you are a law-abiding citizen, and fear for your life, you do not dare to cross the street before the light turns green. Which means you can be standing there for quite some time.
Despite the above mentioned flaws, or perhaps because of them, I do love this city. I love the amount of manly legs in knee socks you see every day. I love how you among the cobbled streets of Old Town suddenly can realize that you need to be on the bridge above you or on the level of streets below you. I love how you always can trust the Scots to have tea. And I do love the fact that I have not once regretted coming here.