If you mention to friends and family you’re moving to the UK, Scotland is often overlooked. Somehow people forget the United Kingdom compromises four countries, and not just, y’know, London.
With mountains for miles, the UK’s best capital (less pollution but as much history) and a lot of ginger beards, Scotland is my favorite British country. Which is sacrilege to say, because I’m half-English, half-Irish.
But I have my reasons, and it’s not just because of Scottish Twitter, Outlander, and Lewis Capaldi – although they are all extremely valid.
What is Scotland really like, and once the visa process is complete… what can you expect from life over the wall?
It may sometimes seem as if a foreign language is being spoken in Scotland. A language in which you can only understand the last word of each sentence – if you’re lucky. But Scottish is simply a variation of English, where word choices and pronunciation vary from city to city. The good news is, you’ll probably recognize the swear words.
Scotland does have a form of Gaelic, which was traditionally spoken in the country, however, the language is now considered as dying.
If you live in Scotland, there’s one question you need to be prepared for. Who do you support?
Unlike in England, where football teams vary far and wide, almost everyone in Scotland has an affliction with one of the two Glasgow-based football clubs. If you don’t have an answer ready, be prepared to withstand a long lecture as to why you should support one or the other.
It’s regarded worldwide that Scotland has the beauty and potential of New Zealand and Canada if it weren’t for the weather. The landscape varies from the historic streets and bustle of Edinburgh to miles of mountains and winding roads just ten minutes outside the capital. The further north you go, you can expect to see unspoiled beaches, vast lochs and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see.
However, all of this natural greenery comes at a price – the rain. It really does rain in Scotland as much as people say it does. However, the sun does come out in the summer and nothing is better than exploring the Scottish countryside when the sun is shining.
As with all countries, Scotland has its own culinary *ahem* ‘specials’ to offer. Some with higher success rates than others.
Haggis is the one you’re most likely to have come across and really is made from the heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep. Traditionally, it’s mixed with various spices and herbs and is then stuffed into the sheep’s stomach – however, the casing is often made artificially nowadays.
On the other side of the spectrum, tattle scones are a heavenly cross between potato and bread. They’re traditionally served with breakfast and you’re pretty much guaranteed to eat at least five. Any less is a disappointment.
For dessert, why not finish up with a delightful deep-fried Mars bar? If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, maybe a piece of shortbread is more up your street.
A fun fact for our US readers is that although the UK and the US both have Mars and Milkyway, the two bars are different in each country. A UK Mars bar is a US Milkyway. And a UK Milkyway is a US 3 Muskateers bar.
Southern hospitality may be a common phrase in America, but in the UK it’s common knowledge that the opposite is true. The further north you travel, the friendlier the people.
Which makes Scotland the friendliest bunch of them all, what with the country being as far north as you can go.
Despite the above, the Scots are renowned for their crass honesty, and won’t beat around the bush. Don’t expect small talk, if you’re welcome, you’re welcome in your entirety, so leave any fake-ness at the door.
Ah, the bagpipes. Some people love them, some hate them, but everyone knows they’re Scottish.
The bagpipes are as ingrained in Scottish culture as the tartan kilts upon the men playing them. They’re thought to have been brought into the country by the Romans and have since been used in battle, in courts and to preserve Scottish history. However, you’re most likely now to see them in any Scottish procession – or on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile
If there’s one thing Americans should be prepared for throughout all of the UK (and Europe) is their roads. Bear in mind that a lot of the roads you travel down were paved originally by the Romans, which means they’re narrow, they’re windy and they are long.
Even the highways aren’t as wide as the US, and grid-systems don’t exist at all in Europe, so it may be worth taking some travel-sickness tablets with you for your initial car-riding experience.
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