By Janna Wale, Thompson Rivers University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.
Click here to see Part One of this blog entry.
Growing up, my father made sure my sister and I were capable of survival outdoors. When we complained about the rain, he would tell us we weren’t made of sugar and that we wouldn’t melt in the rain. In recent days, I’ve really been more appreciative of the fact that I am not made of sugar, as the Scottish rain would surely have melted me by now. Good teaching, dad! I’ve already learned not to gamble with the weather; you’ll always lose in Scotland. My host family took me on a cycle down to the Loch Ness when I’d first arrived, and in the same afternoon there was snow, rain, sleet and sunshine within the span of a few hours.
Back to today though. I woke up to (surprise) the sound of rain hitting the roof. I had a peanut butter and raspberry jam bagel for breakfast with a bowl of yogurt and granola. You have to understand that the Scottish diet and the Canadian diet are two completely separate entities. Before I moved in with my host family, they had never had peanut butter. Period. So for my host mother to come downstairs and find me eating peanut butter (gasp) and jam together on a bagel was absolutely shocking. Something that, in Canada, no one would think twice about. Heck, I put peanut butter in cookies, on ice cream and in sandwiches too. In Scotland, it’s more of a practical joke than a food.
You also need to understand that a lot of the words we use in Canada have different meanings here in Scotland. For lunch, instead of getting a sandwich and lays potato chips, I was presented with a sandwich with French fries. Scotland is full of slang terms that mean one thing in Canada but something entirely different in Scotland. ‘Chips’ are what we call French fries, where ‘crisps’ are what we would call Lays Salt and Vinegar potato chips. What we call pants in Canada are ‘trousers’ in Scotland. My advice is to not confuse the two and say ‘I like your pants’ (underwear).
Though living so far away from my family and culture has been a challenge, I am definitely learning. Having been here for short while, I can now count money without so much hesitation or squinting at the coins. I understand that ‘Come and have some tea’ really means ‘come and have dinner’. I’ve even been able to understand the neighbor who is originally from Glasgow (renown for having the most challenging Scottish accent) when she speaks slowly.
While today, I am still learning, tomorrow I will shoot for better. I will continue to live and learn in the Scottish culture, while still appreciating where I come from. Even though I still feel terrified at being so far from home, I am learning to grow as a person. It’s the biggest adventure I’ve ever been on and I can’t wait for what comes next.
Goodnight, and thanks for listening/reading.
Been so fun to watch on FB while you tour your parents around and i was so excited to hear about this exchange when your mom first told me. You are brave indeed!
Even the name Inverness will forever conjure up Outlander type adventure! Enjoy every moment.. It will pass soon enough.
Mrs. Whitehead...tho its time you called me Sue.
Leave a Comment