Aye! ‘Ello lads an lasses, hou’s it gaun?

F our thousand miles away, six time zones accelerated, I now find myself living in the United Kingdom for a semester. With a new home, a new school, a kilt in my bedroom, and a laptop, I am ready to describe a few of the adventures I have experienced as an American boy in the land of the Scots. Edinburgh, my new home, is the capital of Scotland. It is a very big place, with 477,660 people living here, not including the enormous student population that results from the four Edinburgh-based universities. Despite it sounding much like a large industrial city like New York, Edinburgh is in fact extremely beautiful, and everywhere I look I see a prime example of centuries-old architecture. From every point in the city you can catch a glimpse of the grand Edinburgh Castle, which rests atop a great cliff overlooking the city. Despite the immense internationality of the city, Scottish inhabitants DO speak English (a fact I had to clarify with many a folk before I left). Scotland rests on the northern region of the island of Great Britain, giving the nation a harsher climate and a fierce population of masculine men. Because of natural robustness, Scotland has many stereotypes. Yes, its people are known for wearing kilts (and nothing but kilts, as is shown in the picture), playing the bagpipes (a little too much, as Paul Jasper remarked on his Spring Break visit), getting covered in mud as a result of an intense rugby game, and drinking excessive amounts of hard liquor. However, what I’ve seen of this ancient city and heavily accented people is that they are surprisingly welcoming. I have met and befriended a group of Scottish teenagers in my school year (despite my difficulty understanding them sometimes) at James Gillespies High School. I first met them on the day I started school. I was incredibly confused with my schedule, the time periods, the separated buildings, and the Scottish school system in general. If I had been starting school at another town in the United States, it might’ve been easier to handle, but that wasn’t the case. I was in an entirely separate continent, a different country, an ocean apart from America. Anyway, Stephen, Struan, and Johanna found me sitting alone during Tutor Time (what the Scots call Homeroom). They asked me to come sit with them, and from their wisdom and guidance I learned that each school day starts at 8:40am, and ends at 3:40pm. Friday was the only exception, in which the students are allowed out of school at 12:30. They also let me know that each period is an hour long, a fact I was not so amused to hear. After Tutor Time (in which my new-found friends and I discussed Harry Potter for the duration of the period), I walked back with the lads and lass to the Hall, where I sat down and ate lunch with a much larger group of which was exclusively girls. Realizing I was surrounded by a 3 to 1 ratio of girls to guys, I talked with Struan and Stephen about Doctor Who, which, as Stephen calls it, is “the best show on telly.” A very rare few have ever heard of Iowa, and those that have know only of its seemingly vast tracts of nothing and farming stereotype. With me mates, I have found an atmosphere very similar to Ames – something that made being away from home far easier. In Ames I grew accustomed to being outnumbered by girls, both by the three sisters I shared a bathroom with in my old home and by the high ratio of girls to guys in the group of friends I sat with at lunch. Here, a similar pattern has occurred. Not only that, but I have found that despite Edinburgh’s large quality to it, most of the Scottish people I now know live very close to each other. They act like a close-knit small town, as though their down-to-Earth quality has been around for centuries. These past two months, I’ve found similarities in an entirely different culture and setting, but nothing comes close to home. I can still watch the sunset, but nowadays the light disappears behind a gigantic castle, and in the background I can hear a loud ruckus of pub-goers and the faint sound of a bagpipe. And that is why I love Scotland. Cheers.