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Culture Shock: Initial Thoughts While Studying in Scotland

When I thought of Britain, I used to think of fish and chips, driving on the other side of the road, and plenty of tea. These assumptions aren’t wrong, and any British person will tell you the same, but that is not all there is to British culture.

Arriving in Scotland recently, I slowly began to realize just how much the culture is different from what I was used to. Mostly, it’s the little things that get me. Tax is included in the price of items. Napkins aren’t placed at every table setting. You have to be over 18 to buy scissors or butter knives. Outlets have to be turned on before they can be used. And there’s the frequently used phrase “Cheers!” which completely baffles my American mind. All these little things add up, and let me know that I am completely out of my element.

Castle in Stirling, Scotland.

Castle in Stirling, Scotland.

I have been doing my best to adapt. I take extra care when crossing the road, looking both ways multiple times to make sure no car is coming.  I carry an umbrella with me (almost) everywhere in case the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse—which it frequently does. And I ask lots of questions.

How much is this coin worth? Where can I find the toilets? How do I get to the grocery store? Which bus takes me back to the University?

The students and people of Stirling are used to having international students in their midst, and they are more than eager to help us with every minute question. With the help of friendly locals, and the gorgeous scenery, I expect that I will do just fine during my time in Stirling, and hopefully love it as much as everyone has assured me I will!

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