Thursday, September 1, 2016

It's all relative

About a week into writing a blog comparing life in the US and the UK, I already feel kind of silly making the comparison. I mean, as countries go, we're not that different - same language (pretty much), same economy (except we're AWESOME), same demographics (eh, not really), same homicide rate (ha, not even close), but my point is that we're basically the same [check out this website]. I think I'm more aware of that than I might be because most of the friends I've made so far are Turkish, and as comparisons go the ones between there and here really swamp out the cute eccentricities I, the American, point out. However, one thing I've noticed when I discuss international differences with my fellow expatriates is that when we're pointing out something that's foreign to us about Scotland, I'm on one side of it and they're on the other. For example:

me: People drive so fast on these roads!
Turkish friend: Haha... oh, you're serious?


me: The bread/beer is so good here!
German friend: Oh.

A group of us went to a ceilidh the other night (a gathering of Scots for drinking and dancing, lots of fun), and it turned out that my square/line/contra-dancing skills were quite translatable to Scottish country dancing, and I was picking it up much more quickly than my friends. I guess that makes sense - most American country dance styles came from a mix of European immigrants' styles, like the Irish, English and Scottish (and Welsh? Did the Welsh immigrate to the US? Why do I know nothing about Wales?).

The easy transition for which I am most thankful though, is that of language. For a lot of my new friends, English is not their first language, and maybe they were taught British English (haven't thought to ask), but they DEFINITELY weren't taught Scottish English. A lot of them dread all phone interactions because without the lip-reading and the facial expressions to guide them along it's near unintelligible. I have a friend who shows the bus driver a note with his destination written on it every day because he can't pronounce it for the life of them. It reminds me of what it was like to show up in Chile thinking, "I speak Spanish! This should be fine!" NOPE. No hablo Chileno. 

Unrelated: I found another instance where you can say cheers: when you break something.

And, in other news, I found out why Wales isn't represented on the Union Jack:

WA- oh, hey wales, I don't know if that's gonna work... nice dragon though!

 (the technical reason is because they were considered a part of England already when Scotland and Ireland were incorporated, but let's be honest, a different flag might have had more of a shot)