Three months ago today, we were getting off the plane in London and preparing ourselves for the seven hour bus ride into Scotland. It was also three months ago that we really started to blog. We’d done a few posts before we embarked on this adventure, but it didn’t really start to take off until we were here and writing about the new land we found ourselves in. Three months seems like both a long a short amount of time.
In the time we have been here, we’ve had to both physically and mentally integrate ourselves into Scottish society. We’ve gone through finding an apartment in Scotland, getting bank accounts, searching for the best phone provider for international calls, and have even found ourselves jobs.
It’s a Parallel Universe Across the Pond
On top of that we’ve had to adjust to all of the small differences between the UK and Canada that seem insignificant when taken on their own, but when taken together, have amounted to confusion and occasional home sickness. Everything here is the same, but the details are different.
Right is Left
It’s probably been said to death before, but the cars in the UK drive on the left side of the road. In Canada it’s the right. We were expecting this; what we weren’t expecting was that this makes small things like catching the bus that is headed in the correct direction difficult. If you’re taking a bus headed north in Canada, you wait for it on the right side. In the UK, it’s the left. There have been more than a few times we’ve found ourselves crossing to the wrong side of the road in search of a bus. It’s not that this is an overly difficult concept to grasp, but when you’ve used the rules for right handed roads for 20 odd years, things become instinct. And instinct isn’t always that easy to break.
Really, any difficulty we have had adjusting comes down to just that: Expectations that are so ingrained in the way we go about our daily lives that when something is different, our minds don’t know how to adjust. Adjusting to life in Scotland has involved as much of a reconditioning of our subconscious expectations as it has the conscious ones.
The good news is that we’re starting to find our way around here quite easily. Whereas before the rows on rows of architecturally similar flats would have us all turned around, now we can pick out exactly where we are and where we want to go. Tip: If you’re ever lost in Edinburgh, find a bus to Princes Street. You can get just about anywhere from there. Incidentally, we were mistakenly calling it Princess Street. When locals say it, it sounds like Princess, but it’s actually Princes. More confusion.
Taste: Food in Scotland ≠ Food in Canada
The Food. One of the biggest differences between Canada and Scotland is the food. In Canada we’re used to an abundance of choices. For example potato chips (aka crisps in UK land) in Canada come in a larger variety of flavors than the ones in Scotland. Want a bag of sour cream and onion chips? Nope. They only have cheddar and onion. And Doritos. But that’s about it.
Even items that are the same brand taste different. Kraft Dinner in Canada, or Kraft Mac and Cheese in Scotland, tastes completely different (Canada’s wins). It’s the same product, the same company even, but somehow the recipe is different.
This all amounts to an experience both foreign and familiar. It’s actually become a bit of a game, pointing out all of the minute differences between the two countries. Even mundane tasks are made a bit more exciting when things are done differently.
Castles, Nature, and History. Oh My!
It’s not just the small things we’ve had to adjust to. We’ve had to get used to seeing some pretty amazing sights every day. And that’s not all that bad.
Compared to most cities, our home city Edmonton is quite young; it lacks the old historic buildings that Edinburgh has no shortage of. We never get bored of walking around the city, discovering all the little details on the buildings, the grungy character of the bricks in the walls, the Georgian windows, the brick roads, and the clocks mounted to what seems like every building. Oh and there is a real castle in the center of the city. We pass by it every day when we go to work. It’s what drew us to Edinburgh to begin with.
The city is surrounded by mountains, and is built around a series of extinct volcanoes, visible from nearly every point in the city. Amongst the medieval architecture, nature has left an even more ancient sight for citizens of Edinburgh to enjoy. And we count ourselves among them.
Where to Next?
Edinburgh is starting to feel a bit like home. This is both fantastic and terrible. We don’t want to get too comfortable here; we want to keep moving. But we feel we still have a few more sights to see; we haven’t climbed Arthur’s Seat, or been inside Edinburgh castle, and we’ve even been thinking about walking to Glasgow from Edinburgh.
With so much to do, we plan to stay in Edinburgh for the summer, and will make our outro at the end of September. In the beginning of October we plan to visit Dublin for about a week. After that we plan on moving to somewhere in England, perhaps Bristol, or maybe Liverpool – we’re not quite sure yet. We’re just looking forward to starting a new adventure.
A couple of photos we have taken during our stay here: