Spoiler alert: I was wrong. I hadn’t been living in Edinburgh for more than a few months before I found myself addicted to macaroni pies, regularly uttering the phrase “that is rank,” and sharing my life story with random taxi drivers every time I hopped into a cab.
(I’m still not entirely sure why the latter happened. Scots seem to have some magical ability that makes you feel like you can open up about anything after having just met them).
Along with the pies, the new vernacular, and my newfound enthusiasm for oversharing with strangers, here are a few quirky habits I picked up living in Scotland.
1. I thanked the driver every time I got off the bus
Do people do this in other countries?
I rarely use public transportation in Canada because, a) it’s shit and b) you basically cannot exist in this country without a car, so I’m not sure if it’s something people do on all city buses or if it’s just a Scottish thing.
Either way, this is one habit I picked up in Scotland and continue to do every time I get off a bus now.
2. I started eating a frightening amount of carbohydrates
Scotland takes carb-heavy meals to a whole new level. There were times (mostly after a night out, ahem) when my entire meal consisted solely of carbs.
Chip butty’s (two sandwich buns filled with fries), deep fried pizza, the aforementioned macaroni pies… the list goes on.
3. I started speaking with a bizarre hybrid accent
The first time I realized my accent had changed was on a trip to Ireland. I’d hailed a taxi in Dublin and, after a bit of small talk, the driver said, “Are you from Scotland?”
Wait, someone from Ireland thinks I sound Scottish? What does my accent even sound like right now?
I told him I was from Canada but had been living in Edinburgh for six months. “Oh right, I could tell you’ve been hanging around the Scots for a while now,” he replied.
It didn’t stop there. Over the course of two years, people continuously told me they couldn’t quite place my accent. Are you Australian? Irish?
By the end of my stint in the UK, my accent had turned into a full-blown indiscernible Canadian/Scottish/God-knows-what hybrid (which still comes out from time to time when I say certain words).
4. My idea of “good” weather changed
Anytime the sun was shining and the temperature was above 12 degrees Celsius, I couldn’t shut up about how it was SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY.
Before moving to Scotland, I’d complain that 12 degree-weather was basically still freezing and wrap myself in a parka before heading outside.
5. I became less offended by the C-word
Like most North Americans, I used to gasp in horror anytime someone dropped the C-bomb. I’m not really sure why — it just seems to be ingrained into our culture to find the C-word shockingly offensive. (I don’t even want to type the full word here because it makes me cringe a bit.)
People in Scotland use this word as a term of endearment, a casual greeting, an insult — I mean, they pretty much say it all the time. And let me tell you: when you hear the C-word enough, it actually starts to sound a little less vulgar.
Also, I think we can all agree that every single word in the English language sounds better in a Scottish accent.
6. I started bagging Munros in my spare time
Munro Bagging (climbing mountains in Scotland over 3,000 ft) is a popular hobby in Scotland — but it’s not something I thought I’d undertake when I moved to Edinburgh.
While I had no intention of climbing every Munro in the country (there are 282 in total and a surprising number of people seem determined to conquer them all), I did manage to climb my fair share of Munros (read: like 7 or so, ha) — including Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK.
It’s no Everest, but it still counts for something, right? Right?
7. I started using words like radge and rank
…and mingin’, baltic, and reekin’.
Not sure what any of that means? You’re not alone. Scottish slang is essentially a different language.
8. I learned to ceilidh dance
I picked up some of the moves after attending my first Scottish wedding, but I officially learned to ceilidh dance on my one-year expativersary in Edinburgh, when my lovely friend gifted me a ceilidh dance lesson (which was hilarious and amazing).
After that dance lesson and a few more Scottish weddings, I was Stripping the Willow with the best of them.
Read more: On One Year in Edinburgh
9. I swapped ketchup for chippy sauce
I need to preface this one by saying: this custom is unique to Edinburgh. (Seriously, don’t try to order salt ‘n’ sauce with your chips in Glasgow.)
People from Edinburgh love to douse their fish suppers with salt and “sauce” — or chippy sauce — which is a condiment made with a mixture of vinegar and brown sauce.
I still have no idea what brown sauce actually is, but chips with salt ‘n’ sauce is a winning combo.
10. I started having weirdly intimate conversations with taxi drivers and random people on public transport
It’s no secret that Scots are some of the most genuinely friendly people in the world, and they love a good life chat or a bit of banter on buses, in taxis, on the street… I guess anywhere and everywhere, really!
11. I started air-drying my laundry
So, clothes dryers aren’t really a thing in Scotland. In a country that’s incessantly wet and damp, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that air-drying laundry is the norm. But, I adjusted to the dryer-free life easily and I’ve continued air-drying my laundry since moving back to Canada.
It saves me money and it’s better for the environment, so it’s definitely a win-win.
12. I spent more time outside
This one’s a bit ironic considering Edinburgh’s weather is generally pretty, um, temperamental. But, knowing I had limited time in Scotland lit a metaphorical fire under my arse to get out and explore as much as possible — regardless of the weather.
13. I learned every word to I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) and The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond
BUT I WOULD WALK 500 MILESSSSS…
The Proclaimers hit and the traditional ballad affectionately known as “Loch Lomond” are two songs you’re guaranteed to hear on every night out and at every wedding, party, or celebration of any sort in Scotland. And I now love them both so much.
Can you relate to any of these? What habits did you pick up living abroad?
Looking for more Scotland posts? I’ve got you covered:
- Living in Edinburgh: The Expat Survival Guide
- 61 (Awesome) Things to Do in Edinburgh
- Magic in the Highlands: My First Impressions of Skye
- Moving to Edinburgh: Finding a Job and Getting Settled
- 6 Reasons to Visit the Isle of Mull