Note: this blog post is (mostly) funny. If you are looking for a deep emotional story, this is not the one. There will be more serious posts with pretty pictures soon, I promise.
As someone who has never left North America, I am constantly surprised during my stay in Aberdeen, Scotland. For starters, I keep forgetting to first look right when I cross the streets, leaving me momentarily panicked of which lane cars drive in (which is the left side). Crossing streets are scary, but not nearly as confusing as figuring out which side of the sidewalk to walk on when another person is heading towards me. For a little bit of context, Aberdeen has a large international student body, so many students tend to walk on the right side of the sidewalk. However, locals always walk on the left side of the sidewalk. It’s confusing, right?
Throughout my stay in Aberdeen, I am constantly amazed how consistently friendly the people are, even after they realize I am from the United States. Normally two questions are asked during the typical introduction to other students: “What is your name” and “Where are you from”. There is no avoiding the question during introductions, but the answers are fascinating. The University has an incredibly large international population and I have met students from across the world, like the Philippines, Slovenia, and South Africa. It is so interesting to learn about other people’s hometowns and how we all seem to bond with our collective confusion of cars being on the opposite side of the road.
And I am surprised how much I learn about myself, like how I can hide my accent during short conversations well enough that people do not directly ask me if I am from the US. Don’t get me wrong- I am not afraid to tell people where I’m from1. However, sometimes the questions about Disneyworld and Trump are endless. It’s probably how the people from the UK feel when someone casually mentions Brexit.
To those who do not know, I’ve been doing well in Scotland so far. I made it through my first two days of classes, which went alright. It’s a little odd taking all lectures when I am used to discussion-based classes. At one point, my linguistics professor asked a question to the 150+ audience of first-years and exchange students, about voiced and nonvoiced phones. I was super excited that knew the answer. I barely describe2 how quick my hand shot up to answer the question, but it was not quick enough because forty students raised their hands just as fast. So, it will definitely be a great semester in my linguistics class. One of my goals is to be called on to answer at least one question someday during the semester. Maybe I need to work on my fast reflexes. On the bright side, at least there was ample participation from the class, and it wasn’t one of those awkward silences when everyone thinks the professor asked a rhetorical question.
To anyone who has made it through this post, congratulations. You made it through my attempt at comedy.
1Just for fun, I once told someone that I was from Canada (which is true since I was born there and have dual-citizenship), but then they started asking about the Canada’s prime minister and government, and I sheepishly replied that I don’t know since I moved to the US when I was nine months old. Not a good strategy.
2Maybe like the speed of a mountain lion?