Wrapped Up In Books

Some foreign observations. (People are crazy.)

While I was waiting for the bus home today, I was making small talk with a classmate who also lives in my residence. He himself is a 30-something pharmacist from India, and upon asking me where I was from, I replied ‘Toronto.’ I was talking about my undergrad at U of T for just a moment when a discombobulated and slovenly lady beside me piped up that she hails from Calgary. I welcomed her into the conversation, but soon she went into a strange rant about how she’s lived here in Aberdeen for six years, met her husband on the internet, and got beat up by her mother-in-law three months into being here. The bus wasn’t due for another 15 minutes, so she had time to spare.

While my regaling this may seem to have no aim, the lesson I learned today is that not every Canadian I meet abroad will be awesome. And really, these people are spoiling it for the rest of us. Fortunately, I’m still greeted with a smile when I’ve reassured my new acquaintance that I’m from north of the 49th parallel. (Unfortunately, the idea that every American agrees with Bush’s policy runs rampant here; my two American roommates really have their work cut out for them most of the time.)

The Scotspeople, though kind, can tend to be brash. And inappropriate. I was told by my Saudi Arabian friend that I could find a decent bagel (finally! they’re such crap here) at a place on Schoolhill called, I kid you not, Jewsters. I’ve never been more appalled in my life. Surely there must be some reason they decided it would be alright to call a sandwich joint that, but I’m not going to waste my time. I can’t even justify a reason they might call it that (perhaps someone thought it was clever, as they’re part juice bar?).

On a happier note, I don’t find bagpipes grating anymore. I hear them every weekend as the church on campus, King’s College Chapel, is extremely popular for weddings. Indeed, it has a two year waitlist. If you didn’t know already, a Scottish wedding isn’t complete without bagpipes and kilted men (among other things, I’m sure).

And seeing people in kilts isn’t weird anymore, though it’s still novel. People wear them to the pub seldomly, though they tend to be reserved for more special occasions. When E and I were in Inverness we went to a kilting workshop, and it’s really amazing how work-intensive kiltmaking is. You’d think if the whole kilt kit costs about £500+, you wouldn’t wear it as your usual attire. And as far as I understand, guys really don’t wear anything under there. Ballsy move, you might say.

My final foreign observation is that the Scots seriously love their drink. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, I really like kicking back with a 24 of beer on occasion,” or, “I can completely handle a mickey of tequila, though I may regret it in the morning.” Trust me that your idea of drinking does not compare. The Scots outdo everyone – it’s as if their aim is complete annihilation. They don’t drink until they’re sick here. No, they drink until their wallets are empty. During our first week (and many times since) my roommate and I visited the nearby pub, The Bobbin. The rugby team happened to be having their freshers’ night to welcome new players to the team. I was able to glean that this was only their pregaming before heading downtown to the clubs; they had at least 16 pints each, some of which was on their dress shirts and club ties, or else vomited onto the floor. It was only seven o’clock.

The last part is the only thing I’m hoping not to get sucked into, despite a disastrous Saturday night two weekends ago that left me clinging to existence with my head in the trash can and completely defunct on Sunday. Alcohol is cheap here, and drinking is a bonding activity. It’s a dangerously attractive mixture, but for now, I can say that I know when enough is enough. (Most of the time.)

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3 Comments so far
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A fantastic post! I’ve been following the UK’s drinking issues with interest for a while now, and I read a fantastic piece on it the other day. Of course, now I can’t find it. But yeah, don’t become one of them. At least don’t become a chav.


Comment by Sol

There is little to do (socially speaking) in this great country other than drinking cheap liquor. It’s hard to not become a bit of a douchey binge drinker.

Comment by whitehotretort

People ARE crazy.

Comment by ren/natka

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