Hi! So I've been really busy lately, but I don't really think it would make for a good read. To sum up, though, we've basically been hanging around a lot, stopping by pubs, and I finally visited the Scottish History Museum! We spent about 2 hours on the first floor but never got further because there was so much to look at. Working at the Commonwealth Museum really gave me a new appreciation for all the work that goes into making exhibits! I can't wait to see the Museum finished and open when I get back home, and if anyone from there is reading this- Hello! :) Also! I went to "The Elephant House" cafe, which claims to be the Birthplace of Harry Potter. They say that JK Rowling used to sit in the back of the cafe, stare out the window for inspiration, and then wrote the first Harry Potter. It was the cutest little place, and even though I'm not a fanatical HP fan it was still pretty awesome. (That picture is a view from one of their windows: the building far back is the Edinburgh Castle!)
Rather than go into boring details about my days, I figured I'd change it up and talk about some of the different things I've been noticing.
1) Fashion-wise....Everyone, literally everyone, is a fan of the tattered mini jean skirt. I'd say a good 30% of the female population wears jean skirts at any given moment. It is very strange. Either they are way behind the fashion styles of America, or we will see a whole new jean skirt movement this summer. I'm hoping it's not the latter.
2) Almost NO ONE is a Scottish native. I don't understand! All of my friends are American, my flatmates are from Finland/Montreal/France, and most people in my classes are from England. Where do all the Scots live? I am taking a trip to Stirling this weekend, so hopefully it's a little bit more Scot-ish up there. I have met a few natives and they've all been quite lovely, I guess I was just expecting there to bit a wee bit more.
3) All of the foreigners that I have met, regardless of where they originate, are ecstatic over Barack Obama. As soon as they hear our American accents, they want to chat us up over how happy they are that Bush is gone and how wonderful Obama is. It seems to happen in every pub or wherever else we happen to be. It is really heartwarming, in a way. Maybe he actually can bring this world a little bit closer and raise our standing in the world. At least it seems that way so far.
4) Okay, well, this is a given, but they really like their alcohol here. Back in Boston, it seems like Friday and Saturday are the main "Going Out" nights. Unless there is a big sports game or something of the like, people don't tend to go out partying on weekdays. At least as far as I can tell, though I'm not yet 21. Either way, it seems completely different here. As one guy said last night, "Wednesday is the new Saturday! Tuesday is the new Friday! And we drink on Mondays and Thursdays to get us to the weekend!" I like beer and such as much as the next person, but there is no possible way I could drink every night of the week for years on end. How do they do it? How can a whole country have magical livers? Don't they have stuff to do? It is quite astonishing. Speaking of alcohol, we stopped by this Russian-themed club called "Vodka Revolution" which specializes in cool flavors of vodka. A bunch of us ordered that paddle in the picture and we sampled Birthday Cake vodka and Chocolate Orange vodka. I'm not the biggest vodka fan, but anything chocolate orange is delicious in my book.
5) No one here watches television. It is so refreshing. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching Law and Order SVU Marathons (of which I am extremely guilty) they actually go out and do things! It seems a big factor contributing to the lack of TVs is the "Television License" tax imposed by the Scottish government, which costs like 250 pounds a year or something. Crazy. Oddly enough though I am really enjoying being away from the television's constant grasp. I can still get my fix of The Office and the new season of Flight of the Conchords from online, so I don't have any complaints. (Though I do miss Law and Order marathons. Ugh.)
6) THEY ALL LISTEN TO AMERICAN MUSIC. I don't think there is anything popular here that isn't played back home. Does American music/film/culture really infiltrate everything? It seems that way so far. I was kind of looking forward to getting away from Nickelback, Creed, and maybe even Britney Spears for a while...but no luck. Looks like we'll have to suffer through Womanizahwomanizahwomanizahoh for a little bit longer! On the bright side: I saw a live bagpipe-er last night! It was marvelous!
7) Frying is the preferred method of cooking just about everything here. They have fried pizza, fried mars bars, fried haggis, fried burgers (???), fried vegetables, and just about anything else you can think of. Eating healthy here is ridiculously hard but it seems like it can be done. Not that I'm complaining, of course, fried anything is likely to be good. Last night, in honor of Robert Burns Night, I tried a fried mars bar and fell in love. So bad, yet so delicious. I also tried haggis, the real kind, and I have to admit that I actually liked it! Scotland is converting me and it's only been 2 1/2 weeks.
8) I have the simplest, smallest, most low-tech phone in the whole world and I love it. They seem to be a lot less interested in the lastest technology and fads here, which is also really nice. All I can say is that people here appear to really enjoy themselves and the city around them...which, I hate to say, is often different from a lot of Americans. Their happiness comes from things other than gadgets. I guess this is going back to the TV observation, but it's good to unplug yourself every once in a while. There's no need to watch hours of television a day while spending the rest of your time browsing the internet on your cell phone. Stay un-connected for a little while, you know?I know I'm guilty of it and will probably continue to be guilty of it once I return, but it's one of the lessons I'm learning here it seems.
9) It doesn't rain here nearly as much as I expected. I don't wish to jinx it so....I'll stop there.
10) Cliche, mushy realization: Edinburgh is fantastic for so many reasons and I am falling in love. It is simply gorgeous and its antiquity is really quite amazing. I cannot wait to travel and take as much of this country in as possible.
Okay so that's all for now. If you'd like, leave a comment, I really enjoy reading them.
OH P.S. If anyone has a Skype account and would like to talk, my username is lindsaybaer. Get at me!