In contradiction with the title of this post, we are no longer halfway there… In fact, we are even further than that! I can hardly believe that eight whole weeks of the internship flew by. While every day contained excitement, new adventures, and enough walking to destroy my feet, its bewildering to think that only forty six days stand between me and the flight back home.
Though I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Athens of the North, there are definitely a few things about this foreign place which to this day surprise me.
“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
If the above quote applies to Edinburgh, then unfortunately that smell would mainly consist of smoke. Now, I know many a person warned me about this cultural difference. However I still felt severely under prepared for the prevalence of this European habit. Smoking is overwhelmingly common. Not one place I have ventured while in Scotland provided an escape from the sickening smell of cigarettes. Luckily, smoking inside is more or less no longer allowed, so I can always count on a random shop to lend some momentary solace. The main shock about this trend occurs mainly due to its stark contrast back at home. Living in the United States, and even more so in Davis, where smoking is seen as incredibly taboo and stupid due to its negative health effects, definitely gives my foreigner status away due to my overall inability to hide my distaste for this habit.
As much as I do not want to paint a negative picture of Edinburgh, the shocks do not end there. Another unsettling dissimilarity is the disregard for pedestrians. Many a time when I attempt to cross the street, a car whizzes out of nowhere, nearly hitting me. Am I saved from despair by the driver slowing down? No. I am only saved by my own ability to suddenly develop the agility of a cat, and jump out of the way in the nick of time. Needless to say, my transformation into a ninja is almost complete. Surely I will be welcomed into the Intelligence Community due to my skills.
The widespread presence of dog “presents” also contribute to the lovely streets of Edinburgh. While the city is beautiful, and shocking clean considering how many people walk about its streets, the one, unfortunate, and smelly alien to the cobblestones just happens to be dog feces. I would have thought that cigarette buds would flower the roads, however, people kindly throw away their lug cancer sticks into the trash cans which are very plentiful. They just leave the remnants of their animals.
A final wonder I shall include in todays post, which unfortunately transformed into a rant, is toilets. Yes, toilets. Note how I did not call them bathrooms. In the UK, it is very bluntly called a toilet, something I to this day am unable to do. In the toilets, there are no toilet seat covers! Do women find themselves in permanent squats? Yes it is fantastic for the thighs, but really…
While there are many more entities about the city which befuddle me, so as not to leave you, dear reader, not wanting to venture to this marvelous place, I shall end the trash talking here for the day. And to further reminder myself, and anyone reading, that I actually do truly love this city, I shall weave a web of things which caused my love affair with Scotland to grow even deeper, and more irrationally intense. Naturally, they many shall be as random as the things I disliked.
One stupid thing I love is the chocolate, namely Kitkats. I swear, there is something different about the chocolate in the UK. It is sickly sweet; perfect for someone like me who perhaps holds the world’s largest sweet tooth. My love for UK kitkats is so strong, that my day feels incomplete unless I have consumed one.
Another food point, the coffee shops in Scotland are some of the best I ever experienced. From unique places like Procaffeination and Clarinda’s Tea Room, to even Starbucks, the variety of coffees, specialty drinks, sandwiches, and sweeties that speckle the shops is truly fantastic. I loathe the day I will have to return to American coffee shops, whose utter lack of choices in the breakfast pastry department greatly depress me.
In contradiction with a previous point I made, I love how walkable Edinburgh is. While yes, it is not always pedestrian friendly when crossing the street, a person could get almost everywhere they wanted on foot. The only barrier is the willingness to walk. In Scotland, I have clocked in more miles than in perhaps my lifetime (in terms of walking), something I cherish, as more time spent walking translates into more opportunities to enjoy the scrumptious treats in coffee shops.
A last, but not least, item to include in today’s post about Scotland, is how much history this place holds. It is almost impossible to explore some part of Edinburgh without discovering some famous person ate, drank, or went to the bathroom there. Everything boasts some form of significance, everything with a special story to tell. With many people living in homes older than the entire United States of America, it is not surprising that so much history hides in each crevice of the city. Nevertheless, it is something which never ceases to impress me.
My love affair with Scotland has had its ups and downs. Yet, with over half my time here over, my state of constant enthrallment is not broken. Not one unpleasant aspect proved strong enough to cause my love to falter, as I remain as firmly in love with the city as I was when I arrived only sixty two days ago.