Scotland shares similarities with the United States, but there are some cultural differences that stand out. Differences in politics, food, culture, and every day life are found and while there are many, I have compiled a list of some of the most significant and interesting ones.
One intriguing difference is that only 2% of the police force in Scotland carries firearms. Even so, this 2% is only called out to respond to specific threats. Scotland is a very safe country with very little crime. While I already feel safe in Scotland, the lack of guns contributes to a general sentiment of safety, since there is rarely a need for the police force to carry them.
Next, the Scots are extremely friendly people. While there is a lack of forwardness in some, the average Scot is talkative, helpful, and genuinely interested in speaking to you.
One of the most noticeable differences between Scotland and America is that the Brits drive on the wrong side of the road (that is, on the left). Crossing the street, something that is second nature back home, has to be double checked to make sure one won’t get run over.
Before coming to Edinburgh, I was nervous that all I would find to eat was haggis, neeps, and tatties (turnips and potatoes). However, I have been pleasantly surprised and have yet to find a meal I don’t enjoy. Coffee shops are around every corner and offer unlimited options for bagels, tea, and sweets. Restaurants I’ve visited have ranged from pubs to ethnic restaurants to the equivalent of a fast food chicken eatery. Haggis was surprisingly not too bad, if one doesn’t think about what it is made of (lamb heart, liver, and lung). Irn Bru, Scotland’s unofficial national soda, is a bright orange drink that tastes like liquid bubble gum…less tasty than your average soft drink.
Sports culture is different, in the sense that football (soccer) and rugby are the two main sports. Coming from the South of the United States, where SEC Football is a religion, this took a while to get used to. I will admit, as much as I love learning about rugby and embracing the Scottish culture, I do miss football season.
The cultural differences are significant, but are easy to adjust to. While football season, fall foliage, and home-cooked meals are definitely being missed, it is hard to ignore all the wonderful aspects of Scotland that make it so unique!