Being from a country of just 5 million people, it’s not surprising that people sometimes get a bit over excited when I tell them that I’m from the land of William Wallace, haggis and irn bru. For a lot of people, I’m the first Scottish person that they’ve ever met. At first, I found it quite funny when people got excited about it. Since almost everyone I know is from Scotland, I don’t think being Scottish is particularly exciting. But I’ll be honest and admit that I enjoyed the attention. To begin with….
As an expat in Korea, the inevitable question, “So, where are you from?” comes up quite a lot. This usually happens to me as soon as I open my mouth and people realise that I don’t have the North American accent they were probably expecting. When I tell them that I’m from Scotland, I’m usually met with a variety of responses. Confusion, shock and bewilderment to name but a few. Of all the responses that I’ve had over the past 2 and a half years, these seem to be the most common.
Where is Scotland?
Growing up I honestly thought that Scotland was one of the most well-known countries in the world- probably just because it was the one that I knew most about. Now that I’ve travelled I realise that it’s not as well known as I once thought it was. Actually, it doesn’t seem to be well known at all. Especially in Asia where few people have heard of it.
I used to just explain that Scotland is the 2nd largest country in the UK. However, I had to stop because it would almost always lead to this (very annoying) question…..
So, Scotland is in England?
No. No, no, no, no, no.
In Korea, as well as China and Japan, the words for “United Kingdom” and “England” are both the same. People, understandably, find it difficult to distinguish between the 2 terms.
In Korea, it’s normal for people to describe the Union Jack as the England Flag and describe the queen as the queen of England. Actually, they even teach it in the public school system here….
These days, to save myself from having to give history and geography lessons to taxi drivers, I just go with the easy response instead- “Scotland is a country in the north of Europe, next to Sweden and Ireland.” Much easier.
My Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather Was a Scot
Honestly, if I had a pound for the amount of folk that have told me all about their Scottish ancestry, I’d be in the Maldives right now topping up my tan.
Usually, I nod along and act really amazed while they tell me all about the history of their surname or the colours of their clan tartan. I’m sure most Scots do too- despite our reputation, we are a polite bunch!
Honestly though, we have probably met a million MacDonalds in our lives. More importantly, a lot of us don’t have a very long Scottish ancestry and don’t have a clan tartan. It doesn’t make us any less Scottish though. Clans and tartans are an interesting part of our history, but it’s not really something that we use to define ourselves in modern day Scotland anymore.
Do You Like Whisky?
I’m a bad Scot. I think whisky is absolutely rotten. Honestly, I’d take a voddy over a whisky any day. Maybe I’m secretly Russian?! I guess the fact that I’d happily drink my bodyweight in Irn Bru helps make up for it?
Oh My Gad, I Totally Love Edinborg!!!
A lot of Scottish place names don’t sound the way they are spelled- Balloch, Sauchiehall Street and Milingavie, to name but a few. (10 points for anyone who knows how to pronounce Milingavie- leave a comment!) Edinburgh is one of those places. It’s not EdinBORG, it’s EdinBURRUH! Or, EdinBRU ( said really fast with a rolled r, of course!)
Anyway, people are usually a bit disappointed when I tell them that I’m not actually from Edinburgh.
Say That Again, Say This, Say That
It’s always funny for me that people find Scottish accents so amusing. It’s even funnier when people tell me that they think they’re sexy! (Say whaaaaatttt???!!!!!)
These days I find the sound of a Scottish accent really comforting since I’ve been away from home for so long. But when I was younger, I honestly used to think I could never go on telly because Scottish accents sounded so weird on telly. Fine in person, weird on telly. Ha- my dreams of being a weather girl or Blue Peter presenter went right down the drain the first time I watched STV news!
I must admit that I do quite enjoy this one. Don’t quite enjoy it so much when people are in utter disbelief that English is my first language….. or when people think it’s necessary to complement me on my fantastic English skills- “why thank you, I’ve been practicing every night for years now!”
Wow, You’re Scottish. I Heard that Scottish People Can Drink
Of all the stereotypes, this is one that (I think) I can live up to… I do love a bevvy, whether or not I can handle a bevvy like a graceful young lady is probably debatable… Sometimes, I don’t really feel like drinking, though (shock horror.) However, that often leads to being told this-
Hey, Your Supposed to be Scottish, Drink up!
Can a girl not nurse a beer or sip on a red wine in peace? Sometimes I don’t want to down a tequila! Or a jagerbomb. Or a double whisky (you have been warned, it won’t be pretty!) Not every day has to be a steamboats day!
Don’t Stab Me
This is usually from smartarses who revel in the fact that Glasgow was the murder capital of Europe in nineteen umpteen. These people also forgot that Glasgow won the award for Europe’s Friendliest City in the same year. You’ll be glad to hear that if you ever meet me, I’ll definitely refrain from stabbing you. Or giving you a Glasgow kiss! People make Glasgow, guys!
I’m always happy for people to take an interest in where I’m from. It’s great when they know things about Scotland and use it to relate to me. Like most Scots, I’m extremely proud of my country. Particularly our landscapes, our history, and our people. But, it’s only a small part of who I am. So, next time that you ask someone where they are from, get to know the rest of them before you make your assumptions. If the world were full of walking cultural stereotypes, it would be a pretty boring place!
Would love to hear if anyone else has a cultural expectation they’re expected to live up to when they meet people from other countries? Any Scot readers? Let me know, what’s the funniest thing someone has ever said to you when you told them that you’re from Scotland?