Life & Reflections

The Shit People Say When I Tell Them I’m From Scotland

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?

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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?

Really?

Really?

No. 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

Clan tartan? Nah, it's from Zara...

Clan tartan? Nah, it’s from Zara…

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?

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I’m a bad Scot. I think whisky is absolutely rotten. Honestly, I’d take a voddy over a whiskyย 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!!!

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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

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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

Loving a wee sake in Tokyo!

Loving a wee sake in Tokyo!

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…ย 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!

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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

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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?

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Cate
    17th August 2016 at 8:50 pm

    This was so interesting to read! I never knew there were so many Scottish stereotypes

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:27 pm

      Hahah yuup, we’re a country of many stereotypes lol!

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    17th August 2016 at 9:56 pm

    I would probably be in love with your accent too! Haha, I can’t believe some of the dumb questions people ask you. I am embarrassed for them, but I’m not an expert on geography and there’s probably someone out there I would ask something stupid as well being fascinated by where they are from. We once overheard an american girl in Thailand talking to some Brit’s confused how England could be an island if there were no palm trees. SMH no SMFH…. ugh anyways this was an entertaining read! Thanks for sharing!
    Megan Indoe recently posted…Wedding Dinosaur Series โ€“ Seoul Edition [13 Photos]My Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:24 pm

      Hahaha thanks! Lol that is absolutely ridiculous- do people just ask these questions for attention or do they genuinely believe the words coming out their own mouths?! My geography definitely has room for improvement but comments like this make me feel like I must be an A+ genius! Ha!

  • Reply
    Laura Nalin
    18th August 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Love it! James’ dad is a Glasweigian and I really love listening to it. I am finally able to watch Still Game without subtitles! ๐Ÿ˜› I’m going to share this with James and his family and I’m sure they’ll have a good laugh. Thanks for the great read as always!
    Laura Nalin recently posted…PokemonGo is Great For Expats. Hereโ€™s Why.My Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Hahaha wee Weegie Da- hope you’re picking up lots of his patter! Still Game is currently being filmed for a new season, I am far too excited about it! Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Jo
    19th August 2016 at 6:19 am

    Oh I got every one of those in Taiwan, usually from other NA TESOLs. I didn’t mind so much when the natives asked.

    I was also asked if we all live in stone cottages, mill our own flour, milk our cows & weave all our own (clan tartan) on a manual loom! I was actually quite impressed with the depth of knowledge of our mediaeval lifestyles!

    My favourite thing ever was to show the movie ‘Braveheart’ to my high school students. Let’s just say many of them are not Anglophiles!

    Actually the most ignorant thing I was ever asked was by a PhD student attending Harvard when I lived in Boston. ‘Soooooh, what part of Australia is Scotland in!? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Hey Joooo! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hahahhaa these made me laugh so much but I am also impressed with their knowledge lol.. I don’t even think that I knew those things happened lol. Honestly though, see some folk, how do they even manage to successfully leave the house in the morning, never mind do PHDs!! *facepalm* hahaha xxxxx

  • Reply
    I am in Edinborg!
    19th August 2016 at 7:24 am

    I am from Glasgow, now living in Edinburgh, and I too considered teaching English in Korea but just never went through with it after finishing a masters. That was quite some time ago and still think about quitting and moving to Korea or Japan (mainly because of Lost in Translation).

    Oh, and Milngavie is pronounced Mil-guy.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Haha that’s so funny, I also wanted to live in Japan because of Lost in Translation but got put off by the high rent prices lol! And, I am from Dumbarton, so just outside Glasgow, and lived in Edinburgh!

      Well done for knowing how to pronounce Milingavie but I canny give u any points because you should know that anyway lol.

  • Reply
    Janey Mae
    20th August 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Haha i’m from Scotland, in fact, Milngavie haha!

    YES to all of the above. Mainly the Ancestry which is awesome but yeah, gets real annoying. The drinking one too because i actually don’t drink a lot anymore haha!

    All of these comments are ones i get pretty much almost daily which is hilarious!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Lol what a coincidence that you’re from Milingavie!! Whereabouts are you living now? So funny that we all get the exact same things everywhere!!!

  • Reply
    Erica
    20th August 2016 at 9:35 pm

    Loved this post! I’m not Scottish in any way, shape or form, BUT… I live there! And I get some of the same ridiculous questions, particularly about whether or not Scotland is really a “country” (lol). I do understand some of the confusion about how the UK works, especially following the Scottish independence and brexit referendums. But I feel really bad for Scottish folks abroad who have to get into a whole big political discussion as a result of those types of questions.

    For the record, I lived a year in Glasgow and a year in Edinburgh and I’d give my right arm to go back to Glasgow ๐Ÿ™‚
    Erica recently posted…Finding Life On The Isle Of ArranMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Hey Erica! Haha yeah, I’ve been getting asked so many political questions since Brexit- before that my co-workers just used to tell people I was from England but now they keep asking me if Scotland is a country and how it can be a country lol… annoying but understandably confusing!

      Aw I am from Dumbarton, just outside of Glasgow. I spent a year living in the city while I was at uni and I still miss it so much. I spent a year and a half living in Edinburgh and I do not miss that city at all so I totally understand how you feel! ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  • Reply
    Gemma
    21st August 2016 at 12:06 am

    Lots of laughs at this!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Lolz thanks Gemma!

  • Reply
    Two Small Potatoes
    21st August 2016 at 1:22 am

    I’m not Scottish, nor have we even been there yet, but Americans have quite the fascination with your country! Most of us can’t tell you the difference between England and the UK either, but please forgive us our ignorance. We’re too busy fawning over your fantastic accent, drinking copious amounts of Johnnie Walker, and dreaming of a wee visit from Sam Heughan. Better to be known for his chiseled physique than Donald Trump’s…..chub. ;(

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      23rd August 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Hahaha I have noticed that this is a recurring trend among mostly North Americans lol. Jeeez, I only recently found out that Donald Trump claims to be Scottish!! Sam Heughan is a much better rep for us! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    How to Get a Job Teaching English in South Korea - Wee Gypsy Girl
    7th February 2017 at 6:10 pm

    […] did a lot of interviews before I finally found a decent school that would take me and my sexy Scottish accent and was even asked in a few if English was first my language on more than one occasion! Funny fact- […]

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