Explaining Scotland to a visitor

Although I was born in the Old Royal Infirmary by Quartermile, I grew up near London and never saw Edinburgh as part of my life. But now I’m at uni, this place has fast become my home away from home. Our uni is nestled right in the heart of the capital, a city that slopes elegantly down towards the sea on one side, whilst whispers of distant mountains call from further north. No wonder this land has prompted some of the world’s best poets and been voted the most beautiful country in the world!

Here are 6 things we should learn to love about our city and our country:


1) There’s a Scottish version of everything


You can’t escape it. It’s so totally unlike down south, where you can only tell if people are English from their posh accents and painful British formalities. Here, the Scots make it very clear that we are in their country. I’ve gone into a cafe and asked for an English Breakfast tea, and been told that they only serve ‘Scottish Breakfast tea’. Want to buy raspberries? You’ll have to buy ones labelled ‘Scottish raspberries’. How about a game of Monopoly? You’ll have to get the white-and-blue Scottish Monopoly game instead, so it contains no trace of Londonian references. The most ridiculous time was when I saw a box not containing French Fancies… but Scottish Fancies. Incredible.


2) Tartan and whiskey

It’s not just the label ‘Scottish’ that you’ll see branded everywhere, but the colours of Scotland. It’s impossible to walk down the Royal Mile without seeing a plethora of tartan scarves in a multitude of colours. Adverts for kilt hire follow you wherever you go, and there’s always a specialist whiskey shop around the corner. Fancy a bite to eat? Haggis, neeps and tatties is definitely the way forward. Or how about a deep fried mars bar? Eat and dress like a Scot for a true cultural immersion experience.


3) Bagpipes and ceilidhs

This is something that no other English uni student will ever have the pleasure of knowing. I’ve heard bagpipes in the distance during a lecture on several occasions, and you can’t help but shiver as you walk past the poor hotel porters who stand outside in the freezing cold with nothing but a kilt and socks. One of the coolest parts about studying in Scotland is the sheer number of ceilidhs you can go to. They’re way more fun than any night on George Street, and all you need to do is follow the instructions of the band and have a laugh as you’re flung across the dance floor by burly Scottish rugby players. Strip the Willow, anyone?


4) Accents

Scotland may be beautiful, but the accents can be hard to understand. There’s a whole new set of vocabulary up here, and it’s a non-exhaustive list. “I dunnae caern ya” would not be heard in England, and yet it sounds so cool (especially when you have no idea what everyone is saying). If you’ve never heard a Gaelic storytelling, I’d thoroughly recommend it. You have no idea what’s going on, but it just sounds so intriguing.


5) Stunning buildings

Having a gorgeous backdrop landscape clearly isn’t pretty enough for Edinburgh, and so we live in a city which has some of the world’s most stunning architecture. After gushing to the taxi driver when I returned from the summer holidays, ‘ahh I’ve missed the buildings. Is that weird to say?’, he assured me that it was perfectly normal for returning people to gape at the stunning gothic architecture as if it’s the most natural thing in the world to miss a bank or a random house.


6) Hospitality

I arrived in Scotland assuming that the Scots absolutely despised the English, due to our somewhat testy history. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. I’ve been treated so courteously in a way that wouldn’t happen so much back home. I’ve had random strangers drive the completely wrong direction just to make sure I’m home safely, I’ve even had money returned to me… The Scots are truly hospitable people.


I have not ceased to be impressed and amazed by both the people and this country. I hope you feel the same love for our stunning Scottish city, and appreciate how unique Edinburgh uni truly is.