Would you move back to Scotland if you could?
I’ve thought about this a lot, as has Bryan. Not any serious contemplation though. I would, but I would want to live somewhere a little less built-up, maybe in a small town (I highly doubt I’d move back to Greenock, there’s no point). As it happens, my husband’s employer has locations all over the UK and it is entirely possible to relocate. My biggest motivation to stay here is the paycheck. I know he’d be paid a lot less than he is right now and I’d be forced to work somewhere like Greggs (a bakery chain). And THAT would be so awful…
What is the question/comment about Scotland that you get over here that bugs you the most?
I haven’t really had any questions that bugged me, but one that always makes me laugh goes a bit like this:
“My family is from the Buchanan line from Edinburgh, do you know them?” Short of saying, “Well, Scotland (with the rest of the UK) is the size of Oregon with a population of 6,000,000–chances are, I don’t know them.” I usually just smile and say “No, sorry.”
I had one girl I worked with ask me if we celebrated Christmas in Scotland, I wasn’t really prepared for that one.
When you make your trip to Scotland, will Cameron be treated to Gerber’s haggis? Surely that’s a more popular flavor over there than, say, spinach.
If they made Stovies flavoured food, I would totally buy it for him. Of course, I’d probably end eating it. Stovies = stew made from sausage meat and potatoes (with vegetables).
What was one of our strange American sayings that gave you the most trouble when you first moved here?
Just one? I can’t just leave it at one, it’s not possible.
Jumper. Yet another word for sweater in the UK. I was told, “I love your jumper” by a friend in 90 degrees weather. I responded (incredulously), “I’m not wearing a jumper!” “Yes you are!” Turns out I didn’t know all the American words I thought I did. I haven’t said the word ‘pinafore’ in years now.
Fanny. I’d get so offended when someone used that word in front of me. I still can’t bring myself to call a Bum Bag a Fanny Pack. I can’t believe I even typed all that.
Addendum – years ago someone called me a fanny because they knew it would offend me, so in retaliation (because the word means nothing to me), I called them a douche bag. (Sorry I made you read that!)
There’s still words I don’t know the meaning of because they haven’t come up in every day life. Recently I had to ask (on the sly) what a swap meet was.
How much of the U.S. have you seen in the years you’ve been here? What are some of your favorite cities?
Apart from the places I have seen, I’ve been in most of the airports of the places I really want to see: Chicago, New York, Boston… But, I love San Francisco, San Jose, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe (NV side). Las Vegas was pretty awesome too (in the non-American ‘awesome’ way). One of the coolest things I’ve done was standing in the Penn State stadium. It was ginormous. I’d love to visit the south too.
Other than family and friends, what do you miss the most about Scotland?
I miss the history behind the buildings; seeing old and new architecture blended together seamlessly, especially in Glasgow. I took it for granted. I also miss public transport and being able to walk anywhere within a reasonable amount of time (and also without the risk of killing myself). I miss talking as fast as I used to and rolling my Rs. I stopped because I got tired of hearing how ‘cute’ it was.I miss a decent curry and chip shops. Knowing the names of cuts of meat (because those are different too), British TV adverts and decent chocolate.
What assumptions did you make about the US before coming here, that ended up being totally wrong? What about the ones that ended up being totally right?
That’s a hard one and I’ve been thinking hard trying to remember that far back. I know this sounds strange, but I think one assumption I made was that there’d be less countryside than there is. Only being exposed to New York, Boston, Chicago and California (generally speaking) on TV, I assumed it was mostly all like that. I also assumed that food labelling wouldn’t be all that different. How wrong was I the first time I went to buy milk and stood staring at it wondering what on earth 1% milk was? What was the other 99%–water? Needless to say, I walked off with entirely the wrong thing (looking for ‘semi-skimmed’) and invariably poured Half n Half (single cream to you Brits) on my cereal the next morning. I can laugh now… I can’t think of any that I was right about, but if I do, I’ll post it later.
(the other) Laura asked:
Do you feel socialised medicine is as evil as most/all American’s do?
I wouldn’t say I think it’s evil, but it certainly has its flaws. The waiting lists for patients in the UK for routine surgeries is abhorrable. It’s also easier to see a specialist here without having to jump through all the red tape to get there. I prefer the preventive care here too, i.e. if my Mum was over here, she’d be screened for colon cancer because her mother developed it. I miss being able to walk into the doctor’s office and not having to pay him/her just to talk to them. I also miss not having to wait an hour+ (at times) to be taken back and seen.
Long Aye-Lander asked:
What kind of questions do Americans ask you when they hear your accent?
The #1 question is: “Are you from Ireland?”
I’ve thought about making a t-shirt on threadless.com that reads: “No. I’m not freakin Irish.”
I went and saw August Rush with friends a few months back. Friends who, by the way, have been around me for almost eighteen months now. At the end I remarked:
“I’m so glad that Jonathan Rhys Meyers was in that film and you could all hear an Irish accent!”
“Why? Is it different from yours?”
I was a little flabbergasted, but managed to squeak out, “Yeah, they talk funny.”
Another question is, “Is your husband from there too?” On just a few occasions I’ve responded, “Actually, if he was from there, I wouldn’t be here.” I find it interesting that some people seemed quite shocked that I would say that. Like a few other ex-pats that I’ve come across, I’m what you could call an ‘accidental’ ex-pat. I didn’t come here for a better life like the majority of immigrants, when it comes down to it, the UK and the US are really quite similar. Minus the culture shock!
Has it been hard to make new friends since you moved to Montana?
Yes and no. People are really nice here, but tend to keep to themselves. The biggest age range here are retirees, because quite frankly, it’s a great place to retire. It’s serene and beautiful. I know my neighbours to see, but they mostly keep to themselves. I think that’s another thing that surprised me about the States, people don’t just ‘pop over’ for no reason, to sit and chat or play board games together or something. It’s a way of life in the UK and it was a bit of a shocker when I got here and realised it just wasn’t something that was done all that often.
Other than church friends and people Bryan works with, my only other ‘friend’ is my Pampered Chef consultant. We’re both sarcastic INFJ’s so we hit it right off. And to think I only went to one party as a gesture for a friend. I’ve spent way too much money with her. I also ended up hosting a party and the kickback was awesome.
Do you feel comfortable identifying your religious affiliation/beliefs (you’ve mentioned church in your blog), or is that something that you prefer to keep private?
I’ve never really spoken about it at length or mentioned it in-depth, but we’re both LDS. My Mum and Gran and older brother all joined when I was 3. I haven’t always been what we call ‘active’ or practicing, but came back to it in my late teens. I’ve been to many other denominational churches and participated in services, but felt the most comfortable there. I wouldn’t say it defines who I am, but rather, refines. My friend count would be a lot less here in Montana were it not for those I associate with outside of Sunday services.
I think that’s another thing I like about the States, that there are so many people who are religious in their own right and believe in God. That’s really hard to find in Scotland. It’s also another assumption I made about America that I was totally wrong about. I thought there would be more agnostics and unbelievers.
Kathryn asked (and I’ll count this as one!):
Do you like haggis? Have you ever seen “So I Married An Axe Murderer”? And if yes, is Mike Meyers Scottish accent accurate?
Yes, yes and kinda. More than anything he got the culture down to a T.
I generally only ate haggis once a year on Burns’ Night (25 January). I didn’t learn until later on in life what was in it, but it didn’t change my opinion of it. It’s mostly oatmeal and spices. The ‘bag’ it is cooked in isn’t eaten, but is a way to cook its contents. My Mum used to fry it after parboiling it, because, you know that’s what we do best in Scotland, fry stuff!
I loved in the film where the piper was playing the Rod Stewart song, that totally cracked me up. I think the best fake Scottish accent out there is the woman who plays Professor McGonigle in Harry Potter, Maggie Smith. She’s actually English. When I first heard the girl that plays Cho Chang talk I almost teared up because I felt ‘normal’. Bless!
Have you read anything by Alexander McCall Smith? (he’s an Edinburgh native and one of my favorite authors.)
No, I haven’t read any of his books. I am trying to read more, but sadly the boys take up all of my free time. Even when the little one naps, I’m probably recovering the house from the devastation they both caused.
Do you have any favorite books or movies?
The one series I have followed was Harry Potter. A friend talked me into reading them about eight months before book 5 came out. I really want to get into all the big Chick Lit books and actually bought a few quite a while ago. They’re still waiting to be discovered by me. I actually enjoy most books I read on some level. The only book I didn’t enjoy was one I read by myself for an assignment for a (like AP) English class. I picked a genre and “Catcher in the Rye” was listed in it. Maybe the reason I didn’t enjoy it was because I may not have understood all the terms. I have no idea. All I know is, I was glad when I was done with it.
Movies. I love films and have a varied taste when it comes to picking something. I love the Shawshank Redemption; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Black Sheep, Happy Gilmore, The Pursuit of HappYness, 13 Going on 30, Night at the Museum, The Goonies, Back to the Future I & II. I love anything to do with time travel, like Frequency too. I also gravitate towards ‘Based on a true story” films. Although I don’t watch them as often as I used to, when it comes to scary films, ones that mess with my mind are the good ones. Unfortunately Signs and The Ring made me laugh.
Are we Americans really as rude as we are told?
The only thing I took as a little rude and off-putting was when talking with a group of people. I found (and still find) that if someone is talking and it spurs someone else’s train of thought, they will interject and continue the conversation over them. Having had to fend for myself and drop the “she’s quiet” and “she keeps to herself” labels, I now do it myself. I have cut my poor mother off in so many conversations now.
I don’t know if I would use the word rude, but Americans are much more likely to voice their opinions rather than keep it to themselves (like my Mum who would blow up over stuff someone else did or said to her after it had festered in her for hours). I have always been able to stand up for myself a little bit more than my Mum (she taught me to, ironically), but living here has strengthened it.
In California, I noticed less people hold doors open for others.
Living here I don’t see it, but I think there are certain aspects to life where others could construe it as being arrogant. Occasionally, Bryan and I will banter back and forth spewing mock insults at one another’s country, one night he made some remark and I retorted, “You only despise the French because they’re more arrogant than you are.” He laughed, so I won! I find Americans to be very generous and open-minded.
Do people ask you to repeat yourself often?
Moreso over the phone than anything else, or if it’s someone who’s never met me. I used to get it a lot when I first got here because people said I was ‘too soft spoken’. Bryan still says that.
Does it drive you nuts?
It does when it gets to be the fourth or fifth time, yeah. I’ve watered my accent down a bit just because of that. I also change a lot of my words because I got tired of repeating myself or eventually having to think of the American word for it anyway.
Karen MEG asked:
How often do you have to spell your name out for people, say on an average day?
Any time I have to say it, I have to spell it. The sad thing is, in Scotland the name was just getting popular in the last five years or so before I left. As an example, I had never heard my name called out in public where it wasn’t someone I knew calling after me. I was in a clothes store in Glasgow when I heard a mother yell out, “Siobhan! Put that down and get over here!” You’d be right in thinking I wet myself. Sometimes I joke with people who ask:
THEM: “How do you spell that?”
ME: “Like it sounds…”
ME: “Haha no…”
And then I put them out of their misery. The exact thing happened at Costco one day when I went to pick up my contacts. “CH or SH?” “Neither, SI.” She actually huffed at me. I’ve met about thirteen Siobhans in my lifetime. More than you’d think were here in the States.
Aye Wonder asked:
Tell the truth; Scottish or American cuisine?
Sarcastic answer? The only true American food that I can think of are hot dogs, casseroles and pies. (But not apple pies. I too was surprised last year when I learned the Pilgrims brought the recipe over with them from England. Who knew?) Everything else is kinda adopted. And at that, if I do eat a hot dog, the only ones I’ll touch are Hebrew National, I’ve liked them for eight years now.
I used to say, throw anything in a 13 by 9 here and it’s suddenly a casserole!
Celtics or Rangers?
Although I’ll happily watch football now (on my own schedule and if I so choose–long story), I tend to steer away from those two teams–especially the Old Firm games. I’ll watch anything else though.
My step-dad was more than an avid fan, he was obsessed. If there wasn’t a game on TV, he’d watch a compilation of pre-recordings he’d made. On Saturdays, he’d watch one on TV, listen to another on the radio and watch a live game out the kitchen window (looked over the local stadium) all simultaneously. After they were done, he’d watch the highlights of other games around the country. I grew to despise Saturdays and would leave for hours just to get away from it.
Joy T. asked:
Have you ever been to Canada?
No, but I would LOVE to go. I have always wanted to go there. We’re only four hours from the border, and now that the boys have their birth certificate/passport, we have no excuse! Bryan had never been there until his business trip last month. I was spitting glass at him.
Do you plan on blogging forever?
Forever seems so indefinite to me. (See last answers I gave). I’m not sure really. I’ve almost given up twice now. Although it’s cathartic at times and definitely enjoyable to interact with others and share thoughts I may not normally voice in outdoor life, it can be time consuming and addictive! I still can’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ though.
Where do you see your blog being 5 years from now?
Everyone wants to be popular and I won’t deny that I haven’t thought about it. It can be a little disheartening to anyone if you don’t get some sort of feedback. I’m not looking for Dooce, Rocks in my Dryer or IamBossy et al levels, but I’m kinda secretly looking forward to the day when I get 50+ comments.
I’ve always wanted my own website, but all the names I have wanted are taken. We’ll see, I may still do it. In five years, I doubt I’ll still never want to be labelled a “Mommy Blogger” though. I’m stubborn like that.
VA Biker asked:
Do you care for Craig Ferguson?
Oh how I love Craig…his coy smile, his shout-y serious voice and when he laughs at his own jokes. His skits kinda creep me out a wee bit, but I’ll forgive him for that. He admits he “Googles” himself (“I like to Google my Yahoo!”), and I hope he finds this! I’ve always wanted to send in an e-mail, but can’t quite come up with anything good enough. I am very happy for him and his success here. Funny thing is, my husband used to watch Conan religiously for years, he now switches over for Craig without blinking. Muahaha!
What do you think of Gordon Brown?
(New Prime Minister who took over from Tony Blair.) As politicians go, he’s pretty damn ugly. Oh…wait. I really only knew him as the Chancellor of the Exchequer (i.e. not very well), but aside from being a very well educated and highly intelligent man, he has a prolific education and political career. I like his forward thinking and policy initiatives. I also like that he’s Scottish. It’s about time.
What about total Scottish independence?
If it’s economically sustainable, I have no qualms about it.
Bonnie Prince Charlie?
I think his cause was (and to a certain extent, remains) noble, he gained a lot of support (and rightly so), specifically from Highlanders, but I also think he made many careless mistakes in battle that cost others their lives. Like most leaders, his life wasn’t without scandal or the lack of women. I almost wish more political or moral leaders were like those of the past, there’s definitely something to be learned there.
I’ll assume the First, right?
I actually feel really bad for her. Her Dad (Henry VIII), obviously loved her, gave her her own court at Ludlow castle and many royal prerogatives usually only bestowed upon males, then later in her life, disown her and halt her causes and progress. OK, so we’ll skim over the fact that she gained the nickname ‘Bloody Mary’ thanks to a few (fine, over 300) dissenters she had beheaded, but still, I can’t help but pity her, and all because of her father’s love for a bit of skirt (that could produce a male). Even though he was her biological father, due to a remarriage, she was declared illegitimate from that point and eventually lost all of the rights she had. I mainly feel bad that she had to stoop to gain favour with her father again. Henry (in my opinion), was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I am impressed mostly, that she held to her faith and never wavered, despite being in the monarchy and in the minority.
The role of the monarchy in the 21st C?
I think my opinion has changed slightly, living over here. I think I now respect the tradition, the pomp and circumstance, if you will. I love that “uniforms” and ceremonies of the guards and Beefeaters haven’t changed through the centuries and that tradition holds true. However, the Royal Family – despite refute – hold quite a substantial burden on the UK. I think the role of the monarchy has changed dramatically just in the last century. I also think Princess Diana was one of the only ‘good’ ones left and I was sad that she died. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that they all have causes they support and they’ve all been in the military at one time or another, but I think in my mind, they have less importance and relevance to the British public now, more than ever. In fear of being stoned by some English friends, that’s all I’m saying.
It’s spicy, but herby. Doesn’t really taste of anything else other than that. I think it’s funny that so many Americans get up in arms about it or grossed out when there’s Rocky Mountain Oysters, Scrapple and, dare I say–hot dogs?
If you made it this far (without skipping), I love you.