I wasn't quite sure what to expect when we moved over to Scotland. In my mind, Scotland was a grey, consistently overcast country filled with plaid clad individuals speaking English with an accent. After living here though, I'm quite pleased to say that Scotland has exceeded my expectations in almost every way. Here are the four things that have surprised me about living in Scotland:
1. People are generally very friendly. Coming from the South, I know about friendly people that say, "Ya'll" and "Hello, sweetheart!" and "Bless her heart!". Somehow, I had in my mind that people in Scotland would be more like people from New England, more standoffish and not quite as outwardly friendly. (Not trying to stereotype here! ;) Promise!) What I've discovered though is that most people are extremely friendly, especially if you initiate the conversation. Often people will hear my American accent in a shop and ask where I'm from and where I'm holidaying. When they discover that I've moved here they'll immediately start asking if we've been to such and such and recommending places to see. And of course since I'm from America they'll ask if I've been to Florida or California and what the weather is like there. The accent is extremely strong in Glasgow, so it does take me a few seconds to understand what was just said, but I'm so grateful for friendly people! It makes being here so much easier.
2. Everything is centrally located. Glasgow is just over 7 miles from where we live, but it's a half hour train ride with stops. I have 5 grocery stores within a 10 minute walk of my flat and I could go probably a month without riding into the city for something, but that's not a bet I'd like to take right now. :) The closeness is especially obvious in a larger city like Glasgow because small shops selling nearly everything you may need are within every block. Most everything is within walking distance or a short bus or train ride. As a result, you see more people out and about, walking in all sorts of weather and carrying their 5 pence ASDA bags with groceries and the like. Most people are trim and I imagine it has something to do with the amount of walking done on a daily basis (and the hundreds of cigarettes many smoke.)
3. Speaking of those 5 pence ASDA bags... You are charged for your plastic bags whenever you shop. I can only think of one store that hasn't charged me for a bag and as a result, I carry plastic bags in my purse now. After the initial shock wore off, I began to appreciate it. Fewer plastic bags means I don't see plastic bags blowing around on windy days. It also means I store those bags carefully because the 5p adds up and I don't want to overspend our budget on plastic bags. Amusingly enough, England is also going to start charging for plastic bags and it's hilarious to read all about the "crisis".
4. The weather isn't as bad as I was expecting. I'm sure I'll regret writing this and the next five months we'll have constant rain, but so far, the weather has been pristine! Even on cloudy, rainy days, there will be some time when the clouds roll back and blue sky appears. I always wear my rain coat with so I'm prepared. It's definitely true that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! :)