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Don’ no go dae tha!

12 Oct

That’s some Glaswegian slang for ya. It says “Don’t go no do that!” As in, “Johnny, don’no go dae that! I tol’ ya oonce, I tell ya’ a thousan’ times!” I picked up that little gem a few weekends back at the Rotary District Conference. The conference was a big get together of all the Rotary clubs of Southwest Scotland, where we all went to this really nice hotel in the southern highlands for the weekend to pow-wow about Rotary and the upcoming year. It was such a great weekend! I got to meet so many Scots, all of whom were so friendly and eager to share with me all about Scottish culture. On Saturday night we had a “Ceilidh,” which is Scottish folk dancing. All of the men were dressed in their formal highland wear,which meant kilts, sporrans (the little bag made of fur hanging from the man’s belt), and a small dagger called a sgian-dubh. I can’t wait to wear one myself!

Me Trying to Dance at the Ceilidh

Alice (another Ambassadorial Scholar), The District Governor, and I

I spent most of my time just chatting with Rotarians and learning about what it means to be a Scot. I’m so glad I’m here with Rotary, because it means that I get to spend lots of time with Scots. I’ve had numerous conversations with other international students over here who have said, “I don’t really know any Scots, I only hang out with Americans.” I can understand the sentiment. The University has a really strong International Society, which has events almost every night of the week, making it pretty easy to spend all your time with gringos if you want.

You definitely have to make an effort to be friends with people who are from a different background, because it’s simply easier to talk to people who have the same cultural background as you. A few weekends back I was in Oxford for another Rotary conference with all of the Ambassadorial Scholars from Great Britain and Ireland. The group was about 40% American, 40% Asian, and 20% from elsewhere. I noticed pretty quickly that the Americans were all grouped together chatting in English, and the Asians were all together chatting in their various languages, and then the other 20% were in a kind of cultural no-man’s land.

I’ve found for me that it’s easiest to start conversation with people who speak English as their fist language, particularly Americans and Canadians. The language barrier is surprisingly difficult to overcome, because unless you understand all the slang and cultural references, the conversation tends to stay pretty surface-level and formal. I’m really trying to make an effort to develop friendships with people who are of completely different backgrounds than me, people from outside North America and Europe. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my friend Ali from Pakistan. He and I went to a hookah lounge the other night with another friend of ours, and I learned so much about life in Pakistan and what it means to be a Muslim. It have been frankly surprised by finding all of the ways that Ali and I are similar.

In other news, I’ve moved into my new flat, which is great. It’s in this beautiful Victorian tenement building (tenement over here doesn’t have the same negative connotation that we were taught in high school history). I met my roommates through a website called “Gumtree,” which is essentially Craigslist for the UK. I repainted my room, put some furniture in it, and it’s feeling quite homey now. I’ll try to get a video tour of the place up on YouTube sometime soon. Oh! I can’t forget to mention that I found a MEXICAN/AMERICAN GROCERY STORE. They sell tortilla chips and root beer and pico de gallo! I am becoming quite the Mexican chef!