I get asked this all the time. I guess my accent has faded and been mixed up a bit over the years. It goes without saying that if somebody had asked me that when I lived in the UK, I may or may not have given them a Gleska Kiss. Okay, probably not, but you know what I mean. Once we clear up where I'm from, the other questions start. "Do you like it here?" "Is it a lot different over here?" "Do you miss home?" "Isn't the food in Scotland horrible?" and lastly, these 2 nuggets: "Have you ever tried coffee before?" and "Have you ever seen a train before?" Seriously!!
Before I came to America, I'd spent a lot of time traveling around Europe and Asia. America never really appealed to me until I met the husband and decided to give it a try. I had the usual stereotypical view of America and Americans that a lot of Europeans have (please don't take offense my many American friends, I love it here now!) When we first moved here, I had massive culture shock which you wouldn't expect moving to another English speaking country. I was horrified when I first watched Fox News which is fair and balanced apparently. The astounding amount of TV channels, most of them useless, overwhelmed me. The whole cell phone thing - here in the States, a pay as you go cell phone is not the norm like it was in the UK. I found banks over here very old fashioned and difficult compared to the UK which was a surprise and I couldn't believe you couldn't just call overseas without first having to be approved by your telephone company. People would say to me "I can tell you're European because you don't wear sneakers with your jeans." I was horrified by people having dogs but leaving them outside in their yards all day and night. The most difficult thing perhaps was not being able to walk anywhere due to lack of sidewalks. I remember saying to the husband that I wanted to go to a store just across the road (a dual carriageway). He laughed when I started walking. I could see the store, it was a few hundred yards away, but there was no way I'd safely make it across the road. We had to drive!! Across the road!! The ovens here don't have a grill, you have to broil it (just the word sounds scary). The grill is the BBQ. Confusing at first :) Massive sodas with unlimited refills, cheese with everything... I'm not saying this is all bad, I just wasn't used to it. It took me a long time to get used to America.
So, back to the normal questions. Do I like it here? Yes! I can't believe how different it is in each State that I've lived in and visited. America is beautiful. Even the places which don't conform to standard beauty are amazing in their own way. North Dakota - flat as heck - but amazing to see. So desolate but the sky goes on forever. The people - friendly, helpful, kind, family oriented, generous, non judgemental (mostly)! At home, I wouldn't go out dressed the way I do here, but I love that! At home, you're sometimes judged negatively if you go out in non smart or non fashionable clothes. Here, it really doesn't matter. People don't care what you look like! It's actually very liberating!
Is it a lot different here? Yes! It's massive! At home, we moan if we have to drive a couple of hours to get to Glasgow. Here, it's the norm to drive for days to go visit somebody or go on vacation. Everything is bigger here, it's true. Stores, roads, houses. Of course, bigger isn't always better - I'm not a fan of Walmart even though I seem to spend a ridiculously large amount of time there grocery shopping. People here are a lot more religious than back home. I think this is a good thing. There are a lot of old fashioned values alive and kicking here in America. Some good, some not so good, but mostly I like old fashioned values - being of a certain age myself now :)
Do I miss home? Yes I do. A lot. Scotland is such a beautiful, small place. And of course, my family are there. I speak to my Mum every day. Where my parents live, you can walk to a gorgeous, clean, white sandy beach, walk up the river and catch a fresh salmon, drive a short distance to historic castles and battlefields, see dolphins or drive into the most amazing, rugged mountains to go mountain biking or hiking. All close by. It seems cleaner in Scotland. The water, the air, the sea. I do miss it! I miss shopping for clothes in smaller stores that I know instead of in huge department stores that seem to have jumbles of clothes on racks that I can't be bothered sorting through! I miss walking down the High Street and I miss going to the pub. Bars here are a whole other different blog post!
Isn't the food in Scotland horrible? Heck no!!! Every country has it's junk food of course and I miss the heck out of Tunnock's caramel logs, proper fish and chips doused in salt & vinegar, chocolate hobnobs and crunchie bars to name but a few. But there is so much fresh food available in Scotland - salmon, trout, cod, prawns, scallops, beef, venison, vegetables, haggis (hehe) and so many amazing restaurants to try. Bakeries abound in Scotland as do local jams, chutneys and other home made foodstuff. I get fed up with all the chain restaurants here. It's difficult to find somewhere truly special that serves fresh, local ingredients. Haggis is awesome by the way :) Luckily, most major grocery stores here have a selection of British food. If I want to, I can make a cheese beano with Heinz beans, have some marmite on toast, snack on a Fry's Turkish Delight or make a trifle with a can of Ambrosia custard :) It's probably 3 times the price, but it's worth it!
Have I ever tried coffee before? P-U-LEASE :) For once in my life I was speechless at this one. I guess some folks think us Jocks live in caves or huts and drink only whisky. Maybe in the Outer Hebrides...?!
Have I ever seen a train before? I think I just laughed in this guy's face :)
So no, I'm not from England. I actually have dual nationality now! I'm happy and proud to be both Scottish (British) and American, as are all 3 of my children. It's a heck of a lot of passports to keep tabs on, but it's also kind of cool!
Have a nice day y'all!