I’ve come to the conclusion that the Scottish are a pretty healthy society. As everyone from age two to eighty-two can walk miles and run up stairs, regardless of the level of inebriation. The walking miles I have down, but that whole running up stairs thing still eludes my poor defective knees. But I can run down them! That’s where you just let gravity take over and pray that your tootsies can keep up. With all of the activity going on with the everyday life I have yet to spot an anorexic! The pale, emaciated, waif variety that looks as if she might take flight if a big gust comes along; you know the type, really popular in the model industry. They don’t exist here!
Plus we all know my skills for anything are completely destroyed after one drink. The Scottish are completely baffled by my lack of tolerance and instant loss of skills. They seem to give me space when this happens, perhaps they think it is catching. So instead of being treated like typhoid Mary I’ve learned to nurse my drink and hope no one notices that they are on their fifth and I’m only half way through one. So far, so good. I guess their math skills are the only ones that do falter. Armed with new strategies and hope for a coffee shop we decided to go out and be social over the weekend. Now let me tell you about a Saturday night out in downtown Glasgow!
Apparently, no matter what the weather, the shortest skirt possible is always in style. I guess some things are universal. There were so many legs walking around that night, it melted my brain! I am talking so short that if you bend over at all everyone knows the color and cut of your unmentionables! So here I am, jeans, two pairs of socks, boots, two shirts and my coats and then there is the average female we are passing on the street with pumps, shortest, tightest skirt in her closet (I hope), a tight little half top, an open stylish jacket, and maybe, if its extra cold-a scarf! Not to mention this particular dress code had no age limit. I swear there were twelve years olds walking in this mostly naked style as well as grandma bopping her way down the street in practically nothing. How? Are they immune to frost bite?
On the other side of things they all thought we were the freaks as we kept asking if there was anywhere we could go and relax that served something other than alcohol. Everyone kinda scowled and didn’t speak for a second like we blew a gasket in their brain, then an over ride occurred, they threw out the confusing bit of information and directed us to the nearest pub. I think we walked for about two hours before we found somewhere that severed coffee and soda as well as any kind of alcohol you could want.
School here is really quite the change, now that the mad dash for classes is over, I’ve solved all of my time conflicts, and have clearly established with all of my professors that “yes, I’m a confused American.” I feel like I am part of AA, “hello, my name is Kristen
and, and, I’m (shudder) an American.” (Sobbing) Speaking of AA, I noticed that here AA is pretty much what triple A is back home. So that leaves them with only one A for the alcoholics group, guess they just aren’t anonymous here. Now that, for once, makes total sense.
Anyhow, back to school, for those of you interested (and I guess the ones that are not should just skip to the next sentence) the classes I am taking are Celtic Civilizations, Women and Genders Relations through European History, Biological Clocks, and Cognitive Psychology. No, I’m not a history major, that’s my hobby, but no college in the US would ever offer these classes. I couldn’t resist! I’m weak! Don’t judge me.
The classes so far have been a lot of fun. I’m all puffed full of useless information already, for instance, I could explain to you in a long drawn out kind of way why Celtic is appropriately pronounced with the hard k or the soft c depending on which society to which you are referring. But I won’t. I’m nice like that. I am really enjoying the classes and even the school system as a whole. It was purported to be harder but so far as I can tell the only reason for this is that there is no busy work like at home. You have one essay and one exam each worth 50% of your grade and that’s it. So what makes it hard is the fact you don’t have room to goof off as college students are so very prone to do. The only other possibility is that the courses are quite involved in that the professors, the counselors, the TAs, and even the deans are involved in your progress, your work, and your experience. The actual classes are wonderfully presented by professors (yes! Real professors, PhD and everything) that really enjoy their work and in a bonus sexy accent!
There is a tutorial for every course where they break you into smaller groups and actually want the students to discuss the material, in intellectual and educational conversations. They actually expect us to think! A novel concept compared to my experiences in America, where they expect us to regurgitate, not think. It’s been fun, they also change who lectures, so no one has a chance to become bored. Today, in biological clocks we had a zoologist come in and lecture, he was pretty animated and did well if not for the minor detail that he lectured directly to the carpet. I know what kind of picture that brings, but it wasn’t the case, he didn’t stand there with the classic monotone…Bueller, Bueller. He moved around, talked fast, hands gesturing, and actually quite excited–all directed to–the carpet. Sigh, can’t have it all I guess.
On the useless information side; did you know that psychologists made up a lot of the riddles we use to confuse our friends? Like, can a man marry his widow’s wife? Or the more common one: if a plane crashes directly on the border of the US and Canada where do you bury the survivors? That’s a psychologist who figured out how you think and how to best manipulate it. Is anyone out there surprised that I chose this as a profession?
I also had my first library experience today. Now that was something else, their main library here is 12 stories high, luckily, it has an elevator, err, I mean lift. First things first, in all my years at my other college I think I went in the library three times and one of those times was to buy a drink. Their library wasn’t worth the building they put it in. Whatever the case, this twelve story monstrosity was crowded, students everywhere, this way and that, lines to check things out, lines to turn things in. There was a whole section of computers and they were full. So, being the American that I am, I naturally waited for a computer since that was the only thing I related to in the building. I looked up all of my
books, wrote down the call numbers (I knew all this from elementary school) and headed for the elevator as most of my books were on the 11th floor. Getting out of the elevator I was faced with shelf upon shelf of old, leather bound, falling apart, wonderful smelling
books. You know the smell of books, it’s as distinctive and calming as recent rain. These books were ancient, leather, and lots were held together by cloth tied around it. This place was my new nirvana, I was mentally moving furniture into the space before I located my first book.
One of books on my list turned out to be well over a hundred years old. I cradled it in my arms as I shoved all the rest into my back pack. I have seen such things, but was never allowed to touch them, much less read them. So I took this book down the help desk and was about to ask her where the designated area for reserved books was located when she snatched the book out of my hands, opened the cover, stamped the card, scanned my student ID then handed both back to me all in one fluid motion. I just stood there, jaw dropped open, my whole body cringing, unable to command my hands to take the book and ID back from her. Finally I was able to mumble something that might sound like a thanks and took the book and ID into my arms. My shock was palpable as I walked away petting and comforting the book as if it had been brutalized instead of just my ideas of what is old and precious. This is normal for them! This is normal for them, I could absolutely adjust to taking home old books and enjoying them over coffee.
One of the more annoying and amusing things I’ve noticed about the people in my classes is that the Scots seem to have an oral fixation problem, like infants, everything goes directly into their mouths. Get your mind out of the gutter! Freud would argue they weren’t allowed to progress through one of the psychosexual stages leaving them in a lurch while moving into adulthood. Come on, back onto the sidewalk. I don’t really care about the cause, but the habit is driving me nuts! They just sit there and gnaw away on strings of their shirts, their pens, the corner of a binder, pieces of paper, just anything. I
fear that were they stripped of all the little things in their possession the furniture would be in horrid shape! One of the girls in a tutorial, I swear, was deep-throating her pen, and when she spoke she didn’t remove it but rather opened her mouth wider to allow both the language out and the pen in. Not to mention the girl next to her had been flipping a mint around in her mouth and then all of a sudden it kind of popped out onto the desk in front of her, much to her chagrin. Nonetheless she retrieved it quickly, popped it right back in and resumed the original activity.
On a different note, are you sitting down? My hair has gotten significantly shorter. Now those of you who are about to leap that ocean in a single bound and pummel me-don’t get your braiding fingers in a twist! There were no scissors involved…just a minor fire incident. Kidding! Sadly the humidity has had its way and, sigh, my hair is winding into tight curls. I’m not happy about this; I have long hair because without the weight to keep in straight I have these obnoxious little ringlets that turn me into some amazon version of Shirley Temple! Not a pretty sight.
We are planning on visiting Edinburgh this weekend. Do you have any idea how strange that is? If the idea that I’m living in Scotland hasn’t settled in yet, the fact that I can take a day trip to Ireland, Wales, England, the Highlands, or Edinburgh should clue me in right quick. I can change countries quicker here than I can get out of California back home. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that, but I’m happy to take advantage of it.