Politics

I am not embarrassed to admit that I know next to nothing about politics. I barely understand the politics of my own country, let alone the politics of any other country. Actually, I might know more about the American government than I do about my own.

Now I may not know a lot about politics, but I really love discussing them, and back home one of my favourite things to do when my friends and I got together was listen to them have discussions about world politics. I have a lot of brilliant friends who have an incredible amount of knowledge on these things, and they all have great ideas and opinions. I also have a lot of opinions, but they are not as well thought out or based in as much logic as most peoples.

I still miss those discussions with my friends, and they are one of the things I am most looking forward to when I get back, but as it turns out, the people here aren’t that different. On more than one occasion, we have sat down and talked about the politics around the world.

I have met people from all over the world (including Kenya, Australia, Namibia, Yemen, India and Hong Kong). They all come from such interesting cultures, and they know a lot about their respective governments. They have taught me so much about all the issues they are having with their governments and in their countries and I think that it is incredible how involved they all are.

It is one thing to sit in Canada with my Canadian friends and talk about global politics, but it is an incredible experience to sit with people who live in these countries and experience the hardships that they are going through.

The Little Things

I was prepared to experience culture shock when I moved to Scotland. But it hasn’t exactly happened the way I thought. In many ways, Glasgow is similar to Ottawa. I am not shocked by the different accents, or even that they drive on the wrong side of the road. Although not knowing how to cross the road has been slightly problematic. There are many little things that make me realize exactly how different my new life is.

Light Switches

In Ontario, we flip our light switches up to turn them on, but it is the opposite here. On the bright side, the word ON is printed at the top, so when you do turn it on, it tells you.

Street Signs

I miss road signs. Some roads have signs on the buildings on the corner telling you which street it is, but a lot of the smaller ones don’t. Surprisingly, I have managed not to get lost yet. I don’t know how anyone gets around this city.

Brands

Grocery shopping has never been so hard for me. I love doing groceries, but the first time I was walking around Tesco, I walked out with pasta and butter because I didn’t know what anything else was. I have brands in Canada that I like and that I consistently buy, and having to try new brands is not really my favourite pastime.

Late Lunch

I don’t know if this is a European thing in general, or just this city, but everyone eats lunch so late. I’m used to eating around 12:00, but a lot of my friends wait until 1:30 to eat, and lunch is their largest meal of the day.

Birds. 

They are everywhere, and they do not care if there are humans around. I have been closer to birds here than I ever have, and it’s a little uncomfortable. They’re on every street just walking around, and people feed them, which means more come. Since windows don’t have screens here, they could literally be in my room if I opened my window.

‘Crisps’

They are quite literally made from potatoes. I’m sure North American chips have some potato products in them, but these are just sliced potatoes and I respect that. Even if the Salt and Vinegar ones taste like drinking a bottle of vinegar.

Bread Tags

Bread tags don’t exist here in my experience. There are little plastic strips that stick together that go around the bread bag. I never thought I would miss bread tags.

Thickness of Objects

Okay, let’s all be mature, but everything is thicker over here. From the keys to the coins, it is all a lot thicker and heavier than it is in Canada. My wallet has become so much heavier because of the weight of the coins

There are many things that make life different here, but these are the ones that really stood out to me during my first couple days.

If there is anything you guys would like me to write about in regards to my exchange, let me know!

Glasgow Exchange FAQ!

Since I have been on exchange, I get asked the same questions multiple times a day. While I don’t mind people asking questions and being involved and excited about this crazy adventure I am on, I feel a little bit like a broken record. I decided to make a list of questions I get asked everyday so that everyone can read them and we can skip past the part of the conversation where I rhyme off answers I have given to a dozen people already. And it would be nice to have a normal conversation with someone from home that doesn’t contain the following questions.

I will be updating this post if I notice any other trends in the conversations I am having. I also want to say that I am not trying to be rude by making a master list, or discourage people from talking to me about this trip, but I feel like this is the most efficient way to get all the general questions out of the way!

How is it?

  • In which sense? It’s very nice here, different than where I am from, but that’s why I came!

Are you making friends?

  • Well I have met quite a few people, it’s almost impossible to come to another country and not speak to another human being. I haven’t formed any solid friendships yet, but I got here less than a week ago. The people in my flat are all very nice and we do hang out, and I am looking forward to getting to know them and my new classmates.

What’s the weather like?

  • At the moment, it is raining slightly. However the weather does change very quickly here (that is a very accurate stereotype) so in the next hour we could get sunshine, more rain, high winds or possibly snow. This is a very complicated question to answer because of the quick changes, but in general, it is much warmer than home.

Are you excited?

  • Yes, as well as a wide range of other emotions. Of course excitement is one of them. If I was going to move to another country to study for four months and I wasn’t excited about it, why would I bother coming?

What time is it over there?

  • It is five hours ahead of back home (Ottawa, Canada, for those who may not know!). So if it is 12:00 noon there, it is 5:00 pm here!

Why Scotland?

  • Because I bloody wanted to come to Scotland, that’s why. Most people assume I would want to go to Paris or London or some other well known city in Europe. And I do plan to travel to many of those locations. But I have always had an interest in Scotland and the culture here, so this is the first place that came to mind when I started thinking of exchange.

What have you done?

  • Not a lot yet. I haven’t been here that long and the time I have spent has been figuring out things for school, settling into my room and trying to grasp the concept that I am in another country. I promise you, when I start doing exciting things, I will be posting updates and photos on my social media!

Oh you used (insert British word here)!

  • Yes. Yes I did. I am here to experience the culture and learn as much about it as I can, and part of that is using the language the locals use. I think the best way to do that is jump right in, so any new lingo or terms I hear, I try to immediately put into my vocabulary.

When are you coming home?

  • At some point. I don’t have any dates yet, because I don’t have a proper exam schedule. However exams finish May 8th, so that is a pretty good judge. However I do have my room here until June so I may decide to go travelling for a little while… But I am going to pack most of my travelling into the semester. May 8th is a pretty good estimate.

If you guys want to know any more about my trip you can message me, or follow this blog for more updates!

If you are heading on exchange, or a large trip yourself, let me know! I would love to answer your questions or share stories with you! You can also check out a post on made on how I packed for this trip over at https://youngcrazyandgorgeous.wordpress.com/ (it will be posted as of January 28th, 2015).

Change

This time last year my life was very different. I was working at a job I didn’t like, I wasn’t happy with my program at school, and I wasn’t happy with the choices I was making friends wise. I was very happy, don’t get me wrong! I think I needed to be out of the situation to realize how much better my life could have been.

A year later I am starting to make my program work for me, I am working at a job that I absolutely adore, I have learned who my true friends are, and I am leaving for a semester in Scotland in 2 days.

Seeing that I am leaving so soon and starting a new chapter in my life, I wanted to do something drastic to celebrate. I wanted to change my appearance to match the way I am feel, and what better what to do that than with hair?

I have been dying my hair since I was in grade nine, so changing a colour wasn’t exactly the drastic change I was looking for. One thing I have always shied away from was cutting my hair. I have had long hair as long as I can remember and it was never cut shorter than an inch below my shoulders.

I’ve been toying with the idea of cutting my hair for a while now, and I figured that this was a major change in my life and I was ready to do it. For those who may not know, I work at a hair salon, so advice on cuts and styles was not hard to come by. We decided on a cut that rests at my collar bones and I waited about a week from the day we decided until the actual appointment to make sure I could do it.

While ultimately this is just a hair cut, hair is important to how we feel about ourselves (as horrible and materialistic as that may sound). I wanted to represent the changes in my life I felt I was going through and so I documented the transformation!

The before picture!

The before picture!

Going in I thought I would be really nervous, but I was really excited. We ended up changing the colour as well, to something that would be striking, but easily maintainable while I was away for an extended period. I’m sure there are fantastic hair stylists in Scotland, but I have grown attached to my staff here in Ottawa, so I am not going to get it touched up while I am away.

This is happening!

This is happening!

It took about 30 seconds for my hair to be gone. My hair grows pretty quickly, but it took a lot longer than 30 seconds to get this long.

The colour was the easy part. Like I said, changing my hair colour is nothing new to me, so this was a breeze.

The hair dye is in!

The hair dye is in!

We touched up the cut a bit, since we just chopped at my ponytails, and then threw some curls in it for a nice style.

After!

After!

I love this cut. I was smiling the whole time, and everyone (myself included was surprised). I feel like I look a lot older and more sophisticated and for someone in her twenties who looks like she’s sixteen, this was a huge thing for me.

It is weird for me to have short hair, it hasn’t been this short in over a decade. While I think I will miss being able to put my hair in a bun or doing fancy updos, those aren’t things I do everyday so I think I will be okay. Hair grows and I can enjoy it short for now, and when it grows out, who knows what I will do with it next!

Sometimes making a change is just what you need to realize that it’s not that big of a deal and life goes on. Sometimes making a change makes you realize just how far you have come.