Monday, December 05, 2011


Sometimes I underestimate just how much of a cultural difference there can be between Scottish people and Canadian folks. Or, at the very least, Torontonians (and maybe the rest of the world?) The problem is, such differences can be quite subtle and not necessarily apparent on the surface of things. Indeed, even after residing in Scotland for almost six years now, I still find there are collective cultural experiences that many Glasgwegians refer to (for example, the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival), that I have never heard of. Nor fully appreciate the significance of.

On numerous occasions, I have had work colleagues and friends tell me how straight-forward and forthright I am. One of my fellow colleagues even admitted to being intimidated when she first met me. It was only after working together for a few months, that she realised I was just a bit odd and...well, Canadian? In fact, she recently went on holiday to Canada, and when she came back to Scotland, she said, "Jen. I totally get you now! And I get where you're from. Canadians are so damn honest, friendly and nosey!" Indeed, she couldn't believe how forward Canadian men were - asking her to her face, if she was single - gasp! I mean, can you imagine that happening in Scotland?! (No).

Side note: I am such a nosey bitch too. Whenever I go round to my friend, Claire's house, she always warns me not to go through her kitchen cupboards. It's such a bad habit. Not to mention weird. See? That's me being TOO DAMN HONEST. Whatever. I just wanna know what y'all are eating and if I can have some.

Then again, maybe it isn't entirely a Canadian thing? I remember in high school (back in Canada), one of my teachers asking me if I was of German heritage as I had a tendency to "march" up to him, state my intentions ("I will be late to your class tomorrow and I hated our homework assignment!") and marching away again. So, maybe it's just me?

Speaking of German, I am in the midst of learning it. Or trying to, anyway. (ICH LIEBE DEUTSCH!) And it is hard y'all. Anyone who is fluent in another language besides their mother tongue? Much. Damn. Respect.

The British love nothing more than sitting down at the pub for a good banter and pint. Brits and Scots also love word play, wit and puns. And after six years of living here, I've learned that they also love panel shows comprised of comedians, participating in meaningless games for points that don't really matter. Take, for example, the very popular BBC panel show, QI. Personally, I don't really like panel shows because - and here is where our cultural differences comes in - I just get frustrated and think, "just shut up with your stupid witticisms and ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTION!" When, really, it doesn't matter what the answer is - that's the point. It's a mere vehicle for said comedians to wax their comedic skills.

And maybe, that's what is at the heart of it all: British/ Scottish people want to talk about EVERYTHING BUT the issue to hand, and I just want to cut to the chase. Does that make me Canadian? Or just impatient when it comes to small talk?

In short: subtle cultural differences; my forthright Canadian-ism; and shy Scottish men do not make for a successful mix when dating. Actually, that sounds like I'm actively dating when, in reality, I'm not. You see, despite my straightforwardness, I am actually quite shy. And Scottish/ British men are notoriously shy. What's a brash North American bitch to do?

Go to hockey and drink beer with girlfriends, of course!

Best seats in the house!

Look! It snowed in Glasgow today! I love the snow and wintertime!

You know what I don't like? Glasgow City Council's inability to salt/grit cycle lanes. Each year I wake up after the first snow fall and each year I think, "maybe this will be the year that Glasgow City Council salts the bike lanes and I won't have to fear wiping out on my way to work!" I am an eternal optimist. WHEN WILL I LEARN?! Look at that!


Jessica said...

Kudos to you for trying to tackle German! I hope one day I can, but right now the grammar scares the shit outta me. That and the superlongmegawordsthataremadeupofseveralwordssmushedtogether.

What is the deal with those?

Yann said...

Well your lucky to have received snow in Glasgow... Here in Canada we're still waiting (southern Quebec).

It took me years to know a second language (English, my first language being Canadian French) and I'm still not fluent, so good luck with German.

I've been following your blog for some years now and if I remembered, the first time you've got to live in Glasgow was in University, was it a difficult adjustment when you pass from Canadian uni to Scottish uni or not... I'm trying to decide if I want to try it.

Thank you

acrossthepond said...

Thank you once again for explaining me to myself! After 2 years of on-again off-again living abroad in Glasgow, I've finally started to feel less like a Canadian alien. But every so often, I cannot resist a good rant!

Then again, there is also reverse culture shock to deal with. I recently visited my sister in Montreal and a bartender scolded me rather harshly for not tipping. Oops!

Anonymous said...

I so yell at the tv when ppl take forever to answer questions! Darn it, get to the point. Got important stuff to do, like sleep, watch other stuff on tv LOL

The kitchen thing is something we do too. Well if it's your first time to my place I'll get stuff, but after that you're on your own :) I'm lazy like that