About halfway through our trip, Dr. Kim Gaddie made the comment to us that her daughter felt she had finally been in Scotland long enough to be annoyed with the other American visitors she sees. Why was it so easy to get annoyed with “the dumb Americans?” When I looked at Scottish society in Edinburgh, I was surprised at many things. The university store sold not only beer, but hard liquor. There are not as many laws about open carry of alcohol. Trashcans (or litter bins) are harder to find in public places. If you want to find a street name, you have to look on the side of the building. People don’t wear their workout clothes to run errands. All of these things go against what Americans have been trained to think as proper. It’s as if the society here expects the individual to be more mature. “Go ahead and drink your beverage, just don’t be stupid about it. You can wait another 100 yards holding onto that wrapper without littering. Look up and enjoy the architecture and please understand where you are, because we aren’t going to sully the scenery by sticking a pole in the middle of it for your convenience. You can be bothered to dress to meet society.” So when tourists come here, it makes sense that the locals could be annoyed. Though I hate to admit it, I was that person walking on the wrong side of the street and thinking (or even commenting) “That’s so weird!” or “Why do they do that?” Not intentionally, but I definitely was guilty of falling into the trap of comparing what I’m seeing to the “American Way.” I was glad Dr. Gaddie shared that comment with us because it forced me to examine my perspective, and that brought me one step closer to changing.
- My Understanding of Scottish Nationalism
- Understanding Economic Development of the Past and for the Future