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Danielle: Eat Primal, Run Hard

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Scotland makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Scotland, etc.

My name is Danielle, and I’m a Canadian living in Scotland. I’m originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, but was living in Edmonton, Alberta when I moved. I came here for love as my then boyfriend, now husband is from the east coast of Scotland.

I’m a secondary school English teacher, and in my spare time, I write my blog Eat Primal, Run Hard where I talk about all my running endeavours, my primal way of eating, and life in Scotland in general. I like steak, skiing in the Alps, and running up big hills with my husband.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I originally started blogging when I first got to Scotland, and aptly called it Danielle’s Caledonian Experience. I have a friend who always blogged, and I loved reading about her life, so a natural step for me was to start my own when I moved. I found this was the easiest way to write about my new life abroad to family and friends without having to send frequent mass emails.

Throughout my almost six years here, my blog has changed as my life in Scotland has evolved. At first, I wrote about life in Scotland. Then in 2011, I started another blog, I Eat Therefore I Run, which was about my running and love of food. Then, in July 2014, I changed the name of my blog to Eat Primal, Run Hard to coincide with adopting a primal lifestyle change. I still write about life in Scotland and running, but also provide much information, tips and recipes for those interested in ancestral health.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I’ve got a few….

In terms of nutrition and running posts, I’m quite proud of these:

Tell us about the ways your new life in Scotland differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

My life in Scotland is different in almost every way possible! I always lived in large cities in Canada — now my husband and I have bought a cottage in a small village in Aberdeenshire. I used to eat takeout food and restaurant food often, but now everything is made at home. I used to drive newer cars that required monthly payments; now I drive an old car that requires repairs! I was never really an outdoors person; now I spend a lot of time outside running trails and in the mountains.

Looking back, I think I grew up and lived in a bubble in Canada: I never really saw the harsh side of society and the world because everyone I surrounded myself with was exactly like me. I think I’m more laid back now than I was when I left Canada, and I have a very different outlook on life. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of my perfectionist tendencies, and as a result, I’ve been able to grow in many ways.

As mentioned above, in my post Five Years in Scotland, I did have a difficult time adjusting to my new life. The culture was very different: different views on foreigners and immigrants (of which I technically am), the pub culture, class culture, football culture. These are issues I never really had to deal with in Canada. With respect to these issues, I did experience culture shock. And to make matters worse, I tried to hold on to Canada as much as possible.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Scotland? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I wasn’t fully prepared for my new life in Scotland, but there’s nothing I would change to have avoided things or made things better. Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, life still throws you curveballs that you just need to deal with, when they happen. And when you do, you become a better person, a stronger person.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

Most of my funny, expat moments come from differences in language:

In Scotland, ‘pants’ refers to underwear, and ‘trousers’ is the word used for pants. I was in a shop with my in-law’s, trying on a pair of red, patent leather high heels, when I said “These would look really good with my new pants!” They gave me a look that was both embarrassment for me, but one that also said that they found my comment hilarious. I had basically just said “My new heels will look great with my underwear!”

There are also a few other expressions that I’ve used here where my audience has basically killed themselves laughing because what I said was very sexual in nature. Let me just say, in Canada, those expressions have different meanings!

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Scotland?

  • Try not to hold on to your old life, in your home country — I did and it just made me miserable.
  • Learn how to have banter with people — the Scottish sense of humour is totally different, and initially, I found it quite shocking. Then, I learned how to have banter with people, and now I’m totally fine.
  • Dress in layers, all the time, in all seasons — you can experience three seasons in the span of an hour here. Make sure you always have handy: a thick sweater (or jumper), a waterproof jacket with a hood, wellies (rubber boots), and a scarf. Be prepared to feel chilled-to-the-bone cold too!

How is the expat community in Scotland? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

I’ve met some expats here in Scotland, mostly via my blog and social media. I wonder if it would be different if I lived in a more populated area though, like one of the cities in Scotland.

In general, I did have a hard time finding like-minded people. Then I realised, life isn’t about simply surrounding yourself with people who are exactly like you. That’s the beauty of why we’re all different. I’ve since been able to find a few groups of good friends.

How would you summarize your expat life in Scotland in a single, catchy sentence?

Overcoming obstacles, one hill at a time.

Jan-Peter van Tijk

"I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming."

Therese Yeboah

"For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats."

Global Expat Guide