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Lauren: From Hot Dogs to Haggis

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.

I’m Lauren and I moved to Aberdeen Scotland with my husband and dog, Stella. We moved here in August of 2014 with an opportunity with my husband’s job, just about 2 years after we got married. We’re from Chicago and miss it dearly, but we’re loving this adventure and Scotland.

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

As soon as it was confirmed we were moving (about 4 months before we actually moved) I began working on blog titles! I knew I wouldn’t be working and thought it would be a great way to fill some time and share my experiences. Once we got ready to move, I realized how much I relied on blogs out there to help with the transition though and I decided I also wanted to be a point of contact for other potential expats.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I think a funny snapshot of Aberdeen is in my post Country Livin’

My Long Weekend in Glencoe and my mother’s trip recap really shows how beautiful Scotland is.

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?

I had studied in London when I was at University, so I had a little background preparation and I don’t find the cultures too dramatically different… but there are definite things to get used to. In the beginning it was hard because we were in temporary housing and daily life was just so unsettled, but beside that it was a fairly easy transition. Not saying I didn’t have some bad days! But I actually only recently (about 10 months in) felt quite a bit of homesickness and a longing to be back in Chicago.

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 like to think I did as much research and preparation as one could… but there were decisions and preparations I would change none the less. Unfortunately, those are the things that you can only learn by experience and would be different vastly from person to person. But I try to write posts that could help guide future expats, like how to get your phone set up, what should be in your air shipment, what should you actually ship over, etc.

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

Even in an English speaking country, there are definite language barriers that I think most people wouldn’t realize affect them on a near daily basis. I mentioned a “Weiner dog” to my all Scottish sewing classmates who all turned red and fell into a fit of giggles explaining that they call it a sausage dog and wiener is explicitly used for male genitals. Another instance is when I referred to a “fanny pack” to a group of Scots… and quickly was reminded that “fanny” means the female genital area. Why are all my mishaps surrounding genitals?! There are countless instances of just normal conversations happening with Scots where I think or at least pretend to know what they are saying but have no clue. “What did that guy say to you?” “I don’t know, something about lamas and leashing Stella.” “No, he said lambing… its lambing season so she needs to be on a leash.”

The other thing that’s kind of funny is the lack of artificial food coloring… I’m all for it, but you can’t get over the look of surprise when you pour some UK fruit loops into a bowl for the first time and it’s basically 50 shades of grey.

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

  • Invest in waterproof everything & good hiking boots.
  • You’ll worry about the lack of daylight in the winter, but it’s actually harder to adjust to the abundance of daylight in the summer.
  • Eat the haggis!
  • Every Scottish cliché you’ve heard, you’ll experience with near daily regularity.

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

In Aberdeen there is a huge population of expats due to the oil industry. In fact, there’s an American Woman’s Association of Aberdeen that is very active with many groups and opportunities to meet people and get advice before you move, as well as once you’re there. But I also think it’s really important not to just hang out with expats all the time — that’s not why you made this move.

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

When the only hotdogs are in cans, you have to embrace the haggis.

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."

Expat Magazine