These are a few of my favorite things (about Scotland)

Leah Petr and one of her new friends in Scotland run into a William Wallace lookalike and strike a pose to defend their freedom. Photo courtesy of Leah Petr

On our first weekend trip outside of Scotland, my new friends and I went to the Mediterranean island of Malta. (Gorgeous! Go there!)

On the way there, we flew over the Alps, which were completely stunning.

With my iPod on shuffle, “The Sound of Music” prelude just so happened to start playing as I was peering out the window at the craggy magnificence.

First of all, yes, I’m so cool that I have the “The Sound of Music” soundtrack on my iPod and, secondly, I had just completed a life goal that I wasn’t even aware of having: living the opening scene of my favorite movie.

This “Sound of Music” experience has inspired me to make a short list of a few of my favorite things that I have found here in Scotland so far.  Here goes:

  1. Raindrops on Roses: It might rain here relatively often, but, when it does, it isn’t the drenching kind that requires a raincoat and “Wellies”; it’s more of a misty drizzle that’s more likely to make you drowsy than really get you that wet.
  2. Whiskers on Kittens (or puppies, in this case): Edinburgh is home to some of the most well-behaved dogs that I’ve ever seen, which is probably why they’re allowed in many establishments.  It seems like all the people here have dogs trotting along behind them as they walk through the park or even down crowded streets.  There doesn’t appear to be a leash law, but it isn’t an issue at all because all the dogs either trot alongside their owners or frolic nearby in the grass, only to come running at the quietest call.
  1. Bright Copper Kettle: A kettle is a marvelous kitchen appliance that I had never encountered before coming here.  While ours is of the stainless steel variety rather than copper, I find myself using it all the time, even though it seemed so pointless the first time I saw it. (Just boil water on the stove or in the microwave!)  It is so incredibly convenient, though—especially with my newly acquired tea habit.  I just might have to invest in one when once I’m stateside again.
  2. Warm Woolen Mittens: In my case, I’m completely loving a pair of warm woolen tights that I picked up over here rather than mittens, but the concept still applies: toasty warmness!
  3. Brown Paper Packages, Tied-up With String (or criss-crossed with packing tape): Living so close to MC, I never get care packages in the mail.  I don’t have too much to complain about, considering this means they’re instead hand delivered or picked up on a trip home, but I have to say the joy of signing for a package is hard to beat.  I just got my first one and it’s made my life.  Thank you for the Reese’s and stick deodorant (two things impossible to find here), Mom!
  4. Crisp Apple Strudel: (This is a bit of a stretch, but, hey, they’re both bakery items!)  I’ve fallen head-over-heels for Pains au Chocolat (a.k.a. chocolate croissants), which, I know, are A) technically French and B) available in the U.S.  However, I have discovered their deliciousness only here, and my favorite ones are from the grocery next door.  Ten seconds in the microwave makes those things heavenly!
  5. Doorbells: The doorbell itself isn’t one of my favorite things; it’s what happens when the doorbell RINGS (which is not what you might expect).  You’re probably thinking that I’m crazy, so let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (cha-ching—another Sound of Music reference). There’s a door to each of our five bedrooms, the kitchen/lounge, and the three bathrooms—all of which are supposed to remain closed at all times because of the fire code.  But, really, the only thing the flame-retardant doors deter is flatmate interaction, so we naturally all bought door stops within the first week of being here.  Now, since every time the doorbell rings could be a random room inspection, there’s a flurry of hilarious chaos as we race around grabbing doorstops and stuffing them into our pockets.  Multiple doors are sure to slam in the process, and our running feet definitely cause a racket, eliciting yet another “Sound of Music” reminiscence in my mind. (It sounds just like when the captain whistles for the children, and all you hear of the kids coming is their pattering feet and slamming doors.) Inevitably, it’s a friend from upstairs or the mailman ringing the doorbell, but the threat of inspection has struck terror into our hearts, so the comedic routine ensues with each ring.
  6. Sleigh Bells: I feel so European when I hear the police and ambulance sirens; they’re so different!
  7. Schnitzel with Noodles: While schnitzel is a national dish of Austria, anything deep fried is apparently a national dish of Scotland. (Apparently, the Southern Scots-Irish descendants came by the propensity honestly.)  Sure, everybody knows about haggis, but that’s actually hard to find on menus and seems to be more of a tourist attraction than anything.  What real people eat is the fried stuff found at “chippies” on every block.  From fried fish and cheeseburgers to fried pizza and Mars Bars, the Scots will throw anything in boiling oil.  I’m determined to try as many dishes as I can without keeling over from a heart attack.  I could really get used to this Scottish fourth meal!
  8. Girl’s in White Dresses with Blue Satin Sashes: Primark is a beautiful place.  I might not have purchased a white dress or a blue sash there (yet!), but I have sure bought a ton of other items.  It’s Forever 21 (or lower) prices with H&M style in sizes that can actually accommodate normal-sized people.  It might be heaven on earth for me—at least the materialistic, deal-loving side of me.  Everything is cute and everything is cheap, so I’m a complete gonner whenever I walk inside.  I will have a major problem if they ever expand to the U.S.!

So these are just very few of my favorite things about living and studying in Scotland.  There are many more already, and there are sure to be more to come!

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