The Daily Gamecock

Scottish scope on American university life

 “Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?" Adam McGalpine asked.  I was immediately struck by his genuine charm and hospitality. I fumbled around for words: “Yes, I suppose I would — except I’m not sure I know how.” He laughed, yet seemed extremely confused. I didn’t blame him. I wasn’t really sure how to accept such an unusual offer and was still very distracted by his beautiful coat and leather shoes. He appeared as though he was attending a business meeting with someone much more important than me.

I sat on the couch across from McGalpine, along with fellow international students Louise Hunter and Amy Mclaughlin, all of whom are studying abroad from Scotland. As I surveyed the living room, with fresh, British-brewed tea in hand, I noticed a hot plate on the counter in place of the typical Keurig. Puzzled, I asked if McGalpine's roommates already had the kettle when he arrived, and he quickly shook his head — as soon as he arrived in Columbia, he found a way to Wal-Martto buy the kettle to make tea, which he couldn’t live without.

McGalpine, Hunter, and Mclaughlin have settled into their new living arrangements on campus, and they’ve even attended their first American house party on Pickens Street. The three seemed extremely fascinated by the live DJ and how comfortable they felt just strolling up to people and striking a casual conversation.

“I think the people here are a lot different. Everyone here is really friendly, like you walk past someone in the street and they’ll look at you and smile and say ‘hi’ — at home everyone’s really not like that,” Hunter said.

They’ve also noticed that people in Columbia dress much more casually than in the United Kingdom, sporting leggings and sorority T-shirts rather than big name brands. Mclaughlin commented on how often she’s already seen garnet and black sportswear and USC T-shirts. Where she’s from, wearing college paraphernalia is extremely uncommon and almost something students try to avoid.

“Americans are so patriotic in every way about their country, their state, their college; it’s quite cool — something we’re not used to,” McGalpine said.

Although people seem friendly, it’s still a challenge to hold conversations with various inconsistencies in English pronunciation between Americans and Scottish. For example, if you ever find yourself in Scotland and you’re looking for Lake Lomond, be sure to pronounce it “Loch Lomond” or you will confuse everyone around you.

“People don’t really understand us too well — like we understand them more than they understand us,” McGalpine  said. “I think it’s because we have quite a thick accent and maybe they’re not used to hearing that. Like we wouldn’t say ‘girl’ we say like ‘guh-Rl’ and people always think we’re saying ‘ghetto.’”

McGalpine and Hunter are both from small towns outside of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. According to them, the city’s slogan —  “People Make Glasgow” —  truly reflects the neighborly people of the city. McGalpine is from Dumbarton, a small town near Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom. McGalpine works part time at a hotel and attends university in Glasgow, where he studies marketing and hospitality and tourism. Hunter is from Falkirk, and attends the same university in Glasgow where she studies marketing and entrepreneurship and works on the weekends at the fragrance counter in Boots, a convenience store. Both McGalpine and Hunter enjoy the bustling nightlife of Glasgow and also take advantage of the rural landscapes just outside the city.

“I like to drive around to places I’ve never been before — like me and my friends, we don’t really go out and drink a lot, we’re more into traveling and seeing new places,” McGalpine said. “Dumbarton — where I’m from — it’s really big and there’s so many nooks and cranny’s and small places we’ve never been or even a different side, like a different perspective looking onto the same mountains, so we like to just go on road trips and just drive around.”

Mclaughlin lives in Ardrossan on the west coast right on the beach. She commutes to university in Glasgow, a 40-minute trip, to study economics and human resources. Fortunately, she can take a boat over to the Isle of Arran to spend her days hiking and swimming. 

Hunter is especially excited about exploring the southern part of America, because of its unique culture that changes from state to state. McGalpine and Mclaughlin are excited to travel to American staples such as Florida, New York City and New Orleans.

“I want to become more independent. I think I rely on my mom and dad far too much — I would like to be able to solve my own problems,” Mclaughlin said. “I’m also a very shy and a very nervous person so I’m hoping that by being here — like because everyone here does seem to be, well, they might not be but they come across as really confident — that that will actually maybe help my confidence, so when I go home I won’t actually mind answering out in class even if people are looking at me funny.”


Trending Now

Send a Tip Get Our Email Editions