Today I have a wee treat for you guys, an interview with my pal Danielle who I used to work with and literally run the Fulbright Summer Institute back in the days. She is a Californian chick with a pen and a brilliant mind. Read her bio on the bottom of this page and follow her writings.
Tell us a little bit about your stay in Scotland: why did you come here?
I came to Scotland to attend the University of Dundee in 2011, I lived in Dundee, Scotland until I graduated from uni in 2014. I've been back once since I graduated to visit the old stomping grounds. I was initially drawn to the culture and magicalness of the country, and now hold Scotland very near and dear to my heart.
What was most striking thing you discovered when you moved here from California?
Trying to understand the thick accents when I first moved to Scotland was so difficult, I remember sitting in an english lecture and not being able to understand a word of what the professor was saying. I went and transferred out of the class right afterwards;-). After the initial shock, I quickly learned what "taking the piss" and "taking the mick" meant, and when I would visit California on break I would always get asked where I was from.
Another pivotal moment was when my British friends taught me to make a perfect cup of tea. They used to recoil when I first made them tea, incredibly uneducated I would leave the tea bag in for way too long, drown it in milk and use completely the wrong spoon! The horrors;-)
What made your heart melt?
Scotland is a gorgeous country. The green hills and fields, crisp mornings, cold rough oceans and rugged landscapes. And that's not even mentioning the ancient castles scattered about the place. It's like the whole country is built just to fall in love with.
What part of Scotland do you love the most and why?
I loved the people the most, but that's the next question. So I guess the next best thing would be the pub culture, how anytime is time for a pint. But more than the pint, it's just about connecting. After lectures, Friday nights, Sunday mornings, a sunny afternoon—there's always a reason to sit down with good company and enjoy a drink and a laugh. I loved slowing down and taking time to shoot the breeze.
What did you think about the people?
The Scottish people are so quick to crack a joke—at their own expense or someone else's—and to throw back a pint. It feels like the entire culture is built around sharing a pint. They are so friendly and welcoming and take SO much pride in their country, whilst simultaneously taking the absolute piss out of it (cue Trainspotting).
Your favourite whisky? :)
I might get in trouble for saying this, but I was really drawn to the Scottish gins over the whiskeys. While visiting different distilleries—especially Oban—was such a fun experience, I feel like the Scottish gins are really on the up and up. Especially the yummy gins from St. Andrews' Eden Mill.
Are you coming back?
While I don't have any definite plans at the moment for moving back to Scotland, I wouldn't say it's out of the picture. Scotland will always be a very special place and a second home to me.
Danielle Ames is a freelance writer who loves happy hour, getting sweaty, and a good sentence.
A California native, she’s lived in Scotland, Italy, Thailand, and England, and wishes that list was much longer (and included Genovia).
Her accomplishments abroad include a string of bar jobs, and playing a key role in intoxicating the underaged over(fake)tanned Scottish population.
She writes the blog Not Enough Middle Fingers.