I’ve now been home in Finland for a bit over two weeks. And it feels really good. Even though I loved being in Scotland more than I could’ve ever imagined, I’m kind of relieved that the experience is all over now. I’m relieved that everything went well, and that now I can focus on catching my breath for a while and figure out what’s up next.
I wanted to take a moment to write down the things I’ll miss about being in Scotland, just to wrap up my exchange. To make sure I don’t get too melancholic, I’ll also list things I won’t miss.
Things I’ll miss
- The beautiful Edinburgh. Almost everywhere you go in Edinburgh, it’s just really pretty. Both the Old Town and New Town in Edinburgh are UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their distinct architecture – Old Town with its narrow closes and the 16th/17th century stone houses, and the 18th/19th century New Town with its majestic, neoclassical buildings. And come on, how could you not fall in love with a city where a medieval castle towers over you in the city centre?
- Scottish scenery. My God, Scotland is beautiful. A lot of people imagine Scotland to be muddy, grey, and gloomy, and while it can be all of those things from time to time, it’s also incredibly diverse and exciting. You have the Lord of the Rings –ish mountains and hills of the Highlands with clouds drooping over the peaks, you have shimmering lochs, vast moors, medieval castles, cute little fishing villages on the shores, and even white beaches and turquoise water in the western isles. What’s not to love?
- The people – both my friends and Scots in general. My new friends truly made my spring – the experience would have been completely different without them. A special shoutout to Nina and Ida from the Netherlands & Denmark! In addition to all the great friends I made, I’ll miss the Scottish people in general. Scots are just incredibly friendly and helpful – even when you manage to scratch their car…
- The Scottish accent. The other night, I saw a news clip where Finns living in Scotland were interviewed about Brexit. There were also some Scots speaking about the subject, and when I heard the Scottish accent coming out of their mouths, I just melted. It’s incredible how what you hear – like music and accents – can transport you back to a different place and a different time in a heartbeat. In that instant, I missed Scotland with all my soul.
- Double decker buses. They just don’t exist in Finland, apart from a handful of long distance buses. They’re just so British and so fun!
- The pub scene. Obviously, we have bars and pubs in Finland, too, but it’s just different. The feeling’s different. Scottish pubs have a certain look and feel to them, and they’re just so alive. AND you’ll find one on each corner.
- Sainsbury’s chocolate flapjack bites. The reason why I can’t fit into my shirts anymore.
- Mary’s Milk Bar, even though I visited it only twice (why didn’t I discover it earlier on?). Fortunately we have delicious ice cream in Finland, too!
Things I won’t miss:
- University cafeteria food. I have never seen so much greasy food in my life. Almost every meal is served with chips, and you have to pay extra for some lousy boiled beans (and they’re all the veggies you’ll get). Every single Finnish lunch buffet/university cafeteria/office cafeteria has a salad table that’s included in the price, but nope, not in Scotland. Pizza and chips is what you’ll get.
- The inefficient traffic lights. In Scotland (and in the whole of Britain), it takes forever for the light to turn green. Seriously. For minutes and minutes, no one moves. Not the cars, not the pedestrians. This results in a lot of jaywalking and impatient drivers. Not cool.
- Not being able to speak my mother tongue. I learned to speak English as a kid in a language immersion kindergarten, and went to an English-speaking elementary school. The English language has been a part of my identity for as long as I can remember, but, however much I love English, I love Finnish more. It’s my first language, it’s my linguistic love. At some point, it starts to feel annoying that everything’s in English, that you’re constantly trying to use Finnish forms or phrases that just don’t translate. Coming back to Finland was a relief – I have to make no effort whatsoever to be understood completely by these people.
- How it’s hard to pay by card in many places – either it’s not possible, they charge you for it, or there’s a minimum amount you have to purchase to pay by card.
- Noisy student accommodation. Student accommodation is noisy everywhere, so this isn’t really a Scottish problem. I’m just done with living in student flats in general. No more!
- Inefficient paying in buses. In Edinburgh, bus drivers don’t give change. Yup. If you want to buy a single ticket for £1.60, you better have the exact fare. And if you get a bus card, the only way to top-up is to go to a travel store – you can’t top-up at the newsagent’s or using a machine. Why, Edinburgh, why?
- Using a sponge to wash my dishes. In Finland, we use a tiskiharja when washing our dishes. You don’t have to get your hands wet and soaked in washing up liquid. In Britain, you use sponges. “Brushes” aren’t available anywhere. I found it really disgusting – the sponges get dirty way faster than our brushes do.
So, that’s a couple of everyday things I won’t miss, and some things I’ll really, really miss about Scotland. All in all, living in Scotland wasn’t that different from living in Finland. The biggest difference was, of course, that I was away from home and wanted to spend a lot of my time travelling and enjoying myself, whilst in Finland I’d normally work way more. Exchange life taught me how to overcome problems/annoying situations with a cool head, and on the other hand, reminded me that I should travel and enjoy life way more also back home. Finland is an incredibly beautiful country, too, and I should never take it for granted!