My Host Country - Scotland

Scottish castle
Author: Crystal Nguyen

Hello fellow VIU students,

I’m here to share my experience in my host country, which was the United Kingdom in Scotland. I was in the highlands and islands of Scotland in a town called Inverness. To be quite frank, the town was very similar to Nanaimo with the coast line along it and I was there for the fall semester so the climate was moist, rainy and cool. The sunsets and sunrises were incredible though, the sky would change to hues of pink, purple, and red. The winds would pick up to extreme gusts that made you feel like you were going to be swept off your feet, but don’t worry they expect conditions like that there so fear no immediate danger.

The place was magical! Imagine, an area so old and ancient that they still tell folklore and believe in fairies and giants. It brought out my inner child. Some buildings were up to 900 years old and the castles towered over you with a teasing bit of history to share. A castle I went to stood on the edge of a cliff and you could see the waves crashing against it off the steep drop off.

Scotland also contained a very open landscape, so the outdoor adventures would provide a view as far as the eye can see. I went chasing munros in Scotland, which is what they call their peaks. I climbed pinnacles that the first Everest conquerers trained on, scaled mountain sides and experienced the landscapes opening up and changing. There were mountain range views, turquoise Caribbean-like waters, geological formations that were once connected to Canada, caves that opened up to the size of 7 story apartment buildings and little old black houses made of stone that people use to dwell in.

Scotland is the film setting for Outlanders, so I got to experience one of the places they filmed at called the Devil’s Pulpit. It had an eerie feeling with blood red water that ran in the river stream due to the silt from the rock that was surrounding it. It was nothing I had ever seen before. It sent shivers down my spine. Scotland is a place full of history and windy roads that lead you to some of the most beautiful landscapes.

I was even able to rent a vehicle there and experience driving on the left hand side, while steering on the ride side of the car! It was a bit disorientating at first but a fun experience. A road trip through Scotland would take you into some of the smallest towns with one lane roads that you share in both directions, dark paths, and some of the cutest homes. There were also sheep roaming around everywhere in Scotland and the people were incredibly friendly. They were always so ecstatic to meet an international face and share their culture with you.

Aside from the nature and the amazing people, the food was good too! Haggis, black pudding and yorkshire puddings are a must try there. I found it fairly inexpensive to eat at the cafeteria where they served a large heaping of what they called chips (fries) and other similar western food as here. Scotland was all in all fairly similar to Nanaimo in many aspects, such as climate, surroundings, etiquette, cuisines, and lifestyles, but also very different in culture perspectives such as food, mannerisms, bits of language, and the transportation. I would strongly suggest Scotland for anyone who is looking for mild culture shock but a brand new experience with incredible hikes and natural experiences.

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