I survived week 2 in Scotland, yay! I am still temporarily renting a room, but accommodation has been (mostly) taken care of and I will be moving into my new place in December. Work has sort of commenced as I had begun working at the lab – or mostly at the office for now, haven’t done any lab work yet. Other than that, life is good…I think?
Well, not everything went as smoothly as it sounds, truth be told. The search for housing has been disastrous and painful and I will probably write about it after I actually move into my new flat. Moving to a new city is difficult, and whichever city it is, it takes quite a bit of time to become familiar with the ways of the city and blend in with the people who live there. I had done it before when I first arrived in Bordeaux, and whenever I am suffering from fear or panic here in Glasgow, I always tell myself, “I did it in Bordeaux, so I can do it again.”
And alas I am doing well, after two weeks in Glasgow. Better than I had anticipated, actually, mostly because of the help and support I’ve received from the overwhelmingly friendly people in the city. That’s gotta be a good sign! However, there were just a few things that I needed to get used to upon first settling down in Glasgow. Some were more expected than others, but each of them gotta be confronted with head-on, one way or the other. Here goes.
The Glaswegian accent
I don’t know how this managed to be the single most difficult obstacle to overcome, and it is ironic because they speak ENGLISH here. I thought, if I could get through three years in France and Belgium, then I will have NO PROBLEMO in Glasgow! 😀 WRONG. I had been “warned” about the Glaswegian accent before I came, being told that the Scottish accent is more difficult to understand than the British accent, and the Glaswegian accent is even MORE difficult than the common Scottish accent. Uh. How is that possible? I dismissed that claim and happily hopped onto a taxi on my first day in Glasgow and realized that I didn’t understand a single word the taxi driver said. I am not exaggerating.
Then all hell broke loose. The cashier at the grocery store. The HR guy. The agent that opened my bank account for me. The waitress at the burger restaurant. I felt so ashamed that 50% of the time (maybe more) I couldn’t catch what they were saying. And you see, if this happened in any country where the main language is not English, I would not hesitate asking them to repeat. But this is English here (it is…right???) and I feel really rude for asking them to repeat when I should be able to speak English perfectly. Come to think of it, I am the foreigner with the funny Canadian/American accent. How dare I ask them to repeat! Hah, that was and still is my mindset when speaking with Glaswegians with that thick accent that I cannot comprehend. I am sorry, I truly am. Please be patient with me and I promise I will try my hardest to get accustomed to it!
On a side note, it has been exponentially easier to communicate with my colleagues as we are a very international group. One of my supervisor is Spanish and the other is English (so much more comprehensible than Scottish… 😛 ), and my colleagues come from places like Italy, Nigeria, Czech Republic, Finland, and Chile. They’ve reassured me that I am not losing my English language abilities. Phew!