A preface for those readers who may not be my loving mother or boyfriend: I will be spending this fall semester studying Literature and History at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I have been here a grand total of 6 nights, and am still fluttering on that line between tourist and only-mildly-lost student. I am also not an America-hater. I enjoy Brad Pitt and fried chicken as much as the next girl, but how can you truly respect your own (0r any) culture if you don’t know what else is out there?
Free Healthcare and College Tuition
This one (while not directly related to city living) is a no brainer. College tuition and basic medical care are FREE. Free! Meaning all my exceedingly bright but broke high school friends, if they lived in Scotland, could be attending this fine (top 20 globally) university for free. Meaning these same friends could have gotten the stitches they required after serious injuries in the hospital, rather than refusing expensive medical treatment and bandaging themselves in their kitchens. Meaning the American students I know who are determined to attend university even if that means working full time AND taking on student loans could have put that additional drive and effort into their studies. Also, I find it important to note that the Scots don’t see anything weird or oppressive about the system of high taxation that supports these services. Socialism is not a dirty word. I have certainly not consulted a representative sample, but the Scots I have spoken to don’t think it odd that education and healthcare are tax-funded, state supported institutions.
Everything is Effing Adorable
Exhibit A: this every-child’s-dream sweet shop across the street from my flat. Marzipan, chocolate, and shortbread are molded into any shape you can think of. Latte’s cost £1.60 (about $2.50). And it’s pink!
Exhibit B: Ah, the vintage stores. Yes, there is very tasty vintage shopping in the states. But not just outside my front door. And not loaded with candy-colored cashmere sweaters. Or perfect pumps.
Exhibit C: The monuments. I realize monuments are not “cute” but I am counting anything that makes me squeal with excitement as adorable. And I adore history. And it’s pretty effing rad to be walking to the grocery store and be able to see stone castles and towers a few minutes away.
Eating Locally is not a Luxury
Oh, this is a good one. Farmer’s Markets, cage-free eggs, and local produce abound in the states. They also abound at prohibitively expensive prices. As an educated young person, I would like to eat healthfully and mindfully of the planet. I’d also like to eat a lot, without breaking the bank. Unless you’d like to live on a steady diet of quinoa and onions, or have loads of time to cook, this is a tough project. Enter ramen noodles and Safeway peaches.
But in the glorious city of Edinburgh, you can get local haddock for the price of a Big Mac! And you can get it fried and served up with the best chips in town a few steps from my flat. It’s glorious.
I don’t know what people were talking about saying the food in Scotland is awful. For those folks, I present to you still-warm scones from the Metropole with raspberry jam and cream, real butter oatmeal shortbread covered in chocolate, and local strawberries and raspberries. I show you battered fish so good you don’t care that the grease makes cardboard see-through. And I give you reaaaally good curries from Pakistan and India that you can get for a few quid (4 to 10 dollars) every few blocks.
And for those that scream “but the haggis! Do they really eat haggis?!” Yes, they do. And we eat hot dogs. I would choose a locally produced, fresh slice of haggis over Jimmy Dean any day. I mean, do you know what’s in a hot dog? At least they settled on one animal to put in their national delicacy.
Well, that’s it for this morning. The delights of shoe shopping and getting lost only to find sweeping ocean views will have to wait.