Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!
This is an excerpt from Robert Burn's "Address to the Haggis." If you don't understand it you are not alone. Robert Burns is a very well-known Scottish Poet who's memory has been kept alive through the traditional Burns Night Celebration every January. Luckily, my friend Laura (who's from Aberdeen, Scotland) prepared a tradional Burns supper for our friends. Now the meal includes the notorious haggis, "pluck" of lamb and cow mixed with oats and spices, stuffed in a cow stomache and boiled to perfection. This tradition comes from the times when the Scots had to use every part of the animal for survival...so haggis is the part of the animal that went bad right away and couldn't be used as a typical meat (for the sake of the squeamish, I'll let you google the ingredients). This is accompanied by neeps and tatties, or mashed turnips and potatoes. In all of their brilliant tradition, there is a certain procedure that must be followed for a traditional burns night. The address to the Haggis is read followed by a toast and brief words of thanks. Once the haggis is cut open and shared, everyone begins to eat with the accompaniment of Scotch Whisky (Scottish Whisky is spelled without the e, Irish with it). I had haggis before but just a tiny bit and did not really remember what it tasted like. Once I started eating it I really didn't care what was in it...it was really good! My friend from England couldn't get enough, while my friends from the U.S. decided it tasted similar to hamburger helper and also loved it. I'm one of those people that doesn't really care what it is and will try it anyways, and this was definitely worth while. I'll be having more next weekend while in the Highlands, and I'm looking forward to it!
I decided that I hadn't been doing many touristy things since being here considering I've been getting used to the city and trying to be a normal inhabitant. So today a few friends and I ventured out to North Berwick. This small coastal town was a beautiful example of the beaches that Scotland has to offer. It was similar to many small beach towns except it has two castles...so I'm pretty sure it takes the cake. Along with gorgeous views came cute cafes, a town butcher shop, seaside cottages, cascading cliffs, and small streams covered by the occasional foot bridge. It was truly stunning. We were able to visit Tantallon Castle set on the Firth of Forth (say that ten times fast), overlooking the ocean. This very old castle was a labrynth of passages, outlooks, and stairs that climbed high above sea level. This medeival castle was certainly a good taste of what Scotland had to offer.
As some of you may have heard, London was hit quite hard with snow. When I say this, of course it is all relatie. While watching the news, my friends and I found it quite funny that the anchorwoman was exclaiming that "LONDON IS IN CHAOS" amidst flurries and an inch or two of snow on the ground. We received some snow here (it's melted already unfortunately), and apparently it's been their first snow for a while. My flatmate from Malaysia was thrilled with seeing snow. When I told here how much snow we had back home she was quite astounded and asked how we drive with that. When explaining snow plows to her she was able to recall plows from "Home Alone" as an accomaniment to my example.
The following is a list of Scottish words translated into American:
Zed= the letter Z
cheers= thank you
quid= british pound
freshers= first year students
Pronunciation is also different in many cases and requires some fine-tuning. Scone is pronounced with a soft o (like Scawn), Zebra with a soft e, and of course you spell favourite, colour, etc. with the added u.
I've been pretty busy with school but hope to keep everyone updated and continue to take pictures. Let me know if you have any questions about anything. It's been great talking to everyone on skype, but if we haven't been able to chat please call me....my skype name is knowlli. I've added pictures here and if you have facebook be sure to check out the many others that I post there in addition to these. Miss everyone, hope to hear from you all soon!
P.S. The blogs of some of my dearest friends are to the right, be sure to read those because they are all great writers and are studying in amazing places around Europe and Africa!