Arts and Culture

Abroad Blog: Maya Benson ’18, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

As I write this, it is my first day working in the Scottish Parliament, and I am in the parliament cafe with a cup of coffee in hand, a little worried for what the day has in store for me. I am anxious and excited to meet the Member of Parliament I will be working for the next eight weeks, and I cannot wait to get started.

I am attending a specific program within the University of Edinburgh, where I am in classes for 5 weeks, have two weeks of finals, and then begin an 8 week internship in the Scottish Parliament. This means that I finished all classes, homework, and finals by the first week of March, and am now interning for the remainder of the semester while working on a research project of my choosing.

This program has been intense, rewarding, and extremely fulfilling so far. The 3 classes that I took to prepare for my internship were focused on Scottish life, politics, and the UK government. I now have a political opinion regarding Scotland and the UK, and can talk (hopefully) fairly knowledgeably about subjects such as Brexit, Scottish Independence, and a multi party and regional list election system; things that we do not hear much about while living in the United States.

Living in a foreign country is slightly easier when the people speak the same language as you, but as anyone who has been to Scotland knows, when Scots speak English it does not always sound the same as the language that we speak back in Massachusetts. This has led for some amusing anecdotes of me mishearing people in crowded or loud areas. Overall, living in Scotland, when coming from the United States, does not make for too hard of a transition.

Scots are quite possibly the friendliest people I have ever met, which makes it difficult for you to have anything but a wonderful study abroad experience. People are always open to giving directions, recommendations, and simply talking to you about your where you came from and what you are doing in their country.

Some of my favorite Scottish things so far include, people saying cheers instead of saying thank you; pubs playing the song 500 Miles every night and the whole pub singing along and doing a call and response; and how angry everyone gets when you mention England.

For now, I cannot imagine leaving this place that I have grown accustomed to calling home. Every time I travel away from Edinburgh, I always am so happy to come back to my flat, with my wonderful flatmates and get back into school and work, but in a little less than two months I will be flying back to Boston, leaving my home for the past 4 months until who knows when.