As we approach the end of our stay in Scotland, one week from today, I find it especially pertinent that I take this time to reflect on my experience as a whole. The 23 days abroad have provided me with a learning experience I will not soon forget. Last year, I did a similar program under the instruction of Sociologists Andrew Lindner and Matthew Lindholm in London and Paris. Due to that fantastic experience, I decided to study abroad again in the UK. I was criticized by some friends for returning to the same area of the world and chastised by others for not saving the money for grad school. To all my haters, you were wrong! I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.
(I don’t have a theme for this post, other than that of an overall reflection. After having a Scottish delicacy, a deep-fried Mars bar [just like a Milky Way], my brain is feeling a bit overwhelmed with happiness and fat…pure fat.)
While we discussed this idea many times in London, I didn’t fully understand it. After Scotland, I now more fully understand how we’re all ethnocentric. Basically, when someone assumes that their cultural is the norm and passes moral judgment on anything that deviates from that norm they are engaging in ethnocentrism. Driving on the left side of the road is weird; they use too many coins; kilts should not be worn by anyone are all examples of ethnocentrism. Even if isn’t said aloud, like that Scottish boy/girl’s outfit you’re looking at (they buttoned their top button…who buttons the top button?!), you’re still engaging in ethnocentrism. While seemingly unavoidable, we can all do a better job of fully embracing other cultures and attempt to understand rather than judge—an invaluable skill for not only traveling abroad, but life in general.
We have discussed the Scottish people’s strong sense of national identity extensively in class. This attitude is omnipresent in Scotland while people in London seemed rather ambivalent about England, the UK, etc. Until having time to think about it, I’ve had no idea how to approach this idea and still am rather perplexed. But after thinking much more about football (soccer), it makes sense to me. In sports, many of us cheer for the underdog. In my mind, Scotland has an underdog mentality.
Their 5,000,000 people pales in comparison to England’s 50 plus million population. They rely on their sense of community and identity in all aspects of their life. They do not want to be lumped in with the majority. In part, this strong identity, has led them to develop the ballot initiative in 2014 to potentially separate from England. They are an underdog country and I think they prefer it that way. I admire their sense of pride. It’s a feeling I’ve never had about my own country. While I think I should be proud of many things, my country never tops that list. But after being here, I think it’s something that we should work toward, because as evidenced by the people here, it’s definitely worth it.
Bob’s your uncle.
Scotland 2012 “The wine flowed endlessly; and of course, there were always, the pipes. ~Scottish guy narrating video playing at Dunvegan Castle