A Disturbance in the Culture

Arriving in Edinburgh was as exhausting as any international flight would be, not helped by the fact I took three flights to get here. I was immediately struck by the small differences that characterize culture shock. The first was actually during my flight when the flight attendants came around calling for our rubbish. Somehow, that word, especially when said in an English accent, sounds so much more sophisticated than trash. The second word difference I ran into was using the word “loo” instead of “bathroom” when searching for a place to do my business in the Manchester airport.

We had a bite to eat in a sit-down restaurant last night inside a hotel. The waitress seemed to be serving in the usual American manner of looking in on us to get our orders. When it came time to pay, however, she disappeared and the other waitress ignored us even when waved at. Finally, my friend went to check on the waitress in the other room and received the check from her, who was surprised we hadn’t gotten it yet. Although this particular situation was some sort of mix-up, sitting there, unsure of the proper protocol is rather unnerving.

The last, but largest difference is the side of street they drive on. Not only do you have to keep this reversal in mind when crossing the road and catching a bus, but also on the sidewalk! I am very comfortable with using the right hand side of the sidewalk, but here the default is the left side. The kicker is, not everyone abides by that rule so I’ve found myself jumping out of the way many times already.


Claire Davis is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Liberal Arts with minors in Theatre and Environmental Sustainability. Claire is spending the summer finishing her degree with the UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.                                                   

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.