The surprising culture divide across the border

3 mins read

Coming to a different country for university can often be a big challenge but an adventurous one for international students.

I encountered this across various aspects; food, language, sport, schooling, alcohol, and music. Except I’m not an international student, I’m just English.


Where to begin but the new words to learn? Piece (sandwich), scran (eat/food), patch (ghost/sack off), taps aff (tops off aka good weather). The last phrase is rarely used of course.

Food and drink

Pies… Although we have pies in England, the fillings aren’t quite as interesting. Curry, kebab, macaroni, scotch, chilli, and even pizza have made their way into a Scottish pastry casing.

If that isn’t enough carbs, let me indulge you with the munchie box, which is a variety of deep-fried, fatty takeaway delicacies displayed in a pizza box.

Munchie box. Image credit: Rock Diner & Aces

The most shocking difference visually is the caution tape cordoning off the alcohol aisles at 10 p.m.

First off, I hadn’t heard that the licensing laws were different (the no-bottomless brunch was quite upsetting) but to physically bar the aisles created a concerning idea of what might happen if the tape wasn’t there.


Then there’s the football thing. Rivalries exist in England but in Scotland, there seems to be that added edge of bitterness towards an opposite team: timeless rivalries which some have grown from religion. Most notably the Glasgow and Edinburgh Derbies. The link between sport and religion is not one seen in England in the same sectarian way and the difference is quite scary, especially in Glasgow.

I could go on and on about the differences; I haven’t touched on the different educational systems, governments, and free prescriptions.

Scotland has a uniqueness to it that not many can replicate. With such highs of extreme community and connection but also division and aggression, it’s all part of the charm.

It might sound silly to some to be surprised of the number of cultural differences, but it’s made the whole experience of crossing the border for uni a lot more interesting. Scotland may be unexpectedly different, but it has definitely become a colder second home.

Featured image credit: PA Media

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Film, Media and Journalism student who writes about things that catch her interest. Instagram @charlsutcliffe

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