Prior to my arrival in Edinburgh, I had only a vague idea of what a Scottish accent sounded like. Based on characters I’d heard in movies like Brave and shows like Outlander, I expected thick rolling r’s and bright intonations at the ends of phrases, but it was only after stepping off the plane at Edinburgh Airport that I realized how diverse a Scottish accent could be. In my first few days, speaking and listening became intimidating in a way I hadn’t expected.
Throughout this transition, my IFSA Edinburgh community and orientation brought me the comfort and familiarity I was missing and helped explain the culture shock I was facing. With this support system, I found myself growing more comfortable in my new home for the semester and meeting IFSA students who would become the friends I explored, encountered, and understood these accents.
In the months I’ve spent abroad, I’ve gotten the opportunity to experience a learning environment in a city and school full of students from diverse backgrounds and cultures. As I come to the end of my time in Edinburgh, I find it difficult to imagine not hearing the accents and phrases I’ve come to expect and appreciate as a reminder of where I am and the culture I’ve been so lucky to be immersed in. While I haven’t quite picked up a Scottish accent, I know that with the photos, postcards, train tickets, and schoolbooks I’m packing in my suitcase to take back home, I’m leaving my study abroad with the priceless memories of the people, opportunities, and adventures I’ve found in Scotland.
Amelia Bohan is a student at Colgate University and studied abroad with IFSA in Edinburgh, Scotland in the Spring 2022 semester.