Ah good old Europe.
It’s been a long, long time since I had not seeing you, and I have to say that it’s nice to be back and see what you’re up to these days.
As I’m walking in the streets of Glasgow, the largest city of Scotland, however, I’ve been thinking how shocking it might be for someone who has never left America to come to Europe.
Now, keep in mind that you won’t be surprised about the big things. It’s 2015 here too, and Europe is and has been a modern place for a long time, but it’s more about the little things, the things you simply won’t expect that will shock you the most.
Now, when I say shock, please, relax, it’s nothing that you couldn’t handle.
But, the everyday little things that you might expect from your point of view, might be a bit different here.
Here are 10 Facts about Glasgow, Scotland that might shock you if you’ve never stepped foot on this side of the pond before.
When you travel to Western Europe and unless you are in a major international type cities such as Paris, London, and other big ones out there, you will be reminded that Europe is the continent of the white man.
Well, at least that’s the one continent he didn’t steal it from someone else, right?
So here in Glasgow, to it’s old roots, you pretty much see only one type of people otherwise known as “whites.”
After having lived in the US for so long, the other day as I was having lunch in a café and was watching everyone around me, the cashiers, the bus boys, the waiters and the customers, I couldn’t help noticing only white folks around me. Having been in the US for so long this site was kind of amusing to me.
I was thinking to myself that what I was observing was actually the exact environment I grew up in, but having left such environment for so long, I couldn’t help but noticing.
However, if your own ethnicity is of different origin, just remember that Europe is NOT attached to the same… let say “values?” also better known as “prejudices” as America still is in some regards, so you will be welcome here just the same, no matter what ethnicity is yours.
As I was having the time of my life taking notes for this article, having my lunch at that café, there’s another thing that became quickly obvious to me.
It was pretty quiet for a public place.
Actually I could hardly hear the two ladies sitting at the table just besides me.
Then it came back to me that Europeans use their inner voice in public places. So the result of this makes for a less noisy environment.
After over 20 years of living in the US, that too came to my attention pretty fast. I was actually enjoying that rather quiet place, yet full of people.
3- No Plastic Anything
Another distinct difference I noticed right away, it’s even though this was a semi self-service type café, there were no plastic cups, plates or silverware. They had real plates, real glasses and real silverware.
In the same type cafes in the US you would have plastic cups, plastic plates and plastic silverware. So here again, it was something I noticed right away and had to write it down so I’d be sure to include it in this article.
I thought that was interesting, don’t you think so?
4- Grocery Stores Bags
I’m glad I was told that one before I stepped foot in a grocery store.
If you don’t bring your own bags to pack your groceries, be prepared to pay 5 pennies for each plastic bag you are going to need.
Scotland, like many other European countries nowadays, is very BIG on “energy saving.” They don’t just talked about it here, they are very active about it.
Actually, I was told that in the Netherlands you have to pay for your grocery plastic bags for over 20 years.
Well it works!
People come to the grocery store with their own bags and help the country save millions of plastic bag waste.
How nice it would be if America did the same thing, right?
5- Grocery Stores Clerks
On this side of the pond, I was reminded that grocery clerks are not the customer’s servants like people seem to expect in the US.
For one thing, they’re sitting, not standing, so they don’t have to stand still for long hours.
And secondly, all they do is ring your merchandise, but they don’t help you to bag it.
You bag it yourself.
As I bought my groceries the other day for the first time here, I was reminded that this is exactly what I remembered from France.
Yep, cashiers don’t have to work so hard here, so be prepared to do you part.
In the US we are used to think that cars will stop for us.
So, in shopping malls, especially, motorists have to basically watch for people crossing at random without even looking if a car is coming.
Well, if you do this here, good luck to you.
Pedestrians are not kings here, and they better watch before crossing any type of road where cars come through.
Plus, here in Glasgow, Scotland, you need to look to your left first.
Make sure you remember that!
Whatever you do, do not expect cars slow down and look out for you, because I’m telling you, they won’t if they have the right of way.
It’s you, as a pedestrian that needs to look out for cars.
7- The weather
The weather in Glasgow is crazy as fox.
I’ve seen sunshine, rain, wind and a little bit of hail in the same morning.
Yes, you have to see it to believe it!
Waking up with a bright sunshine doesn’t mean that it will last, and waking up with rain doesn’t meant that it will rain all day either.
You just need to be prepared for sudden change in the weather.
However, we do have full days of sunshine at times too, and they are always welcome.
And for all my American friends who tend to complain a lot about the hot south in the summer, stop complaining and come here, you won’t ever be too hot again.
As a matter of fact, they don’t have any AC on this part of the world. No need for it.
8- The Accents
If all you’ve ever heard is English spoken with the American accent, you’ll be in for a shock here in Glasgow.
Yes, people have a very strong Scottish accent, and you may or may not understand them.
But the good news is that if you lose your way and ask for help, not only people will be very helpful, but chances are that they will understand you perfectly well.
They understand me perfectly when I open my mouth, but it’s when they open their, that’s a bit tougher for me.
If you look for signs such as “restrooms” or “bathrooms” you won’t find it here.
Oh, don’t worry, Glasgow has plenty of “restrooms” even in the streets, but here you need to look for the signs Toilets.
Yes, that’s how it’s called here.
They are actually using the word that comes from the Greek “toileta” which is the same root for the world used in French “toilettes.” So that’s an easy one for me.
Now, in a house’s bathroom there are 3 things you’ll notice to be different in a European bathroom at home.
a) Sinks have two faucets, one for cold water and one for hot water.
I’m not sure how it is in brand new houses these days, but that’s how it is in the older ones. I know, not the most practical when you need warm water.
b) The level of water in the toilet bowl sits much lower than it is in the United States. That’s just how it is in Europe. I remember it to be the same in France.
c) All showers and bathtubs have a shower handle. There are no fixed showers in Europe, which personally, I hate, and everywhere I lived in the US I had to buy my own shower handle.
All bathrooms in Western Europe, you’ll have those practical shower handles, even in hotels.
Alright, there you have it.
10 things that may shock you if you’ve never been to Europe before.
But if you do come to Glasgow, Scotland, now you are warned and you’ll be ready to enjoy!
The Village of Luss and Loch Lomond, Scotland
Please, leave your valuable comments and inputs below!