With only a few days left in Glasgow, I wanted to share a quick blog post about some of the little things I miss from home and the U.S. more generally (and what I will miss from Scotland once I leave). It’s bittersweet to be flying back so soon and to be saying goodbye to all the friends I’ve made here, but there are also a few things I’m so excited to have again once I get back to the States! In no particular order, here is a ranty list of what I have missed from home these past four months… aside from friends and family, of course (that’s a given).
- Toilets that flush the first time. I don’t know if this is the result of old plumbing or just a user error, but I can always judge if it’s going to be a good day based on whether or not the toilet flushes on the first try (or at all).
- Sinks that have a combined faucet. For some reason, it’s very common in the UK to have two separate faucets on either side of the bathroom sink—one for hot and one for cold water. Why is this problematic? Because the faucets are not close enough together for the water to mix, so your options are either to singe your hands with flaming hot water or just splash them in a frigid spray. There is quite literally no in between. (And don’t even get me started on the placement of the faucets… a lot of them don’t come out far enough over the sink to actually fit your hands beneath the water.)
- Driving. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy walking places, but I was surprised to realize how much I have missed driving these past few months. Sometimes it’s just fun to zip around town in your car and see all the blossoming trees in the springtime. Plus, driving will always trump walking when it comes to hauling groceries back to your place.
- Big portion sizes. This one really gets me… I know the U.S. could probably stand to have smaller meal sizes in restaurants, but what can I say… I have a big appetite! And in the UK (especially in London), you pay almost twice as much for way less food. Usually, eating out is a fun treat because you know you’ll go home feeling stuffed and satisfied, but that is not the case here. Several times I have left feeling hungry AND out $20 for a meal.
- Cooking. I only ended up buying one set of silverware, one plate, one bowl, one pot, and one baking sheet when I moved into my flat in January. That is the entirety of my kitchen supplies. As such, I have basically been living off sandwiches, pasta, and rice for the past four months. Not the worst thing, but it will be exciting to have a full range of cooking supplies and ingredients again once I get home! Even though my friends gave me so much crap for not buying more kitchen supplies, it just seemed so wasteful to me to spend a bunch of money on pots and pans that I knew I wouldn’t be able to take home at the end of the semester. (Plus, it was easy for them to say, since their apartments came fully furnished with crockery.) Speaking of cooking, I also miss…
- Lots of options in the grocery stores. Even if I had the pots and pans necessary to cook the meals I wanted, I still wouldn’t have had the right ingredients. I realize now just how out-of-the-ordinary U.S. supermarkets are! The grocery stores here in Glasgow are so small in comparison and have far fewer options… But perhaps they have less food waste as a result.
- Doing laundry in my own machines. Sharing a laundry facility is always a little gross (especially when you find one of those hair balls that is definitely not your own), but the machines in my flat don’t have detergent drawers. You’re supposed to use the pods, which I never use because they have stained my clothes in the past (let’s just say, I’ve been a little creative with my laundry this semester). Also, in order to pay for the machines, you have to use an app that only works half the time and eats your money the other half… I just love doing laundry in my own space, and an en-suite washer and dryer are one of my nonnegotiable requirements now that I’m starting to hunt for apartments in Denver.
- Showering in an actual shower. Let me explain… there is no divider between the shower and the rest of my bathroom in my flat here. In other words, the floor of the shower is the same as the floor of the whole bathroom—there is just a single drain in the room, and every time I shower, the entire bathroom gets soaked. When I came out the other night, I found that the water had flooded into my bedroom! I will not miss that mess.
- Painting my nails. I packed as little as possible when I came abroad and had the mindset that I was going on a four-month camping trip… so I was very okay with living light, not having a lot of the supplies I would usually have, etc. With that said, I’ll be excited to have some of the little things again, like nail polish! It will be especially nice to paint my toenails now that it’s sandal season.
- Perfume. I have been growing quite the collection of perfumes over the past few years, and I like switching them up depending on my mood. I only brought one of those tiny sample bottles with me to Scotland, so I’m looking forward to using some of my favorite scents and smelling good again.
- Hair products. I’ve always been very low maintenance when it comes to makeup and hair—and by ‘low maintenance’ I mean that my use of makeup and hair products is almost always nonexistent. However, since brands have started to send me PR for blogging, I’ve found a few products that I actually really like, such as this Amika Un.Done Texture Spray. I really have noticed a difference here in how flat my hair looks without it. I asked my mom to bring all my makeup and hair products to Vegas, so it will be fun to get dolled up for all the different wedding events next week.
- Mexican food. I haven’t found that many Mexican restaurants while abroad, and the ones I have been to have been very disappointing—hardly any flavor! I know the stereotype of English food is that it’s not very good and flavorless… and I always thought people were being dramatic. It can’t be that bad, right? Well, I can confirm, British food is pretty dang flavorless. Even the super chocolatey-looking muffins from the grocery store are disappointing.
- Springtime in Denver. I love the spring, and something about springtime in the Mile High City hits different—I guess it’s just the nostalgia of going for runs around campus freshman year, smelling the fresh-cut grass, watching the sun set behind the Rockies… I didn’t think I would miss Denver this much, but I’m glad that being in Scotland has given me so much clarity about where I want to live post-graduation.
In the end, I still like the U.S. better—which is not surprising, considering it’s what I know and what’s comfortable to me. However, when my parents visited, they asked what I like about the UK more—and two things immediately came to mind. The first is the apple juice. I can’t explain it, but something about the apple juice here is just infinitely better than apple juice in the U.S. It’s cloudy instead of clear and tastes SO fresh and apple-y, almost like apple puree.
The second thing the UK does way better is the payment system when you eat out. Servers always bring one of those credit card payment bricks to your table, as opposed to taking your credit card away and disappearing. Not only is this better for financial safety, but it also makes it sooo much easier to split the bill when eating with friends—the server generally just asks around the table how much each person is paying, types it in, and prints you your individualized receipt. That’s a way easier process than a bunch of friends trying to explain to a waiter which meal goes to which person.
What else will I miss about Scotland? Of course, I will miss its beauty and the lushness from all the rain. Overcast skies get tiring, but I also find them (and the greenery they bring) really cozy and comforting in moderation. I will also miss how close everything is in Scotland—you can walk to the grocery store, take an hour train ride to the coast, etc. Chatting with all my foreign friends has given me such a different perspective on space and commuting times in the U.S. compared to a lot of European countries. Additionally, while I am ready for a slower pace of life, I will miss the excitement and adventure of being abroad—I hope I’ll be able to channel some of that mindset into exploring my own town more once I get back to Denver.
Lastly, I will miss the wheat. In case you didn’t know, I am allergic to wheat in the States but can eat it abroad (my research indicates the difference is either due to the preservatives/processing used in the States or that a different strain of wheat is used). Either way, I have had a granddddd time stuffing my face with donuts and sweet treats that I can’t eat at home. I will miss it dearly… but I do think my body is starting to suffer from it. Even though I don’t have my usual wheat reaction here (terrible stomach pains), I have been progressively feeling less and less like myself! I have no doubt that it will be good for me to go back to my wheat-free diet.
I slowly made a list throughout the semester of little things I missed from home… but it wasn’t until my parents left after spring break and I came back to my flat that all those little differences added up, making me feel ready to go back to the States. I’m sad to leave Glasgow but also so satisfied with my experience here!
What’s the longest you’ve ever been away from home, and what did you miss most? Oh! And I almost forgot to mention—these pics are of the Kelpies, the famous water horse statues in Falkirk, Scotland… in case anyone was wondering.
Miles of smiles,