Scotland has been a very different experience to London, and the other places we’ve been in the UK. Edinburgh was a very beautiful city, apart from everything being kind of a muddy color gray brown, the buildings all keep their original old character, and the landscape the surrounds the city is breathtaking. I wouldn’t say that the Scottish particularly love Americans, but hey, to each their own. Politics in the UK are a little rocky at the moment, and I don’t think the Scottish are even very fond of their close neighbors, the English. But all and all, the sun came out for us, and we were able to enjoy Edinburgh for all it had to offer.
For starters, we went to St Andrews. Although, St Andrews may only be 3 streets, it’s packed it full of wonders. From museums, historical ruins, a university, and the golf course where golf itself all began. Personally, I can’t even swing a golf club properly, so the Cathedral and gelato on South Street were the highlight to my adventure.
Sometimes studying abroad you can start to feel like you’re on vacation when the weekends hit, which in a way I was! However, when Monday came around the academics came back into the picture. Sue was a great leader, as well as terrific company to have on our trip in Scotland.
Monday we visited the national museum where Sue gave us the challenging task to relate the artifacts in the museum to methods of mass communication. We were also asked to relate how these methods of mass communication could help us in our future career paths. But in the end, it didn’t seem very difficult. Until that exercise, I didn’t realize how much of our entertainment, everyday activities, and material goods can be representations of status and subtle forms of communication. From family crests to prayer flags, every culture has a special way of communicating.
We also visited BBC Scotland, and dug even deeper into the making of the story of Harry Potter. Topped off the trip, literally, with a hike to the top of Arthurs Seat. Which after talking with my nerdy dad, he informed me that rumor is that King Arthur was actually a Scottish king. I was also able to cross off afternoon tea in the UK on my bucket list after our day trip to Glasgow.
Reflecting on my week in Scotland and their uses of media, I would argue that the Scottish value nationalism. Apart from the politics in recent years, and the discussion of whether Scotland should remain a part of the UK, or if the UK should become an independent country, there are other indicators.
After meeting influential BBC employees in both London, and now Glasgow, it’s clear that although the headquarters all work cohesively, they also work separately. BBC Scotland has different goals for their viewership, because their viewership is different than England’s. Scotland covers 1/3 of the landmass in the UK, and with all the land in the country, three is also a smaller population in Scotland than in England. Scotland has more rural towns, and villages, so BBC Scotland makes sure they are able to cater to not only the populated cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, which still don’t compare to the size and diversity that you find in London.
In addition, despite the fact the Scotland is still a part of the United Kingdom, their printed money looks different than the money in the rest of the UK, particularly the fact that the queen isn’t on paper money like the pounds you would use in London. We were even warned that the pounds we got from banks in Scotland might not be accepted by certain places when we return to London. This was the biggest indicator to me in the division between England and Scotland.
There was a vote in 2014 on whether Scotland should stay a part of the UK, and the vote ended up in favor of staying united. However, Scotland continues to set it’s self a part of the UK, even with their own active parliament. Many conversations went back to this debate. We discussed J.K. Rowling’s stance on Scotland’s future, who owns a home in Edinburgh today, and learned she believes England and Scotland are better together. After learning more about J.K. Rowling, and her ties to both England and Scotland, I can understand her reasoning. Although, I was amazed by how different Edinburgh seemed to be compared to London when all I did was hop on a train for 4 hours. After a short trip you’re in a country with a whole different attitude, culture, and accent.
In the United States I could travel to from East Lansing straight to down town Chicago in the same about of time via train. But the outcome is much different. Being that England and Scotland are closer to the size of one of the 50 states in our country, than the size of our nation, our regions are much broader. After the course of a 4 hour train right, I’ll still find my fellow mid-westerns, I’ll still be on the same lake I can swim along back home, and we are united people because we are Americans. It’s interesting that in Europe it’s so easy to travel from country to country because of the short distance between them. I think I may have actually been to as many European countries in my lifetime as I have been to states in the US.
I believe there is a lot to learn from studying abroad as an American. We come from a country of 50 states, with a melting pot of all different people. In Europe, we are not only able to experience the countries of our ancestors, but also learn about a whole different example of regionalism, and even politics, because although governmental policies vary between countries, Europe still stay united under the European Union. And it’s these factors that contribute to the ways media produced and consumed differently over seas.