I've been in Edinburgh for over two weeks now, so I think I can safely affirm some stereotypes for you:
1. In the UK the umbrella becomes a third arm. The daily weather forecast is indecisive at best, schizophrenic at worst. It may start out sunny, then rain, then the gale force winds will pick up, then it will be sunny again. So it is best to always have your trench coat on you at all times. The one time I didn't, the twenty minute walk to class made me look like a drowned rat.
[Yes, I'm aware not all of my photos correlate to the text, but at least they're pretty!]
2. To cope with being perpetually damp, the Scots seek comfort in tea and toast. While the Gaelic for whisky means “water of life,” I’m pretty sure tea translates to the same thing over here. Like most quintessentially British things, it isn’t actually British, but I’ll get to that later. And regardless of what the weather or politics (the Pope was causing havoc here two weeks ago) might throw at you, toast is determinedly consistent. My toast literally smacks some sense into me, since it shoots out of our toaster and lands nearby, ready for the day even if I'm not.
3. When they are not drinking tea, they are drinking pints. I thought the martini lunch was something left in the "Mad Men" era, but you can walk by any pub or cafe at lunch and find someone downing a pint with their sandwich. If you aren't getting "pissed" (drunk) in the middle of the day, don't worry there's plenty of time for you to at night. Every student society here is basically an excuse for drinking. If your society does not start or end at a pub, then you're in the wrong one. Although I joined the wine society, which is obviously meant for drinking, you wouldn't expect the literature society to be just as fervent. However our first official meeting was a pub crawl, with some extra dorkiness thrown in (everyone wore nametags with either an author or character on them and we had to try and match up throughout the night. To really confuse people I picked Tess of the Dubervilles. Unfortunately I never found Thomas Hardy, but I did get a lot of double takes when I introduced myself. "My name is Tess. No, it really is.") Equally dorky, my inability to order drinks. I've never been able to order what I wanted before, but now that I'm legal I find one of the most stressful parts of the pub nights is finding a cheap drink I'll actually like. So far I've been sticking to cider, but I'm still looking so if you have any good cocktail suggestions, let me know in the comments section!
4. We may all speak the same language, but translation is still needed. Living with an Australian, a Scottish Highlander, and a Brit from Manchester means I frequently need to consult the dictionary. Here's a glossary to make it easier for you:
Australia: bench (the most confusing by far)
UK: Hob (well, it does sound rather quaint)
UK/Australia: predrinks (this is more logical actually)
US: Bathroom (whatever you say, never say "bathroom," its as American as wearing a fanny pack abroad)
UK: Loo (toilet paper is "looroll")
US: French Fries
Australia: Fries are like frites, Chips are like Belgian fries and/or potato chips (potato chips in the UK are called crisps and come in disconcerting flavors like steak and onion)
UK: Ginger (there are so many natural "gingers" here that it's like I have my own Weasley family wherever I go)
Australia: Ranger (perhaps the least PC of the terms, it is a shortening of the word orangutan)
(However in Australia football is similar to American football without padding, which is comparable to a Scottish sport called shinty)
And yes, they really do say "bloody hell!"
Confused? So am I, but what makes it even harder for me is deciding how much American slang to keep (after all, I will never be British or Scottish. I still can't figure out which direction traffic is coming from so why bother throwing around local slang.) and how much just makes me sound like a "prat" (idiot).
[FYI: There are some diehard Scots who wear kilts sincerely, but mostly guys wear them to pick up foreign chicks.]
Still looking forward to stalking (sorry, I mean "running into") J.K. Rowling and meeting my namesake, the Loch Ness monster.