Aug 252011
Authors: Morgan Mayo

With all the excitement over the Royal Wedding this past spring, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t familiar with Prince William and Kate’s love story, all played out in the cobblestone streets of St. Andrews University in Scotland. When people find out that I attended St. Andrews for the past two years, their first question usually is: Did you ever meet Prince William?

Well, I’ll go ahead and clear all that up. We were basically best friends.

And of course I attended the royal wedding. I was the one with the fabulous hat beside Elton John.

Didn’t you see me waving from the balcony with rest of the wedding party? No? Well then…

OK so maybe that isn’t all completely true. But I really did go to St. Andrews, and I have hung out in Prince William’s dorm room before. Of course, by the time that happened he had already graduated. But I like to believe it still counts.

After two years of mulling around the U.K., attending balls with tartan clad Highlanders, perfecting my pub crawl and hunting the elusive haggis, I have been thoroughly de-Americanized.

Since transferring to CSU, I’ve encountered a cultural barrier I never expected. To give you an example, my first conversation with my advisor went something like this:

“What do you mean I need to take six classes a semester? Everyone knows you only take three.

And what do you mean they grade you on attendance? You have to actually go to the lectures?

Will we at least have Wednesdays off to attend the polo and rugby matches? Reading week for quick trips to Amsterdam? Inter-semester break for ski holiday? Maid service twice a week? Two- pound pints at the Student Union? “

Needless to say, I didn’t make the best first impression.  

 It’s hard enough transferring or starting a new school without having to navigate a completely different set of academic and social expectations. At CSU, they make you take an online course about alcohol awareness. In St. Andrews, the most “alcohol awareness” we ever received was the dorm warden telling us not to puke in the hallway.

In Scotland we wore robes to class. But apparently, showing up to your Econ class in a Hogwarts-like robe is frowned upon here. That’s zero points for Gryffindor, if you’re keeping track. I was even silly enough to hold out hope that recitation was going to be like a Scottish tutorial, where you sat back and drank a wee glass of port in your professor’s office while discussing the finer points of literature and divinity. But recitation is really just an extension of class. If I had known that, I never would’ve signed up for it. They really should start covering this information in CSU orientation.

In a university as big as CSU, I’m told it takes a little more time to meet the right group of friends.

But I still can’t help missing the nice feeling of passing people you know on the street.

Hearing the familiar cry of: “Oi slag! That mingin kilt you’re wearin belongs in the bin!”

Translation: Hello old friend! That lovely dress you’re wearing belongs in a fashion magazine.

Or, “Ach aye and the noo! You’re a ganting ginger bint and a right bloody wanker!”
Translation: I’ve missed you! You’re such a stunning red-headed beauty and a lifelong friend.

Both of these are traditional Scottish greetings. I encourage all of you to use them as much as possible if you ever find yourself amongst our neighbors across the pond.

And while we’re all out there struggling to meet new people and make new friends, I find the key to being “cool” in a university setting is getting a good grasp on the local slang. But after being in one place for so long, it seems I subconsciously adopted the language. Kind of like when I visit my relatives in the Deep South and I come back asking someone to pass me a “straaaw” so I can drink some sweet tea.

As it turns out, U.K. slang is even more indecipherable. In restaurants, I ask for chips and I receive crisps. I tell someone to put their purse in the boot and they tell me they have flip-flops on. I asked my neighbor if she’d managed to pull the “fittie” she’d been talking to and she replied with, “Pull him where?”

But all embarrassments aside, I am excited to be a new CSU ram. Throughout the year just remember that any social or academic challenge is a growing experience. I’m looking forward to the new people, classes and humiliation.  

Awkward times lay ahead, my friends. But until we meet again… Cheers!

Morgan Mayo is a junior natural resource and recreational tourism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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