Scotland is a place where modern society meets traditional values and natural landscapes. Edinburgh, the country’s capital, still has the narrow stairways from the Renaissance era that connect the curving streets and the University which has stood since 1583. Strewn with lochs and castles, Scotland takes pride in their preservation of natural, green landscapes and environmentally friendly farming techniques. Possibly the coolest thing about Scotland, besides the underground city haunted by victims of the Black Plague in Edinburgh or the legend of the Loch Ness monster, is that their national animal is the unicorn. True story.
Scotland is the northernmost part of the United Kingdom, an island in the far western part of Europe. Scotland has many mountainous areas as well as lochs, the Scottish word for lake. The two largest cities are Edinburgh, the capital, and Glasgow; these two cities are the most likely destinations for intern and study abroad because of their booming industries.
While the majority of the population is white Scottish, there is a good amount of diversity, mainly of Pakistani, Chinese, and Indian populations. The main religions are Protestant, Roman Catholic, Muslim, and Judaism.
Scotland is generally cloudier than the rest of the UK, and because of the hilly terrain can see a lot of fog. January and February are the coldest months with daytime temperature highs around five to seven degrees celsius (41 to 44 degrees fahrenheit). A waterproof coat with a warm liner is the best thing to wear this time of year. July and August are the warmest months but still may require a jacket because of the persistent wind. Temperatures average around 19 degrees celsius (66 degrees fahrenheit) during these months. However, 19 degrees can feel 10 degrees warmer when living in such a consistently cold climate for long periods of time. Summer is the best time to visit Scotland because that is the time for a plethora of outdoor activities and festivals throughout the country. Away from the mountains there is very little snowfall in the winter and spring, but the mountains see about 100 days of snowfall per year.
Waterproof shoes that are also good for walking will be helpful to pack on any trip to Scotland. Edinburgh especially is a walking town with many hills and stairways. The third largest retail area in the UK outside of London is in Glasgow, so any forgotten clothing items can be found there. A good rule of thumb for travelling anywhere in the UK is to not wear clothing with the British flag on it. This is seen as touristy and, since Scotland has its own flag, will also be stereotyped as ignorant.
Many people don’t think of fine cuisine when they think of Scotland; on the contrary, Scotland offers some of the most unique and rich flavors that cannot be found anywhere else. This is due in part to the use of scotch whiskey as an ingredient in marinades as well as the fertile land that gives way to natural produce. Lamb is a very popular meat throughout the nation but Scotland has a very good reputation for salmon dishes as well. Haggis is the national dish, and while the ingredients separately don’t seem appetizing put together it is a Scottish delicacy.
Scotland has inspired many writers to capture the mystical and magical scenery in their writing. The famed author of Harry Potter, author J.K. Rowling, sat in The Elephant House cafe looking up at Edinburgh castle and daydreaming about Hogwarts before she began the book. J.M. Barrie grew up with the belief that anything was possible, even a boy who never grew up and flew with the fairies. The natural landscapes of Scotland, like that of Glen Coe where many films have been produced, are the pride and joy of the Scottish.
While the people in Scotland do speak English, it may not sound like it. Scottish accents, especially the dialects further north, are very heavy. The Scottish also have their own type of slang, Scots. Some are easy to understand like “Awright?” for a greeting, and some are more difficult, such as “Mony a mickle maks a muckle!” which means saving a small amount will lead to a larger gain. Here are a few common phrases in Scots:
Alright/You alright/Y’alright? - How are you?
Aye - yes
Nah/Nae - No
Dinnae - don’t
Cannie - can’t
Bonnie - beautiful
(A helpful tip when talking to or about the Scottish: they are either Scottish or British, not English).
Scotland is its own country, but it is also part of the United Kingdom. As such, it uses the British pound for its currency. Scotland makes notes that look a little different than the pound notes in England; English notes will be accepted in Scotland, but some shops outside of Scotland may not accept Scottish made notes. One pound (£) is equal to 100 pence (p). Coins are in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2. Bank notes are commonly divided into £5, £10, £20, and £50 amounts. Scottish banks also issue £1 notes, which can be used as legal tender anywhere in the United Kingdom.
There is a lot to do for those that want to capture the essence of Scotland in a short amount of time. August sees the coming together of theatre lovers and doers for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Many university students and smaller theatre companies showcase their work to locals and international visitors alike. For sports enthusiasts, the Highland Games takes place all summer throughout small towns in Scotland and features traditional sports and dance competitions. Scotland is also the birthplace of golf, so it is the perfect place for visitors to try out their backswing. The Glasgow Science Centre is a unique state of the art facility that allows visitors to explore the latest in science and technology; the Scottish tourist board even gives the centre a five star rating.
Most internship programs are looking for not only someone who is hard working and has the skills necessary to complete the work, but someone who is also willing to learn more about the industry and the culture they will be living in. There are many opportunities for performing arts, public relations, and tourism students during the summer because of the various festivals. In fact, Internship Scotland offers an internship with a production company for the Edinburgh Festival in the summer that also includes a six-credit course for business in the arts through the University of Edinburgh. Many unique opportunities exist in Scotland, it is just a matter of finding the internship that meet both professional and personal desires.
Scotland uses the United Kingdom immigration system. International visitors who wish to work in the UK, and not part of the European Economic Area (EEA), must have a work visa to do any paid or unpaid work. Before being granted a work visa, applicants need to be sponsored and show proof of hiring from a UK company. There are three types of visas, Tier 2 and two types of Tier 5, all with specific eligibility and application requirements. Visitors who are apart of the EEA and want to work in the UK do not need a work permit but may still need to register.