Mary de Bastos - Scotland Expert InterviewLearn more about the author
Mary started her traveling innocently, but when she fell in love with a Portuguese man living in Scotland she couldn’t resist taking the plunge. Living in Scotland with her hubby and almost three year old son, Mary knows all about the challenges of adjusting to life abroad and the ups and downs of living in Scotland. She shares her experiences and advice through her blog.
"No matter how much you think you love the rain and grey skies, you've never experienced it like Scotland."
You are from West Virginia, married to a Portuguese man from Venezuela, and you call Scotland home. Do you ever wake up and wonder where you are?
It does get confusing when we are introducing ourselves to new friends! We have many cultures and traditions to choose from that it makes for an interesting life. There are so many different ways to celebrate everything that we have to actually discuss what we're doing for the holidays. We try to keep our cultures alive while immersing ourselves in the British culture we're living in.
What brought you to Scotland?
My husband and I met online. He was living and working here in Scotland when we first started talking. After traveling to see each other as much as we could and spending a fortune on phone bills, we decided we'd had enough of the back and forth and got engaged. We both had good jobs so deciding on where we would make our home was a big deal. I have always wanted to live in another country so here I am! I moved to Scotland 3 days after we got married.
Who had more adjusting in Scotland the West Virginian or the Venezuelan?
Most definitely the West Virginian. My husband had lived in several other countries before we married but this was my first experience. Everything was a struggle. From buying groceries to getting out of the apartment. I've learned a lot in these last six years and I like to share that knowledge on my blog. I'm glad I finally feel at home and comfortable in Scotland.
You once worked on a cruise line in the Caribbean. How are you handling the Scottish weather in comparison?
When I first moved here it was the hardest thing to get used to. In fact, it has taken years. It isn't so much the rain as it is the lack of sunshine. The clouds hang low and the grey seems to be never ending. But, I have come to embrace it and have stop fighting it so much. It has made all the difference.
Your amazing photographs on your blog make it seem like it’s always blue skies in Scotland, how do you do it?
Thank you! I generally don't go sightseeing when it is raining and reserve the sunny days for getting out and enjoying what I can. We've been living in Aberdeen the last couple of months and the sun seems to be out so much more than in Glasgow. So that means I have more photos to share. But, now that you have called attention to the fact, I'm going to try harder to capture the greyness of Scotland.
Your blog provides travel advice as well as expat tips. Can you give us one tip about moving to Scotland?
No matter how much you think you love the rain and grey skies, you've never experienced it like Scotland. Make a plan on how you're going to deal with it and still get out. It will affect your mood and whole experience if you're not careful. My best advice is to get yourself some wellies and get out in it!
With Scotland’s centuries old castles, alluring lochs (lakes), and picturesque sceneries, what is the one place every traveler should visit?
You have to go to Stirling if you want to know what Scotland is really about. The William Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle are the perfect places to get a history lesson and enjoy those picturesque views. The Scots are a very patriotic people. Stirling will show you why.
Living abroad can be challenging and raising a child abroad has it’s own special set of demands. What is the best part of raising your child abroad?
The opportunity to show him a different perspective on life is one of the best gifts we can give him. Opening his eyes to the world around him is priceless. Experiencing different people, places, food, and cultures will teach him invaluable skills . It is something most people never get the opportunity to do. He will be a very well rounded person.
Did you study abroad? What were your early travel experiences like?
I haven't ever studied abroad. I wish I could go back 12 years when I first started traveling. I have very few photos and I was completely naïve. I was a small town girl from West Virginia and knew nothing of the world. My eyes weren't yet open to what was actually around me. I wonder what I would see now if I went back to some of those places. I learned a lot about myself in those early years. Travel has a way of changing you. I hope that I'll always be changing and getting better. I think you have to keep traveling and experiencing new things to do that. It is one of the things I love about living abroad.
Has Sebastian (your son) been to the Fringe Festival yet?
Not yet! He'll be three next month and I think that is the perfect age for him to be able to sit through the shows and enjoy the atmosphere around town. I can't wait to see his face!
What is the one thing every visitor should do in Scotland?
The Highlands Games run from May to September in a number of beautiful Scottish villages and cities. If you want to see all that Scotland has to offer, then the Highland Games are a great place to start. You'll get to see highland dancing, bagpipes, kilts, local food, and sheer brute strength. The games are also perfect for meeting the locals and doing some shopping. The Highland Games are an experience you won't forget!