Farewell, Scotland, you will be missed!

Well, it's time to close another chapter in our book.

Our days abroad have come to an end as we head back home to Texas.

I can't believe the year is over. And I can't believe we've accomplished so much.

It's with mixed feelings that we close the door to our flat for the final time, return the keys to our trusty little Nissan Micra and walk through Aberdeen Airport once more.

In the year we've spent in Scotland, we have created a very fulfilling life. We've met some wonderful people - especially Mike's team at work, who have all welcomed us both and made us feel a part of their world.

Our jobs couldn't have gone better, Mike has gained so much experience in his field as an electrical engineer and I've been able to continue freelance writing for various bridal magazines, while also working as sales and marketing coordinator at a local events company. It was a great chance to spend time in a creative industry other than journalism.

We have seen so much more of the world than we would have ever thought possible. Someone recently asked us what we'd rate first, second and third out of all our trips:

1. Italy.
Hands down, this was one of the most incredible things we experienced all year. We spent 10 days exploring Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan and loved every second. Florence is quite possibly our favorite city to visit overall in the year.

2. Spain.
It was a fun-filled long weekend in Malaga, with a beach resort to our name and a villa nearby with about 15 of our friends. We watched the World Cup Final at a local pub, then erupted into party mode when Spain claimed the victory!!!

3. Oban.
This wee harbour town on the West Coast of Scotland was as cool as it gets. Fishing boats, local pubs and our hotel with a hot tub on the outdoor deck. Armed with a bottle of wine and a sunset, we sat in the hot tub for a few hours just soaking it all in. It's one of our fondest "Scottish moments."

View our year in pictures with my self-edited special soundtrack!

There were plenty of things that took awhile to get used to, as life goes in any new country. Here's a running list of what we found slightly more challenging about life in the UK:

  • Counting out change. In the UK, you can't really go by coin size. The pound coin is heavier than the rest, but smaller in size than, say, the 50 pence coin. Once of my first visits to a grocery store ended with me holding out a handful of change so the cashier could pick out what I owed.
  • Roundabouts. Our first days behind the wheel - on the left side of the car, and the left side of the road - were just a bit odd. And then these bastards start flying around in circles, instead of turning left or right. Mike managed pretty well, but I got stuck on one particular roundabout and circled it three times before finally swerving off the merry-go-round. And now, of course, we manage them with ease. Just in time to return to Texas and long, straight highways.
  • Door Locks. The lock on our flat door turns in the opposite direction than we're used to. You also have to yank the handle upwards before locking it behind you. And to open it, you generally have to make about 2.5 circles with the key before it unlocks. We got our keys stuck in the outside lock, effectively locking us in our house. This happened twice because, no, we did not learn the first time.
  • Accents. Though we might all still be speaking English, it's certainly not the same ramble us slow drawlin' Texans are used to. The first time I heard "Fit like?", I put on my best frown and had to ask it to be repeated three times. Still having no clue what the hell they were saying, I was finally made to understand they were simply asking "How are you?"..... Well, why didn't you just say so in the first place!?
  • Beer. Ah, the wonderful subject of alcohol. Scots can drink, drank and drunk, that's no secret. And we got our butts whipped a couple times during our first weeks in Aberdeen. The local beer of choice is Tennants, which basically tastes like piss water. (I mean, let's be honest here. It's not like I'm getting paid to promote the stuff.) It's also so much heavier than the Bud Lights we're used to at home, that each beer is equivalent to eating two pancakes. Average 5-6 beers in a night, do the math, and that's a lot of stuffing.
  • Grayness. Aberdeen is often referred to as the Granite City. Which couldn't be more accurate. The whole darn place is made of gray stone. There ain't much sunshine in these parts, and there's plenty of rain, so the majority of our days involved gray buildings, gray skies and gray streets.

But along with all the things we had to become accustomed to, there were even more things that we learned to love about Scotland. We only have to drive for about 10 minutes to be outside the city and in some of the lushest and greenest country scapes you can imagine. And there's always sheep about, which I never get tired of looking at while driving curvy, windy country roads bound for new adventure.

It was a much simpler life we led in Aberdeen. Our pets were being cared for by family in Texas, we had no house to maintain or yard to tend to, and all our friends we made in Aberdeen rarely lived more than 15 minutes away. You walked everywhere - the post office, grocery store, pubs, dinner, nail salons. I even walked to my office, it was so close! Mike played football with the guys from work every Wednesday night, and many of the weekends we stayed in town were spent scarfing down "American food" at the local TGI Friday's or finding a bar with "American beer" like Coors Light. We spent our time at the movies, bowling, walks by the beach, listening to live Irish Music at O'Neills, cooking "family dinners" for our group of American expats, planning European expeditions, throwing the football around in the park across the street or watching it snow outside our window.

We were able to visit nine countries, including Scotland. Our travels took us to Ireland (Dublin), France (Paris), Czech Republic (Prague), England (London), Swizterland (Zurich), Germany (Oberstaufen & Munich), Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice & Milan) and Spain (Malaga).

We celebrated Hogmanay (New Years) in Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh; we rented a cabin on Loch Ness for our anniversary; we went skiing and met new friends in Glenshee; we took a four-day road trip across Scotland and its Western Isles; we toured three distilleries and five castles in Scotland; we showed visiting friends and family around Aberdeen; we learned how to appreciate whisky; we attended the 150th Open Championship Golf at St. Andrews; we went wakeboarding in Loch Lomond; we attended a Scottish wedding and Mike wore a kilt; and we've eaten more fish and chips than I care to admit.

But most of all, we had the time of our lives. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make our year in Scotland so memorable, especially our parents who kept the pets, sorted our mail, sent us numerous care packages, shuttled us to and from the airport and sat up with us on Skype to video chat at all hours. Without you guys, we'd never have done as well as we did.

Our next chapter begins as our plane wheels scuff onto the runway in Texas. We'll shed the kilts, the tiny flat and bagpipe music as we pick up our trucks, our dogs and our guns.

It's time to return to the Lone Star way of life...


  1. Made me CRY!!!! I am so enormously PROUD of you and Mike!! Glad the year is over....but so happy you two were brave enough to leave your normal life and have this great adventure!

  2. What a fun experience! Sounds like you'll carry home many happy memories :)

  3. I am sitting here at 1:30 in the morning and listening and looking at all your memories of the Scotland Adventure! It enhanced not only YOUR lives but ours as well. And all your family enjoyed it through your year there!! I missed you more than you will ever know but I am so grateful you got were able to have 'The Scotland Experience'.....and thanks to you....so did WE!!! Thank YOU!!!


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