GUIDE TO BEING A SCOTTISH LONDONER

10 essential things for all Scottish students/graduates to consider when making the transition from being a Scot to a “Scottish Londoner”.

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Research has shown that fewer than 5% of Scots are applying to universities in England. This is primarily due to the increase in tuition fees, which in turn has created a cultural segregation between the two nations.

Nonetheless, Scottish universities are making it much harder for Scots to secure a place as a student. Scotland is increasingly relying on tuition fees from elsewhere, meaning that Scottish folk now face a lack of opportunity within their home country. The likelihood of Scots receiving an offer has decreased by 7%, according to the World University Rankings.

Universities in West London, such as Richmond, The American International University, offer a 10% fee-reduction Scholarship for postgraduate applicants who hold an undergraduate degree of at least 2:1. This is offered to everyone, unlike in Scotland where it is for alumni students only, thereby encouraging London to be a more easily accessible and sought after place for Scots to study than is perhaps made out.

A recent survey implies that, despite this discouragement, London is a notably popular destination for many Scottish graduates to begin their career in. The general consensus of respondents was that London presented more networking and career opportunities with international individuals than in Scotland, on both a work and social basis. This means that, as a university destination, London should not be ruled out entirely like it has been in recent years.

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One male respondent, a young-professional and former “Scottish Londoner”, commented:

“I thoroughly enjoyed starting my career as a Scottish graduate within a competitive environment, as it gave me the chance to meet colleagues from all over the world, due to the cosmopolitan nature of the city. Without this invaluably positive experience in London, I would not have obtained the knowledge nor the confidence to be where I am in my career at present.”

Interviews with various Scots, who have previously lived or who are currently living in London, disclosed personal experiences of what it is like to be a Scot in London. Based on these insights, I have compiled the 10 essential things for all Scottish students/graduates to consider when making the transition from being a Scot to a “Scottish Londoner”.

1. THREE WORDS: DO. YOUR. RESEARCH. (AND THEN DO SOME MORE):

  • Ensure that London is somewhere you can envisage yourself living. You need to be prepared for how fast-paced the city is and what comes with being in a huge metropolis.
  • Whether it be for work or study, it is best to research the type of institution AND the locations surrounding it. Speak to individuals who have experience in London and get their advice, as this will go a long way.
  • It is advised that you visit a few boroughs and find one that is best suited to the type of person you are, before you decide to live there. Get a feel for the different neighbourhoods initially and then pursue the search to find your new home.

2. ESTABLISH YOUR LONDON TRIBE, PRONTO: a reliable group of friends in “The Big Smoke” is essential to your overall wellbeing; an emotional support system is going to be important in times when London feels like a lonely place. Even though Scotland is not considered far away, it is imperative that you are proactive in becoming part of the community in which you live – especially important in London, where people are often referred to as fundamentally ‘unfriendly’ and ‘grumpy’. Charming, I know.

3. AS A SCOT, YOU WILL FIT INTO THE STEREOTYPE OF LOVING WHISKY, IRN-BRU AND HAGGIS: rumour has it, most Scots couldn’t think of anything worse than consuming alcohol similar to petrol, drinking fluid that looks and tastes radioactive, and cooking up sheep’s organs, heated in a bag, made from a bleak artificial casing. For many South of the Border, this is hard news to digest (pardon the pun), and it’s almost somewhat disappointing, right?

4. FIND A HOBBY OR INTEREST WHERE YOU WILL THIRVE: luckily London has endless activities and opportunities – left, right and centre – so be sure to involve yourself in something that you enjoy. A daunting prospect at first, this is something that many individuals tend to delay. However, consciously skip that process of waiting for what you think is the “right” moment, be proactive and just do it.

5. BEWARE OF THE NEGATIVE PERCEPTION THAT ALL SCOTS ARE ANGRY: people will often assume that one of your distinctive personal attributes is anger, and that living in Scotland can be a treacherous place. This is especially the case if you say you lived in Glasgow, “wait, you AREN’T scared of being stabbed in the city???” Bizarrely enough, no I’m not, and London is probably just as bad if not worse!

6. A LOVE OF LONDON’S PUB CULTURE IS A MUST: go on, this is your chance to sample some of London’s most popular alcoholic (and non-alcoholic, of course) beverages. Yes have fun, make memories and be merry, but use this newfound love wisely, as way of networking within some of the best beer gardens you will ever find. You never know whom you might meet in this cosmopolitan bubble. Need I say more?

7. TAKE THE TIME TO ESCAPE THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE: avoid the noise, pollution and the overly crowded rush hours (sigh), in parks such as Richmond Park – may seem like a bit of a mammoth journey in the short-term – but trust me, cleanse your mind, body and soul with a long walk or cycle in one of these beautiful (and somewhat secluded) destinations and feel all the more better for it.

8. BE OPEN TO THE FACT YOU MIGHT NOT ACTUALLY MEET MANY ENGLISH PEOPLE: Despite being in England, London is an incredibly integrated place. It is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world and there are people from all walks of life, genders, sexualities, ethnicities and nationalities, who are living together in a “melting pot”. The opportunity to meet an eclectic mix of individuals is vast, and London can guarantee that you meet some of the most interesting and incredible people in an environment of this nature.

9. THE COMMUTING SUCKS, IT ALWAYS HAS AND IT ALWAYS WILL: everywhere in London seems ridiculously far away, no matter where you are or where you’re going. You think Scotland is bad? Well, think again. Important note to all Scots: a recent study revealed that London was voted the ninth worst commute in the world! Not only will it cost you a pretty penny, there is a minimum of 40 minutes commuting time, regardless of your final destination. As you can imagine, this is not a particularly easy integration for said students/graduates, however it is something that you learn to adjust to in London (eventually…).

10. YOU WON’T KNOW EVERY THIRD PERSON ON DATING APPS (VERY IMPORTANT): it’s fair to say that in Scotland, dating apps can be, well, borderline tragic to say the very least. London dating, in comparison, will blow your mind! The pool of individuals is much larger and there is quite literally, plenty more fish in the sea; the swiping is endless and you could browse for your perfect match for hours without recognising a single person. In essence, you’re not going to awkwardly feel forced into going on a date with your best-friend’s friend’s younger brother and feel totally weird about it.

Lara Davidson was born in London but raised in bonny Scotland and has spent the majority of her youth in Glasgow and Edinburgh. After graduating with an MA Hons Psychology degree in her home country at The University of Edinburgh, she decided to flee the nest and pursue a life South of the Border. Lara moved to London in 2017 and is currently enrolled in the Advertising & Public Relations Master’s degree at Richmond, The American International University. Having experienced university and working life in both nations, Lara decided to embark on a professional research journey in order to determine what it is like being a “Scottish Londoner”. The following article is part of said dissertation.

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