The 30 November is St Andrew’s Day, a celebration of Scotland’s patron saint. We’re not really a religious bunch in Scotland, but we do like any excuse for a party. St Andrew’s Day might not be in the same league as Hogmannay (or even Burns Night if we’re honest with ourselves), but we do love a ceilidh and a dram or two nonetheless.
2017 has been my first year living away from Scotland. This day that I’d always taken for granted, like many things about living in Scotland, has come to be significant for me.
Dress: Jack Wills (old); Faux fur coat: Forever 21 (similar here); Boots: Primark
I miss Scotland every day. The people, the landscape, the fresh air… everything about Scotland is wonderful. Well, maybe not battered Mars Bars but we won’t talk about them.
Moving to London was always a dream for me – after all, if you’re an ambitious young person it’s the place to be, right? I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to experience London living, but in all honestly I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. The grass isn’t always greener, right?
Now I’m in Manchester, I feel like I’m a bit closer to home. ‘Northerners’ (note English people: Manchester isn’t in the north!! Not even nearly!!) have a lot in common with us Scots with their friendly demeanour and resilience in all weather. I am really enjoying living here and exploring all this city has to bring.
But it’s still not the same, is it? I miss walking down Princes Street and seeing Edinburgh Castle. I miss the Scottish accents. I miss my family.
I’m definitely homesick, and it’s hard. I find it so frustrating that there are no jobs in my industry at home. It feels so unfair and it makes me angry, but I don’t have much choice. Why should pursuing my dreams come at the cost of never seeing the people I love?
When I was younger I was never especially proud of my Scottish heritage. In fact, if anything I found it a bit embarrassing. I told my family I’d never want bagpipes at my wedding, and the groom wouldn’t be wearing a kilt if I had my way.
These days I’m very aware of my Scottish identity and I couldn’t be more proud. Whereas before I saw it as a burden, now I see it as a benefit that I have a regional accent. And once when I would have done anything to live the high life in London, now I can’t wait to return home to the small town I grew up in for Christmas.
The older I get, the more I’m realising the real priorities in life. I will always be ambitious and career driven, but my home and my heritage are also important to me.
One day I hope to live in Scotland again. But in the meantime, I’m trying to take every new city as an adventure, and an opportunity to shape who I am as a person.
To all my fellow Scots away from home: have a lovely St. Andrew’s Day, and a wonderful Hogmanay. Sláinte!