10 Things People Ask Me About America

Dear Friends,

It’s inevitable that I would get asked questions about my homeland, especially since some cultural aspects are transmitted around the world and the creative outputs go pretty viral. Portrayals of American culture are everywhere.

So what have people actually asked me? I’ve included 10 questions I’ve gotten.

(And surprisingly, none of them relate to politics).

1-Red solo cups. Real or not real? (Real. They also come in other colors.)

2 -Are cliques common? Do you actually have the jocks, the mean girls, etc? (Depends where you went and what your class was like.)

3-Why do you say the Pledge of Allegiance in school every day? (Good question. Pretty sure it started with the Cold War.)

4-Isn’t it a little creepy to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school every day? (Yeah, probably…..)

5-So what’s it like living in America? (You’re going to have to be more specific.)

6-What’s up with American gun culture? (It’s complicated.)

7-Why do you have the flag everywhere? Do you forget you’re American and in America? (No, we don’t forget. Many of us are just really…passionate.)

8-Don’t you get annoyed having a roommate all through uni? (Not really. We expect it, and it can be really fun, or lead to some funny roommate horror stories, at least.)

9-How big is American football, exactly? (Very big. Very, very big.)

10-Do you really have cheese you can squeeze out of a can? (Yes. Yes, we do.)

So many of these questions are small things, but they intrigue some of our friends across the great big pond, just like we Americans wonder about things like what it means to be considered Primary 6 (that’s fifth grade, btw).

Have you ever traveled outside the US and gotten an interesting question or two? What were they?

Your Bonnie Celtophile,



Holiday Cards From Glasgow!

Dearest Readers,

I went shopping the other day for groceries, necessities, and of course, Holiday cards! It’ll be my first time sending them on a massive basis, and I’m super excited.

So excited I bought 40 cards in three packs so I would have enough different ones that nobody that would cross paths would get the same ones. Yay for planning!

That means, however, that I’m going to have Christmas/Holiday cards left.

So I thought I would send them to some readers, because you guys are awesome, and I want to jump into the spirit of Thanksgiving and say THANK YOU for reading, interacting, and encouraging me along my journey so far.

And it’s easy to get one! Just email bonnieceltophile@gmail.com with the subject line “Happy Holidays” and a funny joke or a cute picture.

Okay, I’m joking about the funny joke and the cute picture. I actually need your address, or at least recognition that you’ll send me your address when I email you back saying you’ll get one.

You’re welcome to send the joke or picture, though. I won’t mind.

Right now, I plan on sending a card to the first five people that email me. It’s not that it’s a contest or anything, just that I’m only sure I’ll have that many left, and there needs to be a limit, just in case.

But if you’ve been commenting or emailing or otherwise following the blog for a while, tell me your story in your email and there’s a pretty good chance I’ll send you one even if you’re not in the first five, especially if you’ve commented or emailed.

Because I know who you are (sort of), and I appreciate every word you’ve said typed.

Summary: email me that you want a Christmas/Holiday card (with or without your address included. I have no preference, so it’s totally up to you) and include how you know this blog. I’ll email back the first five people letting them know they get one (as long as I do get their addresses at some point) and might even send to more than five.

Also please let me know if you don’t celebrate Christmas! I have some that are full of a general holiday spirit, so I can send one of them.

Email (again): bonnieceltophile@gmail.com

Your Grateful Bonnie Celtophile,


6 Unexpected Things Scotland Makes Me Do

Dearest Reader,

Going to a new place always leads to some changes in habits, and my stint in Scotland–currently at about two and a half months–is no different. I’ve been keeping track of some things that I’ve noticed have changed, and although some aren’t surprising, others are…unexpected.

1-Look both ways when crossing the street. At least three times. Sometimes five.

It’s no secret that the US and the UK drive on opposite sides of the road. I figured after a while I’ll get used to looking right-left-right instead of left-right-left to check if it’s clear to cross.

I was wrong.

It’s more like left-oops I mean right-right-left-right-left-left again-right again for good measure-am I sure?-right-left-right.

This mostly comes from automatically looking left, then realizing I need to look right, and then overcompensating. Even on empty streets, I’ll look more than necessary. I also had a habit of waiting until there was a clear twenty seconds or so during which I could cross the street, giving me a good buffer to not get hit by a car, but I’m getting better as recognizing that cars here don’t move any faster than ones in the US.

They might actually move slower….

2-Use the phrase “American football” pretty naturally.

American football is a lovely American pastime but as an American I need to remember it’s American football because I’m not in America.

If reading that sentence made you a bit uncomfortable and you’re an American, that’s how I felt for the first month or so I was here. There’s almost something redundant about an American saying “American football.” However, the more I hear “football” and “American football” used, the less weird it seems, and I use it 90% of the time without any feeling of awkwardness now. In fact, the only time I’ve used the word “soccer” in the last two months was when people checked with me that it’s still used in the States.

Now it’ll just be awkward if I go back to the States and say “American football” as if that’s a thing in the American lexicon….

3-Wonder why America doesn’t have biscuits.

They’re their own special brand of snack partway between a cookie and a cracker. They’re filling, and you can get them covered in chocolate and with a layer of caramel on them, and you can get a whole pack of yummy deliciousness for 1-2 GBP, depending on the brand and the size.

I entered this country with a firm belief that there are cookies and there are crackers and the UK biscuit must belong in one of those categories.

I was wrong. (If you’ve been paying close attention, that’s twice now).

If you called biscuits cookies and handed them to an American, there would be chaos, like hiding oatmeal raisin in with the chocolate chip. At the same time, if you called them crackers, Americans might try to put cheese on them and be disappointed, thereby rebelling against the entire idea of a UK cracker.

Much better to just accept “biscuit” and be glad.

4-Refer to other Americans as Crazy Americans.

After spending a while outside of America, there is definitely a feeling of vague annoyance/acceptance/exasperation when the Americans that are clearly tourists and a bit clueless appear, and it’s not even peak tourist season.

The same sort of feeling accompanies tourists of other nationality, but as an American, I feel I have more of a right to look at my fellow Americans, shake my head, smile, and say, “Oh, those Crazy Americans.”

Because I’ve been them, and although I now am not them in this country, I would be them if you put me somewhere else, as much as I wish I wouldn’t be, and I am still the loud American in some situations.

Have you ever noticed that Americans often naturally speak louder than people from many other countries on average?

I have.

5-Randomly practice my dance steps.

This would have happened if I’d started taking Scottish Country Dance (SCD) in the States, but I think it’s worse because there are so many young, passionate people in the SCD club here, and because I have a routine to learn.

In the kitchen, walking down the street, in class, at my desk, in the library…anywhere I am, basically, I’ll mentally or physically find myself walking through steps. Or watching videos of them.

As far as habits go, it’s not such a bad one.

6-Eat carrots like Bugs Bunny.20161120_180753

This is the most unexpected one. I saw a girl biting into a carrot one day, a whole one, and I remember thinking, “That’s so sad.” I don’t know why. It just sort of looked like “oh, she only has a carrot to eat.”

But then I realized that she is a genius. I’m sure there are people in the States that just get whole carrots and chomp away, but I’ve never seen them. Baby carrots are more common, or cut up ones, or at least ones that are peeled and cut to strips.

We’re missing out on unexpected satisfaction, guys.

Seriously. Go chomp on a carrot, close your eyes, and feel the bliss.

(Okay, I might be exaggerating, but carrots have honestly never tasted so good. Bonus: they’re both filling and cheap, so perfect for anyone on a budget!)

So what are some unexpected habits you picked up when you went away from home for a while? Everywhere has its own quirks, and with the US there are so many cultures that can lead to new habits just a state or a few hours’ drive away.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,