My First Midsummer

Dearest Readers,

One of the things I love about being in Scotland is that there are people from so many more countries than I would get to experience back home. One of those countries happens to be Sweden, and if you know anything about Sweden, you’ll know that Midsummer celebrations for the longest day of the year are a big deal.

Or at least, that’s the impression I get, both from two Swedish Scottish Country dancers hosting a Midsummer for friends and from the website dedicated to the festival.

I recommend watching the video from that website, as it includes more than I was a part of, but we did three things in our Midsummer celebration: games, food, and drink.

According to the Swedes, they usually play seven games all in a row, but we only played three: Kubb, a quiz, and Pen in the Bottle.

Kubb is one of my favorite games. I used to play it in middle school when we had game rooms for the morning or afternoon and it was sunny enough to go outside. Basically, you throw sticks at other sticks to knock them over, and the last stick you knock over is the king stick. Here’s more:

(The people in that video are much better than us.) The only difference is that we played that to knock the king over, you have to face away from it and throw the baton between yours legs. I wasn’t very good at that.

Next up: The quiz. They put 8 questions about Sweden onto objects around the park, which we answered in teams of three. They were multiple choice, and for some reason the answers were listed as 1, X, and 2 instead of 1, 2, and 3. The explanation was that that’s just how they did it. Both teams only got two of the 8 right, and so a tie breaker question was the word for crayfish. My team got it, so we won despite knowing unfortunately little about Sweden.

The third game was Pen in the Bottle, and those of us that never experienced it were told nothing about it before we started. Luckily, there’s a video for that, too.

We did not try it tag-team. I managed to win my round, which was made all the funnier by the fact that my opponent started playing Ginuwine’s “My Pony” (the Magic Mike song) on his phone before we began.

We went to the pub for food and drinks after that, and we all agreed that next time we should go to the pub before doing the games so that we’re all sufficiently, traditionally buzzing for the duration of the games.

After the pub, a group went back to the Swedes’ place for continued drinking into the night, but I went home to get some sleep.

And that’s the story of my first ever Midsummer. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to experience it. Maybe one day I’ll make it to Sweden.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

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How Useful is Memrise, Really?

Dearest Readers,

Memrise is an app known for its ability to help people learn languages. Unsurprisingly, Gaidhlig is no exception. So, throughout the last year, I’ve tried it out. Here are some thoughts:

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Pro: You can make your own lists to learn, which makes it really easy to make sure the words in the lessons are useful to you.

Con: That takes a long time to do.

Pro: It’s really portable. One of my classmates used it on the train all the time.

Con: Not as useful when your commutes are all walking since people need to be dodged and roads crossed.

Pro: It will repeat words until you’ve proven you know them multiple times.

Con: This means it takes a long time to get through words, especially since it only does a certain amount of new words at a time.

Pro: It has games you can play.

Con: They got boring very quickly.

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I stopped using Memrise after a couple weeks, but a couple of my classmates used it all year. It’s really good if you need something available on your phone or tablet or laptop for quick, short bursts of study time. The pre-made packs of vocabulary makes learning bits of a new language pretty easy if the study style works for you, and many of the words have audio files.

So Memrise is useful….if that style of studying is your metaphorical cup of tea.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

Becoming Scottish One Day at a Time

Dearest Readers,

One thing I can pinpoint as a goal in my life is to be able to flow seamlessly between America and Scotland, to blend within both societies as if I grew up wandering between them.

You know, without the Scottish accent (although I wouldn’t mind….).

Anyway, basically, I want to live in Scotland long enough, including work, relationships, and hobbies, that I become Scottish. Well, Scottish-American.

This is a bit of a silly goal, but given that I’m studying Celtic and learning Scottish Gaelic, it isn’t too much a surprise.

Because of this, I’ve wondered what exactly it takes to make me Scottish. It can’t be the accent. Maybe it’s becoming aware of all the regional stereotypes. Or embracing Scotland VS England. Or learning enough slang. Or seeing enough places.

Or just…being here long enough, and slowly accumulating all of the above and more.

I think the last option is most likely, and so I’ve come up with a system. It’s not scientific. It’s rather silly. It’s not in any way meant to be taken seriously. Although it does sort of match up with the visa regulations.

Anyway, my theory is that every year you spend in Scotland, you become 10% more Scottish. And if you marry someone Scottish, you get a 50% kick to your Scottishness. But every year you aren’t in Scotland, you lose 5% of your Scottishness.

How does this fit visa stuff?

Well, after ten straight years of being in Scotland on any visa (or what I’ve concluded to be any visa based on what I’ve read….), you have the ability to apply for dual citizenship, which the UK allows. (The other country might have problems with this, though). Depending on the visa with which you’re in the UK, it’s less time, in which case the percentages don’t quite fit, but that’s okay.

And if you marry someone Scottish (or generally from the UK), you can apply for dual citizenship after three to five years.

So my percentages roughly fit the length of time it would take to be able to apply for dual citizenship and literally become Scottish. www.gov.uk has more information, because this obviously doesn’t include everything and is a general idea.

Plus, I just figure after 10 years of living in a place, dual citizenship or no, you’re pretty set to blend in as if you’ve been there most of your life.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

PS-I don’t mean this to be an actual formula or something taken completely seriously. It’s just something I think about for fun, and so that when my program is over, I can jokingly claim to be 10% Scottish.

I’m also not any sort of expert in visa laws and dual nationality. Although I’m sure you’ve guessed that.