I dress like a Glaswegian.
I’ve been dressing like a Glaswegian long before I came to Glasgow.
I unintentionally chose to study abroad in a place where I completely blend into the local style.
If I ever thought I stood out for the way I looked or dressed, I definitely don’t here.
Tights and Leggings? Everywhere.
Shorts over tights or leggings? Normal.
Dresses or skirts over tights or leggings? All the rage.
One pair of boots worn daily? In.
Fun hairstyles? Universally loved.
Flap-eared hats? At least one on every block.
I blend into the crowd.
I don’t mind the feeling.
I feel like I’m part of the group when secretly,
I’m an outsider.
Today I made the trek to the huge 11-story university library. I had no idea where anything was. I wandered around the third floor for a good ten minutes thinking it was the second floor. No wonder I couldn’t find the section I was looking for. But, no embarrassment. I played it casual. I blended in.
Later I found my way to the top floor, floor 11, the Fine Arts floor. I found my book, “Adolphe Appia” phew! and brought it back down to level 2 for checkout.
I couldn’t work the check out machine.
I tried 3 times.
I played it cool.
I went all the way back up to floor 11 and returned my book.
And chose another.
Because it would have been completely stupid to leave the library without a book.
So I went all the way back down to level 2 to try again. New book. New me.
I exit the library.
No one knows.
I blend in.
I like this feeling of blending into the crowd.
I feel like I belong. No one has to know that I’m different.
An American in Glasgow.
If I don’t say anything, if I don’t open my mouth, no one would suspect it.
No one suspects that I get confused at crosswalks. That ordering a drink at a pub is still so strange. That I’m scared to wander too far from home because I won’t have a smart phone to help me find the directions. That I’m new here. That I’m not one of them. No one knows if I don’t open my mouth
But, then again, I suppose that’s not the best way to make friends.
I’ve been quiet the past few days.
Partially because I have a nasty cold.
My voice isn’t full. I don’t want to sneeze on someone I’ve just met. I don’t want my rasp and my coughs to be other’s first impression of me. I want to boldly be me. To smile and introduce myself without teary eyes and a bright red nose. Without wiping my face with my sleeve – gross.
But this quiet. It’s not so bad. Because I don’t feel lonely. I fit in! What sets me apart is my voice.
My American voice.
My voice will return. Slowly. My cough is less painful than yesterday. Tomorrow will be better than today. I will regain my voice and as I regain my voice I will begin to speak. Slowly. This fitting in is a wonderful thing, but it’s a little white lie.
Because the truth is I’m new here.
An American in Glasgow.
You can’t tell in the way I dress.
But you can tell when I talk. And when I’m shy to order a drink in a pub. And when I almost get run over when I look look the wrong way before crossing the street (I’m learning). And when I’m okay with being an outsider.
Who still weirdly fits in.
I’ll regain my voice.
Pretty soon I’ll be singing in the streets.