I’ve been asked several times in the past couple weeks, mostly by hopelessly lost tourists looking for directions, whether I live here. And I’m never really sure how to answer. I mean, I do live here, at least temporarily, although I’m not from here. I’m not Scottish, I didn’t grow up in Edinburgh, and I still sometimes have trouble understanding that (sexy) Scottish brogue. But in terms of giving directions, I know the city well enough now that I can usually help them out, at least a little bit.
This always gets me thinking. When people talk about study abroad, they almost always touch on “immersing yourself” in the culture (at least they do at a liberal arts haven like Pomona). And ever since I got here, I’ve worried about whether I’m “immersing” myself, however much you truly can in another English-speaking country. I may have not adopted a Scottish accent (yet) or met the Scottish love of my life, but when tourists mistake me for a local, I realize that I am no longer just a sightseer. I’ve reached that (slightly awkward) balance somewhere between local and tourist. I know my way around, I no longer have a desperate need to see all the sights, and I can get away with hiding my American-ness, at least until I open my mouth. I’ll never be able to call myself Scottish, but that doesn’t mean Edinburgh doesn’t feel like a home.