Hi everyone! My name is Lauren and I am in my first year of the GEP program at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. I am originally from California and moved to Edinburgh in the beginning of August this year. Moving to Scotland has been such an exciting adventure for me, as living abroad was a lifelong dream of mine. That being said it has also come with its challenges. Living in a new country while simultaneously starting an advanced degree such as Veterinary Medicine left me with a thousand questions. Things that were trivial to me back in the States became learning experiences outside of the classroom. Which side of the sidewalk do I walk on? How do I turn on the heater? Where do I get my mail? Why did the bus I needed drive right by me? It was a LOT of trial and error to be sure, but from all of that I have learned so much. One of the biggest obstacles I have faced is learning how to navigate cooking for myself in a new place with different ingredient availability. I thought I would share some of my knowledge with you in hopes that it may make the transition into your vet life a little less stressful!
I go grocery shopping about once a week. The first time I went it probably took about two hours to gather all of the things I needed as I tried to navigate aisles and pinpoint the location of seemingly elusive products. It didn’t help that some of the things I was looking for actually didn’t exist! Craving any form of processed cheese like Cheez-Its, Goldfish, mac and cheese etc? Abandon all hope ye who enter here, as those beloved snacks did not make the journey across the pond. Thinking of baking? Beware, for all is not as it seems! If you are looking for the sugar equivalent to the bright pink C&H cane sugar in America, go for CASTER sugar. The sugar labeled granulated sugar here is not as fine and is more like the sugar you would put in coffee back home. In California I never understood the difference between light and dark brown sugar. They tasted the same to me! Here, they most definitely do not. Dark brown sugar has a more molasses flavor and is used for fruit cakes while light brown sugar is used for cookies and other confections. Finally, the food I miss the most from California and that I have struggled to replicate is Mexican food. The UK is wonderful for many things, but Mexican spices and staples elude them.
The flip side of this, of course, is that Scotland has its own trove of unique snacks and foods that you can’t get back in the United States. Anything relating to dairy is on another level here. Chocolate? Phenomenal. Cheese? Flavorful, fresh and not orange. Ice cream? Rich and lovely. Prawn chips? Not as strange as they sound! Some of my favorite foods from here include, Cadbury anything, Mackies Honeycomb Milk Chocolate, fresh meat pies from the local farmers market, and millionaire shortbread. Eggs also don’t have to be refrigerated here and they have a longer shelf life than eggs in the States, which I quite enjoy. Food in general here tends to feel more fresh and less processed. On top of that, Edinburgh itself is full of amazing restaurants that cover a wide range of cuisines. Coming from a small town where our only option for Chinese food was Panda Express, I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to explore food in that way.
All comparison aside, this whole learning process has actually been one of my favorite parts of living abroad. I cannot wait to bring loads of UK chocolate and snacks home for my family to try for Christmas and return to Scotland with American snacks for my UK friends to try! The reality of the matter is that for every food you may miss from home, there is a new one for you to try and enjoy. Embrace the differences, have fun exploring, and force yourself to try things that you might not normally try. And in times when you simply cannot go without your Kraft Mac and Cheese, you can always send a letter home requesting a care package with a few boxes 😉