Scottish lectures and seminars are extraordinarily similar to their counterparts in the United States: students sit in silence with their noses buried in their phones until the exact moment the clock strikes the hour and the lecture begins; the same kids raise their hands and bicker with one another every class; and there’s always that one dude who furiously pounds on his keyboard while taking notes like he’s Jack Torrance in “The Shining.” That being said, lectures in Aberdeen will always have one element that those in the U.S. simply don’t: the Scottish Element.
The Scottish Element is an element that makes everything funnier and seemingly less serious. A Scottish judge could be giving me a life sentence and I might still giggle. However, it seems to be only foreigners who are prone to the Scottish Element. It’s all the Scots have ever known and thus only an episode of Still Game (as much of a Netflix must-watch as the “Scottish Banter” page on Facebook is a must-like) will get them to snicker at themselves.
If every teacher in the U.S. were Scottish, test scores would skyrocket. A Scottish lecturer gives you no choice but to pay attention, simply out of fear that you might miss a hilarious one-liner or even more so because you have to absorb every bit of every word just to understand what he’s getting at. So far this semester, my “Politics and Policy in Scotland” teacher has used the analogy “the ketchup on top of yer fish n’ chips” in place of “the cherry on top,” equated losing an election because of a cheap or unpreventable reason to losing a football match on a 30-yard bicycle kick, and proposed a political theory that started with, “A few years back I was drinkin’ with my buddy down in Glasgow, a real class bloke, and he came up with the idea of…”
Then there was the first day of class, when we had, nay, GOT to do every student’s favorite first-day exercise: going around the room and, with the utmost enthusiasm, saying our name, where we’re from and a fun fact about ourselves. Pretty much every place people were from got a “Oh…nice…so you’re a *insert town name here* fan then?” out of the teacher. But then when they’d say, “Eh, not really, I don’t much care for football,” a part of his soul would visibly leave his body as he mustered a feeble “Aye alright then.” And if they did name a team, it usually turned into a roast of the team’s manager and a few jabs at their standing in the league table.
Not to be outdone, the Scottish students’ PowerPoint presentations in class always throw me for a loop. After every presentation, the teacher asks, “Any thoughts? Questions?” Um, yeah, can I get a transcript? That was like reading a Dr. Seuss novel at the age of 5: He definitely made up some words and all I understood was the pictures.
Well, a Scottish lecture beckons, and so does a pint of learning! And by learning I mean a dram or two of Bell’s Blended Scotch Whiskey, after an hour of laughing and deciphering. Until next time, Black Bears.