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Time ticks differently in the United Kingdom

Michael Matsey '06


I discovered today that the Scots enjoy taking time off. When I awoke this Sunday morning, I found that all the shops in Edinburgh were closed and would not open until lunchtime. It was a little frustrating, considering I still had some shopping to do, but I had to remind myself that Europe beats to a different drum. It is not surprising then to find shops open late in the morning, take an afternoon tea break for an hour, and close at supper time. On this particular day, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed since I studied abroad in London a year ago. Europeans have a different perception of time. Before you think I’ve gone into some clichéd science fiction story, I should give you an example. If I were to meet a fellow European, they would be quite frustrated if I was late, much more so than anyplace in the US. Once I would meet my European friend, however, there would be no need to rush. Meals take hours, a night out with friends could end much later than previously hoped. All this, I believe, is personified by the lack of clocks in the UK. In all the places we have been, there have been few time devices.

Impatience is a rare occurrence here, at least for natives. I could easily tell the tourists as they rush everywhere, trying to capture every sight and sound. If one were to just take a moment, let those sights and sounds rush over your soul, then you’d be able to experience it like a native. Taking time to enjoy life seems to be a very European thing. I have missed this focus on time. In the US, there are to many things to do that we cannot stop and enjoy what we are doing. Here, they seem to enjoy life and live it to the fullest.

After this brief morning interlude, we sang at St. James and St. Andrews Church during their Sunday church service. It was great singing for a congregation, especially one with such a vibrant history as the Presbyterian church. We proceeded to travel towards Glasgow, our last stop on our tour, and made a few pit stops along the way. One included Stirling Castle, the site of a memorial to Robert the Bruce. From there we could look across the valley to the memorial to William Wallace, the legend of Scottish history and Mel Gibson fandom. My favorite thing we did today was our other pit stop. We drove through the Trossachs, an area of Scotland composed of many hills and lakes, stopping at a few stops along the way for photo taking. These brilliant views reminded me so much of my trips to Switzerland, but seemed quieter and more serene. I love hills with lakes, mystic vistas that touch the soul. When I’m gone, I expect that a part of my heart will still be in the highlands…