Monday, February 18, 2013

The Full Experience

Before, if someone had asked me the differences between the United Kingdom, England, and Great Britain, I would have stared blankly at them or given a stupid answer like, aren't they the same? But I'm wise now.

England = England
Great Britain = England and Scotland
United Kingdom = England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland

It all makes sense when you look at the flags. Scotland + Northern Ireland + England = the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom

I've seen a large chunk of England in the past month, but hardly any of Scotland or Ireland. Tonight, this changed as I finally experienced the culture of the UK (England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland combined) at a dance, a Scottish country dance in the gym of a British church with dancers from all across the UKthe full experience. And a colorful experience it was with plaid kilts and colored ribbons. 

Upon arriving, our two friends, Ean and Eanthe origin of the name Ean is Scottish, of coursemet us quick at the door, claiming their partners before any other man could snag us. There was at least a 40 year age-gap between us students and almost every other dancer, so it's fair to say that we didn't have trouble finding dance partners.

Though detailed instructions were given at the beginning of each routine, all I heard was "step forward, blah blah blah, spin out, blah blah blah, face up, blah blah blaaaaaaah.Fortunately  my partners were kind enough to point me in the right direction when it was my turn to move, however, they weren't much help when it came to the footworkthe whole night I clomped around with big elephant feet, trotting awkwardly in bad rhythm. And  yet, I couldn't stop smiling like a silly fool all night as I twirled and galloped around because the moment was just too sweet to handle. 

Surrounded by the British, dancing to the bagpipes of the Scottish and the Irish, I found myself once again caught up in the fact that I AM in EnglandI'm AM in the UK.

And I can't wait to see more of it, to travel to the crags of Scotland and the green planes of Ireland. But according to a Scottish local, I have some work to do before our Edinburgh trip: I need to temporarily unlearn my American accent so I can properly learn how to say Edinburgh. "It's Edinber'ah'," Bonnie said with a heavy tone and serious eye contact, "not Eden-berG or Edinbor'oh as you Americans say."