“Winter in Scotland”. Many people think this means, rain, darkness and counting down the days until the spring. There is so much more to our winters than this, so we asked a few of our Saltire Scholars to tell you more about what winter is really like in Scotland (and why they have been looking forward to it).
Boyan Xin came from China to study Advanced Computing at the University of the West of Scotland. Joy Kelly came to Scotland from the USA with her kids to study Games Development at Abertay University and Saliha Hanif came from Pakistan to the University of Dundee to study International Marketing and Branding. Finally, Nigel Knutzen, also from the USA, is working on a Masters of Research in Anthropology looking at Art and Perception at the University of St Andrews. All studying for their masters’ degrees, they spoke us how they are planning to wrap up the end of their first term in Scotland.
What do you think about when you think of Scotland in winter?
Boyan: Weather wise, I think it's great. It can be a bit cold but not at all unbearably so. There is a lot of good food for me, I’ve tried a lot of food that I hadn't seen before and luckily it was all really good stuff and I'll keep trying!
Saliha: Winter in Scotland is incomplete without seeing the wild animals at Dumfries and Galloway. We are hoping to be able to spot red deer at the snow-dusted hillsides. You can also look for the sea eagles during your visit to the Isle of Mull. Rich in carbs, superb traditional Scottish food is made for cold weather. Some of the country’s sweet cranachan (a dessert made with oats, raspberries, cream, and whisky), and buttery shortbread biscuits are fantastic winter snacks. You never want to miss the annual Burns Night celebrations on January 25 either, it’s a night filled with haggis, whisky, poetry, and dancing.
Joy: I would like to take a train ride for leisure this winter though once it snows because the views are amazing. I do appreciate some of the local food, a chilli cheese and mince pie is quite good.
Nigel: I was previously living in Colorado at the base of the Rocky Mountains where we’d get a lot of snow and it was far colder. In comparison I’ve found the winter weather in Scotland to be quite mild which is wonderful as I’ve been able to get out and about more. I recently started work as the new Production Coordinator for BID St Andrews. As a result, I got to help organise and take part in ‘The Big Hoolie’ celebration for St Andrew’s Day. It was a lot of fun and included a community market, music, a ceilidh dance, torch parade and ended with a beautiful fireworks display. Participating really made me feel like part of the community and getting to be one of the torchbearers in the parade is certain to be a cherished memory from my time here in Scotland.
What are you most looking forward to in Scotland this winter?
Boyan: I’m most looking forward to Christmas. When it comes I want to go to the city and feel festive with all the people around and celebrating. I’m also hoping for a bit of snow, it will make Christmas feel even more festive!
Saliha: I can’t wait to go for an Ice Climbing session at Ice Factor. It’s a climbing centre in Glencoe (about two and a half hours away from Glasgow) and it has a 40ft tall ice wall that you can learn to climb. Once we master the core techniques here, we can take ourselves to the West Highlands and try out our newly acquired skills.
Joy: I would like to see snow soon, though perhaps not too much of it!
Nigel: I’ve been really busy with class assignments and work so I am excited for the winter break when I can explore more of Scotland. My first stop will be the Edinburgh Christmas Market!
There really is plenty to see and enjoy in Scotland during winter, whether you are a student on a budget, have a family to entertain, or work colleagues to impress. Find out more about what Scotland has to offer at winter at Visit Scotland.