Some people have their first encounter with bagpipes, kilts and highland dancers at Alma College. For me, this is not the case. While being Scottish is not a requirement to become part of “the bubble,” it is a requirement that I could fulfill if needed. Scottish blood runs through my veins, as my mother is a “pure-bred” Scot! Also, on my father’s side, my grandmother is of English-Scottish descent, making me around 75% Scottish.
My Scottish ties are extremely important to me, and this connection contributed to why I chose (and like!) Alma. I have been fortunate enough to travel to Scotland not once, but twice! The first time I was only 2 years old, so I do not remember much. During the second trip, however, I was 14. In addition to visiting relatives, we traveled the country extensively: up into the Highlands to spend the night in an old castle in the Kyle of Sutherland, in search of Nessie as we traveled up and down Loch Ness, and down to Edinburgh to visit the castle, which is like a small town in itself. We also visited Greyfriars Cemetery, which has a very amazing story behind it. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Because I still have family living in Scotland, I hope to take another trip there in the near future. If funds permit, I would love to study abroad in Aberdeen as an Alma student, visit my family and learn even more about the culture!
In the meantime, I continue to celebrate my culture at home. I don’t highland dance or play bagpipes, but there are other ways to stay connected to my Scottish ties. Earlier this year, my family rang in the Scottish New Year at 7 p.m. our time, midnight in Scotland. We joined hands, sang Auld Lang Syne, and shouted “Happy Hogmanay!”
This past weekend, I returned home for the annual Robert Burns Supper. This has been a tradition in my family for many years, but one that I only became involved with four years ago. It is a night of dancing, listening to pipes and drums, watching highland dancers, and if you’re brave enough… trying haggis, which is a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with oats, minced onion, suet and lots of spices. (For the record, I think it tastes pretty good!)
The Burns Supper is an event that I look forward to year round, but this year’s dinner was extra special, as it happened to be the 100th anniversary of the Detroit Burns Club. Also, it was the first year that my four wonderful baby cousins were in attendance, each one of them wearing a kilt!
After reflecting on my cultural ties, I can’t help but wonder: How many people who go to Alma are actually Scottish? If you aren’t, what made you want to fill your college experience with bagpipes and kilts?