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Scotland vs Mexico: 12 Differences After An Incredible Time in Mexico

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Coming from Scotland and moving to Mexico for an exchange is an unusual change and they are completely different countries separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Mexico are different in so many ways and here are 12 things I’ve noticed in how different the countries are.

1. Size

Scotland is a country which is probably the same size as some Mexican states and the population of Mexico City is almost twice that of Scotland’s. Mexico City is a concrete jungle while Stirling is a small town 5 minutes away from nature and even Glasgow is a small city despite being the biggest in Scotland.

2. Different Food

While the main comfort food in Scotland is a chippy, in Mexican it is tacos and tortas. Mexico doesn’t have Nando’s or Five Guys while it does have a lot of chains that I’ve been able to try such as Little Caesar’s and Chilli’s. Furthermore, chocolate isn’t as good as there is no Cadbury’s which couldn’t be sold in Mexico as it would melt from the heat.

3. The Climates

Scotland is a cold country which is known to have a lot of rain and during the summer there are occasional hot days which make the nights unbearable as our houses do not have air conditioning. Mexico has varying climates, while the south tends to be much hotter, Mexico City in winter is much more cool and it can be cold during the night.

4. Popularity of NFL

Something that I did not expect in Mexico is that the Super Bowl is a hugely popular event that almost everyone watches. In Scotland, NFL is much more niche and most people don’t care about watching the Super Bowl final as it’s on at 2 in the morning. However, as it’s on at 5PM in Mexico I watched it with my friends in a packed Chilli’s which had a jumping atmosphere for the game.

5. Military and Police Presence

In Scotland, seeing the military is extremely rare and seeing the police isn’t exactly common. In Mexico City, you will see the police almost everywhere and armed private security in shopping centres and supermarkets. The Mexican police are always armed with pistols while Scottish police are rarely armed. In places like Acapulco and Tulum, it is extremely common to see the military patrolling the streets on pickups or walking around with rifles and this is completely normal.

6. Pub Culture

In Mexico, pubs don’t really exist, but there are bars which most don’t have draft beer, most of the time bars sell beer in bottles or in litre glasses. Pints simply don’t exist in Mexico and most bars are places where you can have a beer sitting outside which can rarely be done in Scotland.

7. Tequila is not a Dirty Word

In Scotland, tequila shots are normally drunk after a few drinks and is accompanied with some salt and a lime. In Mexico, tequila is consumed in a much more civilised manner, it is drunk with ice, water and lemonade in glass and in consumed slowly. However, during parties when it comes to shots, the lime and salt is absent and sometimes people will drink it out the bottle as a challenge.

8. Meal Times

In the UK, it is accepted and completely normal to have dinner at 6-7 o’clock and lunch at 12-1 o’clock. In Mexico, it’s more normal to have lunch at about 2-3 o’clock and dinner at 10PM.

9. Street Vendors

This is something I have never seen in Scotland, but not unheard of in Mexico City, that you will be approached all of the time by people trying to sell you stuff, mostly chocolate or cigarettes. If you’re sitting at an outside table in a restaurant expect people coming right up to your table hoping to make a bit of money and recently when I went to lunch with some friends, 8 people came to our table within the space of an hour.

10. Tipping

In Scotland, tipping is only done in restaurants if the service was exceptional, in Mexico, it’s customary to give tips in restaurants and bars just like America. If you don’t tip in Mexico don’t expect to be given a good service at that place again.

11. Religion

Although Mexico and Scotland are both liberal countries in which attending church is a rarity amongst young people, Mexico is a predominantly catholic country. Scotland is a country in which the divide between protestants and catholics is within our culture, however most people don’t involve religion as part of their lives. In Mexico, you can see churches everywhere and people will have religious imagery in the walls of their houses and sometimes wear crosses.

12. Scotland is Quieter and Less Crowded

Mexico city is a crowded metropolis in which you will see people everywhere, expect to be packed in like a sardine when you use the bus or metro. You will never see the same thing in Scotland unless you’re on the way to Hampden for a Scotland match. Glasgow is also much quieter than Mexico City as in Mexico city there is constant noise. If you are outside Glasgow or Edinburgh, it will be very quiet and there will hardly be any crowds.

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