Friday, February 25, 2011

Observations about Scotland

I realized that I never made an "observation" post about Scotland, so I decided to do that. I have to say I'm a little biased about this country because I love it so much on its own. It's one of my favorite countries in Europe.

Scotland is definitely more relaxed in terms of race relations, especially compared to Ireland. I got more curiosity in Scotland, as opposed to neutrality or hatred. The landscape is stunning and there's a rich history to the country, which makes it seem rustic. There is also a modern feel to the big cities, which makes it seem cosmopolitan. This isn't to say that Scotland is a utopia because it definitely is not. Like many European countries, there has been a rise in Nazism and violence against minorities. But, honestly, as minorities we have to be careful wherever we go in the world, even our hometowns.

I found Scottish men to be quite interesting. The ones I talked to had interesting stories to tell. Of course, they could be lying, but either way, I had a good time listening to them. They seem to be more direct and forward then men from other nationalities. The ones I met didn't have a problem telling me about their opinions about anything and everything. This was a refreshing change of pace, especially from Englishmen who have a reputation for being secretive or repressive.

Scottish food is unlike any other. How anyone lives past the age of 30 is beyond me. So much oil, so much fat, and so much everything in haggis, clapshots, etc. I had to work hard to find healthy food. I can say that if you crave fast food, you will not be disappointed. Pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers and french fries, and anything else you want is probably located within a 5 mile radius.

The Scottish Highlands are something that should be seen at least once in your lifetime. I can't even begin to describe the beautiful views. There is something healing about standing alone in a beautiful field in a foreign country and just feeling the wind.

There's nothing like it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

American Black Chick in Europe Went Abroad...and Stayed.

Recently, I interviewed ABCiE about being abroad, Croatian businessmen, and interracial dating.

1) What part of the U.S. are you from and what is the "swirling" scene like there?

I'm originally from Atlanta and the swirling scene there is getting better, but when I was growing up it definitely wasn't the norm.

2) Why did you choose to go abroad?

I actually decided to do a study abroad programme my final semester of undergrad because I just wanted to try something different. Plus I read a ton of books and I was intrigued by the idea of actually seeing the places I read about. After my first study abroad programme to England, I gotten bitten hard by the travel bug and I've been back and forth ever since.

3) In terms of interracial dating, which country do you think is the friendliest towards it, and why?

Hmmmm....this is a tough one. I think it depends. I know there are certain cities that are cool as far as interracial dating, but not necessarily the countries as a while. As an Africa-American, I'd say London and Paris are fabulous.

4) What have your general experiences with swirling abroad been like? Did anything surprise you?

So far, not to many issues as far as swirling abroad. I think I was most surprised by how much more common it is in the European cities I've been to and how much less of a stigma is attached to it. Not to say that there are no stigmas or no problems, but definitely not the same baggage as in the US. I would say that black women should be cautious that men are not going after them to fulfill some fantasy...but this applies to any country.

5) What are some particularly memorable experiences with swirling abroad that you have had?

Oh where to start? I guess the one that really stood out actually happened to a friend of mine while we were in Croatia. We met this Croatian guy our first day in Dubrovnik as we were searching for our hotel. We chatted with him a few minutes and he invited us to dine at the restaurant he owned. We did end up stopping by, but it was too expensive on our limited budget. We saw him later and told him why we didn't eat there and he said that he would have given us the meal for free. Turns out he was trying to get us to his restaurant to spend more time with my friend! He then proceeded to ask my friend out. When she politely declined (because we had an early bus to catch the next morning), he pleaded with her for just one date. He said, "Are you worried about your safety? Don't worry, when you are with me, you are like Swiss bank. You are safe." I'm pretty sure he would have happily made my friend his wife if he had any indication that she would have agreed...he feel for her hard.

6) If money was no object, where would you make your home in the world and why?'s hard to pick just one. If I had an option, I'd split my time between NYC, Berlin, Paris and London.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kourt Brought Home Memories, Teaching Experience, and A Man

I recently interviewed Kourt, of, who told me about meeting her Middle Eastern husband in an Asian country and being abroad in a foreign land.

1) What part of the U.S. are you from and what is the "swirling" scene like there?

I'm from a small town in Middle Georgia, interracial couples are around but I've known a few people who's families would disown them if they dated someone from another race

2) Why did you choose to go abroad?

I choose to go abroad because I know there was always something different from what I grow up with, I wanted a different experience and I wanted a bit of adventure in my life

3) In terms of interracial dating, which country do you think is the friendliest towards it, and why?

Out of all the countries I've been to, I guess England was the friendliest (I could be wrong because I was only in London) but London is such a melting pot that it's normal to date and have friends from different walks of life

4) What have your general experiences with swirling abroad been like? Did anything surprise you?

What surprised me about "swirling abroad" is how in most countries it's not a big deal, where is in America people are up in arms over it...I'm not saying ever country is ok with it, because when I was in Korea it was considered wrong for a Korean to date someone who wasn't Korean

5) What are some particularly memorable experiences with swirling abroad that you have had?

My most memorable experience is meeting my husband, who is Iranian, because I was really surprised at his range of friends and how relaxed who was with me, even more he didn't ask crazy questions because of the difference in race and religion

6) If money was no object, where would you make your home in the world and why?

I'm partial to London and Paris, I guess just Europe in general...but this would be a hard one for me, if money was no object I'd live in different places around the world; the problem with traveling is that you sometimes only stay in a major city for a few days, so I would spend a few months in England, a few months in Peru, a few months in Turkey, etc.

7) How did you meet your husband? What made you fall in love with him and has being in a Black/Middle Eastern marriage changed your perception of your family, society, etc.?

Against everything I was taught in a southern baptist church I actually met my husband at a club in Korea. Which to say I think is normal given our ages. What made me fall for him is that he was just a direct as I was, we had a lot in common but we are very different...and I can't lie, I love to hear him speak Farsi. What has changed is that I've had to look at my own family differently it's amazing how people you've known you're whole life can question your judgment and essential try to make you choose between them and your significant other. Another thing it has changed is my own sense of individuality. Before I was married I was more than happy to go it alone, I preferred to travel alone. But know I'm happy (90% of the time) my husband is able to travel with me. I can't wait for our first trip outside of the US.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Intl Glamazon Showed Europe Her Beauty

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Intl Glamazon, a sister of Nigerian origin who told me of her adventures through Europe. Check her out at

1) What part of the world are you from and what is the "swirling" scene like in your region?

I go to school in Central Illinois, reside in Dallas, Texas, and I represent Nigeria! Well, considering that I'm at school that has less than 3,000 students, the "swirl" scene is pretty skewed. If there are any swirl relationships at my school, they don't usually include the black women at my school; most are in relationships away from school. In our college town, it's mostly black men/white women and other combinations of swirl. In Dallas? Well, I'm never home enough to get a solid look!=oP I'll get back to you on this!

2) Why did you choose to go abroad?

I went abroad because I consider myself a citizen of the world! I have a huge curiosity about the world that can't be satisfied by just reading about it=o) Also, I knew it would be an amazing opportunity for growth in my life, which it most definitely was! I studied abroad in Perugia, Italy, and traveled to a lot of small Italian towns, London, and Madrid.

3) In terms of interracial dating, which country do you think is the friendliest towards it, and why?

Within the realm of my experience, I'd have to say that England (London in particular) was the place that seemed most friendly towards the swirl. An apt description of London is its like someone grabbed people from all over the world and placed them into one city. With so many different cultural influences, people, and lifestyles, one can see how interracial dating isn't a big issue there.

4) What have your general experiences with swirling abroad been like? Did anything surprise you?

You know, when you tell folks that you're going to Italy, they'll talk about how Italian men love black women, blah blah blah. It's not quite true - Italian men love WOMEN, lol=o) When I was in Perugia, I either received an outward hostility, overt sexuality (from certain men), or just plain curiosity. Italy has a serious xenophobia problem right now, so many people thought I was an African immigrant, and treated me accordingly.It was hard for me because I am African! But when I spoke Italian most people would completely change their treatment towards me. I was not feeling that.

In regards to swirling, I didn't really get down with it, because I was in a program full of Americans, and Italian men sincerely believe that American women just want to have "fun" (i.e., American women are sluts). There were a few exceptions, but it wasn't too common since I was in a college town. Men from abroad are far more forward than their American counterparts! So when dudes approached me in that manner, I kind of shut it down to the "hey friend!" level, because I don't do "casual" relationships well, at all. I was treated really well in England, and in Madrid I just got curious looks, which is 100% fine. I rocked a full-on afro while abroad! Never be afraid to be yourself when you travel=o) Also, be aware that feminism hasn't quite made it to Italy yet. Men will pay for your drinks! And of course, this comes with its consequences, lol.

5) What are some particularly memorable experiences with swirling abroad that you have had?

I struck up some good friendships with a few Italian guys, they're so charming! We had a great time sharing languages and each others company=o) I do have some wild stories though! The two that I will NEVER forget:
1). Me and two buddies went to Florence for the day, and when we left the train station, an Italian man started yelling "i tuoi cappelli, รจ bellissimi!" (your hair, it's beautiful!). So me, being the friendly person that I am, turned to him and thanked him. Before I could even finish, the man (he was an older guy, lol) grabbed my arm, tucked it under his and basically dragged me away in another direction. OMG! I said "No thank you!" in Italian and ran away from friends STILL can't get over it!

2). We get back to the train station in Perugia and have to hang around for awhile because there was a strike (as usual), and as we're waiting outside, what happens? Some disgusting man comes up to me and says..."Ciao coco." WTF. He continues to do this while trying to touch me; my friends and I had to go across the street to try to avoid this dude. It was pretty scary, and while I'd been inappropriately propositioned before this incident, this was certainly the worst. But it didn't happen often. The key to being abroad is to protect yourself, first and foremost. It has to be your number one priority.

6) If money was no object, where would you make your home in the world and why?

I'd definitely have to say that London would be my home! I could travel to other places around the world with ease; I'd be close to family; and most importantly, I'd feel the most comfortable in London. I felt safer there than I do in some major U.S. cities. And I didn't really frequent tourist areas, so I know a solid amount about London and its dangers.

Special note from Intl Glamazon

Please, don't let my cautionary tales discourage anyone from traveling abroad! I mentioned them because I don't want anyone going into a whole new world without realizing that it's just like U.S. or worse when it comes to how people will treat you. Just be confident, safe, and strong! Men will flock to you as long as you have these qualities, trust!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Calling All Black Female Travelers with an experience of swirling!

From the beginning, I didn't want this blog to just be about me and my experiences. I want to share the stories of others. If you are a black female who has traveled and you have an experience with swirling around the world, please send me an email (on my profile) letting me know of your interest. Include AIM, if possible. Your story will be featured on this blog (with as much identifying information as you want to include).

Please send me an email within two weeks because this is going to be a trial run and I will be traveling and might not have internet service.


The Scottish Surprise

In order to tell you about the surprise I received on the Isle of Skye, it helps to have a bit of background. I arrived in Scotland in the spring of 2010 to attend the wedding of a close friend of mine, Annie, who had relocated to Scotland years before. Plus, I would get to visit Scotland, a country that I had always wanted to see firsthand. Originally we planned for me to be in the wedding, but obligations with my job made that impossible.

When I got to the wedding venue, I was amazed. It was the fairytale wedding that almost every little girl dreams of, a huge spacious church with beautiful Catholic accents, wonderful decorations, and gentle music playing in the background. Annie was a gorgeous bride and you could tell that she truly loved her groom. At the reception, I met the groom's half brother Andrew. I hate Grey's anatomy, but Andrew was definitely McDreamy. He was tall, broad shouldered, kind and handsome. Plus, he had a Scottish accent that was gentle. He worked as an architect in London and was thinking about going to law school. We talked for most the night, about our respective lives and realized that we had a lot in common. I definitely liked him, but didn't want to rush into anything, especially because we lived on different continents.

I went back to my hotel room and was watching TV when the phone rang. I answered it and it was Annie! "Love, just shut up and listen, because we only have about two minutes until they force us to turn off our cell phones. I just got a call from Andrew, who was panicking because you left without giving him your phone number. Apparently, you two made a love connection and he didn't want to wait until we came back. So, I gave him the number to your hotel and he is probably going to call you tomorrow. Go out with him! He's a really good guy and you two would be great together. Love you, bye!"

Andrew did call me and we ended up going on a six hour date. It was the best date of my entire life. It's hard to describe it without using that cliched expression of, "We just clicked." We meshed so well together and spent the better part of the week getting to know each other. When the time came to go home, we were both crushed. So we made the drastic decision to enter into a long-distance relationship. Skype, IM, and plane trips saved us. As time progressed, I fell in love with him and the feelings were entirely reciprocated. We dated like this for about eight months when I went to Skye to meet some of his family.

After a fantastic dinner (made by his mother), Andrew said that he wanted to take me to a cliff that had a beautiful view of the island. The view was fantastic and we just stood there, looking over the isle and enjoying the scenery. I didn't notice Andrew was on his knee until he grabbed my hand. I looked down at him and my bottom jaw dropped open like a fish. He said, "Love, being with you is amazing. I didn't know that I could feel this way about anyone. I love you so much. I feel like we could be happy together, forever. Will you marry me?" I was crying at this point, but I said yes and nodded. He stood up and kissed me and we hugged for at least ten minutes. Then, we went back to his family's house and they were in the living room, silent. We walked in and when they saw that we were smiling, they started laughing and screaming. His mother went to her room and gave Andrew an engagement ring that had originally belonged to her mother. Andrew put it on me and we spent the night with his family, laughing, drinking, and celebrating.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Isle of Skye (or why I love Scotland)

The Isle of Skye in Scotland is one of my favorite places on earth. If I could, I would have a house on the island and live there six months a year. It's really the only place I've ever been to where I sat outside and looked at the landscape for hours. A boyfriend of mine, who was Scottish, first took me there to meet a part of his family. Even if you never date a Scotsman, try to meet a Scottish family. It will be an interesting experience.

We got to the isle late at night and his family was at a friend's house. We decided to go to sleep, in separate rooms mind you, and meet them in the morning. I was sleeping peacefully in my bed and was about to wake up when I heard footsteps in my room. My first thought was, "Great, my dad is going to be so happy that he was right about running all over the world." Carefully, I opened my eyes and I saw the most adorable little boy standing at the foot of my bed, smiling at me. He said, " Hi, I'm Jacob. My mom wanted you to wake up so she's banging pots in the kitchen, but I just decided to come in here and do it myself." The mouths of babes.

Carefully, we made our way down the narrow staircase and sure enough, my boyfriend's mother was in the kitchen banging a pot with nothing in it. Soon, she saw us and was startled, but she recovered quickly. "Good morning! I am Una, Andrew's mother." Except, it sounded like, "Gud mornin', I am Una." Una was, frankly, a lot prettier than I had imagined. What's your first thought when you think of a Scottish pig farmer? She was tall, but well built and had the most fantastic blue-green eyes. She introduced me to the rest of the family and, surprisingly, we all got along fantastically.

But, as it turns out, my boyfriend had the biggest surprise for me yet.

(Not meant to be a cliffhanger, but I really have to do some work. More to come.)