I have lived in Scotland all of my life, and I am aware that Scotland attracts lots and lots of students and tourists,so let's get started!
Glasgow International Airport is Scotland's main airport, served by flights from all over Europe and the world. Other major airports include Edinburgh & Aberdeen-Dyce. Glasgow's second airport Glasgow-Prestwick is served by flights from all over Europe and is also popular with private aircraft owners as well. Loganair operate daily flights from Glasgow to the Western Isles and Northern Scotland. Driving to Scotland is easy either via the M74 from Carlisle or the A1(excellent for traveling to Edinburgh or Dundee via the Forth road bridge) from Berwick-upon-Tweed.(both roads take you over the Scotland-England border) Rail services operate frequently from Glasgow Central to London Euston. The trains that carry out that aforementioned service are the modern Virgin Pendalino trains with an on-board shop and WiFI. The journey should take no more than 4.5 hours. Travelers from Northern Ireland could also travel by ferry to the ports of Stranraer or Troon(well known for it's golf) from the Northern Irish port of Larne. National Express and other coach operators operate bus services to & from Buchanan Street bus station(operated by SPT) to the rest of Scotland(to destinations such as Fort William) & the UK.
Ferries can also shorten journeys to areas such as Argyll & Bute,to the port of Dunnon from the port of Gourick, for example. That ferry service should only take 15-30 minutes, depending on the weather. Without using the ferry, the journey from Gourick to Dunoon by road would be several hours.
Health and safety
Midges are a common pest in some parts of Scotland and the flu bug is common in the winter months. In northern, remote parts of Scotland tap water may appear brown at first, this brown appearance usually goes away after five seconds of running the water, it is usually only traces of pete. Violence is rare in the remote areas of Scotland, and most people are friendly and helpful and little, unoccupied houses sometimes with teabags and running water can often be found throughout the most remote parts of the Highlands for travelers. Although, saying that, Glasgow can sometimes become violent if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and most violence is caused by political tension when there is an Old Firm football match being played in Glasgow. Edinburgh as well can have it's streets occupied by thugs or muggers, try not to walk alone in poorly lit streets at night to reduce the chances of becoming a victim. The healthcare however is excellent in Scotland and the NHS run a wide range of hospitals and clinics up and down the country. Ninewells hospital in Dundee receives good publicity on a frequent basis and Yorkhill hospital in Glasgow cares for many severely ill children.
WARNING Military testing of equipment does happen in Scotland. From time to time, supersonic aircraft(which are very loud) have been tested in the Highlands and explosive shells capable of emitting Uranium oxide have been discovered on the Solway firth. ANYTHING like the aforementioned shells should be avoided at all costs, as radioactive substances are VERY harmful to humans.
Mushroom picking should also be avoided. There have been many deaths reported from Scotland due to mushroom picking, as many mushrooms are in fact poisonous. The seeds of the laburnum bush(which is common in some parts of Scotland) should also be avoided as these can cause death if ingested(as these seeds are poisonous). The reason why is that the parts at the end of the branches that encapsulate the seeds look just like pea pods, and the curious child or the hungry traveler may actually mistake these for peas. Pine needles, however are an excellent source of Vitamin C, and are very easy(easy as they are common, but always verify that you know what pine needles actually look like) to find in the Highlands, however to extract the Vitamin C DO NOT eat the pines the way they are, instead infuse the pine needles in boiling water then remove the needles from the boiling water. This then forms a tea which can then be drunk. It is always best to do some research prior to trying anything like that though, just so that as a traveler you will be sure of what you are looking for. It is also a misconception that water from a lake is safe to drink. It is not as the water usually contains many micro-orgasms that could cause sickness and diarrhea. The best way to drink water when no other source is available is to filter the lake/puddle water through a sock into an empty bottle to the BRIM, then to sit this bottle in a flame(a piece of flint is helpful for this, however this should only be attempted in accordance with the Clean Air Act) for a good five minutes or so to kill the germs. If the plastic bottle is not filled to the brim, it will melt(and molten plastic on the skin is painful and can cause lifelong damage), however double-check anything like that BEFORE attempting.
Traditional Scottish food consists of haggis, which is a sheep's stomach filled with a spicy, mince type filling, as well as shortbread, a type of butter rich biscuit and tablet, a light brown sweet block made with condensed milk, it has a very crumbly texture. Salt & Vinegar is the normal style of take-away chips in Glasgow, while in Edinburgh Salt & Sauce is the normal style of chips sold by the take-away chip shops. Chinese, Indian, French & Italian restaurants are also very common in the larger towns and cities.
Post Offices are found in almost every square mile of Scotland. For mobile phones, the Central belt(the area between Edinburgh and Glasgow/Greenock) usually has the best signal for mobile phones and 3G dongles, although the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen usually provide excellent mobile phone reception as well, strong enough even for GPRS. The Internet domain in Scotland is .uk and ADSL Broadband is available in every city in Scotland, and almost every town, however in the remote areas of the Highlands, you may be restricted to 56K Dial-Up alone. Wireless hotspots are abundant in the cities of Scotland as well as the international airports. Cybercafes are also common, especially in Glasgow & Edinburgh.
What to do?
Castles such as Stirling & Edinburgh
Zoos such as Blair Drummond & Edinburgh
Golfing facilities such as Troon, Carnoustie & St. Andrews
Shopping malls such as Silverburn and St. Enoch in Glasgow, The Fort, East Kilbride & The Rivergate in Irvine, Ayrshire
Museums such as the Riverside museum in Glasgow
Mountains such as Ben Lommond
Universities such as Caledonian & St. Andrews
Football venues such as Hampden Park
Music venues such as T in the Park, SECC in Glasgow and the O2 Arena in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
Scotland has a very rich history ranging from the Picts(painted people) to the Jacobites and the story of Robert Burns(a poet from Alloway near the town of Ayr), whom has a cottage that visitors can visit to this day. Famous Scottish people today include Amy McDonald & Billy Connolly.
Common words & phrases
Aye = yes
A ken/eh ken = I know
Wisnae me = was not me
Lassie = girl
Bonny = pretty
Loch = lake
Troosers/Trews = trousers
Steaming/Blootered/Steamboats = drunk
I'm no bad = I'm doing well
Fit/Whit/Wha = What?
Fa/Foo = Who? (As in "fa's at? foo's at?)
Far = where (Far aboot's is i shoppy?)
Ging/Gang = Go (Ging inti toon)