What is modern Scotland? Many of us may think we have a good idea, but really the clearest eyes are those of recent immigrants, those who have come to the country and settled. They see our quirks and foibles. They are the country's best cheerleaders and sharpest critics. To celebrate St Andrew's Days we asked a few settlers what they make of this country they've made their home.

Nela Popovic, events manager. Grew up in Sarajevo and lives in Glasgow

I’ve been in Scotland six years and I was in London for 18 years. I came to work on the Commonwealth Games. The plan was to stay for a couple of years and then move on. But the people were nice and open and I thought that there was no way I’m going back to London.

It was the people that did it. Does Glasgow feel like home? To be honest I never thought, as a displaced person, that I would find that kind of calm, warm feeling. But as much as I can have it, I have it here.

Glasgow is much calmer than London. It is also the right size of city. We have a saying that Sarajevo is made for a measure of a man. It’s the right size to exist in, and I think Glasgow is the same.

During my first month here I couldn’t understand anybody. My first night I was in the local shop and this woman started talking to me and I thought what is going on here? Then I realised, ‘You’re the idiot, not the person talking to you. You’re the one that’s been completely desensitised by being in London so long.’ And I just thought this is lovely.

Francois Owiafe, former teacher from Ghana. Self-employed and living in Edinburgh

The job that I did in Ghana was examination administrator, a senior job, based in Accra, the capital of Ghana. I came to Scotland because my wife had come here to study and had benefited from a scheme which allowed her to stay. It wasn’t easy to find work. I could have got work as a teacher in England but that wasn’t possible here.

People ask questions like, ‘How did you come here? Did you come by aeroplane or by boat?’ Even though we have British nationality, it seems sometimes that people think we are coming in to drain the welfare system. But the job I had in Accra was a very good one.

I’m a practising Christian and I do volunteer work with the street pastors. I have experienced racism. I had a particularly bad situation where myself and my children were racially abused on the bus. It went to the courts and the guy was found guilty. In spite of all these things it’s still better here. For instance, in Africa our healthcare is poor. Also roads are bad. Ghana has one of the highest rates of death by accident in the world. We have people who have come here and made Scotland their home then gone back to visit their family, and never come back because they boarded a car and had an accident and died.

Ruzita Millington, grew up in Singapore. Raising her family in Edinburgh

When I was in Singapore, I’d never heard of Edinburgh. But, oh my God, I’ve ended up in a lovely gem of a city. I met my husband in Singapore. He was working there, and he had to come back here with his work. He brought me here on holiday during the festival time. It was love at first sight.

The first thing that got me was the culture shock. It was just not what I had imagined. I come from a culture that is quite conservative. I have three children. They know they are Muslims, but they go to Catholic school. They participate in all the Christian events. I think that’s your opportunity to meet other cultures.

What I miss most is the food. Recently I made a curry for a girl who had moved from Singapore to study here because I know how it feels to have come here. I cooked her chicken curry for her birthday the way that they have it back home.

Lourdes Gala Santos, from Tenerife. Lives in Glasgow and works in wind turbine engineering

I moved to Scotland in 2009 because I got a PhD position at the University of Strathclyde. I remember getting on a flight into Prestwick and taking a train into Glasgow and being very excited about my new life. On the train the ticket master was saying, ‘Tickets, tickets.’ And he asked, ‘It’s your first time in Scotland?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m just moving here. I’m so happy to be moving to the north of England.’

The face of this man! He said, ‘This is Scotland. Scotland is a country.’ So within half an hour of landing I was educated into Scotland being a country. I said I was really sorry. I was so glad that he did not throw me off the train.

The following day I kept seeing the St Andrews flag and I phoned my mum and I was saying, they must love Tenerife here because our flag is absolutely everywhere. Then I realised that the Scotland flag is exactly the same as the Tenerife flag. We share the same flag. It makes me feel at home.

My PhD was in aerodynamics and control for wind turbines. So I started a career working in the renewables industry. For wind and tidal and marine renewables, there’s not a better place to be than Scotland.

One of the things that surprised me about people in Scotland is the amount of alcohol people drink with the intent of getting drunk. In Spain and Italy we also drink but not so much to get hammered.

Scotland has the most amazing outdoors that I’ve ever seen. I have travelled quite a bit and when you go to the Highlands or the coast it’s incredible. No picture can convey how overwhelming it is up there. I discovered cycling here in Glasgow to my surprise. I had rarely touched a bicycle before that..

Praveen Kumar, grew up in India, worked in some of the world’s best hotels and runs Tabla restaurant in Perth

Before I came to Scotland I was working for Sandals hotels in Jamaica and met a couple in the Caribbean. I had been going to go to work in the United States but it was them that enlightened me about Scotland’s quality of life. I found a job at the Turnberry. I came in February 2005 and it was a sunny day, but freezing, and I arrived in shorts and a T-shirt from Jamaica. That two minutes walking from my flight to the terminal was my first experience of actually being in the cold.

Later, I got headhunted by Gleneagles. Not long after that my parents found a girl for me, in India, and in March 2008 we got married. In 2009 we opened our restaurant, Tabla, in Perth. Somebody recently asked me, ‘Why Perth? You’ve got so much talent and knowledge. Why not London?’ The answer was it’s not money that motivates me, it’s quality of life. My wife and I have built a community around us. The restaurant is embedded in the society in which we live.

The most important thing I’ve found here is the people and their friendliness. They’re approachable. You can approach anyone in Scotland. If you ask me I’m Scottish. It’s been 11 years so I think I can call myself Scottish.

I miss the buzz you get in India. That’s one thing that’s missing here. In India if you want to do something, you can do it straight away. If I want to go and see my friends, I just go. I don’t need an appointment. I don’t need permission. I just go. And, of course, I miss the food, the street food. That’s what I’m building a business around bringing the rustic street food to all over the UK in a chain of restaurants.

Tatsuya Minagawa, 49, from Yamagata, Japan. Owns renowned whisky venue The Highlander Inn in Craigellachie.

I was working in a whisky bar in Japan and I thought I’d see more of the whisky environment, this is why I came to Scotland. It was meant to be just for one year. It’s been more than 20 years now. Probably my biggest surprise was how friendly people were. It was strange for a big city like Edinburgh. It’s not the same as in London or Tokyo. Then I moved to Speyside and was a bit worried because it was so remote...but it turned out to be really good.

I was let down by the work attitude at first. It was so much different than in Japan. The efficiency of the staff, the attention to detail… I still think, to be honest, that it’s like that. Back home I had to ask only once for something to be done, but here sometimes you have to ask two or three times. But it’s a small issue and I love Scotland. I enjoy living here – this country welcomed me very well.

Working in the whisky industry, I saw that the drinking culture is very different. Here, bars close very early, and people rush to get the last drinks, whereas in Japan they are open for longer hours, which means that people take more time to indulge. We do get drunk, too, don’t get me wrong, but in a much different way.

I find that Scottish and Japanese, we are very different but also very similar: we don’t have big conversations when we meet the first time: it takes a long time to build a relationship, but when it happens, it lasts longer for forever.

Vangelis Stamoulis, 36, came from Athens, Greece, in 2004 to do postgraduate studies at University of Aberdeen. Sales manager in the oil and gas industry.

I found the Scottish culture to be very similar to the Greek one: people are very open, sociable and direct and hospitality is great – I felt at home almost immediately. One of the surprises was how the weather was, particularly in Aberdeen, being so far in the north. It doesn’t change much – it’s either cold or very cold, you never actually get a summer.

What I really like is that you can get in the car and in less than half an hour you are in the middle of an amazing countryside, and if you like hiking, photography, visiting castles or whisky distilleries that’s perfect.

I guess that was the most enjoyable aspect: although I live in a city it felt like living in a village. However, Aberdeen is an international city because of the oil and gas industry, you get to meet people from all over the world, and Scottish people are very tolerant with different cultures.

I think that Brexit is going to affect all of us, both European and British citizens, and will do so in a very bad way. For me, it has been a beautiful home. I’ve built my professional career here, it’s a beautiful and safe country, and I hope that I can continue leading my life here.

Bola Ugoji, grew up in Nigeria. Runs MaDeb’s African food shop in Edinburgh

In 2005 I came from Nigeria to join my husband who was working in Edinburgh. I’d never travelled to the UK before. My 11-year-old daughter and I came through Heathrow, met my husband and he brought us to Edinburgh. I remember when I walked around then, there were few blacks. But that has changed. Now we have a lot of black people around. Still, even then it was okay because a lot of the white people would come to you and ask you questions, smile at you.

After I had my second daughter I felt it would be best for me to set up my own business. I saw a shop space on Great Junction Street and took over that place, selling African food. I was there for nearly five years. Sometimes when I walked down the road, everyone would be waving, ‘MaDeb! MaDeb!’ A year ago I moved the shop to this site on Leith Walk.

Here, when your mum is old, she has to go to a home. Where I come from, we don’t do that. If my mum is old, I, or my young ones, look after her. I found it shocking when I came here. There was an old lady neighbour living by herself. Sometimes I would go in to say hello, just to chat with her. She was happy seeing us. It was shocking to me that she was alone.