I've been in Glasgow for almost a week and a half now. I arrived safely and had quite an enjoyable flight. I met an extremely kind couple on the plane ride here, and they gave me so many great things to think about before we landed. They answered many of the questions I had about the city and gave me good tips, like good phone services and nice places to visit. I was less nervous about the city after speaking with them about it, especially when they confirmed that Glasgow isn't as dangerous as everyone says. Of course, they warned that it was a large city, so to be aware and careful of my surroundings like I would in any other large city.
Several weeks ago, I met a man from Scotland at Rite Aid (in Mansfield!) and he said Edinburgh was like Columbus and Glasgow was like Cleveland. I know what he means now. Glasgow reminds me a lot of Cleveland in the sense that it's very industrialized. It's definitely a working city and has a plethora of people living in it, as much of the world saw during the Referendum.
I absolutely LOVED everything I saw during the week before the Referendum. They had music performances at nearly every rally and gathering I happened to see. Amazing. There is so much pride in Glasgow. I loved seeing these people, and honestly, it truly broke my heart thinking about all of the disappointed children and young people I saw that supported the independence of Scotland. Regardless of my views or anyone else's views about Scottish independence or not, I loved the Yes voters I met. And regardless of how anyone feels about Alex Salmond, he led one incredible campaign.
The spirit of Glasgow sends an interesting feeling. It's not a glamorous city by any means, but rather an accomplished city. A hard working city. A city that has seen and experienced quite a bit of weathering, growth, change, and many other things I don't even know about. On a bus tour by the School of Art, I wasn't initially impressed by the places I saw. It's not that I didn't like it, but like I said, it's far from glamorous. We didn't even see some of the biggest landmarks in Glasgow on the tour, so it could've just been that it was student led, free, and non-legit. The general color palette of Glasgow is gray, charcoal, sandstone, and for now, the fading fall colors of the season. Many of the buildings are covered in soot and look ancient. I suppose I was spoiled by Kensington in London, which is such a surreal experience that I still can't believe actually exists. But, after walking around the city a bit, I see it in a much different way than I did on the tour. Every day, I seem to find a new view that I find beautiful, especially during the rare moments that the sun happens to be shining through the overcast.
The biggest thing that did stand out to me in our tour of Glasgow was the University of Glasgow. My jaw dropped when I saw how GORGEOUS the buildings were. Oh my goodness. The Glasgow School of Art actually awards their degrees through the University of Glasgow, so we are allowed to use some of their facilities like their library. I am looking forward to visiting and seeing what beauty lies within the walls. I won't post any photos because I don't have any yet, but Google it and just look at its magnificence.
Today, I was sitting outside a cafe, sipping a butterscotch latte (which is way better than pumpkin anything from Starbucks) with some new friends. I realized in that moment that I was doing exactly what I've been dreaming of for the past year. I'm in a beautiful city with pleasant company with tasty coffee. I am studying exactly what I have wanted to learn more about since high school and for now, things are good. Perfect even. Just for that moment.
One of the unfortunate things about my school is the main building everyone wants to tour is under construction from the fire. It's closed for now. I am always a little sad that I probably won't get to see the inside of it anytime soon, possibly even during my time in Glasgow. The Reid building is quite nice though. I haven't seen all of it, but it's a very spacious, clean building. Not very warm, but a cooler modern feel. I might have one or two classes there, but otherwise, I'll be at the Hub, which is on the other side of Glasgow. I was a little put off by the fact that it would be much more of a trek to class than I thought, but I am realizing now that I appreciate the space between the studio and home. I'm sure somewhere along the way, I'll be in a hurry, running to the subway station, and cursing bitterly under my breath about how stupid it was to live where I live. But for now, I enjoy the opportunity to spend time in a different part of the city.
I'll update more about my actual classes and things once I get in more of a routine! It's hard to say anything now, but I'll update when things get going.
I feel like I need to talk about my flatmates. I have four other flatmates from the following places: South Korea, Italy, Pakistan, and California. The kid from California is quite unique and has come from very different lifestyle than myself, so it doesn't really feel like we're from the same country at times. My flatmates and I have already established a friendly relationship with each other, and I am very thankful for that. While we are all attending the GSA, we are all majoring in different things. Last week, we shared our portfolios with each other, and it was such a great thing to do. Their portfolios are incredible. Every day I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here and how hard I need to work. I will say though, cooking pasta in front of an Italian person gave me the same feelings I had once when I realized I was practicing next to a TSO member who was waiting for her next student. My Italian flatmate told me he would help me next time.
While the language in the UK speaks is English, I have already experienced a ton of differences between Scottish/British/English terminology and American English. For example, Americans say pants to describe something like jeans or the bottom piece of clothing. In the UK, those are called trousers. In the UK, "pants" means underwear. Also, "jelly" is not the same as jam. Jam is what goes with peanut butter on bread. Jelly is what American's call Jell-O. The man at the grocery store lovingly laughed at me when I asked where the peanut butter and jelly ingredients were, which is gross if you think about it. Another difference which confuses me very much is that UK binders only have two rings, like what the doctor uses in the USA. They're quite central as well, and the bottom of my pages are flopping around a bit. I explained this to a Scottish friend today, and she stated she also really liked the idea of three ring binders and said, "Perhaps the American's are onto something there." Hahaha
My friend taught me a Scottish slang phrase: ya ken?
It means: do you understand/did you get it/you know it?
What I Love So Far
While I keep struggling with differences between the States and the UK (like the @ symbol being where the ; symbol is on a keyboard, or the fact that dates go dd/mm/yyyy in the UK), I have already found love for many things about the UK and Glasgow. Here is a small list:
1. No tax on store bought items. The price you see is the price you pay!
2. People are generally friendly and quite helpful. Glasgow was voted to be the world's friendliest city!
3. Big city perks. For example, I signed up for a rewards card, and now I get a free coffee every week from a stationary store.
4. Street musicians and performers. The first musician I heard in Glasgow was a guitarist playing an acoustic version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps in the morning near all the shops. He had an amp and I could hear him for several blocks. It was lovely hearing music while I window shopped. There are Also, I saw these younger high school kids performing and couldn't help but toss them some change. Love that these kids had the guts to do that!
5. The availability of healthier food for a cheaper price. I bought a ball of mozzerella for 50 pence (cents). I would've paid $3-4 for that at Walmart back at home! Also, the organic option isn't always MORE expensive like it seems to be in my hometown.