First Week in Glasgow

12 Sep

I’ve been in Glasgow for officially one week now. I know, I know, I’ve been a terrible blogger for not updating sooner, but it’s been a very busy past few weeks for me. I actually left the US about three weeks ago with my girlfriend Rachael. We had a lovely time traveling through Iceland, England, and Scotland and got to see so many wonderful things. You can see some of those things if you pop over to my photoblog.

Iceland was like nothing I have ever seen before, almost an alien landscape. Imagine barren and rocky hills with clouds of steam rising out of the earth every few miles. The people were very trusting as well, which to be frank was a bit unexpected. I tend to think that the further north you go, the less trusting people become—something about being cold and dark for the majority of the year has a negative effect on humans I think—but Iceland proved to be the exception. There was a time when we lost our very expensive bus tickets and they simply gave us new ones without hardly asking a question. Their trusting nature may also explain why they got robbed blind during the financial meltdown of ’08.

Iceland’s bizarre Blue Lagoon

Iceland’s steamy and barren landscape

After a few days in Iceland, we continued onward to the UK. We spent about 10 days traveling from London to Glasgow, stopping in Oxford, Bath, the Lake District, Edinburgh, Inverness, and the Isle of Skye. We both feel so blessed to have been able to make such a great trip and see so much! My favorite place was probably the Isle of Skye or the Lake District. Both were incredibly beautiful and scenic, although in different ways. The Lake District is very orderly and pretty, whereas the Isle of Skye is rugged and windswept, in many ways reminiscent of Iceland.

View from Hawkshead Hill, the Lake District

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye

And so, finally, after many weeks on the road, we arrived in Glasgow. I’ve only been here a week, but I am already kind of in love with the place I think. First off, my school—it looks like something out of Harry Potter. In many ways, I think it is prettier than Oxford, which is high praise coming from me since I spent a summer there a few years back.

View from the quad at the “uni”

Furthermore, Glasgow itself has got quite an interesting history. During the early part of the 20th century, about a third of the world’s ships were built in Glasgow’s shipyards on the River Clyde. During the 60s and 70s, however, the shipping industry crashed and the city began to sort of fall apart. The city has made dramatic improvements since that time period, but even today the city is still frequently listed as both the knife and murder capital of Europe. Perhaps most interesting is the particularly violent rivalry between the city’s two football clubs, Celtic and Rangers. The teams’ fans breakdown along religious lines, with Catholics supporting Celtic and Protestants for the Rangers. Knife fights between fans of opposing teams are fairly common, leading to a public outcry to stop the violence.

But despite the bleak crime statistics, the city has been busy over the past few decades, and in many ways has resurrected itself as a city of friendly people and high style. It’s downtown shopping district is vast and rivals that of London, and the trendy West End (where Glasgow Uni is located) is cheery and commercial, full of shops, restaurants, and pubs. The city’s eponymous architectural style, the Glasgow Style, is beautiful and distinctive, and draws heavily from the Art Nouveau. And the people are so friendly and unpretentious. Glasgwegians are loud, witty, have incomprehensible accents, and seem incredibly willing to talk to strangers. It seems that no matter where I go, as soon as someone overhears my American accent a local wants to say hello!

I’ve been busy the last week with international orientation, which has been a nice enough way to get acclimated to the area. The program seems more geared towards towards incoming undergraduates, which has made me feel quite old. The big question on everyone’s lips is which student union to join. The unions are sort of like very large co-ed fraternities that have night clubs instead of frat houses. My dorm room, unfortunately, has left much to be desired. I was expecting something along the lines of North Village, but it is more reminiscent of Penland, I am afraid. My flatmates are quite nice though, and they are from all over (Canada, Malaysia, Pakistan, and India). Even though my flatmates are really great, I will probably be moving out into a private flat sometime this week because they are less expensive, closer to campus, and have more space.

Well, this has been quite long, and I could go on, but I won’t. I start class in one week (yikes!). More to come, soon.


2 Responses to “First Week in Glasgow”

  1. laurakatherin September 13, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    Exciting! Glad you and rach had a great time. That’s interesting that it is LESS expensive for you to have your own place than to live the in the penland-sized dorm.

  2. Christy September 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    sounds legit, bobby. I liked the used of the word eponymous. and that you mentioned people were unpretentious…that’s pleasant. miss you buddy!

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