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Oh the weather outside is…

30 Nov

…delightful? Yes, I think that is the right word. There is snow. Everywhere. It’s been snowing off-and-on since Friday night, and it is really delightful. Here, see for yourself:

The Bell Tower With Snow:

Snow on Campus:

Snow in the West Quad:

Kelvingrove Museum:

In other news, I’m almost finished with the semester. In fact, I should be working on some final projects right now, but instead I am doing a much needed update to my blog. Things have been going swimmingly well here recently. I got to have not just one, but two Thanksgiving parties while I was here, one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh. They were really neat because a lot of my friends who are not American came, most of whom had never tasted pumpkin pie! I used Paula Dean’s the Secret Kent Family Pumpkin Pie Recipe. SPOILER ALERT: the secret ingredient is pumpkin. We even went around the table and said what we are all thankful for, which the New Zealanders thought was a bit silly but participated in anyways.

I had a stall at my church’s Christmas fair last weekend, trying to hawk some  of my photographs to unsuspecting strangers. I even surpassed my expectations and sold one! You can see it here. There was actually a lot of very complimentary interest in my work, just not many buyers. The Christmas craft fair circuit is probably not the best market for moody B&W prints of western Scotland, especially since my main competition at these fairs are things like this. That only leaves me with about $200 worth of unsold stock to get rid of before my return to the US next year. Did I mention that I ship internationally [suggestive clearing of the throat]? I think I will try to do a few more Christmas fairs here in Glasgow and see if I can sell a few more.

It is 4:11 PM as I am writing this sentence, and the sun is almost set. I am counting down the days (24, to be exact) until my family and my super-awesome-girlfriend arrive. They are all pretty much amazing, I love them all very much, and am pretty excited about seeing them. Not sure how to end this post, so I’m just going to end it…here.


Last Day of Summer

20 Sep

When I wrote that title, I was thinking “last day of summer vacation,” but then I realized that it is also the last day of the summer season, since tomorrow is the autumnal equinox and thus by definition fall starts tomorrow. Wait, scratch that. I just looked it up on Wikipedia, and the autumnal equinox is actually on September 23. Whatever, the point is that autumn is almost here. And while I am using the word “autumn” can we all agree that is quite a nice word and much prettier than “fall”? The equinox also means that the days will be shorter than the nights, or to quote Mr. Arda, “Now is the time where we meet the night.”

It’s hard for me to believe, but I left Dallas a month ago today. It feels like I have been gone only a few days really, and I certainly don’t feel particularly settled here yet either. Part of the problem is that I am not really settled yet. Last week I moved out of my dorm room, but the flat that I will be moving into isn’t ready until October 1. For a while I thought I might end up being homeless for a two weeks (just kidding…sorta) until at the last minute my local Rotary host here called me and said that I could stay in one of his relative’s flats while they were on vacation. It has really worked out perfectly so far, it was definitely an answered prayer. But I will certainly feel more at home once I actually have a home. The flat that I will be moving into in October is really nice actually, in a beautiful old Victorian building, literally across the street from the library. I am thrilled about it!

Isn’t Hipstamatic the greatest? Look at how it makes my new place seem so moody!

I’ve spent the past week exploring the city and the West End. Last week was what they call “fresher’s week,” which I would describe as “Baylor Welcome Week Minus Jesus Plus Booze,” and as you may guess from the title is geared towards freshmen, or “freshers” as they are called here. I’ve been really surprised at how few post-graduates I have met during the past few weeks. Most international students seem to be third-year exchange students. I guess all the other post-grads are already holed up in their study caves, getting prepared for the long winter of reading ahead of them.

I’m only enrolled in three courses this semester, and only three next semester. It seems a bit odd to me that somehow six courses and a thesis somehow equals a master’s degree, but I ain’t complaining. I tell you what though, this whole one-year-master’s thing is the deal of the century!

The air is getting cool now, but I wouldn’t really describe any of the days as “crisp” in that way that some falls day are. I really can’t even put my finger on what makes one day “crisp” and another not. We have had plenty of sunny and cool weather, but the air hasn’t really had the crisp, autumn, feel to it. I have a suspicion that crisp days also have low humidity, and since we get a lot of rain here in Glasgow, even when it’s sunny it’s still damp.

Well, it’s getting about supper time here. Wish me luck tomorrow for my first day of class!

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.