By Emily Meller
I’ll admit it – Glasgow was not my number 1 choice for exchange. It was somewhere around number 5, beneath London and Oxford Brookes and Tilburg.
But, it absolutely should have been number 1.
I am in the first round of UTS students to go to Strathclyde, so it is safe to say I had no idea what to expect. Rainy weather and thick accents is about as much as I knew. My ‘research’ was watching Trainspotting (actually set in Edinburgh, I found out later.)
Of course, the only way to actually experience a place is to go there. All the Lonely Planet guides in the world cannot prepare you for the reality of a foreign city.
My experience of Glasgow so far has been truly wonderful. Has it been rainy? Yeah. But you buy a good coat and get on with it. The lack of sunshine is more than compensated for by amazing bars, a fantastic music scene, cinemas, cafes, clubs, theatres and anything else you may want to be entertained with. It’s a creative, young, vibrant city and the perfect place for students.
With over 7 universities in a very small area (it takes about 40 minutes to walk from one side of the city to the other, or 10 minutes by subway), the student population is massive. Meeting people is ridiculously easy. I have made an equal mix of international and Scottish friends in my first week here. The locals are keen to mingle with people from abroad, which makes for a fantastic balance of new friends.
A highlight was last night when we all participated in a traditional Scottish dance called a Ceilidh (pronounced ‘Cayley’, obviously). Usually I would think any traditional anything is pretty lame. From what I have seen in my travels they are always super touristy and boring things to watch. But this was entirely different. For a start, Scots actually love this dance. The young ones included – it’s often done at 21st birthdays here. And it is so much fun! You basically jump around, laughing and holding hands and running in circles to traditional music. It lasts about an hour, and yes, some people wore kilts. It really embodies what I have found here – people are so proud to be Scottish and so eager to share their culture with everyone.
In summary, it’s a fantastic city, a pretty university and a whole lot of fun. Plus, you get drinks for a pound at most places so it’s easy on the wallet as well.