Sunday, October 21, 2012

Greetings From Glasgow!

Gallery of Modern Art, City Centre

I've made it, finally! I arrived in Glasgow the day before move-in day at the halls and stayed a little south of the city in Queens Park. I endured one last night of sharing unisex bathrooms, bedrooms, and particularly pungent, disgusting odors.

Move-in day was a great day to be alive. I was so excited to see Strathclyde University, Glasgow, where I would be staying, who my flatmates would be, and to have my own room and bathroom. I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about everything I was anticipating that day.

I went up, up, up the stairs on campus with my luggage to the building where we were to check-in. It was early yet, so I had some time to meet a few folks while we all anxiously awaited our keys. Before I knew it, check-in began. I was issued my keys, a folder with information, and a map to my hall. I found the hall quite easily without any trouble wheeling my luggage around. I took the elevator to the 5th floor and found myself in a maze of doors. I have to admit, it was pretty exciting finding and discovering the place I'd be living in for the next three months. I finally found the door I was looking for, and unlocked it, not knowing what to expect on the other side. A hall with more doors. I found door #2 and unlocked it. Upon opening the door, I was a bit overcome with joy. A cute little room with a bathroom, just for me. This felt so significant after staying in hostels for the past 11 days.

I'm pretty sure the first thing I did was to walk to the window to check out the view. Yes! I got the city view!  I know now that it's not technically the "city" view, but we'll roll that. I can see two cathedrals and the Royal Infirmary to the left.

I woke up one morning to see this beautiful part of a rainbow outside. It might rain an awful lot here, but that just means more chances to see rainbows. :)

So many things to do - where to begin? I felt so scattered in my sleep-deprived state. Unpacking was a priority, but so was showering, cleaning, shopping for necessities, and figuring out the internet access. So, I unpacked a little, took a shower (hot water and good water pressure!), changed into a suitcase-fresh pair of clothes (which is much better than a backpack-fresh pair of clothes, I assure you), unpacked some more, fiddled with the wireless internet connection on my computer (Mom - I was trying to get it to work!), then headed out the door on a mission to bargain shop for sheets, a duvet cover, pillows, pillow cases, cleaner, and much, much more. I navigated my way to Argyle Street and found TJ Hughes, TK Maxx, and Primark.

I also popped into a department store where I found a very cute duvet cover that just makes me smile. It was 75% off. Score!

It was not easy doing back and forth price comparison while shopping for these items. I had no idea what was considered reasonable prices here, especially taking the currency and exchange rate into consideration. I think I managed pretty well, though.

The cruel irony of my shopping excursions is that I had to walk downhill to get to the city center, then back up steep hills with all of my bags. I can't say that it is worse than having to drive a half an hour to get to a store back at home in North Carolina. I am very grateful for my close proximity to everything here.

Next priority: wash everything! This involved finding an open laundry facility on campus. One of the staff members was surprised I already had laundry to do. Really? I had just traveled for nearly two weeks and just purchased new bedding... I would imagine some other students may do the same? Once my laundry was done and my bed was made (ah, such a good feeling!), I ventured out to find Aldi to buy food. I found The Cooperative Food first, so that is where I shopped. I was exhausted and hungry. I picked up a few items and headed back to my flat. I ate dinner, showered again (I just felt so icky from staying in the hostels - I needed to get squeaky clean), and went to bed, frustrated that I couldn't figure out the internet connection, thus leaving me unable to send a message to let my family know I had arrived and was doing fine.

Though I was so relieved to not be sleeping in a noisy hostel with roommates and bunkbeds, I did not sleep well this first night. It was incredibly noisy outside with kids yelling, talking and making noise. The doors in the hall closing sounded like explosions. This certainly would not be a good place for a person with PTSD to reside. Around 4 am, the noise subsided and I was able to get some sleep.

I woke up the next day feeling better than I had in days. I got ready to go, shopping list and map in hand, backpack on with laptop in it, and headed to Starbucks to let Mom know that I was here and doing well. I did another round of shopping for necessities afterwards, then headed back to my flat to chop vegetables and make a very satisfying salad.

I had to attend a brief meeting for international students the next day. I was able to pick up an ethernet cable at the bookstore for the internet connection. My efforts to connect to the wireless network had been in vain; there aren't any wireless connections in the halls of residence yet. I felt so connected to the world when I got back and hooked up the cable! What joy.

I had two more meetings over the next two days, so I did more of the same - I went into the city centre and shopped for things I needed. Every Wednesday night is a pub night for international students at Strathclyde. We are sent an email on Tuesdays to let us know which pub to meet at. On this first Wednesday of the semester, the pub night was at the Counting House right off of George Square in the city centre. I had a great time and met quite a few people. The Counting House was nothing like I expected it to be. I wish I had taken a picture of it. The inside was large and ornate, with portraits on the white walls and sculptures peering out. I almost felt like I was in a bank. On Thursday, one of my flatmates, her friend, and I went on the hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Glasgow. I don't think it could have been a worse day to go. It was very cold and very rainy. I rode the entire route without getting off. My ticket was for two days, so I figured I could go back the next day to hop off at the sights I wanted to see. I was absolutely chilled to the bone and completely exhausted when the tour was over. I walked as fast as I could back to my hall, made a steaming hot cup of tea and tried to warm up. I was still very cold, so the remedy ended up being a nice nap, under the covers in bed.

Friday was a much, much nicer day for the hop-on, hop-off bus! Again, I walked to George Square to board the bus, destination: Glasgow Science Center. I really need to get better pictures of George Square; this one does not do it justice.

This is one of the cathedrals that I can see from my flat. I hope to walk around this area soon.

The Doulton Fountain in front of the Templeton Carpet Factory at Glasgow Green. The carpet factory was modeled after the Doge's Palace in Venice because the building was not desired by the wealthy citizens to look like a factory.

The figure atop the Doulton Fountain is of Queen Victoria. It was designed to commemorate her reign.

 The Mclennan Arch at Glasgow Green.

They say, "When in Glasgow, look up." The architecture here is really something to behold.

 The Clyde Arc, also affectionately referred to as "The Squinty Bridge," spans the Clyde River. 

The Squinty Bridge!

Looking out onto the Clyde River from the bridge.

I've reached my destination! The Glasgow Science Center. For some reason, I always forget that Science museums are geared towards children. I tried to be nonchalant with my childlessness and played with the exhibits alongside the families. I did refrain from entering the Alice in Wonderland exhibit, though it looked pretty cool for the little ones.

Back at the halls. I have to say, I think that the usage of flyers is the most disrespectful form of advertising there is. We have to navigate around them, the cleaning crew has to pick, sweep, or pluck them up (see the I,S, and P in the windows?), and they are just plain ugly. They are littered everywhere, including piled on the stairwells in our halls.  I was so frustrated, with having to climb six flights of stairs to get to my floor while dodging stacks of these things in an attempt not to slip, fall and break my neck, that I sent an email to one of the clubs to complain about the safety hazard. They haven't thrown flyers in our stairwell since.

I know I won't tire of these views during my walks around the city. 

 On the weekend, I strolled around the city a bit, and wandered into the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). I'm not a fan of modern art, but it was nice to take a look around in here for a couple of hours.

I mean, come on. How much fun is it to discover beautiful streets adorned with archways and surrounded by massive, ornate, stately buildings? 

Lunch at Jamie's Italian in George Square. Honeycomb Canneloni Three Ways: Aubergine and Sun-Dried Tomato, Pumpkin, Ricotta and Spinach. Fantastically delicious.

I took a bite out of dessert before I remembered to take a picture! Tiramisu. I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled with this "deconstructed" version. I like my tiramisu on the classic side. I also inhaled when I took a bite and the cocoa powder nearly choked me. I have no idea what possesses people to garnish with gobs of cocoa powder or powdered sugar for that matter. As a consumer, I do not wish the likelihood to choke on my food to be increased because of an ill-thought out garnish, and as a professional baker, I just think it's a terribly unimaginative way to garnish a food item. (Sorry Jaime, I still think you are awesome.)

Thanks for reading through a rather long post! My first week in Glasgow was quite busy, but full of excitement and adventure. I can't wait to share what happens next!


  1. Wow! I just started reading your blog from the beginning to this point in one sitting and feel like I have literally been on this journey with you. So much so, that I even feel the need for a quick shower after your very descriptive experiences in the hostels. That just means that you are a superior narrator. I must say that you were born to blog, Jess. If this were a novel, I would not be able to put it down. The pictures are outstanding!! I hope to one day visit Ireland as well but if not, your blog is the next best thing to being there in person. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us. I can't wait for the next post :)

  2. Thank you KC for your very flattering compliments! I am so glad you enjoyed reading what I've written so far. I am looking forward to taking you along with me on more of my adventures. :)