Today was the first day in Glasgow. First we finished our orientation in Edinburgh where they packed us full of useful information about life here: safety, travel, phones etc. and then we got a private bus to take us to Glasgow. We were told that Glasgow is not as classically beautiful as Edinburgh but there are still amazing things on almost every street. I have to keep pinching myself to see if I’m really here.
I was dropped off at my housing on Kelvinhaugh Street and I dragged my luggage up 3 floors to my flat. Flats in my building have 5 single rooms and a shared living space. They are also all co-ed. Upon entering my flat I met two boys from Brazil living in the rooms closest to me. They were awesome and made me feel at home right away. As I unpacked they played guitar and sang in Portuguese next door in the living room. I think I’ll like living here. I have yet to meet my other two flat mates. I hear one is a Brazilian girl (I better know a little Portuguese by the end of the semester dammit) and one is yet unknown.
After some unpacking I met back up with the others in my program for dinner. At orientation they advised us all to keep in contact because we would feel very lonely these first couple days without some friends. There are only 11 of us but we all took that very seriously and so far everyone has each others back. Also we’re a pretty chill group I’d say and an eclectic bunch from everywhere across America.
We went to a little restaurant for dinner called the tiki bar which has thai food on the first floor and a bar in the basement. The food was delicious, albeit pricey. I know I’ll have to start buying groceries in order to save money real quick. A couple of us tried a local beer with dinner. It was surprisingly delicious so I asked the guy who ran the place to remind me of the name in order to remember for later. He told me that it was called St. Mongo’s after the patron saint of Glasgow. In his words “Saint Mongo was a monk that secretly brewed beer, which in Glasgow makes you a fucking legend.” He also told us a story about when he was in America trying to buy cigarettes at a gas station and he kept asking for “fags”. The “large black lady” at the counter, as he described it, kept saying “Honey, you want what?” The people here so far are incredibly friendly. I hope to meet as many as possible.
I hung out for a while with my American friends and upon returning to my flat found that the Brazilians keep this place roasty toasty like a tropical paradise. Luckily the window next to my bed opens and I fell asleep listening to the sounds of the city.
Today I woke up to a house with no food and no WiFi. Luckily the Brazilians were awake so they helped me solve my WiFi problems fast. I also figured out how to turn down my radiator so I no longer live in a tropical paradise. Then I met up with the other Americans to go to the carphone warehouse to buy cheap UK phones so we can text and call each other instead of finding WiFi to get in touch. We all bought tiny Nokias that are a blast from the past. I almost forgot about the t9 days but it definitely takes 5 minutes to even type a text on these things. It’s great.
My T-Mobile home phone is turned off now so I can only communicate with home through wifi. Aaaah!!
We then ate lunch at a place called the Hanoi Bike Shop which is actually a Vietnamese restaurant that was recommended to us by our program advisors. Someone did come in while we were eating looking for a bike and the girl working there had to apologize about the confusing name.
When we returned to our flats I met one of my friend’s roommates: also Brazilian. When we told him about the 11 Americans we met upon arriving here he said that sounded like his group…of 67 BRAZILIANS. They are everywhere. But they’re also awesome and we’re trying to get them to cook us Brazilian food.
On a quest to find shampoo I found that there’s a grocery store literally a block away from where I live. This is a lifesaver because I don’t have to buy anything in bulk. If I need anything I walk to the corner. Oh! And they have a 2 for 70p pastry section. Easiest and most delicious breakfast option ever? I think so.
The Americans planned on cooking dinner together but then realized none of us have utensils and plates yet. So we went to a cheap pub that, again, was only a block away, called the Islay Inn. This place was awesome (I know I keep using that word but I mean it every time). We were seated by this giant mural of musicians playing music. Only 5 or 10 minutes after we showed up about 5 Scottish men with ukuleles started playing songs while seated together around a table. I thought I was going to cry it was so cool. But! Then more and more musicians started showing up with fiddles, guitars, wooden flutes, accordians etc. And started setting up. We did a huge double take because all of the musicians setting up WERE THE MUSICIANS DEPICTED IN THE GIANT MURAL WE WERE SITTING NEXT TO. We asked and they said they had been playing there every Monday on and off for about 5 years. There were over 20 of them all in the same room with us and it was the most fun thing ever to watch them play. We’ll have to return another Monday. But also this pub has Wednesday quiz nights and Sunday open mic nights. We may just have to become regulars there and get ourselves painted on the mural.
I know I need to be taking more pictures. Usually I take pictures of everything. But here I’ve just been absorbing so much and always on the go. Also it gets dark early (like 4:30pm) so I have to remember to take pictures in the morning. Others also brought cameras so I will try to get them to take photos as well!