Today was my first day of classes at the University of Glasgow. Unfortunately, I woke up stuffed up and feeling awful. I had a nasty cough and a general feeling of illness but I was desperate to not miss my first day of classes so I took a few advil and got ready to go.
The walk to campus from my flat is about 15 minutes and it’s absolutely beautiful. Today the temperature was around 37 degrees Fahrenheit, cold, and I was sweating the entire time. I probably had a fever that was breaking. I put on my best “I don’t feel sick!” face and set off to my Scottish Literature class.
I haven’t taken a picture of campus yet BUT for those of you who have not google-image-searched it, this is where I go to school:
The way classes work here is there is the lecture portion – taught by a “lecturer” – and a seminar portion – led by a “tutor”. The lecture for my Monday – Wednesday classes meets twice a week and it’s very much “listen and learn” in style. The lecturer lectures, you take notes and learn. The lecturer could be different every week or rotating. They all know the subject. Then once a week you meet in a smaller seminar group. This portion of the class is solely discussion based. You are expected to bring in questions, presentations, challenges, and arguments. The seminar portion requires students to do a lot of outside work, so they have something to bring to seminar, but it also allows students to focus their outside work on aspects of the subject that interest them or intrigue them the most. Everyone brings something different and we all learn from each other with the help of a consistent tutor. I love this set up, even though I haven’t been to a seminar yet. Another fun fact about the University of Glasgow: tests are anonymous, meaning you do not put your name on the test. The professor does not know who’s paper they are grading. Outside graders also review exams. While this is perhaps scary, it’s definitely more fair than the American system. We have all experienced favoritism, whether intentional or not, and this reduces or eradicates that problem.
Anyway, my first class is Scottish Literature and my lecturer was a very excitable Scottish man who rambled for a while about great Scottish poets and authors. He recited quotes. He was completely nerdy about the subject. I think that reading books written by Scottish authors will be difficult for me because I’m perhaps not as familiar with Scottish history or colloquialisms but I think if I put the effort in this class will be extremely rewarding. I also though I should take at least one Scottish focused class while I was here to add to my enjoyment of the culture. The semester includes the reading of around 8 books so I should probably buy them all and begin my reading now.
My other class is a theatre studies class on Modernism to Postdramatic performance. While I’ve learned about some of these practitioners in my Theatre History class at SMU, this class is more theory focused. Half of my grade will be based on a group performance that I have to devise with the members of my seminar group. We will be posed with a question and must use the theories we learn about the Modern to Postdramatic practitioners from our lectures and reading to devise a 30 minute performance. Participation in this performance can possibly be writing, directing, performing, composing, video-editing, and more. The other half of my grade is a 2,500 word Critical Reflection of my account of the project, relating my work in the project back to the readings, the class, and how I believed I participated to the final thing. Again, scary, mostly because I am not accustomed to this system of learning, but terribly exciting.
Other fun facts about today:
1) 6 inch subs at Subway are 3 pounds. While this lacks culture in every way, it’s the cheapest meal I’ve found here in Glasgow.
2) If I were a full-time student here, I’d have to pass Level 2 Theatre Studies in order to be eligible for “Honours”. If you are eligible for “Honours” you go to school for two more years and graduate with a “Theatre Studies” degree. If you are not eligible you take Level 3 theatre studies and graduate one year later with a “General Humanities” degree. Our professor explained the system to the students in my Modernism to Postdramatic class. After the explanation one student asked “Is Level 3 Theatre Studies useful in the real world?” We all had a good laugh at that. Besides their weird accents and different academic pasts, students here are exactly the same as they are at home.
3) I had to miss out on the “Brazilian’s party” because of my mucus-filled lungs.
4) I successfully did my laundry for the first time.
5) The cool Scottish guy who helped me get my Student I.D. card has family in Vancouver and was super excited I was from Seattle. Most people seem to like that I’m from Seattle. I like that I’m from Seattle. But I’m also falling in love with Glasgow.