Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ashley D. - Glasgow, Scotland - Fall 2009

Heya guys!

I'm so sorry this has taken me so long, I've just been incredibly bogged down. It's amazing how much reading I have to sift through for my classes...blah!
But anyway, I've been studying at the University of Strathclyde here in Glasgow, Scotland for just over a month now. And took alot of getting used to. I expected to be thrown off by accents and etiquette, so that wasn't much of a shock - if anything, I've already embraced a bit of the jargon.
But education here is so much different than back home: there's a huge focus on self-directed learning, so I spend much more time reading and researching for my classes than actually attending them. And continual assessment doesn't exist here. Each class requires one essay of about 3,000 words and one final exam. And that's it.
Social gatherings are also way different from what I'm used to. Hanging out in the Chicago suburbs equates to chillin’ at a friend’s house or getting a cup of coffee, or something along those lines. But here, it’s much more common to go to a pub or a club to cap off the night. Also, back home most of the good bands play at 21+ venues so being underage means missing out on a lot of fantastic music as well as the whole atmosphere in general. Whereas here, there aren’t any venues that I’m barred from - and there are so many with live music, even during the week. It’s amazing. And although binge drinking is still a problem here (as it is anywhere), I think that aspect of the social scene is a bit more mature. It’s really more of an unwind-and-relax than a get-drunk-and-dance-on-the-table sort of thing.
Ok, now comparisons aside. My class schedule is all over the place, sometimes with 4-hr breaks between classes and other times clashing so badly that I have to run to catch my next lecture (Tuesdays are especially hectic). I’ve already gotten myself addicted to a soap here called Coronation Street which airs Monday nights before Flash Forward. Mondays are quite an event for flat 9C, actually - my roommates and I either order in food and spend the night bumming around, or we cook up a feast. Which, by the way, our feasts are amazing because influence comes from all over - one of my flat mates is from Canada, and she eats only raw and organic. Another girl is Czech, one is from Denmark, two from Singapore and one is a Dundee (Scotland) native. So sometimes we’ll have Northern Indian food with raw pepper salad and s’mores for dessert. Or pizza with prawn toast and fried Mars bars…it’s crazy. And amazing.
We’ve also been doing a good bit of traveling, too. We’ve been to Loch Lomond (this gorgeous lakeside town about an hour outside Glasgow), and Edinburgh (the capitol of Scotland). This past weekend we went to Manchester, and while a few friends caught a ManU match, I walked around the city-centre. We stayed in a hotel in the suburbs, and it was the friendliest environment we’ve been in since arriving.
...And that's where I leave you, 'cause the timer's going to go off on the oven any minute now.

Feel free to ask questions if you’ve got ‘em!

- Ashley


Anonymous Amie V said...

Hello Ashley,

My trio abroad next semester will be nowhere in Europe, but in Australia actually. I guess my biggest concern would be all the prep work that is done before hand. I wanted to know if you had and packing advice? I have way to many clothes and don't know what us considered too much to bring.


2:43 PM  
Anonymous Emily said...

I'm glad to hear you are enjoying Scotland. I will be studying in Italy this spring. I am excited but am getting nervous about experiencing culture shock. It sounds like you've had to adjust to a couple of differences there. How long has it taken you to adjust and what helped you to adjust?

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Ashley said...

Amie - oh, boy...I am not the right person to ask about packing! I brought two 50-lb suitcases, a 30-lb carry on, and a "purse" the same size as my carry on lol and then I had to lug all that junk around the airport, the hotel I stayed in, around campus the first day here...Yeah.
So I'm not going to lecture you on packing light - even though it is a very, very good idea. But. I like to have all my things with me, because it makes me feel more at home when my closet is full and not so much like I'm living out of a suitcase.
But about Australia in particular - I've had friends that have studied there and they've told me that the students dress up for class - like khakis and button-down shirts and the like. So bring plenty of nice clothes...and shoes. Bring a couple pairs of comfy shoes. I thought I'd skimp on them to save space, and only brought one pair...and well, my mom's shipping me a second pair next week. :-\

Emily - It actually took me about the whole first month to fully settle in. Not that I was a basket case during that time or anything, but I wasn't completely comfortable either.
What helped me most were my flatmates - by the first weekend, we had already established a sort of buddy-system for pub-going and were eating off each others' plates. It really helps to be around people and to keep busy - not only do you get the most out of the experience, but it's the best way to fend off homesickness (at least for me).
And really, make an effort to buddy up with the people you'll be living with. Even if you can't stand'll just make your life a whole lot easier.

5:19 PM  

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