I went on exchange to the University of Glasgow in Scotland in semester 2, 2015. Let me start by saying I am not the adventurous type; my ideal day is not leaving bed except to get more chocolate to enjoy while watching TV shows. But somehow I managed to get myself out of bed for long enough to get to the other side of the world. More than that, I loved every minute of it, so there’s no need to worry that exchange is just for the adventurous people.
Let me start with my host city and my host university. Glasgow has a rough reputation, but I found the people of Glasgow to be the friendliest people I had ever met. There is not a person you can pass on the street without them trying to get to you enjoy a pint with them, tell you their life story or discuss the retched weather. But that does require gaining a grasp on the Glasweigen slang rather quickly. Glasgow University embodies that same attitude, with so many sporting clubs and societies, there is never a moment to be alone and miss home as I was so scared I would do. It also feels like a Hogwarts castle, the campus is so beautiful, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride every time you show up for a dreaded 9am lecture.
But enough of the generic stuff, everyone says their host city is the best (although mine actually is!). Everyone has their own stories and own experiences on exchange because everyone does it a little differently, including myself. From the time I arrived in Scotland and had my first trip on the train, I realised I was in a beautiful country and had to make the most of it. I then made it my mission to see as much as possible. From Glasgow it takes no time at all to be lost in the rough wilderness of the highlands with only a single track road and a small, falling down, stone wall keeping you safe on the side of a mountain. You can’t help but feel the history, become reflective and feel small. I made it my mission to make sure that I was outside and experiencing something new with every spare moment I had, despite the dreich (Glasweigen slang for dreadful) weather.
I also spent some time in Glasgow and at the University despite all the roaming around. The University of Glasgow is in the West End of Glasgow, which means the it is just far enough from the city that no one will go there unless they are a student. Because of that, the West End has become a little student haven with university students everywhere to befriend and the university culture is contagious. So much so that I ended up joining a sporting club that I never would have considered before (I think it had something to do with the person dressed up as a tiger dancing around, claiming to be a mascot). I joined the rifle and sporting gun club, which was the best decision I made on exchange because I got to compete and travel all across Scotland with a new group of fantastic people.
Perhaps not surprisingly to some, but it certainly is to me as I write this at the end of my amazing experience, I have realised that there are other things to do in the world than just enjoy a comfy bed. I have also realised that it is possible to have two homes, and I’m sure that when I do come home to Adelaide, that I will be homesick for my other home in Glasgow.