When In Glasgow

October 01, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

While you were…

- screaming at the computer because for a third semester in a row the common core you wanted to take is full and the course registration system is closed;

- marveling at all the freshers thinking, GOD, I’m sure I didn’t look that young three years ago!;

- stumbling into a the lecture hall at 9am, hair a disheveled patch of seaweed and shoelaces flying, after one too many at the Happy Valley races last night;

- drinking discounted frappuccinos at one of the two Starbucks on campus because apparently one global coffee giant branch isn’t enough for a school that takes less than 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other;

- and then, later, boycotting class and out on the streets, braving the tear gas and the thunder and trying not to swear at the police…;


I was in Glasgow…

- Walking a lot: Everything here is supposedly within ‘walking distance’, aka I’m sorry but our city’s transportation system is really expensive and not that well-developed so you have to walk everywhere (Glasgow is awesome, but the convenience of Hong Kong’s transport is unparalleled in the world.) The definition of ‘walking distance’ includes a 38-minute walk from my residence to the city centre. On a typical day it’s not uncommon for me to spend over an hour walking; gone were the lazy days of hopping onto the tram to avoid walking a two-stop distance. The upside? No more world-class pollution, just crisp fresh air and a tree-lined pavement littered with brown leaves. The downside – the infamous Glasgow rain.


- Cooking: Eating out is not as horrendously expensive as I heard it is in other European cities; yesterday my friends and I went for an Indian buffet lunch at the West End and that was only 6 pounds. Still, most people here seem to prefer making their own meals, and for the last two weeks I’ve mostly been living on pasta and vegetable stir-fries. The kitchen is also a hub for socializing; I share a kitchen with my cool roommate Sierra from Santa Cruz, California, and about 10 other boys from various parts of the UK, most of whom are three to four years younger than me, and all of whom cook better than me (except possibly Jason from Inverness who once made the kettle explode). So far I still have difficulty matching their names with their faces, and sometimes their accents are so heavy I can’t actually catch what they’re saying so I nod and laugh and pray it wasn’t an inappropriate response to whatever they had been saying.

- Not getting into post-referendum fights at George Square: I was in York when all the excitement took place, but there have been rumours of violence near the city centre after the results of the Scottish Independence Referendum were announced (Glasgow is a ‘Yes’ city). A lot of my friends back in Hong Kong were asking me how things are over here, and to their disappointment it’s mostly been quiet at the West End/University area where I live. My friends and I did attend the debates, and on the night of the referendum, we headed out to George Square and talked to a myriad of people, though we left soon because we had to catch the last train (and also because my Spanish friends got slightly pissed off by two Catalonian flag-waving individuals).


- Getting hit with a bout of fresher’s flu: the fresher’s flu is very real. Dancing the night away with a bunch of sweaty, drunken teenagers from all over the world for a week straight was fun. Waking up the next with sore throat and a throbbing headache was not.

- Joining weird societies: From the Harry Potter Society to the Bad Movie Society, the University of Glasgow has really got it all.


- Copying and photocopying: I never appreciated how lucky I was to have all my duplicated materials printed out to me and deposited at my pigeon hole for collection back at HKU, because here, you’re given a list of reading materials and you’re expected to find everything on your own in the library. I spent 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon running from one floor to another, grabbing books before any of my classmates reach them, and copying the relevant chapters page by page. Not how I thought I’d be spending my weekends here. I guess it’s all part of the self-learning process – it’s just, it would have been so much more efficient and less time-consuming for it to be done once and then photocopied to the students. I could have spent more of that time just studying too…

- Going to the theatre: as many as three times last week. Glasgow is renowned for its arts and culture scene, and that’s also a huge part of why I chose to come here. I went to see A Play A Pie And A Pint at Oran Mor, the Scottish Ballet at Theatre Royal, and Hamlet at Citizens Theatre, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.


- Putting U2’s new album on loop: In case you live under a rock: if you’re an Apple iTunes user, IT’S FREE. People have been screaming sellout, but it’s still good music, so who cares?

- Shutting myself in the room for a day watching the Hong Kong student boycotts and protests on the online live broadcast: most of my best friends were out on the streets at one point or another over the past couple of days, and it was extremely painful to only be able to witness what’s happening to the city you love through a screen and feeling utterly helpless from thousands of miles away. It’s also been frightening for me and my other friends on exchange, because every time our phone vibrates it’s a new whatsapp telling us someone’s been hurt with tear gas, or new rumors about a possible escalation of violence on the part of the police. And when it doesn’t vibrate it’s even worse, because then we don’t know what’s happening to the people we care about; after one of my friends unsuccessfully tried to convince her boyfriend not to head out to Admiralty, he texted her a “I love you” and then went off the grid. It’s also knowing that if we were there, we would have been out, not because we think it’ll necessarily change anything, but because 20 years or so later if the city goes down the drains we’d want to think that we didn’t sit at home idly and caved in without putting up a fight.

Stay strong, Hong Kong. x