The Mole Diaries: Glasgow
Kersland Street, Glasgow by Bob Shand
Ross studied at Glasgow University in the UK and gives us an insider's view on this great Scottish city. He's now a travel blogger and you can read more about his adventures on his blog Europe Traveler.Glasgow has a long and entwined history of being a fantastic University city, that also knows how to seriously let its hair down! A heady mix of great nightlife, as well as excellent learning facilities, make Glasgow an outstanding city to study in full time or for that all important 3rd year abroad. I studied at Glasgow University, which lies in the West End of the city; however there are two other Universities - Strathclyde and The Caledonian. Personally I liked Glasgow University campus most, as you are close to the ‘bohemian’ West End area, which is more relaxed than the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Also, there are plenty of parks in the West end that you can chill out in the summer months at. The other two campuses are right in the city centre so there is less open space, but you are closer to all the main shops, so it all depends on what you’re looking for: bohemian feel or close proximity to the town centre.
Glasgow has quite a good public transport system that can take you to virtually all parts of the city and suburban areas. The underground is the easiest way to get to the West End from town and the start of the Southside. It also usually works out to be the quickest too, as traffic can get congested during rush hour. The underground, however, only covers a small portion of the city, so bear that in mind, as it’s not always practical for everyone’s travel needs. There is an over-ground rail service which overlaps with the underground and is useful for going out to more remote parts of town. It is worth noting that it is more expensive than the bus service which takes you to all the same place, just at a fraction of the cost. For both the train and bus you can buy daily, weekly and monthly tickets. Also, as a student, you are entitled to a 1/3 off the train service with the 16-25 railcard (however this is only valid off peak - so it does not apply first thing in the morning during the week).
The West End is largely considered to be the main student area of the city, however it is also one of the most expensive areas to rent too. This is due to the popularity and high mortgage costs for the flats in this area. The East End and South Side, which can be reached with public transport, offer cheaper rooms to rent but are further away from where you are most likely to want to be! If you want to be in the heart of this metropolis, Merchant City is the place to stay. More convenient if you are studying at Strathclyde or The Caledonian, Merchant city offers a real city lifestyle. Rents are affordable here but the down side is that flats are generally far smaller than in other areas of the city.
Things To Do
Glasgow has so much to do that I cannot fit it all into one article. If you want to get a feel for the city then visit the SeeGlasgow site which offers lots of information for tourists coming to the city. It’s a good place to start your research, as you’ll get a feel for the historic part of the city, too.
Unfortunately Glasgow does have a reputation for being ‘rough round the edges’ and this is well deserved. The city does have a higher than average rate of violence which has blotted its reputation. However this shouldn’t put you off coming - one thing I would say about Glasgow is that it is possibly one of the friendliest cities in the world. Think of it like a ‘diamond in the rough’. Never have I been to a city where people are so open, there’s always someone to talk to and you make friends really quickly - which is an important thing if you are moving to a city on your own. Glasgow also has a great ‘Art scene’ largely thanks to Glasgow School of Art. With this comes a large number of art school students and ‘arty’ hangouts. There are a few ‘cool’ bars near the Art School – Nice and Sleazy and the Variety bar being two of the most popular, but there are more down in the Tron gate area of the city too - which is also where the Tron theatre is.
You are literally tripping over restaurants in Glasgow and there is something to suit virtually every taste and budget. I’m vegetarian and one of the great things about Glasgow is that virtually everywhere in the city caters in some form for us veggies. If you’re looking for something truly vegetarian, there are also a number of restaurants - The 13th Note, Mono and Stereo all offer great veggie food at reasonable prices.
I have never met anyone who has come to Glasgow and not left having had a good time! They say that New York is the city that never sleeps, they are wrong: it’s Glasgow, in my opinion. Depending on what you want from a night out, there is something for everyone. The West End has a good mix of bars and restaurants aimed at students and families. One popular area in the here is Ashton Lane which is a small cobbled pedestrian area with some great bars, but Byres road is so jam-packed with them, you can spend the weekend there and still not get through them all. In town there are also a mesmerising number of bars and restaurants that it is no surprise Scotland is called the sick man of Europe(!). Sauchiehall street is the main student street in Glasgow, with virtually every bar and club aimed at this market; cheap and most definitely cheesy! If cheese doesn’t float your boat (it didn’t float mine) - you may be interested to know that Glasgow has a great clubbing scene, possibly one of the best in the UK, with the Arches and the Sub Club being firm favourites with clubbers far and wide.
In general wherever I am in the world I do find myself pining to be back in Glasgow - its character and charm make it a city unlike anywhere else I have been too. Its teaching facilities are of a very high standard and its nightlife is unrivalled. If you get the opportunity to study here, grab it with both hands!