After being here for almost two months, it finally snowed! Storm Ciara brought freezing temperatures and stormy weather, but for someone that has never seen snow before it was so pretty. Unfortunately the snow has yet to reach a level where the streets are blanketed in white, so the photos I have don’t show the scale. The motivation behind this blog post is to share a little bit about the lifestyle here in Glasgow, from restaurant recommendations to supermarket content.
Student Life and Facilities
- Glasgow University has two unions: the Glasgow University Union (GUU) which has traditionally been the more male dominated one, and the Queen Margaret Union (QMU) which was formed in response to the exclusion of women from the “old boys” club at GUU. You can choose to join both, and gain access to discounts at the Union cafes/restaurants. GUU also has a student club called “the Hive” which is extremely popular on a Thursday night, which is student night here.
- I was very impressed by the student newspaper, the Glasgow Guardian which has a long history behind it. The raw, uncensored journalism is a refreshing read.
Food and Drinks
Glasgow has a range of impressive foods and cultures. Here are some of my favourites for whatever mood that might strike:
- Wetherspoons: also known fondly as ‘Spoons’, you can order the traditional Scottish pub fare of Haggis (a savoury pudding/oatmeal thing), neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) here. Whetherspoons is a chain of pub restaurants, which serve decently priced meals and alcoholic drinks. I love the risotto and toasted sandwiches here, and would recommend trying some of their alcoholic cocktails which are served in big jugs. It does frequently become extremely busy during sporting events on the TV, and this was quick to become a cornerstone of my weekly pint habit with my friends.
- Mother India : conveniently located close to campus, this is one of the best Indian restaurants in Glasgow. Indian cuisine is British staple, with reports stating that their favourite dish is Chicken Tikka Masala. I am sure the long colonial history between the two countries has led to the intense love affair with eastern curries. Pro tip: order smaller dishes to share here so you can sample all the flavours, as the curries are served in an almost tapas style.
- La Vita Spuntini: if you want something a bit fancier or if you want to go for cute drinks near uni, this venue has a full artificial cherry blossom tree inside! As a winner of Glasgow’s best Italian food award, they serve many traditional Italian options as well as some dishes with a Scottish twist. The waiters/waitresses wear the most adorable plaid outfits, and the food is decently priced. You definitely want to come here with friends though – both to help split the bill as well as to take photos of you in this #superinstagrammable decor.
For those of you who love to cook, the fresh produce (and their prices!) of Glasgow is definitely something I wish we had in New Zealand. For example, they sell a whole ball of mozzarella at most supermarkets for £0.45 which is equivalent to $0.90 NZD! I literally ate an entire ball of mozzarella as my breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the first two weeks that I was here. Add a little bit of balsamic vinegar, tomato, or a basil leaf and voila! Masterchef, eat your heart out!
There are plenty of supermarkets within a short distance of each other (the closest to campus are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Iceland, Marks & Spencers), and they also sell cheap ‘Free From’ or specialty diet products. Almond and soy milks are almost the same price as normal cow’s milk, and gluten free and vegan products are so much more affordable than back home. In particular, meat substitutes such as Quorn or other plant based meats come in so many quick and simple cooking varieties such as ready made tacos or pad thai stir fry’s. I was also so surprised to discover plant based meatballs at Subway, Quorn chicken served at KFC and seasoned with their herbs and spices, and vegan sausage rolls at my local bakery chain Gregg’s. This means that it was really easy for me to try vegan options, especially as I was searching for more environmentally friendly and healthier options. I am really really going to miss my $2 NZD per litre almond milks!
One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well if one has not dined wellVirginia Woolf
Entertainment and Attractions
In terms of my favourite places to visit in and around Glasgow, I have highlighted both attractions as well as entertainment options:
- The SEE Hydro: this massive stadium is a 15 minute walk behind my flat, and the top class artists all perform here. It’s great because I can just walk home after an act – Halsey was only $60 NZD!
- The beautiful Kelvingrove Park is a section of my daily commute into uni, and is lovely for an early morning run before it gets too busy.
- The Clydeside Distillery gives a good glimpse into the process of making some of Scotland’s finest single malt whiskies in a stunning dockside venue.
- The Glasgow Science Centre is like an interactive museum, filled with interesting experiments and hands on activities.
I have tried to navigate as much of Glasgow as possible by foot. Although the city is well linked with both buses, subways, and trains, I prefer to walk (when it is not pouring down) as I definitely need the exercise after all the food I have been eating. I would recommend ordering a subway card online for free though, as it provides cheaper transport compared to both one-use paper tickets and purchasing the card at the stations (£3). The subway runs in a continuous loop around the River Clyde, and circles to all the main areas around Glasgow. It is super handy for when you need to go into Glasgow’s CBD district (Merchant City) when it is pouring with rain and you are too tired to walk 30 minutes or don’t want to pay for the Uber.
Finally, one of my favourite places has to be home! I am staying at Kelvinhaugh Street student accommodation, which is actually about a 15-20 minute walk away from campus. The entire street is filled with students, so you often bump into friends on the walk to or from class. I personally would have preferred to be closer to campus, especially when it is raining cats and dogs, but the accomodation is located close to supermarkets, beauty salons, and several amazing cafes. It is about a 30 minute walk to Glasgow Central (the train station equivalent of Britomart here), or around a 10 minute (£5) Uber ride.
The student support services also often run events, such as streaming the Oscars, watching sport games, and Movie nights every week.
I love home because of my flat mates! I quickly became fast friends with the two other students that I share my flat with. They are both from America, with one from Boston (which has affluent suburbs, MIT and cold wet winters), and the other from Texas (hot, dry, yeehaw).
Friends are the sunshine of life.John Hay
That’s all for today folks – I will see you very soon for another update in the life of Cecilia and her mozzarella balls part 2!
Ta-ta (goodbye) until next time,