Where Are They Now? #002: Irene (Spain)

Student Tours Scotland feels like each and every one of you is like family. After you have been on tour with us you are indoctrined into our extended, and very varied, family. We have recently tracked down a bunch of folk who toured with us back in our previous life five years ago. Here is the second 'old skool' person with a summary of what they miss and what they are doing now.

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Thanks for being one of our first Where Are They Now interview. It's been around four years since you started studying in Glasgow, Scotland. Introduce yourself for us: name, where you are from etc.

Irene: My name is Irene and I'm from Spain.

STS: What do you miss the most about Glasgow and Scotland?

Irene: Quite a few things, probably the incredible places like mountains and lochs so close to the city centre. Also cakes, cookies and IRN BRU which are very difficult to find at home. And people, and parties. I think I miss almost everything, but not the weather.

STS: What one place in Scotland was your favourite?

Irene: If I have to choose just one place, it is probably Kelvingrove Park. But all the parks, really. They are so huge and there's lots of places where you can just go there and have a great time with your friends, read or even make a barbecue.

STS: Do you think it's important to get out and about in Glasgow and Scotland when you study here?

Irene: It is really really important. Scotland is an amazing place full of little magical corners that you absolutly need to discover. Scotland is just not Glasgow or the city you are staying in, there are lots of places around, lots of people, it really is mandatory!!

STS: But enough about Scotland. What are you doing with yourself now?

Irene: Right now I am a PhD student on Computer Sciences at the University of Granada. I finished my studies a year after been at GCU and I'd been doing postgraduate courses after that.

STS: Have you been back in Scotland since you first left?

Irene: Sadly no. At first I didn't had the money as it was very very expensive to flight there. Right now, that I have a job, I don't have the same free time as I had as student. But I really, really, really want to go back again. I miss a lot of people and a lot of places. Definetly,  it is my first point in my things to do list.

STS: If you could offer any one piece of survival advice to someone about to study in Scotland what would it be?

Irene: Don't be scared of talking to people. It can seem very hard at the beggining, but you can get the Scotish accent faster than it seems. And travel, move around a lot. There are tons of amazing places waiting there just for you.

STS: Cheers, Irene. Keep in touch!

Lena Points #2: Goosedubbs - the Street with the Funny Name

The Geese that played in the Dubbs

Glasgow City has some weird street names throughout it. In the Calton area there is 'Spoutmouth' and the nearby 'Schipka Pass'; there is the 'Candleriggs' in the Merchant City and 'Rottenrow' not far from here; there are the various 'gates' in and out of the city 'Trongate', 'Drygate', 'Bridgegate', 'Gallowgate' and the always interesting 'Saltmarket'. It is perhaps however a wee tiny lane in St. Enoch's that takes the prize of strangest street name in Glasgow. The 'Goosedubbs' is a curious little entity that has grasped my imagination for a long time as my number 21 bus passes each and every day. Where there ever any geese here? What were dubbs? 

After much reading and research (in other words, I bought a book on Glasgow Street Names), I discovered that a woman that lived here apparently owned some geese and they played in the puddleson the lane. An old Scots word for puddles is 'dubbs', hence the join - "Goosedubbs". You learn something new every day and thanks to our awesome Lena, we get to learn it through pointing. Cheers Lena!

Best View in Glasgow

Cathkin Braes Country Park

Few places in Glasgow offer as a good a view as those of Queens Park, Springburn Park and Ruchill Park however there is one that wins by a long shot. After taking the number 31 bus from St. Enochs Centre to Carmmunock, our wee squad of adventurers were ready to head to the deepest south of the City of Glasgow. Student Tours Scotland likes to show off the best Glasgow has to offer and it doesn't come better than the awesome and dizzy heights of Cathkin Braes Country Park. The quiet, tranquil meadows from Carmmunock Village to the park itself are a welcome change from the bustle of the main city below you. Approaching the Northern Edges of the Park you have the so-called 'Big Wood' with its tiny wee waterfall and plenty of awesome trees. It's the view over Glasgow and beyond that you get from the Radio Mast near Queen Mary's Seat though that ultimately makes the Country Park worthwhile. It's not an easy place to reach but certainly if you only visit one park in Glasgow, Cathkin Braes Country Park is a good one to go for.

Too Many Squirrels

Attacked from all Sides

Glasgow Botanic Gardens has it all - awesome gardens; flowers everywhere; hidden train stations and too many squirrels. As we sauntered through the West End and made our way here little did we think we would get attacked from all the grey squirrels in Glasgow. It started so simply when we offered one rather tame squirrel some food. Then another appeared - in Glasgow we'd say he was the first ones "hauners". Then a third followed by a fourth and a fifth. Before we realised it we were surrounded. It was cute at first until we noticed another four coming towards us. Glasgow doesn't have gang problems - it has squirrel gang problems. We barely escaped with our lives.

Where Are They Now? #001: Eirik (Norway)

Eirik from Norway

A while back I had this idea to track down former students from across the globe that used to study in Glasgow. With the magic of social media I have kept in touch with quite a lot of folk. This new regular feature from StudentTours Scotland will interview some of them and see where they are now I decided it would be best to start with someone from way back in the early days. So here is a Norwegian guy who studied in Glasgow 

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Thanks for being our first ever Where Are They Now interview. It's been around four years since you started studying in Glasgow, Scotland. Introduce yourself for us: name, where you are from and one random fact about yourself.

 

Eirik: My name is Eirik Lia, I´m a Norwegian graphic designer and illustrator with a degree in Communication design (BA) from Melbourne, Australia and a Msc in Cultural Heritage from GCU, this I received back in 2008.

STS: What do you miss the most about Glasgow and Scotland?

Eirik: What I miss about Glasgow, and Scotland the most is probably the architectural aesthetics, and maybe the sometimes harsh humor of the Scots. Some of the buildings are amazing, and you should really take your time to look up and gaze at the historical buildings as well as the ruins that might cross your path. Especially the Kelvingrove museum, is a gem.

STS: What one place in Scotland was your favourite?

 

Eirik: It´s a bit hard to say, I liked lots of places in Scotland. Choose one of the many rock bars of Glasgow and you won´t be disappointed. Else, I really liked the gothic looks of Edinburgh and the ease of mind in Inverness.

STS: Do you think it's important to get out and about in Glasgow and Scotland when you study here?

Eirik: It´s definitely a must to get out and about in Glasgow, I found that one of the best ways of seeing the city is to go running. There are so many parks and places to run you will be surprised.

STS: But enough about Scotland. What are you doing with yourself now?

 

Eirik: Today I run my own company called Eld Kommunikasjon, and work as a graphic design teacher at the Norwegian School of Creative Studies in Oslo.

STS: Have you been back in Scotland since you first left?

Eirik: I have actually not been back in Scotland after my studies, but I´d like to come back and experience the more rural sides of the country.

STS: If you could offer any one piece of survival advice to someone about to study in Scotland what would it be?

 

Eirik: Survival eh, well, it pretty much seems all safe, but an umbrella (and a wind shield) could be of help. Get used to the taste of whisky (cause you will be offered it a lot), and as I mentioned, the Scottish have their own kind of humor. Take any saucy comment with a smile and answer with a quick cheeky respond and you´ll be buddies for life. And yeah, be careful not entering a B&B in Inverness without ringing the doorbell, the dogs are much more vicious than their owners.

STS: Cheers for taking the time to chat with us Eirik. All the best.

 

Eirik: No worries, just been a pleasure!

Olympic Torch Relay comes to Rutherglen and Glasgow

Power of the Gods

It's not every day that you get to see someone running through the streets of Rutherglen and Glasgow with a flame in their hands. Well, it's not every day you get to see someone doing it legally anyway. Lit from the sun itself in the Temple of Hera in Greece the Olympic flame has come a long way. On Friday morning it came over from Northern Ireland and touched down on Scottish soil. Making its way up the West Coast it reached East Main Street in Rutherglen in the mid-afternoon. Student Tours Scotland headed down to the Main Street for a wee glimpse of history. The whole of South Lanarkshire appeared to have come out to see the torch. It was a really powerful sight. To see so many Rugloanians out in force was quite moving. It's rare that such a large community comes together like this. As the torch made it's way down to the Town Hall, my vantage point in the old Church Yard near Dr. Gorman himself was proving to be a good idea. Sure it wasn't as good as those brave souls standing on the balcony of the snooker club or the throng of kids dangling off the Mercat Cross but it was still a great view. As the runner passed by with that ancient flame in hand I could swear I felt a tear well up behind my eyes. This is Rutherglen, my home town, and here is a piece of history passing by. It was quite moving.

Suddenly it was over. Lingering around I took a moment to take in everything around me, there was so much going on. People everywhere. The Olympic Flame may not be long for Scotland but it's power of bringing folk together is strong. Rutherglen, and later Glasgow, had good reason to rejoice, a very special event had unfolded in front of our eyes - one we may not see again in our lifetimes. 

Glasgow: I Love This City

Second City

There are some days in Glasgow when I just honestly want to scream. Like anywhere you call home there are days when it drives you mad. Then there are days like today when you remember just why you love the place.

Upon arriving at my bus stop in the South East of the City today on a rather sunny morning I was heartened to see my (usually late) bus arrive on time. I sat down quickly only to discover that apparently First Bus (the company running the buses) had decided to save money by purchasing seats that are essentially the very basic that is needed for legal standards. My arse (that's ass for any Americans reading) was not too happy. The bus ride just got more and more hilarious. The driver was off like the clappers (very very fast) and decided each and every pot hole was to be run over. It was like a free roller coaster in the morning to prepare me for the day ahead.

On entering the city centre the City Council had kindly provided me with a banner reading "Glasgow" just in case I forgot what the city was called and I managed to get stuck in the Starbucks Disabled Toilet for seven minutes - not my finest moment. I spilled a coffee over my leg (very warm coffee) and slipped on a drain and almost fell on my arse (ass, America, ass).

At lunch I was almost knocked down by around 100 kids fleeing the forced fun that was being staged at the City's Royal Concert Hall, forgot to read Garfield before binning my Newspaper and once again almost fell on my arse.

However, through all of this there was a set of traffic lights, bent over almost to right angles with the road looking like some idiot driver had reversed into them. I smiled. Only in Glasgow could something this hilarious happen on such an awful day. A tramp said the nicest thing to me when I gave him £1; my friend gave me their last can of Irn Bru; I found another copy of the newspaper and managed to read Garfield; I saw a Saxophone player teach a young girl how to play the maracas along to his music; two long lost neds hugged as if seeing each other for the first time in years and the scary statue man was breaking his role and having a cheeky cigarette with the passers by on Buchanan Street.

And then I fell on my arse.

I love Glasgow. You should too!

Chasing Ghosts In South Glasgow

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

She is potentially the most tragic woman in history. Mary Queen of Scots could have done the impossible and instead her short life was fraught with chaos and broken promise. Our tour this week took in the Battlefield and Langside areas of Glasgow finishing off the four part story of the Queen around Glasgow. The Battlefield Monument at Langside is one of Student Tours Scotland's favourite hidden gems in Glasgow. It's a shame it's not more known about with tourists. It really does look awesome.

Our tour entered Queens Park - named after Mary and her life as her final battle for freedom was fought here. The Glasshouse in the park has some cool surprises like a whole range of cacti; a massive set of Koi Carp and an awesome reptile house. One or two of our party were a little startled by the snakes though!

Glasgow has a great number of parks and this Victorian Era park is one to see. The views from the flagpole run almost to the north of the city. The duck pond seems full of seagulls but at least there is a smaller one nearby which is full of cool birds. 

The Glasgow walks are really taking off. See you next week on our next one!

Eurovision 2012 Party

Europe's Tragic Moments

I don't know whether it was just the recession and the effects of the Euro Zone issues but I couldn't get into Eurovision this year. We have a party every year and this was no different. We still had a laugh but I just thought the standard was incredibly poor - even for Eurovision! 

Sweden winning isn't a bad thing though - perhaps I will head to Stockholm for it next year. I'm an avid fan of the event but when playing pool is more interesting I think it says it all. 2012 is a Eurovision to forget.

Trip Review: Lanarkshire and Falls of Clyde

One Sunny Day in Scotland

25 tours later and Student Tours Scotland has reached its end of the first semester. We've had some great trips and some fantastic experiences so it only made sense to go out with a bang. With the sun shining and the reservoirs open we headed to the Falls of Clyde. The trail here is a great one for a good day out. Scotland has some cool places up north but a lot of people don't realise what is on their doorstep in Lanarkshire. There were some great moments when we tried and failed get pics of New Lanark (bad memory) and tried to say "I'm a potato" in all the languages of everyone present but overall the trek was amazing - if exhausting. It's not every day in Scotland you get a sunny day.

The town of Lanark had some great hidden gems too - although the church where William Wallace got married could do with a makeover. It is in a sorry state. The fish 'n' chips there is more than worth a taste! After getting confused between the church bells and an ice cream van we headed back to Glasgow.

Pollok Country Park is the largest inner city park in Europe. We were after the Highland Cow herd they have here. We were not upset. There were even two wee babies running about crazy.

It's sad to see the semester end - however I'm glad everyone had fun. See you in the summer guys!

Don’t Hate the Swans - They’ll Getcha!

Fossil Grove and Victoria Park

Glasgow has some awesome parks - Victoria Park in the West Side is a great example of this. We took a squad to Partick and walked through the wonderful Broomhill estate and over the expressway. The park was pretty amazing in the sunshine - people sun seeking all over the place. One of the guys got a little too close to the swans which almost ended in tears but it was nothing some ice cream didn't sort. The Fossil Grove at the back of the park caught everyones attention. The rockery behind the main part is just fantastic. It's like something out of Tomb Raider. If you go to just one park in Glasgow make it this one - especially in the sunshine.