Glasgow Sem Fronteiras #09: Augusto

Another day, another Brazilian

Welcome to another Glasgow Sem Fronteiras where we at Student Tours Scotland chase down a student from Brazil who is on the Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK scholarship. This week we chat with Augusto who is at the University of Strathclyde.

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Hello, so, who are we talking to today? Name, age, where you come from in Brazil, your home place of study?

Augusto (A): Hello! I’m August and I am 22 years old. I study in Sao Carlos, a city 240km away from Sao Paulo (actually, my hometown is Rondonópolis, more than a thousand kilometres from my university – this means I just visit my family 3 or 4 times a year).

STS: Why choose Glasgow, August? What made you decide it was the place to go with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK?

A: First of all I wanted to study somewhere in Europe, actually I wanted to study in the UK! Well, searching for which universities offered my course; I came across University of Strathclyde here in Glasgow, my first option when I applied. It was perfect! I mean, study in Scotland with all those amazing landscapes, beautiful scenarios, movie locations...

STS: What was your FIRST experience in Glasgow after arriving?

A: The first thing I remember is getting the cab to the accommodation. I couldn’t understand a word the driver was saying because of the accent! But we managed to arrive in the right place! And in that same night it was the first time I saw snow (not proper snow, but something frozen was falling from the sky)! The next day, buying food at the supermarket, saying, “Ok, I don’t know what this thing is but well I’m hungry, I’ll take that!”

STS: Are you enjoying your time in Glasgow? What aspects of life in the city are you most enjoying?

A: I am absolutely enjoying my time here! People here in Glasgow are really friendly and helpful, it’s amazing. And here we can find every kind of things to do. There are a lot of parks and they are the best place to go in a sunny day, cafés where you can just order something and stay to read a book, pubs with live and good music, clubs for all music tastes, a cinema that is actually a building with 9 floors and lots of movies to choose...awesome.

STS: Have you managed to do any touring around Scotland while here with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK?

A: Sure! The landscapes in Scotland are breathtaking. Maybe this is the reason several movies (such as Harry Potter and Cloud Atlas) have scenes filmed here. The mountains and the lochs form a unique vision that makes you want to stay there for hours. The castles, their stories and how they survived for centuries are simply incredible. Oh, I can’t forget Isle of Skye and Isle of Seil, Stonehaven and Troon Beach, such amazing places!

STS: Would you encourage other students from Brazil, who are thinking of going abroad with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK to study in Glasgow? If yes, why?

A: Yes, sure! Glasgow has really good universities to study. Also, the city is full of life, it has everything a big city should have for everyone. Also, the experience to learn English (and the Scottish accent as well) and the possibility to know the country and the culture are the best things here.

STS: What will you miss the most from Glasgow when you return to Brazil?

A: I don’t know if I can pick just one thing. I’d say the parks, cafés, pubs, the clubs, the friendly people, Cineworld. Everything here is so different and amazing that I can’t choose! And I can’t forget the unique experience of going out 11pm while there is still sunlight in the sky and coming back home at 3am and it’s already day again!

STS: What one thing would you tell an incoming student that they HAD to do in Glasgow?

A: I would tell him/her to visit the amazing Cathedral and after that visit the Necropolis. It is a peaceful place and the city view is perfect.

STS: Cheers for chatting with us August!

A: Cheers, Gary!

A Labyrinth for Glasgow: Sighthill Park Stone Circle in a New Form?

Could Glasgow's Sighthill Park Stone Circle Be Reborn?

If you've been following Student Tours Scotland or our fantastic ginger guide, Gary Robert Brown, for any length of time then you'll know that we have a passion in Glasgow. This passion revolves around a landmark that has been targetted as of late by Glasgow City Council. Sighthill is a region of Glasgow in the Springburn Area to the north of the city centre. They call Springburn the 'Rome of the North' and like Rome, it is built on seven hills. There was once a saying that you could be born in Balgrayhill; schooled in Petershill; have worked on Keppochhill and married on Springburnhill. You'd have been sick in Stobhill and probably lived on Barnhill. However you would have rested finally, in Sighthill. These days Sighthill is a far changed place from the days of old. Glasgow is undergoing yet another change. Following the failed bid to win the 2018 Youth Olympics, Sighthill will be transformed as one of Glasgow's Transformational Regeneration Areas or TRA's (the others being East Govan and Ibrox; Laurieston; Laurieston; Maryhill; North Toryglen; Red Road; Shawbridge). 

This regeneration involves the complete overhaul of the Sighthill area with the exception of the magical and haunting Sighthill Cemetery. However, it does mean Sighthill Park, which was created in 1982 as the largest Glasgow Park since the Victoria Era, will be vanishing. Well, vanish is not entirely true. The entire plan for Sighthill involves green space and so the park will evolve into something exciting and new around the new development. Even the Forth and Clyde Canal (Glasgow Branch) terminus at Port Dundas will be re-utilized. This area of the canal has fallen into serious disrepute since the connection with the Monklands Canal was severed when the M8 Motorway rendered the Monklands Canal useless. So overall this is a great idea and Student Tours Scotland cannot wait for the new developed Sighthill so we can go for a rummage around.

However, deep in Sighthill Park, on the summit where there was once a railway ventilation shaft cover for the rail tunnel below on a now abandoned train line from the long-gone Buchanan Street Train Station, stands Sighthill Park Stone Circle. It's a favourite of Student Tours Scotland to head up here to this pagan monument. It was built as part of a jobs creation scheme and was never quite finished. Sadly it is not part of the plan for Sighthill Park. However Glasgow City Council are committed now to rehoming it. Which is awesome.

Recently a new development has arisen which could include the Sighthill Park Stone Circle called, 'A Labyrinth for Glasgow'. You can check the details HERE. We're not talking huge maze here complete with mythical minotaurs ready to destroy you, but a meditative version designed to help you escape the madness of the city around. This group is planning on including a stone circle of some kind. This really excites Student Tours Scotland. At present if you google, "Sighthill Park Stone Circle", you get a picture of our favourite ginger guide, Gary Robert Brown, sitting on one of the stones on a rare sunny day over Sighthill in Glasgow. Hopefully in the future you'll also get information on it's inclusion in this awesome labyrinth idea. Naturally, Student Tours Scotland will keep you posted on any developments.

The labyrinth pictured is a small fun one in Dunure on the Ayrshire Coast and features on the Student Tours Scotland Coastal Ayrshire tour.

A Ginger Saint Comes to Glasgow

How Saint Mungo saved the Ginger Gene

Student Tours Scotland kicked off it's new semester of Glasgow Walks and Scottish Coach Trips yesterday (Tuesday) with a walk through the University of Strathclyde region of Townhead and into Cathedral Precinct. We had 95 brave souls join me in my kilt and Roo with his camera. Along the way we stopped off in Rottenrow Gardens - former Glasgow maternity hospital and now University of Strathclyde garden. There were some folk shovelling snow which they had imported for snowboarding - awesome idea. After a while, Sven, a new German student took the role of Saint Mungo in the stories of Glasgow. As a ginger guy myself, it was rather biased of me to pick a ginger to play our patron saint. However, as we discussed, National Geographic magazine states that the ginger gene will be effectively extinct by 2060. So, with ginger power in mind, I would be forgiven for giving such a high profile role to my red-haired brethren. Ginger power indeed!

This is Prague, This is the Czech Republic

Prague you have stolen my heart!

The atmosphere in the bar was very much alive. Nearby a table of older gentlemen were raising glass after glass of beer. The supply was never ending. Welcome to Prague and the Czech Republic. I stopped for a moment to take it all in. To my left Rafael, weary from lack of sleep and a little too much partying, took a swig from his drink. It came in a proper beer glass - none of that nonsense they serve them in now in the UK. He has had a permanent smile stapled across his face for two days now after celebrating his birthday here in Prague.

Daniel takes time to chat with the bar tender who has just picked up about ten empty glasses with one hand. This is professionalism. As Daniel sits back in his full Highland kilt he waits until the bar tender returns with another round of drinks. This is Prague - table service is a must and customer service isn't taught - it's in their blood. After another loud round of cheers, Eva and Pavel laugh over a joke. Both are sitting in their Student Tours Scotland 'Just Don't Die' T-Shirts bought a year earlier in Glasgow. Pavel looks the part in his wee blue Scottish bonnet - it's a taste of Scotland in a far off land.

Libor and Jaroslav finish off the Czech compliment of our team. They show a warmth and friendliness to our group of travellers that just wasn't expected. These guys ooze fun and friendship and for that we were very happy.

We were in a bar in the heart of old Prague. The table was lined with empty beer glasses. Everyone was jolly. Apparently the former Czech president used to frequent here. Suddenly, my band of tired travellers felt at home in Prague. We had Daniel and his kilt, Eva and Pavel had brought us some Irn Bru and Jaroslav donned a Scottish T-Shirt. Libor has even travelled from afar just to join us.

Nearby my good friend Simon made yet another inappropriate joke, getting laughs out of Leticia and Amanda, our travelling companions. This is Prague. It's fun and friendly. Next to me Pedro smiles through his tipsy aura. He's been travelling for so long now I'm not sure he knows what day of the week it is. I say something ridiculous and he burst out laughing. Yup, he's gone.

This is why I love my job. Daniel and the guys organised this fantastic pub crawl and Vashek travelled across the country just to hang out and do some museums with me. Anna and Tereza took us to so many places that they didn't have to, but did so because they wanted to. This is Prague.

After an awesome day we hit up a Tchai Uvna style tea house. Inside there were beanbag chairs and an awesome smell of dried tea leaves. This is my corner of Heaven. As we all sit around and sip about 13 different teas I can't help but notice everyone around the room who isn't from here: Rafael is amazed at how my friends would be so kind to us all; Amanda can't believe how good the tea is; Leticia is blown away by how awesome it all is and Pedro is amazed he walked straight past this place a week earlier and had no idea what he was missing. Prague had taken us under its wing and so had my Czech friends. A small group of Czech people who had no need to do what they did for us or for me. However they did it anyway. This is Prague, this is the Czech Republic.

In the corner of the tea house, Jaroslav re-joined us with a guy from India. I assumed it was a friend come to visit. We were all amazed when it turned out this Indian guy had just arrived in Prague and Jaroslav had offered to pick him up - a complete stranger - and help him out when he needed it. This is Prague. This is the Czech Republic. I can't believe how lucky this Indian guy is. For the next year he gets to live there. He gets to be surrounded by all these awesome people. To say I'm jealous is an understatement.

So thank you Anna and Tereza for being so amazing to me; thank you Vashek and Libor for travelling so far; thank you Jaroslav for showing how kind and fantastic your nation is; thank you Pavel and Eva for the Irn Bru; thank you Simon for giving me a taste of home and thank you Leticia and Amanda for putting up with all my walking and thank you Pedro and Rafael for just being awesome. Thank you Prague!

Glasgow Sem Fronteiras #08: Ana

Brazil in Glasgow

Student Tours Scotland once again interviews one of the many students from Brazil who are on the Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK scholarship.

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Hello, so, who are we talking to today? Name, age, where you come from in Brazil, your home place of study?

Ana (A): Hi, I am Ana Vega Freitas, a 4th year  medical student from Espirito Santo. I am 22 years old and I study in my home town, Vitoria the capital of Espirito Santo (a state in the southwest part of Brazil, near to Rio, Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais).

STS: Why choose Glasgow, Ana?  What made you decide it was the place to go with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK?

A: I chose Glasgow , specifically GCU, because this is the only university in UK where medical students can have contact with patients.They allowed us to do practical/ clinical classes in any vision sciences course. Apart from this main reason my other reasons were: Glasgow is the 3rd largest city in UK, GCU has good researchers and has been recently ranked by its students as the No.1 in the UK for international student experience.

STS: What was your FIRST experience in Glasgow after arriving?

A: I can remember it as it was today. It was on my 2nd day in Glasgow. I accidentally went to George Square because I saw in a newspaper in the university that there was a celebration starting within 2 hours. And when I arrived there I could see all the Scottish athletes coming from the London 2012 Olympic games. All people in the streets, in the buildings and stores were applauding them and holding Scottish flat.It was an unforgettable day!

STS: Are you enjoying your time in Glasgow? What aspects of life in the city are you most enjoying?

A: Yes, a lot. The facility of living one street from the Uni and two streets from the main Glasgow bus station and centre are possibly the things that I enjoy the most in terms of localization. In the field of the studies I am enjoying all the GCU structure, with its enormous and technological library; the possibility of participating in competitions and extracurricular activities which make you progress beyond your area of study and the accessible professors who are always there to solve your doubts. And last, I could not forget to quote that Glasgow is a vibrant city with lots and lots of things to do and to see and it is also full of helpful and kind people in every corner. Really, people here are so kind that they even stop you in the street to ask if you need any help when you looklike lost.

STS: Have you managed to do any touring around Scotland while here with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK?

A: Yes, in the beginning I went in some tours with Student Tours Scotland. My first one was to Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Later I decided that I would like to travel for medical conferences. So I tried to unite studies and tourism. Therefore, I was often going to Edinburgh to participate of courses and later I used to do a different program in the city. Besides medical conferences travels I also had the opportunity to go to Fort William with some friends and to visit Loch Lomond surroundings from both sides with my aunt in a trip by car. We also passed by Stirling.

STS: Would you encourage other students from Brazil, who are thinking of going abroad with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK to study in Glasgow? If yes, why?

A: Definitively. Actually I have already done this, and many Brazilians who had spoken with other Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK students and with me are some months ago are now coming to GCU on next month. I would recommend Glasgow as  the main option because in this city you can have a wonderful quality of life, a great structure to study, dedicate and accessible professors to guide you and you will also meet friendly people from all over the world (inclusive people from parts of Brazil that you have never been before)! Additionally, the cost of living here is the same or even cheaper than in Brazil (except for fruits, red meat and vegetable), so you will also be able to afford some trips , courses or conferences in Europe if you want.

STS: What will you miss the most from Glasgow when you return to Brazil?

A: The self study time. Really, this way of study in which you are more independent and do not need to stay ten hours per day watching a professor speech is everything I have always been dreaming since I started the University in Brazil. With this methodology you can take control of your working hours and maximize your potential for study. For example, you can study all the subject's information that was given in the week and you still have time to work in an article because you will stay in the class room a maximum of 6 hours/ day. This also allows you to live better because you will have more time to do other things rather than study, for example: touring.

STS: What one thing would you tell an incoming student that they HAD to do in Glasgow?

A: I would advise them to go inside every store/ shopping/ book store in the centre. Even the ones that they think that are not beautiful. The best stores, museums, bookshops and cafes seems to be hidden (not from but by ourselves). Knowing and enjoying the place where you will be living is one of the the best things that a person can do.

STS: Cheers for chatting with us Ana!

A: You are always welcome!Thank you for all the tours!

Lena Points #19: Thistles in Glasgow

A Thistle-y Good Time in Glasgow

Lena is back again pointing for us in another edition of, Lena Points. Student Tours Scotland has taken Lena all over the City of Glasgow to find some weird and wonderful sights. However both of us were surprised when we found thistles. Especially when we found them so close to the City Centre. These thistles are in Broomielaw Area at Anderston East near the casino. They are hiding just before the underpass at the Clyde Bridges. 

The thistle is one of the four flowers representing the UK regions. Legend has it that a Norwegian Viking stepping on one and screaming in pain alerted the Scottish army to the invading forces at the legendary Battle of Largs on the West Coast. Whether that's true or not, the thistle is a great symbol for Scotland and even apepars on the rugby team jersey.

The Most Controversial Of Treasure Hunts

When X Marks More than the Spot

It started with a good idea I had in a bar in Glasgow. I'll do a treasure hunt. I used to run one when I worked at a University in Glasgow, now I could operate a LARGE SCALE one. So I ran one. It was chaotic. We ran a trial run in May and after all the allegations of cheating and bending the rules I rewrote the guidelines and ran a new one for the Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK at the University of Strathclyde. All for fun supposedly. 

Well, the chaos continued. The winners were very closely tied and short of demanding a recount there was a lot of contesting of the result. The idea is simple. You get a team and you get a time limit. Within that time limit you need to get as many items photographed with your team as you can. Each item has a value. 

Dundas House sign threw most folk but it was the Stock Exchange on Buchanan Street that led to the shouts of contesting the result. Either way, it was great fun and everyone had a laugh taking part. So watch out in 2013, Student Tours Scotland will be doing another Treasure Hunt, despite what my senses tell me.

Where Are They Now? #014: Tanya (Canada) and Marian (Slovakia)

Another Catch Up from Five Years Ago!

Student Tours Scotland catches up with two people this week in the next of our Where Are They Now interviews.

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Thanks for taking the time to do a Where Are They Now interview. It's been around five years since you started studying in Glasgow, Scotland. Introduce yourself for us: name, where you are from and one random fact about yourself.

Marian and Tanya (MK & TO): Hello Everyone! Our names are Tanya Obal & Marian Kosara. Tanya is from Toronto, Canada and Marian from Kosice, Slovakia. We met in Glasgow in 2008 while studying at Glasgow Caledonian University. After spending some years travelling between Scotland, Slovakia and Canada we have now been living in Toronto for the past year. A random fact about Marian is that he loves the smell of gasoline. A random fact about Tanya is that she can only sleep on the right side of the bed.

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

MK & TO: There are so many things that we love about Scotland, it truly holds a special place in our hearts. We lived in the South Side of Glasgow and enjoyed taking walks around Queens Park, King’s Park & Linn Park. It is so nice to have nature so accessible. It was so great to have the “hustle and bustle” of city life and the peacefulness of nature right at our doorstep. We also miss the architecture that Glasgow has to offer. We often caught ourselves walking down city centre streets with our heads pointing towards the sky taking in all the beautiful features of the buildings.  As Marian is a designer he, of course, really misses all the Mackintosh buildings in Glasgow.

STS: What one place in Scotland was your favourite?

Marian: I will never forget the trip I took with some friends to the Isles of Skye. On our way back to Glasgow, we stopped at Neist Point Lighthouse on the West Coast of Scotland. The scenery there was absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to see any whales, but at least now I have an excuse to go back.

Tanya: It is so hard to decide on one place. I really enjoyed exploring Scotland and learning about its history. I have many good memories from a trip I took with my family, visiting from Canada, to Edinburgh and Rosslyn Chapel.  It was really a great opportunity to learn about the rich Scottish history.

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

MK & TO: Yes! Definitely yes! We found that some of our greatest memories from Scotland have been from trips we took while living and studying there.  Having an opportunity to live and study abroad gives the perfect opportunity to explore and experience different lifestyles and culture.  It was for these reasons that we both decided to study abroad.

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

MK & TO: We are both now living and working in Toronto, Canada. Tanya works in the heath care sector as an Occupation Therapist and Marian works as a Product Designer.  For now, we are enjoying the time we have being closer to Tanya’s family, but who knows what kind of adventure life has in store for us in the future or where we may end up!

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

MK & TO: We stayed in Glasgow for one year after we both finished our studies.  We had a chance to extend our stay and spend time working in Glasgow and enjoying the life in Scotland even more. We haven’t been back to Scotland since we left in 2010, but who knows? Maybe we will go back to Scotland for our Honeymoon!

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

MK & TO: Never leave your rain jacket at home! You never know when you will need it! Try and take advantage of all the opportunities that are presented to you – don’t be shy. Talk to the people around you and get involved in things at your school or around the city. Glasgow & Scotland has many hidden treasures that you will discover by exploring. We guarantee that you will be make new memories and friends that will last a lifetime.

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

MK & TO: And thanks to you! It was our pleasure.

Glasgow’s Filling Up with New Arrivals

Student Mania In Glasgow

It's that time of year again when Student Tours Scotland prepares to welcome all the new students. This time of course, I'm vanishing off to the European Mainland for a few days to avoid the madness. However when I get back it's going to be tour-madness as well. So head over to the Events Page on our Facebook or just check out all the events on here! We're kicking off the season with a tour to the Isle of Cumbrae and continuing strong afterwards. Enjoy Freshers' Week.

Letting Agency Woes to Be Aware of

A Plea to Be Aware from a Student Tours Scotland Regular

Student Tours Scotland received a request from Elizabeth, a PhD student from Germany who wanted to tell you some things she'd like you to be aware of when it comes to letting agents. 

Elzabeth: There are a lot of things you have to worry about when you try to find a new flat. It has to be in a suitable location and it has to be affordable, of course. Once a flat is found, moving and getting used to the new environment and maybe to new flatmates can take some time. But it can be worse. What if you had to be afraid of landlords or letting agents that have dubious business practices? What if they would charge you money for fees they legally are not allowed to be charging? What if they wouldn’t protect and invest your deposit as they are required to by law?

A lot of letting agents charge illegal fees without hesitation. If questioned about this travesty, they might tell you something like this:

“[...] is correct that we cannot force you to pay fees. However, it does mean that you have to supply all paperwork yourself and this must meet our standards. This includes the references we require plus prepare your own legal paperwork, including a short assured tenancy lease, AT5, forms 1080 & 1081, smoke alarm checklist. Most tenants opt for us to do this for the fee.”

This is a ridiculous claim as a solicitor confirmed to me. Still they feel safe to tell you things like that. Foreigners, especially students, often don’t know about their rights. Even locals might fall for this sham, seriously thinking that they have no other choice than to pay up. See HERE for other things letting agents might say.

Be smart! The best way to be safe is not to get involved with dubious letting agents or landlords to begin with!

Before going into detail about what to do, let me ask you to share this post on Facebook & Twitter, by telling your neighbours and friends. Everyone can become a victim, if they do not know about these frauds. When your letting agency or landlord has charged you illegal fees, when your deposit is not protected and invested, remember you are not alone with this. There are many victims, out there!

Here are some simple rules to give you at least some security:

Only use letting agents that are members of regulatory bodies like ARLA, TPO, NALS or LAS. All reputable letting agencies are registered with a regulatory body! Here is a useful article about this from the viewpoint of a landlord HERE.

Remember, letting agency regulatory bodies are useful for both sides and it should be in the interest of landlord and tenant to have a letting agency that is registered with one.  

If you are in contact with a letting agency about moving into a flat and they ask you to pay extra fees, don’t hesitate to make a complaint to the Citizen Advice Bureau! They can forward it to Trading Standards, which can make the letting agency pay a fine for this. Don’t stay silent! By reporting them you will show them that they cannot get away with this. They should be afraid to break the law instead of openly doing it, just because nobody takes actions against them. You can file a complaint, here.

If you already paid fees, claim them back using Shelter Scotland’s Reclaim Your Fees toolkit. It is very easy to use! See my experience on this on TWITTER.

Most students cannot afford legal aid. This is one of the reasons why letting agencies or landlords with dubious business practices feel safe. You can still get free advice if you cannot afford a solicitor. I had great experiences with Law Clinic, a free law clinic organised by the University of Strathclyde. There are other places to get advice from, too. Check if your University has a law clinic or ask the Citizen Advice Bureau where to go.

Request information about your deposit. Your letting agency / landlord has to provide you with details about the amount paid into the deposit registration scheme, the name of the administrator and the date it was paid in as per Regulation 42 of The Tenancy DepositSchemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011.

Talk to friends, colleagues, your family! Talk to us! Share your experiences!


Ginger Gary Heads for Europe

When Student Tours Scotland Takes a Holiday

Portugal, France, Rwanda, Slovenia (pictured), Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Finland. Student Tours Scotland's most ginger guide, Gary Robert Brown has been to them all. However, it's been around two and a half years since! So with that in mind I'm off once again (yes, I did just switch perspective in writing this - it's cool to me, but not to anyone else). This time Germany and Czech Republic are my destinations. I'm going to Berlin and to Prague. However, it does mean a week of mad panic ahead while I worry about getting everything done on time! See you soon folks! Plenty of blogs coming up to keep you occupied while I'm away.

Lena Points #18: Glasgow Map

Lena, Pointing, At GLASGOW!

It's not every day that Lena Points at the whole city (although it does happen once more at Cathkin Braes Country Park - so keep an eye out). The Glasgow Map on Buchanan Street has been around since the street was redeveloped. It's one of those awesome little parts of the city that you pass by every day without stopping. I personally love it when it rains and the tiny little River Clyde part fills with water. I used to meet friends next to it when I was a teenager and it's always the place to get your Santa Hat at Christmas Time when the wee guy with the stall appears in the festive season.

Dear Green Glasgow: Toryglen Park

Toryglen Park, Glasgow

Glasgow has a lot of green space. In fact, it has more green space, per head than anywhere in Europe! Student Tours Scotland takes you this week to Toryglen Park in Glasgow South. It's a large expanse, although a shadow of it's former self. It's near the Regional Football Centre and Hampden Park Stadium. Both of these venues will be featured in the Commonwealth Games in 2014. 

The park however has a piece of history attached with it. Along with the nearby Malls Mire in Rutherglen's Burnhill Area, it formed the escape route for Mary, Queen of Scots after she lost the Battle of Langside. Recently, I noticed that Glasgow City Council seem to be digging up Toryglen Park and that the park signage has been removed. It wasn't the nicest of parks but it is a shame to see it being treated so badly. There were pockets of trees all around it that made it stand out. Although, the plans for the area seem good enough as it will become an Older Persons Residential Care Home some time soon. The PDF of the plans can be seen here and do include retaining the park outside of the development.

So, next time you're heading for Toryglen ASDA supermarket. Take a moment to stop and think that one day, Mary, Queen of Scots actually fled this area and the nearby one in Rutherglen via Polmadie. History is all around us in Glasgow.

Glasgow Sem Fronteiras #07: Matheus

Viva Brazil! The slow Brazilian Conquest of Glasgow Continues

This week Student Tours Scotland chats with another of the Brazilian students studying on a Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK scholarship in the city.

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Hello, so, who are we talking to today? Name, age, where you come from in Brazil, your home place of study?

Matheus (M): Hello everyone! I'm Matheus Altnetter, 22 years old. I'm from Porto Alegre, in the south of Brazil. I'm studying Mechanical Engineering at PUCRS (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul).

STS: Why choose Glasgow, Matheus? What made you decide it was the place to go with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK?

M: Well, at first I chose the UK. It was a huge desire of mine to come here to study, and especially, live the British culture. After that, I narrowed down all the Universities that had my course as a choice. It was in my plans to study Aero-Mechanical Engineering in UK after I graduate. Therefore, when I saw that the Uni of Glasgow and Strathclyde were allowing me to do this course for a year I didn't think twice, jumped into it right away and made them my first and second choices as the Universities I'd like to go. I can't even remember the third one because I was too sure that Glasgow was my destination. About the city itself, it's remarkable. I searched about it and Scotland and found out only good things. The architecture and the landscapes made me curious and more excited about coming here. And of course, if you are a good fan of football and beer Glasgow is a perfect place for you. The derby between Celtic and Rangers it's such a massive thing in this town that can get you in trouble!

STS: What was your FIRST experience in Glasgow after arriving?

M: This is actually hilarious! We had just arrived in Glasgow, went to our accommodation, and then we went to get something to eat. One of the guys remembered that there were no toilet papers at home. So as we're coming back home we stopped by Sainsbury to buy some. When I was leaving I realized that there were like twenty brazilians guys buying toilet papers at same time. The guys who worked there were looking at us in a weird way. It was really funny. It looked like we were aliens and toilet papers were our food.

STS: Are you enjoying your time in Glasgow? What aspects of life in the city are you most enjoying?

M: Of course! Never had a better experience in my life. I think that having a lot of international people from different countries is incredible! Also, the pubs with rock music, the nightclubs, the parks and the city itself is amazing and very easy to fall in love with.

STS: Have you managed to do any touring around Scotland while here with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK?

M: Yes. I did a lot in the first semester of the year. It was freaking cold and cloudy most of the times, and still, I saw the power of Scottish's Landscapes. The Highlands especially during the winter is a great place to visit! I manage also a road trip with my friends up to the extreme north of Scotland, and boy, what a trip. The places I visited are breathtaking, something I can't even describe. I would definitely advise to do a road trip in Scotland!

STS: Would you encourage other students from Brazil, who are thinking of going abroad with Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK to study in Glasgow? If yes, why?

M: Hell yeah! I believe Glasgow has everything you need. It's a big city with easy flights out to the rest of UK and Europe. You can get to awesome places very quickly, like Edinburgh and Stirling. You have access to the beautiful landscape of Scotland and it's castles, which is a huge strong positive point. Inside the city, you have bars, pubs, restaurants and other places for everyone tastes. It doesn't matter what you like or not, you'll fit in! For a football fan you're more than welcome! And also, it's a massive place for gigs, either big bands or undergrounds explorers. You certainly will have a music to cheer about and drink!

STS: What will you miss the most from Glasgow when you return to Brazil?

M: Irn Bru! Okay. I'll definitely miss the internationalization. It's not common to find people from abroad in my city/ university and be friends with them. I rarely meet even one or two and manage a conversation but that's all. I'll miss people around me talking in a different languages and accents, and especially not understanding what they're saying! I'll miss the architecture of the city and the amazing places like Glasgow Cathedral and Glasgow Green and Kelvingrove Park. Also, all the British/ Scottish culture and the people holding doors for me.

STS: What one thing would you tell an incoming Ciência Sem Fronteiras - Science Without Borders UK student that they HAD to do in Glasgow?

M: Ah, man! Just one? Okay. I'd say...take a photo wearing a kilt in front of a Scottish place, a castle for example. AWESOME!

STS: Cheers for chatting with us Matheus!

M: Cheers, mate! Glad to help!

A Ginger Abroad

Or, Why Gingers CAN Stay in the Sunshine!

Student Tours Scotland got in touch with Rachel Baird, who used to run Erasmus Student Network GCU in Glasgow. She's been up to something pretty awesome this summer. So here she is telling you all about it!

My good friends at Student Tours Scotland asked me a while back to write a feature for them about my summer adventures abroad. I'm Rachel Baird, I'm 22 and studied Marketing at Glasgow Caledonian Univeristy. I was also part of a group of students who brought back the Erasmus Society (ESN GCU) back to the university, making it the biggest and best it had ever been.

So, where am I now? Well, I've spent the summer in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. You might wonder what I've been doing. I've been working as a Holiday Advisor for a major UK travel company (sometimes known as a Holiday Rep). I am employed to make sure customers get the best experience out of their holiday by providing good service in hotels. I am on hand to answer any questions customers may have, give advice on the resort where they are staying (i.e. how to find the best bars, restaurants, shopping areas) selling and guiding excursions like dinner shows, water parks, marine parks. I also take part in fun activities in my hotel like staff vs. guests pool games. I worked a lot with the youth market (ages 18-25) at the start of the summer season which was a lot of fun. Basically I got paid to party!

I'm here from April until November after applying online. There are some amazing perks like living in the sun for seven months of the year and when people tell you you’ve helped make them have a great holiday. My personal highlights would be seeing the world famous DJ, 'Avicii' at BCM Planet Dance, being part of a team that has raised over  €6000 for charity and exploring the island of Majorca in a convertible. The hardest part of course is being a ginger in Spain. I can get caught out sometimes with the sun, I get burned easily.

There are, of course, things you miss like Irn Bru, square sausage and  Tennent’s Lager (very Scottish indeed). However I'll be bringing back some amazing things too like my favourite beauty products that I cannot get out here in Spain.

Cheers for reading everyone!

Student Tours Scotland meets Doors Open Day Glasgow 2013

Doors Open Day 2013

Student Tours Scotland is thrilled to be hosting a Doors Open Day event in 2013 in Glasgow. On Saturday 21 September 2013, we'll be taking a group of people Along the River Clyde into Glasgow Green and Richmond Park. We'll be drawing on the main themes of this year with a discussion of the old railway line and taking in the greenery all around. You'll get some cool wee tales about Glasgow as we go. Not a short walk but a thoroughly enjoyable one. For more see Doors Open Day Glasgow!