Lochs, Libraries and Lack of Sleep: My First Week in Scotland

by Jaclyn Nelson

My first week in Glasgow was filled with new places, jetlag, unique and delicious foods, jetlag, breathtaking sights, and more jetlag.

Rainbow over Scotland

Things didn’t get off to the best start though. Due to a mixture of excitement and nerves, I was unable to sleep on my overnight flight over from Canada. Excitement soon turned into bleary-eyed exhaustion, but when the plane began its descent to Glasgow, I started to see the rolling mountains, and the butterflies in my stomach were fluttering like it was the mating season. I kept thinking, “I’m here! I made it!” and that feeling made the sleep deprivation worth it… just. 

I was sad to leave my friends and family, but I was looking forward to studying Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde, a long-term goal for my career development. On top of that, I’d be living with my partner, who had moved up from the North West of England, so at least I’d have someone who can half understand the accent.

I’ve never lived in a foreign country before, so it was only natural to feel a little apprehensive, but with the journey out of the way, I could embrace being an international student in a new country. On the car ride to my new home, I was in awe at the rolling hills that encompassed Scotland, it almost took my breath away. I felt so lucky that I could call this place home for the next year and also proud of myself for taking this on.

I had arrived a month before classes started, so welcome week orientation hadn’t begun yet. But there was plenty to check out in Glasgow before my course started. I decided to use this time before classes started to take in local sights and familiarize myself with Glasgow, including the University Campus and a few museums. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was pretty spectacular, and as a future librarian, it was great to check out The Mitchell Library, one of the largest libraries in Europe.

Conic Hill, at Loch Lomond

Although I was sleep-deprived the first week, I was still able to spend some time in the great outdoors. We visited Loch Lomond and hiked up Conic Hill – a manageable two- to three-hour hike that’s perfect if you’re suffering from jetlag and not ready for a full day excursion. Unfortunately, I wore what I believed to be a waterproof jacket for the hike, and it turns out what’s waterproof in Canada isn’t cut out for Scottish rain. My so-called rain jacket began absorbing the water instead of repelling it and I was distressed to realize that I had become a sponge. Still, I was determined to make it to the top, and I don’t know if that was the delirium from the lack of sleep or my sheer will, but somehow I did.  As I continued taking on water, I was nevertheless blown away by the sights along the route. The lochs (Scottish term for lake) and mountains were a sight to see, and I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have all this so close to home. After the hike, we headed straight into a warm, cozy pub-restaurant where I tried Haggis for the first time, and I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was! I look forward to having it again, just so long as no one tells me how it’s made.

Conic Hill

Staying fit is important to me, and by far my favourite way to do so is through boxing, so it was important that I found a great gym for the year. Thankfully, Glasgow is well served for aspiring pugilists, with a number of great boxing and kickboxing gyms around the city, as well as the extremely convenient 9ROUND which offers a lung-busting 30-minute workout that’s perfect when you’re short on time.

Over the course of the week, we also managed to take in a football game, go to the cinema, and eat out probably more than we should. I look back at my first week in Scotland with the fondest, albeit somewhat foggy memories. Throughout this time, I just kept thinking of how lucky I was to be living here.

Celtic Match

I recommend students to look at Scotland when they are thinking about studying in the UK. Scotland has so much to offer international students, from its rich culture to majestic scenery.  If you’re thinking about studying in the UK, maybe even Scotland, please contact an Across the Pond student advisor for more information.