WHEW! Strap in for a 7-day recap my friends. Look for another post or two of photos so you can match names to faces and places!
Saturday September 10th:
Well to get my last day in the US off to a nice start, I opened my computer to find that it would not turn on. After some tears and some panic I made it over to the Apple store in Stamford hoping for a quick fix…. only to learn that my logic board had failed and they could not replace it in-store. I made the call that they should ship the computer out for repairs, return it to mom who would then ship it to me, and that everything would be okay. Classes start the 20th… it MIGHT be here the 19th. Cool.
Moving right along, the rest of the afternoon was spent in a strange feeling of limbo. I loaned one of my violins out to a friend for the year, I puttered around the house, I did everything I could to pretend I wasn’t about to leave. Of course, when we did leave, it was later than I had planned. Don’t worry though, no huge traffic problems and my bags WERE NOT OVERWEIGHT. **Pro tip, pay the $5 for a reserved parking spot if you’re thinking about having someone help you into the terminal for goodbyes. It was super easy and felt cool too!** Security was security… no problems or surprises. Both flights were fairly standard, which here means that it was hard to sleep, my nose was irritated by someone’s perfume or cologne, I was thankful for the food mom had made me bring, and naturally got hella dehydrated. The flights carried me overnight Saturday JFK to KEF, and KEF to GLASGOW Sunday morning.
Sunday September 11th:
Arriving in Glasgow itself was great from the air. It was a clear day and I could see the university spire from the window. I breezed through customs and then SAT FOR AGES waiting for baggage claim to get it together. Fortunately my bags were some of the first ones out, so once things got moving I was all set. I met a UoG representative who took me to the taxi stand, and I was on my way. He brought be straight to the reception desk after a twenty minute/£26 cab ride. At reception I got a little envelope with my key and some information and they pointed me towards the back corner where my ‘block’ of flats is. I’m in flat 2.1, which to the American folk is actually the third floor. (No, no lifts). So I put my stuff down and met my flatmates, and was promptly informed that they were heading out to IKEA and that I should grab my stuff and join in.
My flatmates are: Megan from Colorado who is studying Dramaturgy, Richard from Limerick, Ireland, who is doing a conversion Masters from History to Information Technology, Jafet from Mexico City who is doing Science, I think, and Flora from Manchester, England, who is doing a Post-graduate Research Masters in English Literature.
Anyway, IKEA got my basics sorted out, so I was able to make my bed and settle in a bit. We all crashed kind of early Sunday night, as we each had quite a bit to do on Monday!
Monday September 12th: 9AM was my appointment time for collecting my Biometric Residence Permit. I made a lovely new friend, Jordan from North Carolina, whilst waiting in line. She’s doing amazing things in Human Rights and International Politics.
After collecting our BRP’s and our student ID cards, we decided to walk around and do some exploratory shopping together. She introduced me to the subway, locally known as “The Clockwork Orange” as the cars are orange, TINY, loud, the route is a circle, and they drive everyone crazy! We thought it was kind of cute though, and it was £3 for a round trip ticket. We got adapters, school supplies, bedroom/bathroom things, and generally had a really nice time. A few things though, YOU PAY FOR PLASTIC BAGS IF THEY HAVE TO PACK YOUR STUFF FOR YOU. I think one of the most valuable things I brought was the super lightweight bag that mom shoved at me as I was going through security. Also, the tax being already included in the sticker price is amazing. I was worried about having enough cash to cover £26 for a £24.99 purchase, but when I got to the counter the clerk was like, “£24.99 please” and I think I gaped like a fish. I toddled home with all of my new stuff afterwards, then headed out down the street for a few grocery items from Sainsbury’s.
Tuesday September 13th: We managed to go out to the Fresher’s Fair as a flat! The walk to campus really isn’t that bad, even though the damn thing is on a hill (no matter which way you approach it, obviously). We got a look at some of the clubs, poked around the Library, and I had the best waffle of my life with Meg and Richard at a restaurant down the road form school. It was a great way to get our bearings, and to identify as a flat places we thought we might like to try together.
Later that night we went to the Gilchrist Post-graduate Club for a pub quiz round with Jordan and her husband Rob. We tied for 2nd, and lost the tiebreaker and took 3rd place. That other team had bonus points for their name, which I don’t even remember, so that’s dumb and we’ll win next time. Afterwards our blood was running hot, so we returned to the flat to change and drink before going out to a club. As Richard would say, “It was good crack” and the American’s agreed that it was lit af.
Wednesday September 14th: We were all hoping for a quiet morning. Turns out they test the fire alarm tones every Wednesday morning. It’s not a full drill, but they do let the alarms make two ‘chirps’ which were deeply unpleasant. Having been forcibly awakened I decided to just get on with the day. I managed to take care of registering with a Doctor, buying desk/school materials, grocery shopping, and having a casual first meeting with my coursemates and convener at a local pub. Of course that didn’t go too late, as formal induction was the next day.
Thursday September 15th: Induction Day! Basically Thursday was split into two parts. The first was a general School of Critical Studies Induction, during which we were introduced to certain important people, reminded that we are graduate students and thus are responsible for a higher level of work, and encouraged to understand and make use of the resources available to us. Fairly standard yet not altogether comforting.
Part two was a course specific induction. As we were waiting to get this started I learned that several of my coursemates are published authors, one of whom has an undergraduate degree in Law, a Masters in Creative Writing, and his Sci-fi book IS ON THE SCI-FI COURSE READING LIST. For fuck’s sake. AND he’s nice, so really there’s nothing to be done. One of the girls is in the middle of her second published series. Someone else is also fancy and accomplished and important. So that’s great. How lucky I am to be surrounded by such a wealth of experience and ability.
I managed to open my stupid fucking mouth and volunteer to give the first presentation of the semester, first thing on our first class day next Thursday. Yes, I KNOW it’s great to get it out of the way, I KNOW everybody kind of goes easy on the foolish soul who goes first, I KNOW it’ll be fine, but HOLY HELL, WHAT WAS I THINKING. God bless Dr. Roberta Staples for teaching me how to write a presentation outline, as well as for teaching me that establishing dominance early by presenting first is a tried and true tactic. Roberta, I love you.
I was anxious and worn out by the end of that, so Thursday night was a quiet one.
Friday September 16th: Minus Flora, we took a flat trip to Balloch! After a relatively easy walk to the train, we paid £5.50 for a round trip ticket from Partick to Balloch, enjoyed an easy ride up to Balloch, and went for a hike on the shores of Loch Lomond. We took a path up to a little castle, had lunch, played camp games, low-key hiked around the trails behind the castle, MADE MANY DOG FRIENDS who were out for walks with their humans, strolled by the lake, go a snack, and hopped back on the train. It was a delightful way to spend an afternoon and tempt ourselves into reserving several future weekends for additional expeditions.
Friday was also Mexican Independence Day, so naturally we celebrated with Jafet and his friend Julien. The less said about that the better, I think. It wouldn’t do to share too much.
Saturday September 17th: A productive academic day! Flora and I spent the majority of the afternoon at the library, making progress on our workloads for the coming week. I managed about 2/3rds of my presentation outline for Fantasy Core Course 1 on Thursday and took notes on all the required reading for my Decadence and the Modern class on Tuesday. Flora and I met up with Meg, Richard, Jafet, Jordan, and Rob for dinner out followed by a mellow drink at a pub called Aragon, and then we all wandered home and settled down for the evening. An absolutely lovely end to a busy first week.
Plans for this week: I’m going to try to finish the outline on Sunday so I can send it to my professor for feedback before I create the actual presentation. I still need to buy hangers and a clock, as well as register with a Dentist, set up a bank account, and set up a UK phone. There are other little bits of forms and things that dictate the order of accomplishing the other things, but I’m not worried about managing it this week.
I am missing everyone at home, and as soon as some of the novelty of being here has worn off a little I think it will hit me a little bit harder. Please comment or email me if you have questions or want some other details!