Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and is renowned for its culture, style and energy. Here’s just a small taster of what will happen when you make your home there…
1. You’ll become an expert at second-hand shopping
Whether you prefer shopping in the West End’s second-hand shops or perusing a wealth of one-off boutiques, Glasgow will give you the chance to really explore your sense of style. Pay a visit to Saratoga Trunk or Mr Ben, where you’ll find the coolest retro wares in town. Then, wander over to The Glasgow Vintage Company to check out its charming shopfront, and step inside when you’re ready to take advantage of the student discount.
2. Twee will become a way of life
If something is ‘twee’ it’s really quaint or dainty, and you’ll see a lot of this in and around Glasgow. The city is an indie haven, with a myriad of independent record shops, original thrift stores and quirky nightspots. Soon after moving here, you’ll almost certainly join the crowds wearing brogues, elbow patches and tea dresses…
3. You’ll learn to love the ‘Clockwork Orange’
No, we’re not referring to the best-selling book by Anthony Burgess. The Clockwork Orange is Glasgow’s nickname for its compact metro line, which has an orange colour scheme. It’s the third oldest subway system in the world after London and Budapest, and runs around just 15 stations in a continuous circle. If you fall asleep on a train at the Buchanan Street station, you’ll end up in exactly the same spot around 25 minutes later!
4. You’ll live in a spacious, beautiful home
Glasgow is renowned for its striking red brick flats, which house lots of students right across the historic West End area. They typically come with high ceilings, beautiful sash windows and loads of other quaint, original features that you’ll come to love. If you’re interested in living in one, check out our student accommodation in Glasgow to see what we mean.
5. You’ll increase your vocabulary
Glaswegians like to shorten words – and sometimes make up new words while they’re at it! You don’t need to come armed with a dictionary, but you should be prepared to decipher the local dialect and embrace it too. Expect to be called “pal” and “hen” by everyone, from strangers to shopkeepers – don’t worry, they’re terms of endearment.
6. You’ll often feel like you’re attending Hogwarts
Rumour has it that the University of Glasgow was the inspiration for Hogwarts, the setting for JK Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series of books. Take a trip to the Quadrangles and you’ll soon understand why – the university is among the oldest in the world and its gothic architecture is breathtaking, complete with towers and ornate turrets.
7. You’ll while away weekends in the Kelvingrove
With over 8,000 items on display, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the most visited museum in the UK outside of London, and the second most popular visitor attraction in Scotland. Locals cherish the venue, which houses historic collections of international significance including a Salvador Dalí painting. Visit once, get lost in the winding halls and you’ll be hooked – there’s no better way to spend a rainy day than in Kelvingrove.
8. You’ll learn to Ceilidh dance like an expert
Every Scot learns to Ceilidh in their early years at school, refining ‘The Gay Gordons’ dance steps and ‘Strip the Willow’ routines on a yearly basis. But if you’re not a native, don’t despair. Just grab a partner and have some fun – Ceilidh dancing is simply a revelrous affair where you’re judged more on your effort and energy than your ability to step in time.
9. And you’ll line dance like a pro
The South Side’s greatest secret, The Grand Ole Opry, is a local delight. Opened in 1974, this country and western club features live music at the weekend, along with bingo, raffles and line dancing. The latter is especially popular, and it’s likely you’ll see everyone from international students to local pensioners on the dancefloor – in Glasgow, age is no restriction when you’ve got your cowboy boots on.
10. You’ll watch the sunset from this picturesque spot…
Take a short trip to the East End and you’ll discover The Glasgow Necropolis, a beautiful Victorian cemetery. Sitting atop one of Glasgow’s highest hills, it offers one of the most spectacular views of the city. Stick around until the early evening, when you can watch the sun go down between the elegant statues and memorials – it’s the perfect place to get lost in your thoughts after a busy day of classes.
11. You’ll know when it’s time for ‘taps aff’
The weather in Glasgow is notoriously hit-and-miss. But on those welcome summer days when the temperature begins to pick up, Glaswegians celebrate with vigour and embrace it like a tropical heatwave. This tradition is called ‘taps aff’, which translates to ‘tops off’. As soon as the sun comes out you’re bound to hear this phrase around the city, and within five minutes you’ll find students flocking to the nearest park.
12. You’ll spend afternoons at The Barras Market
For a true taste of Glaswegian life you should head to The Barras, a popular weekend flea market. It’s traditionally a no-frills affair, and you’ll spot lots of colourful local characters as you stroll between its eclectic stalls piled high with crafts. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop off for a traditional roll and square sausage before heading off in search of more vintage wares.
13. Cheesy chips will become your staple
Every good Glasgow takeaway shop serves chips and cheese; it’s a solid student favourite. The best versions come hot and fresh from the fryer, and covered in not one but two types of cheese. Be sure to flip the box over before opening to melt the cheese all over. Delicious!
14. You’ll eat at least one Munchie Box
A munchie box is a Scottish speciality. The contents vary by establishment, but you can guarantee you’ll always receive at least a large pizza box overflowing with onion rings, kebab meat, pakora, chips and naan bread. When you’re studying in Glasgow, you’ll definitely have at least one night when you think it’ll be a good idea to try to conquer one of these solo…
15. All of your friends will be in a band (or know someone who is)
Glasgow has one of the most exciting music scenes in the UK. Its creative subculture has spawned some of the world’s great musicians, from Mogwai and The Vaselines to Orange Juice, Biffy Clyro and Chvrches. Every new Scottish band passes through Glasgow when they’re still in their early stages, and you’ll often get to see street performers and live music performances as you explore.
16. And you’ll experience some of the world’s greatest music venues
From the well-known Barrowland Ballroom (voted the best venue in Great Britain by Radio 1) to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (where the band Oasis was famously signed by Alan McGee), the city is full of great music venues. Wherever you go, it won’t be long before you stumble across a live gig or two…
17. You’ll fall in love with this quirky monument…
On the edge of George Square stands a statue of the Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley, who historically fought off the Emperor Napoleon. This monument is quite famous because Wellesley is rarely seen without an orange traffic cone on his head; in 2011, Lonely Planet included the statue in its list of the ‘top 10 most bizarre monuments on Earth’.
18. You’ll explore a wealth of parks and green spaces
Glasgow is a lush city full of parks and green spaces, including West End favourites Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow Botanic Gardens. You’ll also have other famous national landmarks within reach for when you want a weekend adventure – both the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and Loch Lomond are just an hour away by car, even less if you are staying in student accommodation in Paisley.