Getting Creative in Glasgow

Anna Banszel, Bachelor of Design (Architecture) 

Short-term Program: University of Glasgow ‘Scottish Urban Landscapes in Film and Glass’

Scotland (July 2018)

While Brisbane shivered this winter I was over in sunny Britain studying Scottish Urban
Landscape in Film and Glass at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). This intense
one-week course combined research with technical experience in the renowned
photography and glass workshops at the GSA.

Through my research I discovered that Glasgow has been settled since prehistoric
times and rapidly expanded during the 16th century when traders and craftspeople
converged in the city. Glasgow still maintains that legacy of quality of craftsmanship,
with the GSA being an exemplar of world-class art education.

On day one and two I learnt 35mm photography. With a camera provided by the
university I roamed the gritty streets of Glasgow capturing moments of urbanity in
one of the most beautiful and diverse cities I have ever experienced. Developing my
film in the dark rooms was both technically and creatively challenging. There is a lot of
scope for creative expression after the film is shot. In making my prints from my
negatives I experimented with exposure and filter to get the results I was after.

Photography lab.

For days three to five we moved into the glass studios to learn glass art. The
photographs I developed on my first two days informed the design of my bespoke
stained glass panel. In this studio I learnt how to design my panel, cut the glass,
solder the lead, apply the putty between the lead and glass and paint the glass.

Glass art studio.

On the last day all the international students were invited to a gathering were we
met other students and saw the work people had produced. All the staff at GSA
were really friendly and approachable. Though it’s part of huge university the vibe
at the GSA is more like a boutique studio run by artists who value collaboration and
push the creative boundaries.

Glass and photos.

Before I took this course, I’ll admit Glasgow was never on my list of places to see. I
had been to Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands and considered Scotland ticked
off my travel list. Big mistake – Glasgow is brilliant! If you’re after culture it’s home
to fine institutions like the Scottish Ballet, if you want a social atmosphere head to
the West End and explore the bars. If you want history there are loads of museums
and if fancy gardens the Glasgow Botanic Gardens can take a whole day to
explore. It doesn’t get dark till after 10pm either, so you can take your time. One of
my favourite nights out was seeing Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the
Botanic Gardens for five pounds.

Glasgow skyline.

Glasgow university.

I stayed at the GSA accommodation where I had my own ensuite room. It was
modern and clean with a shared kitchen with all the facilities needed to cook meals.
With so many places to eat out I only really used the kitchen for breakfasts but if I’d
been there for longer I would have been cooking up a storm. Washing machines
were also available for laundry, it was five minutes walk from the studios and
staffed until 7pm every day. Price of living is similar to Australia. For lunch I usually
went to a convenience store and got a sandwich or salad for about $5 AUD. Once I
was in Glasgow I walked everywhere, or took a black cab if it was late at night.
Getting to Glasgow from London or Edinburgh is easiest by rail and prices are
lower if you book online in advance.

My experience at GSA differed from my experience at QUT in that GSA was all
studio based. Other than that it was similar – we learnt the techniques, studied the
context and worked from a design brief under the guidance of our tutors.

If I could offer advice to anyone considering taking this course is to go with an open
mind and willingness to push yourself creatively. I’d also recommend you give
yourself a few days either side of your course to explore the city and meet some
locals. I extended my trip to three weeks to visit London and Copenhagen. It was
great to have that down time to balance the trip with work and play.
My only complaint about this course was that it wasn’t long enough!

Me in London.

Couldn’t be happier with Edinburgh Napier

Alicia Shorey, Bachelor of Design
Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland (Semester 1, 2018)

View from Edinburgh Castle

When they say exchange will be the best experience of your life they aren’t lying. My time in Edinburgh was all that and more. Not only did I make great friends, but I got to eat my way all over Europe tasting different foods and experiencing new cultures.

Giles Church

Edinburgh Napier University is a small university with 3 different locations in Edinburgh. The university is quite laid back with classes being a combination of lectures and tutorials. Edinburgh is such a livable city with most things in walking distance. I decided to live off campus as it was more affordable and provided me with a more “local” experience. The suburb of Newington was a perfect location with everything from bars, clubs and restaurants all in walking distance. Arthur’s seat was right next door to my house and was a great place to unwind, reflect and see the city from a higher vantage point and is something I highly recommend doing. Edinburgh as a city is beautiful and rich in history and was the perfect place to go on exchange. You will never run out of things to while in Edinburgh. Hogmanay Celebrations -Whilst in Edinburgh I tried many forms of Haggis, took part in the Hogmanay celebrations went Ceilidh dancing and went sledding and picnicking through the meadows, however, what I enjoyed most was watching how people reacted to 14 degree heat (SUNBAKING!).

If I could recommend anything it would be to make the most of your time and travel as much as you can. Exchange provides the luxury of giving you the time to travel to where has cheap flights, so you don’t need a huge budget to be able to travel around, you just have to be strategic.  Because of this, I travelled to a number of countries that I didn’t even consider on going to before but ended up having the best time.

The six months I spent in Edinburgh has taught me so many things. The opportunity to live in another city and travel around both with friends as well as individually has taught me a lot about myself but most importantly has fulled a desire to travel and explore more in the future.

Scottish Exchange

Emily, W. Bachelor of Business and Law

Strathclyde University, Glasgow, United Kingdom (Semester 1, 2017)

In Semester 1, 2017 I had the opportunity to study in Glasgow, Scotland for 5 months. Departing sunny Brisbane I landed in the UK to rain, wind and eventually non-stop snow until April. Glasgow is the largest and most vibrant city in Scotland, with approximately 2 million of the friendliest Glaswegians populating arguably the best part of Scotland. I was lucky to be in the busiest and most bustling part of the country, while still in such close proximity to the beautiful highlands that would put our tourism ads to shame!

My time in Glasgow was highlighted by the many friendly faces that were proud to welcome the new kids to their city, the endless pints at the local pubs and the fascination with men in kilts! Walking around the city centre, you were bound to see some funny and interesting sights, something I soon took in my stride and can laugh about now. I am grateful for all the opportunities we had to travel wherever we wanted, with just a quick plane trip taking us to the furthest corners of Europe, or a scenic train ride to explore the expanse of the UK.

While not forgetting the purpose of my trip, studying at the University of Strathclyde with a great mix of local and international students while also consulting with some fast-growing local companies gave me opportunities and experiences that I would never replicate anywhere but Glasgow!

As the Glaswegian’s like to say, the people make Glasgow!!

Highlands, Bagpipes and Everything Scottish

Lateisha, A. Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)/Bachelor of Justice

University of Glasgow (Semester 2, 2016)

Being able to go abroad and study for a semester in Glasgow, Scotland, has given me the opportunity to learn much more about myself and the world than I thought possible. I would (and plan to) do it all again as it was one of the best experiences and recommend it to everyone that gets the chance. Though being honest it wasn’t all smooth sailing, there were some hiccups along the way, but that was all part of the experience!

My first day on campus

The first problem I encountered was that I missed the registration for events during O-week and fresher week meaning I couldn’t go. This made meeting people and making friends a little tricky as these events were where the majority of people met each other and made friends. The next issue I had was with

November Snow!

my units which was stressful. The units I had initially planned were cancelled and not run during the semester I was there so I had to find new ones last minute. Through the help of the staff at both QUT and UofG I was able to quickly find alternative units. The final challenge I experienced was the weather. The weather in Glasgow is very, very different from Brisbane. It was cold dark and damp for the majority of the time I was there, so after growing up on the Sunshine Coast and coming from Brisbane it took some time before I adjusted and accepted that seeing the sun only happened on rare occasions. Though it did snow one night in November which I was very lucky to witness as it was quite early for snow!

 

I lived in university accommodation, which was dorm style living. I had four other roommates, we each had our own rooms with communal living spaces. The hall was about a 15 minute walk away from campus through Kelvin Grove Park, and around a half hour walk from the city centre. The lectures I had were quite similar in style to those at QUT, however the tutorials and lectorials were generally smaller in size and felt more like large discussions, which I found interesting as that isn’t really something I’ve come across at QUT. The campus itself was absolutely stunning! The architecture of the buildings was amazing, it looked like something plucked straight from the past or out of a movie. I thought parts of the campus looked like something from Harry Potter which to be honest was part of the reason why I chose Glasgow!

Going on exchange allowed me to be 100% independent, which is something I haven’t experienced fully. It was a little daunting to begin with in the sense that I didn’t really have a family member or a friend who I could rely on, it was all up to me. After a while though I got used to it and really enjoyed having to be independent. Exchange in Glasgow also allowed me to travel around Europe and the UK, which is something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. I travelled Europe before my semester began with a tour company, and then towards the end of and after the semester I travelled by myself around the UK, which is something I would never of had the confidence to do without exchange. (I would add some snapshots but I couldn’t choose only a few).

Exchange has enabled me to find myself as a person in a time when I really needed to, as cliché as it sounds. My self-confidence has grown, I’m able to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself, I was able to immerse myself in a culture similar yet also quite different to my own and I made some really good friends.

There’s no bad weather, just bad clothes

Thomas, M., Bachelor of Business and Law
University of Glasgow (Semester 1 & 2, 2016)

Study:
The standard and method of study is very similar to QUT. The one big difference however is that most lectures are not recorded. Otherwise the study experience is just like QUT, in that there is a mix of tutorials, seminars, and lectures and there are similar expectations placed on students.

Hillhead campus in November taken from Argyle St

Campus:
The UoG (University of Glasgow) campus at Hillhead is as stunning as the pictures show. Not only is it beautiful but there are plenty of amenities including a gym, two student union complexes, numerous cafes, libraries, and study areas.

Accommodation:
In my first semester I stayed at Firhill student accommodation. Firhill, like Murano, is a long way from campus and is unfortunately not in a vibrant part of the city. It does however offer well-appointed accommodation with (tiny) ensuites however it is quite a distance from West End and campus which becomes annoying especially when the Glasgow weather sets in.

During my second semester I stayed in Kelvinhaugh student accommodation. This is a much better option, although not as modern and without personal bathrooms. Kelvinhaugh is ideally located 10 minutes walk from campus in the suburb of Finneston. Kelvinhaugh Street Student accommodation is surrounded by cafes, bars and Kelvingrove Park, and is a short walk from the city and Byres Road in the West End.

The other accommodation option to consider is Student Apartments. They have the best location as they are located on campus in the heart of West End. However it is highly sought after so you may need get accepted. That being said, everyone I knew that had stayed there loved it.

Costs:
On the whole I found Glasgow to be cheaper than Brisbane, particularly in regards to food (groceries and eating out). I set myself a strict budget of 40 pounds per week (roughly $80 AUD), but this meant that I could travel around Europe on my weekends.

Camping on the Isle of Skye (taken in March): wouldn’t recommend in Winter/Autumn

Travel:
There is plenty to see around Scotland and there are a number of tours set up specifically for exchange students. These are great as an easy way to see the country however it can be better to do some things on your own and at your own pace. If you are old enough renting a car is one of the best ways to see the highlands.

The downside about Glasgow was that its airport is relatively small so there wasn’t a lot of flights going in and out to mainland Europe or the rest of the UK. On the upside there is a bus that travels to the Stansted airport (just outside London) which is super cheap, 5-10 pounds. Added bonus there are heaps of cheap flights to Europe from Stansted airport.
Top Tips:

  • If you can only go for one semester, my recommendation would go in Semester 2 (January – June) more time to travel, plus you get to experience what winter is actually like.
  • Definitely attend all the exchange and introduction events they are a great way to meet people
  • Join clubs and societies, get involved, its a great way to increase your chances of meeting Scottish students
  • See as much of Scotland as possible don’t be put off by the weather (“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes)

I cannot recommend Glasgow enough and if you go you are guaranteed to have a great time!