Bright Lights, Big City

Two small-town students share their impressions of Glasgow.

Ross, 1st year

‘Free entry for students!’ ‘£1 shots on Monday and Wednesday!’ ‘Who’s seeing Scott Mills tonight?’ ‘How much have you had to drink tonight pal?’ A succinct list of all the questions I was bombarded with during the infamous Freshers’ Week in Glasgow.

A mythical holy week for many first years trying to navigate an alien city; the promise of free shots and £1 pints of Tennents lingering at the forefront of our minds. Coming from a small town in Hampshire with no experience of a pint of Tennents, which I sadly had the misfortune to find out, FW in Glasgow was slightly terrifying, but also an eye-opener to the exciting times ahead. The plethora of club nights occurring EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. was astonishing because I had no knowledge of towns having more than one nightclub, let alone that people dared venture out on a Tuesday night. It was however, pretty cool to learn that there are so many different places that you could go nuts in; the only downside being you would often not remember it – an extra reason to visit there again. The added bonus of being able to munch on pakora after a night out is a huge winner too.

The vast number of people in halls and out on the streets of Glasgow was staggering. Admittedly, being surrounded by people who have no idea who you are does offer the opportunity to ‘revolutionise’ your identity into a new “super you” à la Youth in Revolt. However, coming from a town where you can walk down the street and see half of your school, it was an odd experience not recognising a single face. After all, it’s comforting, in some respects, to say hello to a person you sat next to in Year 8 maths. Moreover, having my birthday during Freshers’ was a chastening experience. Going from having your close friends inundating you with presents to being with a group of almost-strangers is a lonely experience. Moving away from the people you’ve known your whole life to building new friendships equates to a slightly heart wrenching birthday; a longing for my home comforts consumed me. However,  in the spirit of FW, ensuring you get out there and talk to people as often as possible is the best way of coping with Glasgow’s vastness with all its idiosyncrasies, soundscapes and multitude of cool and crazy events happening every night.  


Chloë, 2nd year

When I started first year at Glasgow I was filled with anticipation – not least because the town I moved from has a population of less than 2,000. Melrose, in the Scottish Borders, is the picture of small town life; everyone is someone’s granny, no one locks their front doors and to go places without your mum you have to have a driving licence. Clearly, this made for some ‘pure mental’ teenage years. Whilst Melrose was the perfect place to grow up – being able to go out without your phone as long as you were back before tea was excellent – as I hit my early teens I began to realise that small town life wasn’t for me.

Before Melrose I lived in Edinburgh, and still have friends there. I compared my teenage years with theirs; mine involved the occasional house party which almost always got shut down by nosy neighbours, theirs involved fake IDs, partying in the park and not having to spend an hour and a half on the bus to go to Primark. However, apparently a lot of alcohol got poured down drains by police and fake IDs were often confiscated…  

By 15 I had already decided I wanted to come to university in Glasgow and at just 17 I had moved away (yes, I was 17 in Freshers’ Week). When I first made the leap I was terrified. The big city was new and exciting, but it was also daunting. Yes, I had less freedom at home, but looking back, maybe getting picked up by your mum after a party is better than getting a taxi! However, I couldn’t wait to explore – not just the nightlife, but the shopping and culture that Glasgow has to offer.

A year later, beginning my second year at Glasgow, I couldn’t be happier. The contrast between Glasgow and Melrose is great, but now both are home. My town, with its tiny pub that closes at midnight, taxi prices that will break the bank – a 15 minute, £17 taxi ride to the nearest nightclub – and a tiny New Look, is a place to return to, to feel safe and to get good home-cooked food! My city, when I came after the summer, reminded me of the excitement of moving. The thought of having at least four more years in Glasgow is a thrilling one. Roll on second year.

[Ross McMichael and Chloe Tobin-Kemmer]

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