Exchange Diaries: The At Home Foreigner

By Cole Meagher (LifeSci ’14)
Contributor

My experience in Glasgow has been amazing so far and all the credit is due to the people I’ve met, both the other students here on exchange looking for new experiences and the Glaswegians themselves.

Most students on exchange here are like myself; looking for something new and always open to forming relationships. A trait most exchange students have in common is that everyone is tremendously proud of their country and culture. All of the students I’ve met on exchange have been more than eager to share a bit about themselves, their country and traditions. Many students have brought drinks or made food from their country to share with others. Just last night I was greeted by my French flat-mate, asking if I wanted to try some wine and saucissons (a French cured meat) that his parents had mailed him. The week before our Czech flat-mate had his parents visiting and treated us to shots of absinthe and Tatratea (similar to Jaeger but 50% alcohol) after a traditional Czech meal of a cabbage dish, potatoes and sausage. What was so great about these experiences was sharing these meals and drinks with people who were quite proud and thankful to have something they’ve been missing since coming to Scotland. Next week I should probably treat the flat to poutine and a couple of Molsons or my go to “hair of the dog” drink, a Cesar (which I recently discovered is as Canadian as maple syrup).

Glasgow gets a terrible reputation from around the world, and is perhaps most notably famous for being fairly low on the household income scale, its social health problems related to drinking and a diet consisting primarily of the color beige (all reasons that explain why Glasgow is leading the UK and the rest of the world for heart related diseases). However something that Glasgow should be recognized for, much more so than other cities in the UK, is the genuine kindness people show to one another and even more so towards tourists like myself.

One example of the extent to this kindness is in the interactions I’ve had at the Sports Centre with the head trainer Derek. Derek, who operates the front desk and instructs various classes throughout the day, probably comes in contact with close to 500 people each day. Since my first day of going to the gym here, Derek has known and remembered my name. Unlike the ARC at Queen’s, to gain entry to the gym you physically give your sports pass to the person working the front desk in exchange for a key that gives you access to various rooms. Hundreds of people pass through each and every day and Derek always addresses people by their name and is first to ask how they are doing. It’s people like Derek who really make me enjoy my stay. Little things like this, which go the extra mile, has created an environment in Glasgow much like Canada and has made me feel quite at home in this foreign land.

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