My First Week in Scotland

International Student's Thoughts after One Week Abroad: dealing with culture shock, making friends, and exploring Scotland

I’ve been in Scotland for about nine and a half days now. I didn’t plan on doing a study abroad update this early into my adventure, but there was an overwhelming amount of you asking for an update. So here I am delivering!!

This is basically going to be very similar to my Conversations with Caitlyn posts but exclusively about my life in Scotland so far.

My Flat

After almost 22 hours of traveling, I was hype to finally arrive at my flat on campus.

I live with seven other international students and I promise you it’s not as bad as it sounds! We all have our own bedroom and then there are two bathrooms, two showers, and a kitchen that we all share. I did a little flat tour on Instagram stories last week, so make sure you follow me there to get little inside looks at other things in my life abroad!

The only complaint I have about the flat is that the showers are tiny! I’m talking maybe two feet by two feet. And the shower head doesn’t move and blasts straight into the opposite corner, so there’s nowhere to stand in the shower and not be getting sprayed. I have no idea how I’m going to shave my legs while I’m here.

Also, not all my flatmates are here on exchange. Some are here to do their whole undergrad and at least one is here to complete her masters. One of the other NKU students actually lives in the same flat as me, but I have yet to officially meet him.

Culture Shock

Before leaving America, I was so certain that I wouldn’t experience culture shock. Or if I did, I didn’t think it would hit me as hard as it did.

The first thing that threw me off was the accents. All of the Scottish people I’ve met (outside of the school induction events) have such thick accents. The number of times I’ve pretended to understand and just nod or say yeah has been too high. Like when I meet my mentor, I didn’t understand over half of what he said in the two hours I was with him. I felt really bad, but it’s just so difficult! Luckily, all the teachers and administrators I’ve met so far don’t have as thick of accents. Or they just know to speak more clearly and slow for international students.

The second thing that really hit me hard was the currency. The currency used in Scotland is pound sterling. There are two things that made the currency confusing to me:

  1. Notes of the same amount can look different – When I got my currency exchanged I got a few £20 notes and they were of two different styles. Apparently, each bank has it’s own pattern for each note. Just me or is that just useless and unnecessarily confusing?
  2. £1 and £2 are coins and not notes – This is the weirdest thing that really confused me. There’s nothing smaller than a £5 note, so if your bill is less than that you have to rummage through all your coins. And who uses coins!?

Another international student asked me what my biggest culture shock was and I said the currency. To this, he said, “You’re the only one I’ve ever heard say that.”

Exploring Glasgow

I’ve been pretty dang productive at exploring my surroundings considering that I’ve only been here for about nine days. Here’s a list of all places I’ve visited so far:

  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
  • University of Glasgow
  • 02 ABC (I saw Witt Lowry here)
  • George Square
  • City Chambers
  • Gallery of Modern Art
  • The Lighthouse
  • People’s Palace
  • Kelpies
  • Stirling Castle & Stirling
  • Glengoyne Distillery

No, I haven’t made friends

I’m actually awful at making friends. Now making acquaintances? I can do that all too well. I know who a bunch of people here are, but I’m not going out of my way to establish relationships with them. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of person who expects other people to show interest first, otherwise, I just feel like they don’t want anything to do with me.  I know this isn’t always true, but it’s just how my brain works.

So I’ve done everything here alone so far. Except for the last three things on my list. Those three were part of a paid field trip for international students. There were about 50 of us, but no one tried to talk to me until the distillery. Which is also when I found out that all the international students have been hanging out together….. without me. This is partly my fault since I haven’t tried to get to know any of them enough, so that’s my next goal.

university of glasgow

My city phobia is gone?

If you know me well, then you know I’m actually really scared of big cities and they give me anxiety. Like I almost cried when I took the bus to downtown Cincinnati and walked to Fountain Square to meet someone. I just always feel like I’m going to be jumped no matter what city I’m in. Until now.

Glasgow is the second biggest city in Scotland, but I haven’t had any issues walking around alone. Not even at night. I realized this the other night when I was on the phone with one of my best friends. This is going to sound awful, but I think it’s because there aren’t really any homeless people here, and the few I’ve seen all look healthy and happy, not scary and pushy.

I also haven’t noticed any creepy or scary looking people. Nor have I been catcalled, which is usually a common occurrence is cities. I guess Glasgowians are just super nice and un-forboding people.

There’s a little inside look into my life abroad so far. I wanted to include a lot more pictures but I’ve edited less than half of them so there will be more to come in other posts! I’ll also be sharing some on Instagram and Twitter, so if you want to see more of Scotland, be sure to follow me!

Do you want to see more study abroad updates from me? Should I make this a mini-series? Maybe once or twice a month? Let me know in the comments!

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