Five reasons never to leave Glasgow, Pamela Banchetti
Some time before I left Florence a friend of mine was joking about my choice of coming to Glasgow, which in her opinion didn’t have anything famous or known to be worth visiting. I have to be honest and admit that at first I found myself speechless regarding her jokes but I wasn’t leaving for “the famous” but to discover the city and its people, rather than what tourists would be looking for.
In fact the first thing that strikes you in Glasgow is how few tourists there are walking around you, banging their bags and stretching their arms to take pictures.
In other words, although Glasgow is a multicultural and multicolor city, whose liveliness and variety conquers your heart and makes you feel as if you are in the center of the world, nevertheless it has a key point that makes it different from other cities such as Edinburgh, and especially London: the absence of Chaos.
Glasgow allowed me to walk slowly with a snub nose, maybe also turning on myself in order to admire those buildings that look so modern if observed in parallel but that keep culture and history to the forefront.
The majority of foreigners that come to Glasgow want to build a new life and with them they bring culture and vitality which is easily mixed with the strong Glaswegian accent. This mixture creates a unique and real place for those few that just come for a visit.
However, Glasgow’s vibrant culture is not only limited to the hilarious variety of language that you can hear as you walk around. Indeed the city offers amazing galleries and exhibitions in buildings that range from being incredibly old to really modern. For instance within only fifteen minutes walking distance you can visit the Museum of Transport on the river Clyde, The Riverside Museum, with a contemporary and sharp building, and the baroque beauty of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, that every day offers splendid exhibitions and organ concerts in the main room. Just to name but a few, there is the breathtaking beauty of two very old educational buildings: The Mitchell Library (1877)and The University of Glasgow (1451). The first mentioned is the main public library – an impressive five level structure covered by a light blue dome topped by a classical figure. The latter is one of the three Universities in Glasgow, the second oldest in Scotland with an enchanting “Harrypotterian” atmosphere.
The city offers engaging possibilities for those who love theatre, music, performances and cinema at accessible prices with student discounts available all around the city. With regard to this it’s important to mention The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre whose three pavilions offer concerts and conferences throughout the year, situitated on a magnificent site on the river in front of the colorful BBC Scotland building.
I am of the belief that describing the people that live in a city the adjective “hospitable” is often overused. I would like to avoid making this mistake myself because Glasgow as first Scottish and fourth British biggest city is too wide to be stereotyped. Moreover I believe that our impression of other people is really influenced by our own approach the new and the different. Hence: the majority of people that I smiled at on the street smiled back and just a few hit my shoulder without apologizing. I would be happy to meet again the majority of people that I have known for a short time and just to a few of them I would not wish all the best in life. Finally the majority of people that are accompanying me throughout my adventure are wonderful and just a few of them make me miss home. Working at Costa Coffee I came to know hostile and selfish customers that came only to buy caffeine. However the biggest part of them came giving me a smile, a friendly word, a special wish and to ask me to which country does the flag on my badge belong, admiring my braveness in escaping from the sunny side of the world!
As Italians we are always impressed by characteristics like organization, efficiency, and possibility, all things that Glasgow and Scotland offer, especially to us, European citizens. I am particularly informed about further education pathways as I decided to apply for a Scottish University. My decision was drawn towards Scotland for two main advantages compared to England. First of all, both regions offer financial support for European citizens on tuition fees, but in England the money has to be paid back once you earn a certain amount of money, in Scotland this money can be forgotten. Secondly, despite the fact that there is a high possibility to go to university for free (according to eligibility criteria), the level of education is very high on a global basis.
Moreover all the advantages are not only open to “University Students”: in fact educational and intellectual places are opened to everyone who wants to take part. The University of Glasgow, as many others in Scotland, offers a great variety of short courses running throughout the year on a wide range of subjects and at reasonable prices. Again this last factor can be augmented by governmental funding run by the agency “Skills Development Scotland” and created to give the chance to “learn new things” ( again it is all subject to eligibility criteria). I personally applied for funds that arrived in one week.
All these things look so incredible in Italy, but they are all reality!
Now it’s Monday Morning. I am running to the subway to reach Costa Coffee, I am not late, but is always better to get there early. I scan my weekly ticket and I am about to reach the stairs but I see a guy that walks slowly catching my attention. He takes a few steps towards the stairs but then comes back to read carefully all the posters and adverts. I go on, I turn and keep on towards the platform. Still three minutes. I look at the phone just to make sure I am not late. I manage to connect to the open zone Wifi and I send a text to Cosimo. I lift my head to see who is standing around me and I see that guy climbing down the stairs very slowly. He is holding a bunch of pink roses that I did not notice before and he is looking around, circular and curious. He is reading the posters with an incredible interest as though fascinated by their colours. The subway is coming: finally the “outer” before the “inner”. I immediately notice that we are sitting in the same train, he’s almost in front of me and that in addition to the pink roses he has got a bunch of yellow roses. How lucky the the person is who will receive them! He has a big black backpack. He opens it quickly and takes a jar of fruit juice marked TESCO. He opens it and drinks from the jar, repeating short and long sips and accompanying them with long breaths as if he had absorbed the world’s peace. He starts playing with the jar as if it was a beautiful woman, observing it, reading its labels and enjoying it. I move my eyes to the people seated next to him. Earphones, Smartphone, Tablet, absence. Absence of spirit, expressions and emotions. That Monday I didn’t read my book on the subway, I sat observing the show of humanity that still exists, that is free from technology-
I added this story to my article, although many of you will say that it could have happened anywhere, in order to tell you that Glasgow is gorgeous because it is lively and real, different from all the other places that you can always hear on TV or read about in history books. Glasgow is real life and it does not allow you to feel foreign, you feel real and part of it in every moment, in every gesture, in every smile, like one of the subway drivers, who leans out from his cabin to check that everybody is onboard.
Pamela Banchetti – April, 2015
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- Five reasons never to leave Glasgow, Pamela Banchetti