My father’s family is comprised entirely of Scottish ancestry dating back for many, many centuries, and growing up with that influence was the pinnacle of confusion and wonder. I knew of this magical place far off and (an ocean) away where we had come from; a place which I admittedly, heavily romanticized in my naive and often-infantile first pursuits of sating my perpetual state of wanderlust. As an adult, I came into the realization that that place was perhaps a bit less magical, but did exist and was accessible. Regardless of the jading nature of time, it has been a dream to live today since I could dream.
The pride of the Scots is no secret to the world, and we are as well, admittedly, at times among the most stubborn people to walk the earth. We are also kind, reserved, polite, feisty, sometimes with passionate tempers, but also patient and joyful. I have always strongly identified with this element of my heritage, and have always recognized these elements in my own relatives. It is, thereby, an emotional experience to return to a country from which my blood originates, but where I had never physically before tread on the soil. Returning here as a first-generation American citizen as a legacy student to the University is an amazing and emotional opportunity.
My experience at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut provided me with a foundational understanding of the value of community and illustrated very effectively the methods by which community can be cultivated in any environment. Upon moving to a big city yet again, this time coming from an environment which is so far removed from the United Kingdom, one expects not to find community, but impersonal and cold environments — the kind which make you seek shelter from the rain and find nothing, particularly if you find yourself brand new to the area with no knowledge of support networks. The culture of Northern California, where I lived for the past year, exists as the antithesis of this place in my mind — the anachronism I was in California has dissolved here, and suddenly my father’s every quality becomes visible within every interaction with area locals. Friendly, jocular, effusively kind… but reserved, proud, and private.
Today, walking alone through Kelvingrove Park in the afternoon, which presents panoramic, beautiful angles of the University and surrounding area, I sat on a park bench, overwhelmed by the world and all that I had yet to overcome. As I felt myself sink into a state of wondering as to whether this was indeed the “right thing” after not having much luck looking for a flat, I watched a horde of twenty dogs associate amicably while their owners chatted pleasantly and proceeded about their business. I watched children play football (*soccer) on a field, swearing and laughing as children do, testing each others limits and so obviously coming into the age where their interests in one another outweigh actually focusing on the game. I watched a young man, very obviously a new student from a foreign country, walk alone into the park with his camera, smile unashamedly at the beautiful view, photograph it, and continue along his way. It was at this point apparent that, even when feeling a bit alone, this is but a shadow of false feeling in this place. International travel cements the fact that things like love, faith, and community are universal: but that strong faith in community successfully battles the also universal aspects of humanity, alienation, sadness, and internal conflict.
It is a city of rare kind; where it is easier to disappear in the light of day under the obscurity of so many clouds than it is to disappear upon the occasion of the brightly lit night — and where it is impossible to disappear as an individual entity.
And even on the rainy days, on the cold days which are certainly on their way; there is warmth, light, and love here which will manifest in the growing feeling of bravery which accompanies pushing ones limits, and the comfort of a rainy day with a book by a fire.
While I cannot purport to have a thorough account of the city or University at this juncture in my life, these first hours have been of great comfort and generally illustrative of good experiences to come as I make the most of my time in Glasgow, Scotland.