I began the first half of my 3rd study year in Scotland, at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). Getting settled there was easy as I was able to receive a room in Caledonian Court, right across the street from the university itself. The location was great, right next to GCU and the city center which meant I was walking distance from everything I needed. I had a little over one week to get my bearings before the modules (courses) began, during which we had the Welcome Week and many fun activities.
The biggest surprise for me, nature wise, was the lack of parks and green areas near the city. To get to a park you had to walk for at least half an hour, and they were very well maintained compared to the raggedy forests I’m accustomed to in Finland. I’m used to having a forest only a few minutes’ walk away from home in Finland. It took some time to get used to the lack of forests or parks nearby, as I like to go for walks in the forest to de-stress and spend time.
About my studies in GCU
Compared with Finland the study culture is very different in Scotland. In TAMK I am used to mainly group work but in Scotland the emphasis was on independent work, meaning a lot of studying at home and doing all assignments individually. The focus was on theoretical learning without much practical application of knowledge.
In TAMK I am used to having smaller assignments due every now and then, but at GCU the way the assignments were spread out through the semester was very different; there were typically only one or two really big assignments for each module, and many were due at the end of the semester. Two of my modules had exams in January but I was (luckily) able to do both of them in Finland.
In total I did three modules during my stay in Glasgow, each worth 10 ECTS. I had lessons 3 days a week which left me with a lot of spare time to cook, go to the gym (located on the university campus), visit museums and landmarks in Glasgow and go on trips to see the country.
Scotland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. The mountains were enormous, and in the autumn they were covered in dead ferns that coloured the mountain sides in a deep hazel. The most beautiful place I visited was Isle of Skye where small white houses dotted the countryside. It was probably the windiest place I have ever been to! Overall, the weather wasn’t as poor as I thought it would be, so I wasn’t as bothered by it when it was windy or rainy.
I spent a lot of my spare time with my 7 flatmates who were all exchange students like myself. We went on many day trips together; some were guided tours and others we organised ourselves. Those trips were what made my exchange in Scotland truly memorable. Some trips we organised with my flatmates were visiting Pollock Country Park to see the highland cows, visiting Edinburgh (only an hour bus ride away from Glasgow) and going to the Enchanted Forest. We also climbed Goat Fell Mountain which was one of the best days of my life!
I loved my exchange in Scotland, the friends I made, the unforgettable memories and I can’t wait to go back to there!