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New to Glasgow? 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Sooner
First of all, let us tell you one thing. If Glasgow is your destination, you have already made the right, the BEST to be exact, choice! The city slogan dubbed “People Make Glasgow” does live up to its hype; you will call Glasgow “home” before you even realise it.
There is nothing quite comparable to the sheer excitement of starting a new semester or school year, which for many of us means moving away from our family and home to a place entirely new.
Fret not; we at the Strath Union are here to help you settle in smoothly as quickly as possible. Forget all those typical, flimsy tips you may have read before because this is the only student guide to Glasgow you’ll ever need—written by a real, current student living in the city herself!
Hi! My name is Theerada Moonsiri, a postgrad student pursuing a master’s degree in Media and Communication (MLitt) at the University of Strathclyde. Originally from Thailand, I moved across the world to Glasgow and began my postgrad journey earlier in January this year. Let me share with you these practical, no-nonsense tips for students new to Glasgow based on my first-hand experience.
Welcome to Strath Union, located at 51 Richmond Street
1. Get it right: First week(s) essentials
Once you arrive in Glasgow, and you’re here to study (right!?), make sure you complete the registration for the academic year and join those introductory sessions. Even though it doesn’t sound so fun and jazzy, it’s something that needs to be done and will definitely give you a much clearer, proper sense of how your academic year is going to be like.
Plus, if you’re an international student, register with a general medical practice (GP practice) and collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as soon as possible. Once you have your BRP close at hand, dealing with public bodies (such as doing paperwork, opening a bank account in Scotland, contacting UK Visas and Immigration, etc.) is no fuss.
2. Know your ‘hood: Living in Glasgow
So basically, and brutally honest, Glasgow can be divided into four big areas where students actually reside: the city centre, the west end, the east end, and the southside. Each area is unique in its own way and has its ups and downs.
The city centre is where our campus is located, so you can get to class quickly and easily (except for the part where you may have to climb Montrose hill). The city centre is always buzzing, ideal for those who love city-living vibes. For those who love travelling, the city’s very own Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street stations are perfect for train journeys to other major cities in the United Kingdom. The downside of the city centre must be the pricey rent and noise problems and nuisances.
The west end is best known for its relaxed or rather “hipster” vibes. It’s home to the world-renowned Kelvingrove Museum and many independent shops, cafes, and restaurants. The commute to and from the campus is effortless, thanks to Glasgow’s 125-year-old subway and ScotRail. While you will find tons of home and international students walking the streets of the west end, the rent is arguably no joke.
The east end is somewhat the most affordable choice here when it comes to renting. It’s quiet and homely, so it’s best for those who prefer a more peaceful lifestyle. On the other hand, this frankly means there’s nothing much going on, not many shops and cafes compared to other areas. The trip to and from the campus is easy enough with ScotRail trains and First Glasgow buses.
The southside is up-and-coming; it’s creative, multicultural, and full of life. You will find many community-led and independent shops here, and the rent is pretty reasonable. The only major downside would be the commute to and from the city and the campus; options include First Glasgow buses stuck in the traffic during rush hours and not-so-frequent ScotRail trains, which can be annoying in the long run.
There are many housing options for students in Glasgow, from university-owned student halls, private student halls, flat shares,and private rented accommodation. If you’re renting privately or sharing a flat with someone else, getting acquainted with the Council Tax set by local authorities in the UK is definitely a good idea when negotiating contracts.
On a side note: Strath Union is aware of an increasingly large volume of messages from students contacting us about their struggles to find accommodation ahead of returning to campus next month. You can find the statement from Strath Union and your Student Exec team here.
3. Find your people: Societies and Sports Clubs
Starting a new chapter of your life in a place where you don’t know anyone can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone in this! University life is not only about getting a degree but also about meeting new people, making friends, and creating memories.
I find joining societies and clubs the best and easiest way to meet and connect with new friends. I’ve been a member of the Strathclyde Telegraph since last semester, and I met many good friends who share similar interests and are fun to hang out with.
There are currently over 200+ student-led societies at Strath Union, and if you can’t find one that suits you, start one yourself! (Yes, it’s that easy.) When studying becomes a bit overwhelming, being a part of any society helps keep your mind off your study in a way—don’t forget that university life is to enjoy, not endure!
Pictured - The Strathclyde Book Club
4. Attending lectures: Make the most of it
GREAT NEWS! We’re fully back on campus this academic year! That means you get to meet your classmates and lecturers in person.
One thing to brace yourself with is the Scottish accent that may sound alien to you. You might struggle a little bit with understanding in the beginning, but all the lecturers are more than willing to make things right for you, no matter how long it will take. And believe me, it will get better with time, just like everything else in life.
Not to mention that you can now make the most of the £60 million Learning & Teaching building, the humongous Andersonian Library, the fully-equipped Strathclyde Sport, and, of course, the yassified Strath Union at 51 Richmond Street, home to serious coffee, probably the cheapest pint in Glasgow, and a whole lot of fun events and activities!
5. Let’s roll: Getting around in Glasgow
Thanks to a network of trains, buses, and subways, Glasgow is a pretty good city to navigate and get around. These are some practical public transport tips I wish someone had told me sooner!
ScotRail trains: Open return tickets are sometimes cheaper than single tickets; Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets help you save even more. And travelling by train is the cheapest by far!
First Glasgow buses: A standard single-journey bus ticket is double the price of a return-journey train ticket. However, if you plan to take the bus regularly, student fares are on offer for day, week, and month tickets. Here’s the catch: If you are under 22 years old and living in Scotland, you are eligible for free nationwide bus travel. Learn more here.
Glasgow Subway: The famous “clockwork orange” covers merely the city centre and the west end of Glasgow. To my knowledge, there’s no student discount, but its Smartcard allows all-day travel for £3.
Railcards by National Rail: If you’re planning to travel to other major cities in the UK, a Railcard will help you save immensely. Many options are available here.
6. Cheap eats: Army marches on its stomach
Glasgow has quite a number of food joints and restaurants that won’t break your bank. Paesano Pizza, Sugo Pasta, and BLOC+ are big names among students who love cheap eats. The Terrace at the Strath Union is also undoubtedly a place to go for a selection of street food like Korean fried chicken, Ragda patties, the scrumptious West African Beef Mafe, and many more.
And I’m not gonna lie here, I do eat at pub chains like Spoons or All Bar One from time to time. After all, I also find prepping and cooking your own meal helps save a lot. ALDI groceries are definitely a student favourite.
Several local cafes and coffee shops across the city generously offer student discounts, usually up to 10% off the bill. Plus, bringing your own cup to coffee shops does help save some pennies.
Just some of the awesome food currently available from The Terrace
7. A night out: Boujee on a budget
(Editor note - As well as our very own Skint Thursday and soon to be announced Saturday Vibes!) The city’s famous nightclubs like The Garage and CAMPUS offer shots and drinks as cheap as £1.50. But all in all, get your pre-drink game strong before heading out. Or just simply make your way to the Strath Union’s very own The Terrace for a beer!
8. Exploring Glasgow: The best things in life are free
One thing I absolutely love about Glasgow is that there are plenty of things to do, see, and explore for free. I’m talking about Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (where Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross is displayed), Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow Women’s Library, The Burrell Collection, and so many more.
There are many parks across the city, such as Glasgow Green, Queen’s Park, and Alexandra Park, where you can go and relax, smell the grass and feel the breeze, or take a jog or a hike if you’d like.
Apart from that, there are many charity shops and second-hand bookshops for you to shop for less and more sustainably!
9. Keep yourself posted: What’s happening in Glasgow
I strongly feel that a sense of belonging is important for settling in, especially for those new to the city. Knowing what’s going on in town can help boost that belongingness; catch up with local news on Glasgow Live, Glasgow Times, and Secret Glasgow, just to name a few.
10. Feeling lost? Head to Strath Union’s Advice Hub.
Please always remember that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, lost, or even out of place sometimes. You’re starting anew, but you’re not alone. Strath Union’s Advice Hub advisors offer free, unbiased and confidential information and advice for students on matters related to studies, housing, and funding and finance. Get advice here.
Welcome to Glasgow, welcome to Strathclyde, we are so happy you are here :)