Day 3

Yes, I know, this post came much quicker than the last one, didn’t it? Anyway, à jour trois…

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So, to start, there’s something strangely magical about these guys. And no, it’s not their beards. Many years ago now, I went to the London 2012 Olympics and my family and I shot up here, to Glasgow, so we could make use of Central Station. We were heading to Edinburgh, naturally. Well — these lads were here that first time, playing in this exact same spot. Then, come the first day I’m making my way back up Buchanan Street for this second jaunt across the pond in 2015, and here they are again. Greeting me like last time. It was rather an odd coincidence, I must say. Good thing I don’t believe in coincidences.

What I would do differently? This time, I’ll make sure to buy one of their CDs. If only for aesthetic appeal because my computer no longer has a disc drive…

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I know what you’re thinking: “She’s going to say that next time she won’t be a stereotypical American and take a picture next to a telephone booth.” WRONG. This next time, I WILL take ANOTHER picture next to a telephone booth, but perhaps I’ll go to the lime green one farther down Buchanan…I used to walk by it all the time when I was headed to Central to meet Sam for riotous outings, or when I was going for a calming walk in the rain. They have free Wifi so I don’t see the point in avoiding them. I don’t care how American it looks – I’m working on embracing that side of myself again, okay? I don’t really like it but what can you do when you fall in love with an American or two…

Check it out:

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Pretty great, huh? Makes for a good, nostalgic shot, and with the banners and the rain and the lights…

Day 4 to come soon.

“A few thousand miles and an ocean away, But I see the sunrise, oh, just like the other day, Picture your eyes as I fall asleep, Tell myself it’s all right, oh, as the tears roll by.” -Oceans Away, ARIZONA

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People Make Glasgow Day 6

So I’ve been out for a few weeks. The Disneys have even stopped, but that’s more because I just haven’t been in the mood, tbh. They will start up again in a few weeks when my work has quieted down. Apologies for all that! But for now – onto the necessary and rather late day 6 of my study abroad experience in Scotland.

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With my reputation for parties before me, I set out for what is known in Europe as a ‘Carnival Party’, or a Halloween-like party literally at any time of the year. With that in mind, the only catch to attend is that you MUST be dressed up. So, after fussing with myself and my roommates over what to wear all week, I decided that I could easily go as a wolf. I owned the appropriate wolf hat, the leggings, the cropped top. All that was left was the makeup. So there I was, already slightly buzzed from two pints at Bar Home with mountaineering club (first time out with them), getting ready for yet another party. As I swaggered through Birkbeck Court, someone threw open their window and howled down at me. I raised my arm, drink in hand, and wolf-howled right back. Little did I know that I would soon be howling myself into the ground and become known as the ‘Da wolf!’. Safe to say that it was a good end to week 3.

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The very next day, Friday, I already had another evening planned. I was hardly ready. Despite my eagerness, I was quite the grandmother inside and had a hard time keeping up with my own antics. Nevertheless, I dolled up just enough for a silly international pub night where I met one of the most interesting people yet. A boy, of course. One straight from France. He wasn’t someone who studied at Strathclyde, unfortunately, but was visiting one of our other French friends. Needless to say, we got along just splendidly. And stuck together like glue the rest of that very drunken, slightly blacked out, night. If you’re curious, he’s the one right below me in the picture, with his tongue sticking out.

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Well — only a few days later and I’m following this French man like a loyal Labrador. I became greatly attached to him, actually. I figured he felt the same; yet ever since that one, fateful night where I gave more of myself to him than I probably should’ve, he had been a tad cautious and hesitant around me. I tried to ignore it. But, despite my efforts, it stuck out to me very clearly. Almost as clear to me as this rainbow, which I swear was sitting right on top of us. Still couldn’t seem to spot the pot of gold though. He had invited me to Edinburgh with him and his French lads. It was a grand ol’ trip. We spent the day walking, talking, joking. Here, we hiked up Arthur’s Seat – the famous spot where Arthur himself tore the sword out of the stone. Or so the rumor goes.

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Of course, as we made our way over to the seat, I couldn’t deny myself a shot with my inspiration’s old hotspot. The French boys wouldn’t let me go inside. They were on a mission, apparently. But I was able to at least snag a photo of the outside, with a whispered promise to return to it eventually, where I would go inside and write my own novels’ notes on scraps of coffee napkins.

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Besides the rainbow and the mysteriously missing pot of gold (I suppose it isn’t Ireland, is it?), the top of Arthur’s Seat offered a view such as this one. Basically one like no other. At least in Edinburgh, that is. Here, one can see that night is falling. The unusual sun sinking below the horizon. And you know what? Despite the cold, I didn’t want to leave. I could’ve stayed up there for as long as the weather and the French boys would’ve let me…

Peace. Cheers. Love. xx

Day 7 to come next week (Promise this time)

People Make Glasgow Day 5

At this point in my stay at Strathclyde, I was getting very invested in the people. Hence the title of this whole series. I mean, Glasgow itself portrayed the banners all around the city. In the West, Center, and even the East. I was also steadily involving myself with what appeared to be the stereotypical ‘freshman experience’. But you see – I had never experienced this ridiculous, wild side of myself before. So it was quite fun to experiment with my possibilities and opportunities. Even if it had only been 2 weeks since I’d landed in the land of the brave, true, and the rain.

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The day after the wild club night where unspeakable things happened, I followed my flatmates and fellow Pomona friend to the famous Glasgow Necropolis. It was very conveniently located behind Strathclyde. This beautiful structure before you was just one part of it – we weren’t even at the graveyard yet. Just you wait. The beauty only got better.

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The snow was a day or two old, but the air was bitter cold. Though the sun was out. A decent number of names and dates were so old, that even though they were carved in stone, I couldn’t even attempt to read them. I waltzed among the trees and gravestones as my flatmates and friend engaged in a rather unnecessary snowball fight. But I didn’t let them spoil my own private fun.

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We stayed until the unveiled sunshine began to disappear beneath the hills. I particularly love this picture because of the way the fading sun cast magnificent shadows across all the tombstones, so that they looked like silhouettes. It was probably about 3.30 p.m. We were still into late January, so the sun was barely awake this far north. Up at 8 and down again at 4.

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The following week, I was invited out to what was called a Pub Golf outing. One of my newly acquired Scottish friends from Arthurian Legends, the girl on the left, in fact, was going with all of her Scottish friends and so of course, naturally, I was invited, too. The middle guy was in my Order and Nature in Renaissance Writing course as well and had been one of my first friends here. Pub Golf is a massive bar hopping event where you must dress up as a ‘golfer’ or you will automatically get points taken off. You also hit 9 pubs in one night. You know, like a small round in golf. Apparently they had even crazier events here called Sub Crawls, where you got off at every stop on the subway to get a pint. I didn’t dare try that one yet however. This night was yet another one where I surprised myself. It was a blast and I managed to survive. Didn’t even black out or anything. Though I did end up kissing yet another boy – 3 in 2 weeks. Definitely a record for me, at least.

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By the end of the second week, I had broken a boy’s heart, ditched another one, and kicked the third out of my flat without his socks. Naturally, I needed a girl’s night. So here I was – invited out for the third time with another of my newly acquired Scottish friends. She’s not pictured here because we didn’t have any good club selfies. Once again, naturally. This one was a random gem. And this girl remains an amazing individual who helped my experience foster into one I would never forget. Next time, I’ll picture the lovely lass who invited me out, considering she’s still one of my best friends. The four of us hit a pub first, where we ranted about feminism and all its glory, shared 4 pitchers of alcohol, then I proceeded to get nachos at The Counting House and impress this lovely lass here with my love of Irn Bru and finally, we hit the club. The Garage, it was called. The one I had meant to go to last Friday. Long story there. The night ended up being perfect and just what I needed.

Peace. Cheers. Love. xx

Day 6 to come next week.

 

People Make Glasgow Day 4

Ah yes – the time has come for the REAL fun to start. My dad left me to my whimsies, told me to have fun and be safe and then left me standing on the street as he drove away in a taxi for 6 months, and it was up to me to fulfill my life’s ambition and become the true Gryffindor within. I am, after all, a Gryffindor at heart.

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So here lies the outside of my flat. Birkbeck Court. It’s peaceful and quaint, isn’t it? I love the way the deadened trees somehow seem to liven the place up. It was a dreadfully sunny day. Quite the scandal, if you ask me. My window was one of the ones at the very top. Crazy, right? And you know what? I never learned to accept those 8 flights of stairs.

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And, in case you were wondering (which I’m sure you were), this is what my room looked like on the inside. It’s even cuter than the outside, I’d say. Of course it helps that I decorated it. I went a little wild while packing and brought almost everything I could find that seemed to scream ‘KRISTA!’ So – here it all is. I enjoyed it though. It became my safe haven. My cave of love, even. Though I often kicked them out without their socks the next morning. I even enjoyed the smell of it. There was an old style heater under the window and I think it gave the whole room a sort of warm, cozy smell as well as feel. I always slept well here. It was strange. I hadn’t often slept well back in Cali. I always needed some kind of white noise there, too. But not here. Here, I could keep my window open and listen to the crazy partiers coming home at 3 in the morning screaming Bulgarian songs. I could listen to the rush of taxis and large buses on the wet road. I could hear the patter of the rain on the windowsill. It was all very refreshing to me.

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Well, one week in, I woke up to this. Snow. On the roofs. In the grass. Breeding in the sky. It was the most exciting thing I had experienced so far. I had gone out the night before so I woke up kind of late, but it still seemed right on schedule. So I rushed into the shower and got ready. I had to be outside. Had to. Of course, when I get out there, the cold wind only seemed to wake me up more. I wanted to keep walking. Wanted to run. To take over the city myself. And I mean, I basically did. But I didn’t know I would do that yet. Today, all I cared about was kicking around the snow and making footprints in the grass. I didn’t even care that I was alone. None of my flatmates cared that much about it. But I did. It made me feel…alive. I was soon to find that a lot of things would make me feel that way in this dreadfully distant place.

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Look at how few people cared! Though most of them weren’t silly California girls, were they? Thank the Lords. I was already annoyed at the international orientation when a whole line of flippy-haired, blonde, San Diego girls sat down in front of me. I didn’t need more of them, that’s for sure. I had left America for a reason. Where was I headed here? I don’t even know. Everywhere. Nowhere. To the library, probably. Pay no attention to the giant crane or the lack of human life…

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And, as promised, my life truly began this week, too. Here, I have officially convinced all of my international and Scottish friends alike to attend the Harry Potter themed club party with me. We were pre-gaming in a flat before heading out to the club. Can you pick out the Scots? Hint — look for the whitest boys in the whole room. I’m hardly visible, though it is a shame. I was wearing a full-on outfit of Hufflpuff attire, socks and everything. Kind of awkward considering I’m a Ravenclaw now. This was the first real party I attended and the first time I really let go. I won’t say much more. The rest is up to one’s imagination. Let’s just say that the night ended much wilder than expected…

Peace. Cheers. Love. xx

Day 5 to come next week.

People Make Glasgow Day 3

So we progress on, yes? Onto jour trois:

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As was promised by the last post, my dad and I had managed to successfully find Strathclyde. Not only that, but we managed to take plenty of pictures on its campus. It is quite pleasant, isn’t it? Not as beautiful as the University of Glasgow, my dad said, but this campus was newer anyway. Already I was loving the different vibe that we found just walking among the buildings and old bits of grey snow. Here, I am posing by the big ol’ grand sign. You know, in case you were a lost student, too drunk to find your way home without guidance at 4 a.m.

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Dad and I wound our way through campus and found ourselves back on Buchanan. We progressed further down the street this time, only going the other way, toward what appeared to be a large concert hall. It had been a long, cold day. But it hadn’t rained on us. Even the sky itself was tired of being sunny and was winding down well before it had hit late afternoon. A typical January in Scotland apparently had the sun setting at around 3.30 p.m. Imagine that?

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Out of the setting sun shadows, we found ourselves on Sauchiehall Street. Buchanan and Sauchiehall connected at the concert hall, actually. It was like we couldn’t be stopped, stumbling here and there. It was really great fun. And of course, neither Dad nor I could help stopping and taking a well-deserved tourist shot. What American goes to ANY part of the U.K. and doesn’t come out with at least one picture of themselves next to an old phone booth? No one. Not a single, true American. Even though I was rapidly loosing all shred of my American-ness, layer by layer, I found this picture enjoyable and necessary all the same. And you know? The phone inside actually worked! It even included free WiFi. I say again – imagine that?

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At this point, Dad and I stopped in a pub for some grub. And alcohol, of course. “Drinking already”, my poor father commented as I happily and without hesitation ordered a coffee with a healthy serving of whisky included. It was quite good! Much sharper than I had expected, but I mean, what good is whisky if it isnae sharp?

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I know this is technically a repeat picture. But look — there ARE differences! The snow has officially melted completely, there are less cars on the street, and, it’s during a different time of day. I wonder if there was ever such a beautiful picture as this in California. I doubt it. When have there ever been clouds over Southern California long enough to capture a shot like this? The answer is never. But it’s okay — because when I took this picture, Southern California was long gone from my mind.

Peace. Cheers. Love. xx

Day 4 to come next week.

 

People Make Glasgow Day 2

As promised, this Saturday brings the irrevocable progression of my experience in Scotland.

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The next day my dad showed up to join me in the hotel. He, thankfully, didn’t come down to breakfast with me this time either so wasn’t there for when I flirted with the sausage guy. I mean, he made me vegetarian sausages and had an amazing accent, what’s the harm? Here, my dad and I had decided we would brave the freezing, outside world. Well — he would brave it. For me, it was only natural. It was at least sunny for him, if not for me.

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We made our way to the famous Buchanan Street in the light of the growing sun. Clouds shrouded its edges, at least. The street was famous for being the one in Glasgow that no cars could drive down. And housing a lot of street entertainment. Like these lovelies here. I joked with my dad that I would take one as my visa boyfriend. It was just the beards that bothered him. Of course, it was undeniable that I had seen them before. When I had been here last for that measly weekend trip back in 2012, I had seen this band then, too. Playing on the street among the many shops, street goers, and sales. I had been entranced by the bagpipes and loud drums then, too.

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And they weren’t the only ones out on Buchanan that day. Ah, Buchanan Street, you never cease to amaze! This man, yes, a real, human man, was posing as the even more infamously known cone-head statue of Duke Wellington in George Square. My dad and I hadn’t seen it yet. But we figured, soon enough, we would come across his greatness. Look at how astonished these passersby seem. I’m just fascinated with the wee horse he’s riding. Well, sitting on.

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And here’s me finding even more fascination with the simplicity of a Scottish street sign. Oh, how different it was! And so informative. Need to take the subway? Well it’s just over there, no worries of getting lost! The pure, natural, and ancient beauty of the architecture in the background will never cease to amaze me, either. What is that back there? A James Pringles store? Whatever that is…But look at how classic and sophisticated the building is. As we walked, I found myself getting drawn deeper and deeper in, and me, powerless to stop it.

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It was toward the end that we were finally able to find Strathclyde. The partner school I would be attending for 6 months. It was a school buried deep within the center of the city and it blended in so well, I could hardly tell it was a university at first. We had just been looking at a map by the road when a Scottish stranger came up to help us. He was extremely nice — not to mention a complete stranger — and gave us all the ins and outs to walking around campus. It was then I realized something else. This place was quite…homey. I was very comfortable here. Almost too quickly. And I knew that this experience was going to be a good one.

Day 3 to come next week.

Peace. Cheers. Love. xx

 

People Make Glasgow Day 1

One whole year ago, I did the greatest thing I could have ever imagined. I studied abroad in Europe for 6 months from January-June. To commemorate this time, I wanted to share a picture story. Basically, I will be using the pictures I took there to describe the story of my life in Glasgow, Scotland, the experiences I had there and shared with many, glorious others, and the times that I will never forget.

So, without further ado, here goes Scotland Saturdays:

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This picture was the first one I took of myself. It was a prelude to my adventure. It’s so odd looking back at it now because at the time, I had no idea what lay in store for me. Yet at the same time, I look so happy and hopeful — and tired, to be honest. This was taken at about 5.30 A.M. But I was rightfully so. Look at all my bags — you would think I had packed my life away. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was only when I had to pack for the return trip that I really did pack my life away.

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As soon as I got off that darned plane (it was the last leg of a 10 hour journey), I rushed out to the lobby. Funny thing is that I couldn’t quite seem to figure out the luggage carts and how to work them, so I ended up pushing about 100 pounds of unnecessary weight through the whole Glasgow airport. Safe to say I was fairly sweaty in all my winter gear after that. It was January, after all. But as I sat here and stared, I couldn’t help feeling welcome, despite the oddly ironic “No Entry” sign. The airport Welcome sign seemed to ring deep in my core, though I figured that the sunshine was fabricated and fake.

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As soon as I got into the hotel, I was all over my camera. I took ridiculous shots of myself and my excitement; I ran to the window and took shots of the outside world. Everything about this image gives me peace. You can see the beauty, class, and personality of the buildings, the leftover pieces of snow on the roof grass, and the rain-streaked sky and road. I saw this from the window and realized that I never wanted to leave.

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Then of course, I saw the Irn Bru. I figured it was complimentary and opened it. I had fallen in love with this stuff years ago, when I had come to Europe for the Olympics in the summer of 2012. Next to it lay a wee tea cake. It was all so very Scottish that I couldn’t help but laugh and snap a few shots. Like this one here. Nothing brings me more pleasure than the simple things in life. Like when I went downstairs to the lobby and asked if the Irn Bru was complimentary, which sprung the desk lady and I into an amazing conversation about Irn Bru itself, and Scotland, and how I was the only American to notice or even care about this stuff. But that’s where she was wrong. Already I was beginning to feel my American-ness leave me; fade away for something else. Something true.

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As soon as this engaging and encouraging conversation was over, I took a shower to wipe off all the gunk of plane and proceeded to paint the town blue. The concierge offered me an umbrella and I took it, but realized quickly that you couldn’t actually use it due to the vicious wind. So – I tucked it under my arm and strode down the street with my head held high. I remember thinking that the rain was glorious, that the wind was refreshing, and that the scenery was beautiful. Here, I had stopped in a cafe and watched as people continually walked through the same puddle and nearly tripped in it every single time. You would think they would learn from their fallen comrades.

Part 2 will come next Saturday.

Peace. Cheers. Love. xx