Credit: Elena Coderoni Rigamonti

Choosing Glasgow: a German on campus


Credit: Elena Coderoni Rigamonti

Johanna Kox


As an international student, I get asked this question a lot: “Why did you choose Glasgow?” I am sure other international students can relate, so today I am going to explain why I chose to come to this city – and why I’m glad that I did!

I had lived in Scotland for a while before I came to university. As part of an exchange program, I lived in Fife for 10 months. During that year, I discovered that I could apply to university without having to graduate from my German high school. Because I had previously enjoyed living in Scotland so much, I started to research Scottish universities and took the opportunity to move here almost immediately. I went to several open days and spent hours looking at all of the different courses, as well as reviews by alumni and current students. Glasgow, however, stood out.

The first thing that drew me to the city was that when I went to the Glasgow University open day I immediately fell in love with the campus. I had been slightly afraid of the size of the city because I had always lived in the countryside, but the University didn’t feel like it was located in such a big and busy city. It almost felt like it wasn’t even located in Glasgow at all, but then when you walk around two street corners, you find yourself in the busier areas, never far away from the city centre. This fact made Glasgow seem like the perfect mixture of campus and city.

Apart from the beautiful campus, I liked that Glasgow was such an open and international university. The slogan “World Changers Welcome” stuck with me because, at the end of the day, I feel every one of us hopes that we can contribute a little something to this world and at Glasgow, it just felt possible. The University also offered a variety of courses that I thought were very interesting. I always loved literature, but I knew that English Literature would be a vast subject, so I was thrilled when I discovered that Glasgow offers Scottish Literature as a degree. The focus on Scottish history, identity, and culture in this course amazed me, and it is a good way to get a grasp of the country and its people. Looking further into the future, I also liked the topics that are offered for Honours in my majors History and Archaeology.

Glasgow as a city is also a fantastic place to live in, outside of university life. All of the museums and pubs, small streets and hidden bookshops to explore, and the open-minded and friendly locals give Glasgow a small town character that makes you feel at home.

As a countryside girl, I love nature, so I enjoy all of the parks in Glasgow that make you forget about the busyness and noise of the city and allow you to breathe in some fresh air and sit between trees to relax and read a book.

But Glasgow is also very different from any place I have ever lived in. I had to adjust to living in a big city but also to the cultural differences.

Although the German and Scottish culture is alike, there are a few things I miss. In Germany, we celebrate other holidays and especially around the winter I miss St Martin and St Nikolaus day which I have enjoyed since I was a child.

One of the more apparent differences from Germany, one which can have a somewhat dangerous impact on my life, is the fact that the cars in this country drive on the wrong side of the road. I needed months to look in the right direction before crossing a street and just spending a few weeks in Germany and coming back makes me forget all about driving on the left.

Coming from Germany to Scotland, the thing that shocked me the most was probably how Scots are so open and talkative! You get strangers approaching you on the streets to have a chat with you, which seems strange at the beginning. The first few times I thought it was weird, but soon I realised how nice it was to share an opinion about the cute dog walking down the other side of the street, or the beautiful weather we have today.

So if any of you are struggling with adjusting to Glasgow just keep in mind, be open to new experiences and remember that Scotland has its own culture and customs.

I had very little struggle adjusting to living at university, but I had already made my own experiences living in a host family and living in Scotland. Don’t beat yourself up about struggling to adjust: try to find out what it is you find difficult to understand or what you are missing from home.

If I am homesick, it often helps me to go for a walk, clear my head and look around me to remember myself of all the reasons I am in Glasgow.

But sometimes even I just need a lot of ice cream and a call home to feel better…

However it really makes my day when I walk down the road, and I see the main building of the University look over the town and then I feel proud and happy to call Glasgow my home for the next four years.


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