From country living to city dweller: How I got used to surviving in Glasgow

14 Jan 2020
By Ellie M., Post-grad at University of Glasgow

Moving from the middle of nowhere to the biggest city in Scotland was a bit of a jump for me, to say the least. At home in Aberdeenshire, the view from my bedroom window consists of rolling fields, dozens of trees, the occasional wind turbine, and a mix of sheep, cows, and deer.

My view in Glasgow, on the other hand, consists of herds of cars stuck in traffic, towering buildings, and dozens of people – yikes.

Clearly, life was going to be very different in my new home, but as with all things, you adapt. This is how I managed it.

Adjusting to the sights and sounds

Glasgow has taken a fair bit of getting used to. One of the biggest things was the noise. At home, I’d lie in bed at night and hear absolutely nothing – apart from maybe the occasional creaky pipe in our old farmhouse.

Glasgow, on the other hand, seems to have an unimaginable number of sirens, car horns, and, weirdly, fireworks all year round. Thankfully, this was actually something that I just naturally got used to. When my parents came to visit a few weeks ago, my mum noticed that there were a lot of sirens whizzing by. But I hadn’t even noticed until she pointed it out, having now lived in my current flat since September.

Accepting the differences

At first, I was shocked by the sheer number of people who live and work in a big city. I don’t mean to say that I’ve been living under a rock my whole life, and I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world.

Actually living in one, however, is a whole new experience. Every time I step out the front door, I’m met with a bustle of city dwellers who all, somehow, seem to know exactly how to exist with so many others around them.

At home, I step outside and am met by my dog, (or occasionally dive-bombed by a bat or a black bird…). Admittedly, even three years into university here, this is still something that I’m getting used to. I have found that it helps to have a planned route to walk on my way to class. That way, I have a pretty good idea of how the streets work and know I’m much less likely to encounter any surprises.

Finding my happy place

I’ve read online that being outside in nature is really good for you, and while I agreed it must have some effect, I never really noticed how much it could change my mood until I was completely deprived of it in the city. I very quickly realised that I was missing trees, greenery and fresh, pollution-free air.

I used this as an opportunity to get out exploring with my flatmates. Luckily, Glasgow is not far from Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, so after some planning, we banded together and headed off to climb a mountain. We had a great day out, got some exercise, and the trip certainly refuelled the part of me that was so badly missing the trees.

Eventually, I took this a bit further and now do voluntary practical conservation work with the national park. I can easily fit it around my studies, it’s a great opportunity to get out into the countryside, and I can do something for the environment at the same time.

Understanding the best of both

The move from home to Glasgow has its advantages too. I’m much more world-aware and have met and made friends with all kinds of people that you just don’t come across in rural Aberdeenshire. One of the best parts is that I’ve discovered a much deeper appreciation for where I’m from. I really look forward to going home and seeing the dog, my family, our chilly house, and the plants that climb up its old granite walls.

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Crafter, casual gamer, and future forest ranger. I'm Ellie and I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2021 with a degree in Film Studies and Theatre. I grew up in rural Aberdeenshire and am still trying to figure this ‘adult’ thing out.