Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Settling into Scottish Life

Following the River Kelvin from Dawsholm park for about an hour gets us to the Botanical Gardens which are a 20min walk from our place.

Hope everyone had a great new years and are getting used to being back at school/work….etc..


Over the past few weeks we have settled into life in Glasgow more. Our house now has both heat and hot water! People here move quite slowly, so we actually only got hot water just over a week ago…(after 4 hours of cursing from the heating guy and brown water spaying out of our pipes while the heating guy yelled for a bucket)… but our shower is electric so we were able to have hot showers when we moved in, thank goodness! And we now have internet in our flat which is nice :) We have also become more familiar with the area and know where to get certain things for the apartment.


On December 30th we took the 45min train ride to Edinburgh and spent the day wandering around there. It is a beautiful city, very different from Glasgow. We only got to see the city centre as we ran out of daylight quickly, but we really liked it, will definitely go back there sometime soon. There’s more greenery in the city, its cleaner, and the buildings and roads have a lot of character to them, most of the roads we saw were cobbled. It’s a great atmosphere! Visited our first castle, Edinburgh’s castle, which sits on the top of a big hill overlooking the city centre. Spent a lot of money to get in there so we spent most of our time exploring it. It was interesting reading about the history of it and exploring the various rooms and areas of it.  That night we experienced one of Edinburgh’s 4 day’s of Hogmanay (i.e. New Years).  There was a big parade that started the night off with a band of bag pipers and dancers and stilt walkers with various costumes. Our favourite had to have been the dinosaur stilt walkers which rose above and moved within the crowds. Their movements and sound effects were amazing! I don’t think our pictures have done them justice… should have taken a video. Another favourite of the night, were the Catalan Human Towers from Spain. These people built a human tower that was at least 7 people tall! Each story had 2 people facing each other and the tower was built up from there, with a person standing on the others shoulders until they towered very high above the crowd. They climbed up each others backs to get to the top and each person that climbed got smaller and smaller till the last story was made by kids. The tower went up and came down super fast as they just slid down each others backs as if they were sliding down a fireman’s pole. It was insane! The whole night was super fun, it was very crowded despite the rain.


On new years eve we decided to wander down to Glasgow’s city centre to see if we could catch a glimpse of the sold out concert hogmanay street party going on. Once there, we paused at the entrance and someone came up to us and asked if we were looking for tickets. We said we were and she was going to sell us her extra 2 tickets at cost (£5 / $10 each) but when we agreed her friend had already sold them to someone else… we were too late. We decided to hang around hoping someone else would be trying to get rid of their tickets, after all they were pretty cheap. A very drunk lady came up to us and asked if we wanted to buy her extra ticket. We said only if she had two, no point in having one ticket if we didn’t know if the other could get in. She tried to convince us to buy it and in the end just ended up giving it to us and wishing us a happy new years and good luck in getting the second one, very nice! Shortly after that some teenage kids came up to us and sold us one of their spare tickets trying to make money off of it. We bargained them down to £6… 2 tickets for £6 not bad! So off we went excited that we were able to cross the first gate and see what was on the other side. We ended up having to cross 6 gates and police check points, each time having to show them our tickets… no way to sneak into this thing, it was secure!  One thing that was different from concerts or parties in Canada was that they let you bring your own alcohol into the event as long as it was in a plastic container. If you didn’t have a plastics container the cops would pour your drink into plastic cups for you! Also, the cops were super friendly, they were even having a good time since girls kept going up to them and giving them a hogmanay kiss or joking around with them and trying their hats on. It was definitely a different atmosphere than what we are used to. There were tons of people in the square, all different ages too! They must have ranged from 3 – 70 years old! It was great to see such a mix of people all having a great time together. People were dancing and singing and generally having a great time. Most of the guys, young and old, were dressed in kilts which was neat to see. Other people had the Scottish flag draped around them like a cape or wrapped around them like a skirt. At midnight fireworks went off right above our heads and everyone broke out into song. On the walk home everyone we passed wished us a happy new years and people were dancing and playing music in the streets. It was great!


A couple weekends ago, went on another day trip, this time to the Cowal peninsula, trying to find a park that had been recommended to us by a girl in my class. After taking the subway, the train, and a ferry we finally got to the peninsula. However, we didn’t realize that we also had to hop onto a bus to take us there. Since the bus only came once an hour and we had just missed it we didn’t want to wait around for the next one since we were freezing! So we started walking…  Ended up walking the entire 7.5 miles (12km) there! But we were glad we did cause we were able to enjoy the scenery a lot more. And we saw Scottish Highland Cattle (a.k.a. Hairy Coo’s)!!! They are massive animals!!! We sat and watched them for a while cause I was super excited about seeing them. They didn’t do much though, they move kind of slowly and really they are kinda boring to watch, but it was still very cool!! Glad we saw them! :)   Once we reached Kilmun Arboretum in Argyll Forest park we walked around its trails for 2 hours. The park is beside the Holy Loch, so called because Christianity started here after St. Mund built a church on its shores (Kilmun = “church of St. Mund”). The forest that is now here contains species of trees from all around the world. They use the introduced trees to research growth and performance and the park also conserves threatened conifer species.  Turned out a lot of the trees were from North America, especially BC, so a lot of the time it felt like we were back at home :P hehehe  The walk was nice though, we liked being in a forest surrounded by trees and green! Really miss that about home.


I started university the first week in January. So far I am loving it! The program sounds great! The teaching style is very practical. You have to do a lot of self-study before classes and then the classes use your theory in a practical way or you brainstorm in groups. There are no sit-down exams which is great! Evaluation is by practical exams, essays, group-work (poster presentations), and a big dissertation. I love how everything is so hands-on as that’s the way I learn best. We have already learned how to move patients safely and how to examine a patient’s range of motion in their hip joint as well as anatomical landmarks and how to palpate them in the pelvis/hip, and how to test the integrity of hip ligaments…. There is a lot of pre-reading to do though so I find that I am constantly working on something when I am at home, there is a lot of material to cover in just 2 years, so the program is fairly intense. The first 6 months is supposed to be the hardest, as we get most of our theory knowledge during this time, then starting in June we go out to clinical placements quite regularly… I believe its 8 or 10 four week placements. Really nervous about those, especially since June doesn’t seem too far away, but I assume we will be well prepared for those and not just thrown into the deep end…. The other students in the program are super friendly and a bunch of us went out last weekend and then again this weekend for a couple drinks. Nice getting to know everyone in a social setting. I am still amazed at how friendly they are! That goes for most of Scotland too, the people here are so nice and helpful. The instructors seem super approachable too and they really look like they love their jobs. All of them are (or were) practicing physiotherapists too so its great to hear about their personal experiences. Most of the students in the class are Scottish, about 3 or 4 from Ireland, and 2 from England. And it turns out there is another Canadian in the program, who also went to UBC… small world!  Out of the 22 of us, there are only 6 guys, but that doesn’t surprise me… Everyone is super nice.


Speaking of random people who are nice. On our way home from the Cowal Peninsula, we asked a lady where we could catch the bus back to the ferry (as we didn’t want to make the 12km trek again) and she offered to drive us there. Also, while trying to get to IKEA in Glasgow we asked a girl for directions. She didn’t know so she ended up calling her grandmother for directions and giving us her day pass so one of us would save money on bus fare and then when we were a few pennies short for the second ticket asked random people for a few cents. Mind you, our first trip to IKEA wasn’t exactly easy. Firstly, I think we like the subway system a lot better, the bus we got on smelt like rotting seafood and the bus driver was super unfriendly and useless. He grunted at us when we asked what stop to get off for IKEA and said he had no idea where it was. So we decided to just look out the window and see if we could spot it. Never saw it but Tony made me get off the bus in an area that looked like the area where IKEA should be…. Turned out it was right behind the massive mall we were standing in front of! Decided to walk back after that experience with the buses, took a while but the fresh air was nice. And ended up discovering a better bus route and seeing 2 city foxes! So the trip was successful in the end.


We’ve been spending our spare moments (which are very few and far in-between…and are getting fewer and fewer as time goes on, at least mine are) relaxing and watching movies, trying to get our computers set up, and trying to find green areas that we can walk around. We are hoping to go to a park in Glasgow that is supposed to be very scenic sometime this week, if time allows.


We miss everyone, hope you are all doing well!



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