Well, it’s official. Week 1 at Hogwarts is officially over. I’ve been sorted into Gryffindor and I couldn’t be most upset that we’re not allowed to apparate on campus here.
Okay, part of that sentence might be a lie, but the one true thing is that I really wish I could transport myself from place to place that easily. After spending a full week in the massive city of Glasgow, my iPhone says I walk an average of 8 miles a day. 8 miles! My college hometown doesn’t even have an 8 mile radius! Even though the walk through the Botanic Gardens multiple times a day is stunning, my feet are still getting used to the fact that the free campus bus has not started running yet.
The comparison to Hogwarts is also no joke. The University of Glasgow’s main building feels like a real life school for witchcraft and wizardry. And that’s not in a “creepy hocus pocus” kind of way, but in a “larger than life” kind of way. So far, it’s been a bunch of orientation activities and meetings, waves of panic about class registration, and bagpipes on every corner. When I imagine Scotland, yes I automatically think bagpipes, but when I knew I was going to live here I never imagined hearing bagpipes off in the distance just about everywhere I walked. I have to say, it’s pretty magical and it makes me want to learn to play more and more everyday (which might come true with a piping class they offer here).
The IFSA- Butler squad is amazing, who I first all met at the orientation in Edinburgh last week. There are ten of us attending the University of Glasgow, and after spending a week in our separate University housing arrangements, I think we’ve all kept in touch pretty well. Now’s the time I get to talk about my sexuality! I think that most of them are aware that I’m gay, and as expected, none of them batted an eye when I dropped the “my girlfriend back home…” sentence, except for one girl! She was (and of course I was as well) excited to meet someone in the same program who also wasn’t exactly straight. We’ve spent a lot of time talking over brews at a pubs about how easy it can be to feel isolated as a gay person in this world, and how necessary it feels to have people by your side who shares a similar experience.
Coming out is another big theme in the LGBT+ world that’s a never ending process- especially after just having moved to another country. It’s been easy for me with my level of comfort with my own sexuality, and because I can just drop the fact that I have a girlfriend. It automatically outs me (unless they’re thinking I’m referring to my friend who happens to be female), and it gives them something to focus on other than solely my orientation. I think it’s been received well here and my roommates and other people I’ve met seem just as eager to talk about my girlfriend as they would be to talk about someone’s long distance boyfriend. Granted, most of them are American, so I’m not really getting too big of a feel for Glasgow’s gay community just yet. I do have a friend here who’s Scottish and I struck up a little conversation about Glasgow with her. She mentioned that Scotland in general is pretty liberal and very accepting of the LGBTQ+ population (especially in Glasgow). I had gathered that much purely from research, but it’s always nice to hear from a local!
The University has an LGBTQ+ organization (GULGBTQ+), and so far I’ve noticed that they have an amazing presence on campus and around the city. At a table they had at an international student information fair, they told me they had one large group with weekly events, but that there were also multiple groups within GULBGTQ+ that threw events on their own. These were separate groups like International LGBTQ+, Women’s, Lesbian, Transgender, Asexual, Bisexual and way more. I was shocked! Not only because of how inclusive their organization was but at the fact that the University’s community was big enough to form that many distinct groups. I’m on their email list already so I’ll keep you posted on events!
On another note, this weekend I’ll be moving into the home of a family in Shap, which is a town in Northwest England. They’re a family of four and they have a farm! Not only will it be a completely new experience for me in general (because no I have never lived with farm animals), but it will be an entirely opposite perspective of the UK that I have yet to experience.
Next week is the sports and clubs fair, so I’ll keep you posted on my first quidditch practice.