How to become a local in Glasgow
When you move to another city, one of the first things you want to achieve is a feeling of home, and the idea of belonging to the place. Feeling at home has both a physical and a social component. A physical feeling of belonging refers to the ability of finding your way around your new hometown, and knowing little things, such as: where the best place is to park your car and getting used noise at various times of the day. The second component involves becoming socially embedded in your neighbourhood and town. This can include random encounters with your neighbours or developing strong ties with friends during various activities, such as sports recreation or cultural events. In this piece, I give you a few signs that you are becoming a local in Glasgow.
When you arrive in a new city, your mental map of the urban environment is filled with voids. If you flip through the Lonely Planet before a plane drops you in your soon-to-be hometown, you might only have a small notion of places you must visit and the only thing you know for certain is how to get from the airport to your new room. However, as you spend more and more time in the new city, your mental map evolves into a network of places, linked through various routes. You are able to go from A to B without constantly checking GoogleMaps. You find your favourite spaces, collect memories and know where it is safe to walk both day and night.
Hopefully, you don’t limit your experience of Scotland by only staying in Glasgow. Scotland’s nature is beautiful: the lochs, highlands and forests might surprise you with a glimpse of their hidden magic. There are new impressions to be found around every corner and there is never a dull moment. After an exhausting day, during which your hand got lame because you tried to take a snapshot of every single magnificent view, you finally head back. Suddenly, you cross the city’s borders, and surprise yourself by thinking: “almost home!”, as if this new city has become your new home.
So far, I have mainly written about the physical aspects of attachment to places. But experiences are not the same when you cannot share them with others. Of course, you can share your pictures and stories with others when you return to your home country, but that’s not the same as to experience something together with the ones you miss. To become socially embedded is maybe the hardest and most stressful part of moving country. Luckily, Glaswegians are very including and tend to care about the wellbeing of newcomers. So if you go to Glasgow, you will not have trouble finding a group of friends that you can live and laugh with during your stay. For me, Glasgow was a positive change from Amsterdam, where everybody stays in his or her own bubble and does not want to let anyone in.
However, to become a real Glaswegian local is difficult for an outsider. Mastering the Sco’ish accent is by far the hardest thing to do and the main characteristic with which people can distinguish you from a real Scotsman or Scotswoman. In Glasgow, I found that there is a double language barrier: the first is the English language, and the second is the Scots. But this is the least of your worries if you have come to feel at home. And life without challenges would be boring in the end.
By Rosa de Jong