Student Guide to Scotland 2015-16

Introducing: The Skinny's guide to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee! Think of it like a dirty pint of insight, hope and graduate cynicism. Chug! Chug! Seriously though, chug.

Feature by Kate Pasola | 09 Sep 2015


Oh hello, Auld Reekie recruits. No, don’t glaze over just yet! You’ll learn what Auld Reekie means later, I promise. But there’s no time for that now. You’ve got trivia, Edinburgh gripes and stereotypes to learn.

First up, for the sake of continuity, here’s an update from previous editions of the Student Handbook on two of Edinburgh’s hot topics: Pandas and Trams. After briefly surveying Edinburgh Zoo’s panda cam, we can confirm that Edinburgh’s riveting pandas are currently sitting out of sightline of the panda cam.

The trams for which we waited six years are mostly in working order, although no one has really mentioned them since a couple of yooths climbed atop a carriage in April and everyone got worried that 'Tram Surfing' might become a thing. It hasn’t.

In terms of stuff that has become a thing in Edinburgh, the formula is Camden trends + a five month delay. So that leaves us with pulled pork, exposed bricks, doughnuts filled with things other than synthetic jam, craft beer served in purple and pink cans, acknowledging that people have food intolerances, making money out of those food intolerances, normcore and cat cafes. I think we’re already bored of cat cafes though – turns out, when cats spend their life being served on the side of an Americano like a Garibaldi biscuit, they aren’t the best of company.

Speaking of company, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of who you’ll be spending the next four years studying alongside. There are the poshos who wear pastel Reeboks and tiny silver necklaces. They’ll spend the year trying not to be associated with you before eloping to New Town and communicating with you only through the medium of Facebook invites to their club nights.

There are also the poshos who are actually really nice and will probably spend the year trying to look less posh by introducing manbuns, small musical instruments and cartilage piercings into the equation. These folk tend to be embarking on spiritual/chemical enlightenment, too.

There are also people who don’t feel posh enough to be here and end up perplexed by everyone else’s attempts to seem working class. Don’t worry about all that though – all dogma and dicta tend to be disrupted during August when the Fringe rolls round. Everyone’s just too busy flyering, monologuing, partying and bratwurst-eating to give a steaming shit about anything else.


Living in the shadows of the total show-off that is Edinburgh, you’d think that Glasgow would feel a bit like an underdog, wouldn’t you? I mean, you wouldn’t blame them for harbouring a slight resentment that Edinburgh gets to host about sixteen million festivals per year while G-town gets a comparative diddly squit. But does Glasgow care? Does it fuck.

Glasgow’s busy, man. It’s Scotland’s biggest city, for a start. When it’s not busy naming hurricanes after genitalia (See: Bawbag) or being a total wido (noun: cheeky dickhead, abbrev. from 'wide-boy'), Glasgow can be found doing stuff like opening burger places, hosting the Commonwealth games and staging gigs for artists who can be arsed to include Scotland in their world tour. The home-grown moozak scene is absolutely belting too.

Onto the city’s personality: on top of its abrasive hilarity, Glasgow’s also quite cool, in an aloof, it’s-all-for-the-lols sort of way. Any city where the metro system is called the Clockwork Orange was always going to be a bit cool, wasn’t it? In terms of stuff to do, everything’s a-changing there. Nightclubs hosting feminist embroidery meetings, vegan restaurants sheltering record shops and record shops staging poetry slams. Nothing is certain.

As a student in Glasgow, you’ll fit in just fine. There are about 130,000 of you, spread between Glasgow, Caledonian, Strathclyde, Glasgow School of Art and the city’s various colleges. The students mostly chill in the West End. If you’ve got no dollar (cheers, Davey Cam), get yourself some digs in South Side. The city centre is good if you’re sick of ‘rifling’ in ‘hubs’ and ‘startups’ and JUST WANT TO BUY A T-SHIRT FROM URBAN OUTFITTERS FER CRISSAKES.

Another great thing about Glasgow is that it’s full of lots of people giving lots of shits about important things. Things like social responsibility, equality, not poisoning the earth, helping poor people become artists, and helping artists help poor people. Sorry, did we get a bit deep there? Right, well instead of further philosophising, here’s a selection of classically ‘wegian news stories from the past few months to help orientate you:

1. Scotland’s first lesbian and gay same sex marriage took place on the night of Hogmanay. Isn’t that groovy?
2. In June, the RSPCA tried to rescue a severely neglected donkey which turned out to be a fibreglass model of a donkey owned by a local Glaswegian reverend.
3. In early July, Nicola Sturgeon crashed a Ru Paul’s Stag Race themed stag night. Allegedly.

Now, that's you up to speed, on you go. Glasgow’s your oyster, fresher. And you’re the soon-to-be mocked pearl.


Dundee. What is it good for? Well, it used to be good for a few things, actually. After its successes in the areas of vegetable fibre harvesting, marmalade making and word-weaving, it surfed to fame on the back of the pleasingly alliterative epithet of “Jute, Jam and Journalism”. But, thanks to our best buddies globalisation and capitalism, Dundee’s been a bit screwed over in those respects.

So, when we’re all getting our canvas from Primark (who in turn 'buys' it from India), our marmalade from whoever’s on offer in Lidl and our journalism from fucking Buzzfeed, it’s no wonder Dundee’s left at a bit of a loose end. Don’t worry though, the 'Dee has its eye out for the next big thing, and by the grace of god it won’t let you forget it. It must be hard to spot the next big thing when you’re limited to the letter J, though, so we’ll let ‘em off with their stalling for now.

In news concerning other letters of the alphabet, Dundee’s set to open its own V&A museum on the waterfront (at some point). It’s going to be the UK’s first design museum outside of London (hah, take THAT, England). And it’s not just reserved for Duncan of Jordanstone students and rich Londoners suffering too much FoMO to leave the place unvisited. Nope, the V&A claims it’ll be a “living room” for the Dundonian population. A living room with a sea view – shwanky.

It’s a bit redundant to tell you that most of the stuff you’ll want to do will take place somewhere in the vicinity of Perth Road, because let’s face it, you're probably sitting in a cafe on Perth Road right now, aren’t you? But honestly, shuffle off the beaten track and you’ll uncover everything from a 24 hour bakery selling Scooby Snacks to a suburb where there’s mini golf, ice cream and a tapas bar so sensational that you’ll have to call three weeks in advance to get a table at it.

Watch this space! (For around three more years-ish.)

Actually, no, we're not going to tell you what Auld Reekie means. Find out for yourself, it'll be a nice ice-breaker at that shitty barcrawl you're at tonight.