After a second week in Glasgow I can state a fact: Glaswegians are nice, helpful, warm-hearted people! Wherever I go I meet people who want to help a confused little creature from the North of Sweden, like myself. It can be about finding a way through the city centre, packing the bags at the food store, or getting a library card activated. Ok, that’s what you’d expect of people everywhere, you think. But when people come up to you of their own volition, without you even asking for guidance – that is different. And when people start chatting with you spontaneously in front of a painting in the museum -that is different. When they don’t seem to mind you having to ask “pardon”, three times in a row because certain varieties of the Scottish accent are still hard for you to understand – now that is different. Not to mention the fact that women (generally those over 45) address you by saying “dear” and “love”!
It makes me think of sociologist and cultural theorist Georg Simmel’s canonical text Metropolis and Mental Life from 1903, in which he explored the idea that urban life (in his case Berlin) involved a de-sensitized, blasé attitude, caused by an overload of sensory inputs and incessant change. This description is quite the opposite of how I perceive Glaswegians. People really “see” you and treat you as a friend, almost as if you had come to a small village where everybody knows everybody. Kind of interesting.
It is Sunday today, March 8, and I’ve been in Glasgow for a week now. (Time flies!) My strategy for “going native” has been to consume Scottish food products. When I go to the supermarket (which is an underestimated everyday activity for making observations and at the same time getting a sense of belonging) I look for those products you can’t find back home. So, I’ve bought Scottish porridge oats, tea blended in Edinburgh for (as it says on the cover) a “true taste of Scotland”, ready-made haggis (tasty, yummy) and a handful of caramel-mint drops that I like so much.
The other strategy I use is to walk a lot. I have so far not taken the subway, or travelled by bus. My sense of place gets completely disrupted when I travel like that, but if I walk from one place to another, memorizing all the buildings and the landscape, it is as if they become “my” quarters, in a way. My newly bought “sensible” German shoes also help. 🙂 I’m walking longer and longer distances, and today’s trip will be to visit Waterstones (big bookstore) on Argyle Street, and then continue to the majestic Cathedral. I’m giving myself permission to act as a tourist during the weekends! On Monday it is back to work in my lovely office on number 4 University Gardens.
Awkward. That is the most suitable term for describing how I’ve been feeling making this 4-minute film. I must have about 120 minutes of bloopers collected in my film folder by now! But it has also been an immensely funny and rewarding process. I wanted to do a short and interesting, but not too educational, video presentation about my current research project. But it was not as simple as that – there are tons of questions that you need to find an answer to while making a film, besides all the technical stuff. Who’s your audience? What style and format will it have? Appropriate length? Script? Your reasons for making a film in the first place?
But here it is finally. Next time it’ll be easier. 🙂