Glasgow, and Carlisle, and Rugby. Oh My!

This weekend (February 24-26) was filled with new cities and new experiences. Lots of traveling and lots of sports.

Friday was a mandatory house trip to Glasgow, another city in Scotland, for our Scotland: Society and Globalization class. We left on a coach bus at 7:30am and met our professor in Glasgow at about 8:30am. As we drove through the city, our professor pointed out buildings and gave us some history and information about this very different part of Scotland. Where Edinburgh is very 'old' with the castle and other historic buildings and monuments, Glasgow is very industrious and modern. Glasgow has a population of 700,000 and is the biggest retail center in the UK besides London. While it used to be very industrial (and parts still are) many parts of the city are run down now and many people have moved away.

Our first stop was the Celtic (pronounced like Boston Celtics without the 's') Football (what Americans call soccer) Stadium. The Celtic Football Club was started to raise money for the poor. The Celtic have won the Scottish Cup more than any other team, and they were the first British team to win the European Cup.We got a tour of the stadium, which began with a short historical video then got to go out on the field.  On our way out to the field, we passed the team's dressing room and saw the captain and goalie! We walked out through the tunnel that the players use and once on the field, we got to sit in the players' seats.

Back on the coach bus we passed Glasgow Green where anyone who was born in and lives in Glasgow has a legal right to graze their sheep. That afternoon we stopped at the Riverside Transport Museum and saw multiple modes of transportation - and fashion and home furnishings - from throughout history. We also saw Egyptian artifacts, extinct and endangered animals, and historical military equipment at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. We headed home exhausted.


On Saturday our host parents took Chelsea and myself to Carlisle, a town across the border in England. During the roughly two hour road trip we passed through "the borders" and saw lovely green hills and countryside.

Once in Carlisle, we visited Carlisle Castle. The castle had switched hands between Scotland and England several times during the two countries long history of wars and peace. Mary, Queen of Scots was held prisoner in it before she was taken to the Tower of London to be executed. It also housed Jacobite prisoners who licked the stones in the dungeon to try and stay alive. This castle was very different from Edinburgh Castle in the sense that Carlisle Castle was very "raw." It appeared as though not a lot had been done to restore it and the furnishings were very simple and kept to a minimum. There was nothing fake or staged about it.

After the Castle, we visited Carlisle Cathedral. The stained glass and painted ceiling were incredible! We then walked through the bustling City Centre and made our way back to Dalkeith. Another great day!



Sunday was Rugby day! For a house activity we had the chance to buy tickets to the Scotland vs. France rugby game. None of the tickets were for seats next to each other, so we were scattered throughout the stands, but it was a thrilling experience nonetheless. Gabby and I arrived an hour before game time, which gave us enough time to take in the atmosphere before the real excitement began. Don't know anything about rugby? Neither did we. Before leaving Dalkeith House we watched this clip to help familiarize ourselves with the game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiOpAvEdHQo.

We had great seats, just a few rows up from the pitch (field). I was in row N and Gabby was in row P. Although Scotland lost (17-23) it was an unforgettable experience. It was an exciting game with the score remaining relatively close and the lead passing between the two teams throughout the game. There were 5+ injuries that stopped the clock throughout the game, and one player had to be taken off on a stretcher. But what can you expect when the players wear no pads for protection!? Adding even more excitement was the French streaker who made it across the entire pitch before security stopped him during the second half of the game!

The relationship between the two countries' fans was very friendly. I was under the impression that sporting events in Europe could become scary with brawls breaking out between opposing fans. This was certainly not true of this game. After the game, we made friends with some Scottish people (we didn't know how to get home and they showed us the way to the bus stop) and they told us that rugby is usually laid back with fans getting along, while football is the sport to watch out for. It was very awe-inspiring to see two countries come together over a game. After the game I saw a Scotsman shake the hand of a French man and congratulate him.

There was still clearly pride in one's own nation during the game, however. I don't know the words to the Scottish "National Anthem" (since they are part of the UK, their technical National Anthem is "God Save the Queen" and the song they played before the game was not) but the pride is evident either way:


As you can tell this weekend was busy and exciting, with new places and new experiences every day!

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