City Discovery: The History and Mystery of Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is a great place to see live music, hosting an average of 130 music events every week. There is a very diverse music scene – ranging from urban and hip-hop, electronica and indie through to classical and Celtic.  Glasgow is referred to as “Europe’s Secret Capital of Music.”

The Scots invented many useful items we use today such as tires, the telephone, raincoat, and the bicycle.


Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Try some classic Scottish dishes like haggis! As a part of the Bridging Cultures Program, ISA students will have a welcome dinner at a traditional Scottish restaurant where they will try haggis.  The dish came to be considered traditionally Scottish, even the national dish, and is typically served with “neeps and tatties.” At the dinner, a local explains the history of haggis and the importance of the dish in Scottish culture and history. This opportunity gives students the opportunity not only to experience the authentic dish, but to interact with locals.

Visit the National Piping Centre in Glasgow for a chance to learn about the history of the bagpipes and their significance in Scottish culture. Students studying abroad with ISA in Glasgow will tour the museum and sign up for a class and learn to play! Through the University of Glasgow, students can also take a full semester course in bagpiping for academic credit. Students are taught bagpipes in individual and group lessons and take a historical survey of the bagpipe that places it within its social context.



ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

As a cultural activity, ISA students spend a day going on an architecture tour of Glasgow. From Victorian influences to the Glasgow style of art nouveau, students will get the opportunity to explore these many architectural designs and how they relate to Glasgow’s growth, industrialization, and historical past. Students will see the Glasgow Cathedral, the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland to have survived the Reformation of 1560, virtually unscathed. Also, there is a tour of The Glasgow School of Art, the architectural and engineering masterpiece designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1896 and completed in 1909. Mackintosh was the leader of the Art Nouveau movement in Glasgow and his designs have had a major influence on architectural design in Glasgow and the UK.

On January 25th of each year, a group of ISA students attend Burns Night, a dinner that honors the life of bard poet, Robert Burns. Burns had a huge influence on Scottish culture and identity and his best known work is the song “Auld Lang Syne.”  Students enjoy a meal with locals and learn how to Celtic dance.  At a traditional Burns supper, students will find a spread of traditional Scottish foods to enjoy along with the playing of bagpipes and performances of Burn’s work.



Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Students take an excursion to the capital city of Edinburgh, were they tour the Scottish parliament and learn about its history and current procedures.  In the past, ISA students have even been lucky enough to spot important Scottish political leaders during this tour. Students are able to visit the debating chambers, where they can see policy in the making. Students will learn more about the recent Scottish Referendum and get a more in depth prospective from the capital city.

ISA students get a glimpse inside some of the city’s historic political buildings on Doors Open Days in September in Glasgow. Organized by the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, the weekend event gives visitors and locals a chance to peek inside a few of the city’s most impressive institutions.  Students visit the Glasgow High Court, the most important court in the city where notorious figures from Scottish history were tried. Students can also tour the Glasgow City Chambers, the headquarters of the Glasgow City Council.



Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

ISA students studying in Glasgow during the fall can take part in service learning through the department of Public Policy. Subject areas include: Children/Young People, Social Services, Women’s Issues, and Physical Care – just to name a few! The module gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience in welfare provision in Scotland through a placement with an organization. Tutorials are held to allow students the ability to critically reflect on their practical experiences in combination with and informed by their academic study.

Students have a resume building workshop with the ISA staff where they get hints and advice on how to use their study abroad experience to appeal to potential employers.  Students can also join one of many clubs and organizations on campus related to their academic majors, such as the Business Club and the Psychology Society. The clubs arrange lectures and social activities for the students, which connects them to other international students and the local Scottish community.



Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Take in beautiful, mysterious Loch Ness, not far from Glasgow. This beautiful area is of course famously home to the illusive Loch Ness Monster and a great place to take a boat in search of the beast. Loch Ness is also a fantastic spot for hiking and views of the amazing Scottish countryside. ISA students go on an excursion to Loch Ness every semester, where they can spend the day exploring the Scottish Highlands. This excursion gives a comprehensive look inside Scottish culture and allows students to enjoy the natural landscapes of Scotland. Students studying abroad with ISA will not only learn more about Scottish history on this excursion, but also discover the different varied geological features of the country.

After classes, students can visit a park or garden in the city that has more green space than any other city in the United Kingdom. The beautiful Glasgow Botanic Gardens is the perfect place to wander on a warm afternoon or enjoy a cup of tea in the garden tearooms. Initially created in 1817 by a professor of botany at the University of Glasgow, the gardens were used primarily for events, but the plants were also used as provisions and teaching aids for medical and botanical classes.


Explore Glasgow for yourself during a semester abroad. 

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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