Ceilidhs and Fairy Lights

Swinging and spinning
Twinkling, hopeful, cute and quaint
Carefree, fun, dancing 

So much has happened between the last post I made and now — touring the West and East Ends of Glasgow in a bus, shopping on Sauchiehall Street (Glasgow is the second best city to shop in after London), visiting a beautiful little cafe with a friend from home, cooking satisfactorily for myself, running into a wedding party (complete with kilts and bagpipes!), meeting tons of new friends, cultural exchanges like learning different phrases to comparing cultural traditions… too much to cram into one blog post, so I’ll take it one at a time, starting with this:

I went to my first ceilidh tonight.

What’s a ceilidh?

Originally the word Ceilidh (kay-lee) descended from the Gaelic word for ‘gathering’ or ‘party’… However, these days when people think of a Ceilidh, they think of a fun filled night of wild dancing, good music and great company! (Source)

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Image from The Cardonald Courier

The ceilidh I went to tonight was hosted by UofG for study abroad, exchange, Erasmus, and international students. We gathered in the beautiful Bute Hall where exams are administered and graduation ceremonies occur (and where they say JK Rowling found the inspiration for the Great Hall in Hogwarts). There was a woman playing the violin fiddle and a man who was both our accordionist and our caller.

I immediately felt so satisfied I’d chosen to take the “The Mathematics of Square Dancing” D-Term course during sophomore year. Though Scottish dancing obviously has its cultural differences from square dancing, I felt comfortable with following and remembering directions in huge groups of people, with dance partners who had been strangers to me only seconds prior to joining hands. Oh, it was such a thrill. We learned and performed so many dances, I could hardly keep all the names straight. The only ones I solidly remember are “Strip the Willow,” “The Gay Gordons,” and “The Flying Scotsman.” The latter was my absolute favorite (and it’s a convenient coincidence that it just so happened to be named after the first Scottish beer I had on Monday). I wish I had a GoPro solely for being able to record a night swinging and flying through a tunnel of people all having exactly the same exhilarating fun I was. I did find a YouTube video of another group of folks doing The Flying Scotsman, but it doesn’t do the fun I had justice at all:

Now, imagine that happening with hundreds of people in a room far too small to accommodate everyoneI could see exactly why that dance was called The Flying Scotsman; my dance partner and I positively flung ourselves across the room when it came time to dance in between the lanes of people.

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In retrospect, I probably should have tried to take a panorama.

The ceilidh ended with a very cheesy (but no less cute and beautiful) final dance in a wide circle that stretched around the entire hall to “Auld Lang Syne.” Afterwards, some folks I’d met today during our tours and tonight at the ceilidh decided to get drinks together at a pub on Ashton Lane.

Oh, Ashton Lane.

In the four days I’ve been here (what?! FOUR DAYS ONLY?!), Glasgow has managed to completely steal my heart, and continues to find new ways of doing so. (Oh, I know I’m way in for a treat for the next few months if I think I’ve been impressed after only four days.)

Earlier in the afternoon, long before the ceilidh, I took a walking tour of the University and its surrounding area. When my tour group rounded a corner not too far from the University to take a peek at Ashton Lane, my jaw dropped — and it was only day time.

This easily is one of my favorite sights since arriving in Glasgow. Not only that, it’s easily one of my most favorite sights I’ve ever seen in general. (I know, I know, I keep telling myself there’s so much more to see — which is both so mind-boggling and absolutely exciting!) I thankfully had my DSLR on me today, so I knew that I would definitely be returning to Ashton Lane on my way home from the ceilidh tonight, if only just to take pictures.

Of course, as luck would have it, a group of students with whom I’d quickly gotten acquainted wanted to head out for drinks after the ceilidh. Socializing with new people who are also from all around the world? I’m in. Socializing in one of the cutest, quaintest, most beautiful little streets I’d ever seen ever? Yeah, I’m already there.

And like I’d predicted just from seeing it during the day time, it was all the more beautiful at night.

They say that JK Rowling found her inspiration for Diagon Alley in Ashton Lane. I mean, considering how beautiful and unique it is, I believe it. (I am, of course, keeping an eye on how many “They say”s I hear, but it’s still exciting for a Harry Potter fanatic like myself to be in a place where there are so many rumors about what exactly might have inspired JKR.)

Anyway, it’s about 1:40 in the morning here — so much for trying to fix my jet lag. I was just too enamored by how beautiful today was that I had to write at least something about it! I did have a successful night of 8 uninterrupted hours last night, so there’s that… but, before I get too tempted to write about the 923847346 other wonderful things from the last two days, I’ll just say,

Good night, Day 4.

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