The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 when James II persuaded Pope Nicholas V to give Bishop Turnbull permission to found a second university in Scotland, the first being the University of St. Andrews.

Many are quick to point out that the University of Glasgow is therefore older than the United States of America. They are less quick to note that the current site has only really been around since about 1870, when the University moved its premises to its current location in the West End of Glasgow.

Today the University is host to a broad range of about 20,000 students, both British and international. While scurrying back to class along University Avenue from the bar in the union, one is as likely to hear an accent from Scotland, as one is from as far abroad as America, Malaysia, or even Australia. (Taking the liberty of classifying a whole sub-group of accents as a single one, that is.)

Campus Landmarks

The campus lies, more or less, along the unimaginatively-named University Avenue, which gently curves to the left if traversed from Byres Road. Byres Road is the main shopping street in the West End of Glasgow, and is roughly perpendicular to University Avenue.

Also nearby is Ashton Lane, the main collection of watering holes in the area. This makes for a lively atmosphere around the area, where students and the local populace mix on the streets.

The Spire and the Main Building

The most prominent feature of the University of Glasgow is the spire on the Main Building, which is one of the tallest and most noticeable structures in Glasgow. This is particularly remarkable since the University is located in the West End of Glasgow, a good distance from the City Centre, where the spire can still be seen.

The Main Building itself is a large, medieval-looking (neo-gothic, technically) building built of solid stone. It encloses two quadrangles, which are so similar to each other as to be confusing. An open corridor called the Cloisters, an impressive piece of architecture, divides them.

A rather odd and strangely unnerving thing is the bronze statue of a T-Rex which lurks among the trees in the grounds just in front of the Main Building. It appeared at the same time as the Walking with Dinosaurs exhibit came up in the University’s Hunterian Museum, which is situated in the Main Building.

The Library and the Hunterian Art Gallery

Directly across the street is the University Library, a building of large blue-tinted windows supported by a gravel wall structure. The windows give a great vantage point from the upper floors (it is about 10 storeys high) of the Library: one can see Glasgow landmarks such as the antelope-shaped Exhibition Building, and the other structure meant to give a view of the city, the Millennium Tower. That is, before it was closed to repair the minor defect which was causing the Tower to sink slowly into the ground. The University would make a lot of money from tourists if it charged entrance fees to the Library like the one at Berkeley does. As it is only students and staff are allowed in.

There is a wooden door near the entrance to the Library which is approximately seven feet in the air, and therefore about seven feet too high. This oddity owes to the fact that the Hunterian Art Gallery is also housed here, and the former is intended as a piece of modern art.

Also nearby are the Circular Reading Room, apparently somewhat of an architectural marvel and therefore worth mentioning here, and the Hub, which is much less aesthetically pleasing, and serves food of the same nature.

The Boyd Orr and Maths Building

The Boyd Orr and the Maths Building earn the distinction of being arguably the ugliest buildings on campus. They are also along University Avenue, a few hundred metres westwards of the Library. The Boyd Orr is slightly shorter than the Library. It is decorated with large gravel slabs interspersed with hospital-green paint, and is also begging for a wash or a new coat of paint. The Maths Building is much shorter, making up for space by being longer length-wise. Its outward appearance again is composed largely of grey gravel slabs, giving it a rather sombre look.

The Boyd Orr would, like the Library, be an excellent vantage point, if not for the fact that the windows were so small and need cleaning quite badly.

The Unions

The University has two unions, the Queen Margaret (QM) and the Glasgow University Union (GU). Both are extremely similar in terms of what they offer, although the QM is said to attract the goths and the artsy crowd, while the GU has jocks and girls who like jocks as its members (the rest of the student population presumably is busy studying, or more likely has enough taste to stay out of the unions).

Both have several bars, where they serve beer in disposable plastic pint glasses, the only locations in Glasgow which do so, although probably for good reason. Both house nightclubs (Qudos and the Hive respectively) which play very bad music.

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