News from Scotland

What do our MA students do after finishing their degrees?  I recently heard from one of last year’s MA graduates (2010-11 cohort), Sierra Yanush–in Sierra’s case, the answer is: jump on a plane. Sierra fills us in on her past year:Sierra Yanush

Three days after I handed in my Major Research Paper to my supervisor, Doctor Cristi, I boarded a plane with a one way ticket to Glasgow.  My mum is from Glasgow and I had always wanted to have the experience of living in Scotland.  With no promising job prospects lined up it seemed like a fantastic idea to take a year off school to explore and immerse myself in a different culture.

A week after landing I had my first taste of a real Scottish party.  My cousin got married and kilts were in abundance.  Here a smaller group of friends and family is invited to the wedding and dinner (in this case around one hundred and fifty), and a larger group invited to the dance, buffet and party afterwards (an additional two hundred people).  The dancing opened with the Irish folk singer, Gary Og.   He’s well known in Glasgow because he frequently plays in pubs that support the football team Celtic, one of the cities two major teams.

Sectarianism plays a part in which team you support.  If your family has a Catholic background you support Celtic, and if your family has a Protestant background you support Rangers.  Most of the Scottish-Catholics are of Irish descent, and many of the Celtic Football Club support songs are also Irish rebel songs.  The rivalry between the two teams is intense, and “Old Firm” matches cause a lot of tension within the city.  In the stadiums fans from opposing sides are not allowed to sit near each other, and a police escort ensures that after the game they exit from different sides of the stadium.  If your team wins the Old Firm match though, you cannot find a better atmosphere anywhere.

After Gary Og’s set a DJ set the mood for the rest of the evening.  It was a rowdy night with the groom getting hoisted up in the air, his kilt flipped up, and people taking the liberty of smacking his bare bum (traditionally men don’t wear anything under a kilt).  The party ended with the singing of the time-honoured song, “Loch Lomond,” which tells of a Jacobite prisoner who is being hung for rebellion.  Everyone claps slowly in time with the music, then comes forward when the song speeds up to join in a mass huddle, arms slung over each other’s shoulders, jumping up and down in time with the song.

I have a British Passport and started a job a few days after I handed in my application as I did not need a visa.  It was at a call-centre and was supposed to be a temporary fix while I studied for my LSATs.  However, I’m still there.

Most of September was taken up with studying for the LSATs, and I didn’t have too much time to socialize with the new people I was meeting.  My days consisted of 9-5 training at work, then heading to the Glasgow Caledonian University’s library to study and write practice LSATs.

I took a train down to London to write the October 1st LSAT.  Thankfully, my studying and logic classes paid off and I received a 168, 96th percentile.  I was able to take stay with a cousin in London and explore the city for a few days after the exam.  My favourite part was standing as a groundling in the Globe Theatre watching Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.

I took advantage of being close to Europe and having a sister who works with the Hamburg eventing team to fly to Germany in November.  Being close to Christmas we got to visit several different Christmas markets, filled with gifts, nativity scenes and Gluhvein.  While drinking Gluhvein (mulled wine), you must look your friend in the eye and say “Proust,” otherwise you are in for seven years of a very specific type of bad luck.

While I took several small weekend trips around the UK, my next out of country opportunity was visiting Athens in April.  My friend from my undergraduate was going to be in Italy and we decided to meet up.  We stayed in the Athens Backpacker’s Hostel, which was fantastic for the friendly atmosphere and the roof top bar.  It had a fantastic view of the Acropolis.  We did witness one protest outside Syntagma Square (the Greek parliament buildings).  Thankfully it was a peaceful one.

My next excursion will be to Reykjavic, Iceland in July.  I’m staying for five days and have a variety of activities planned.  This is an adventure holiday; it includes snorkeling, glacier climbing, horse back riding and spelunking.  It will also be my first holiday as a solo traveler, so I’m excited for the experience.

What has kept me in my retention’s based call-centre is the amazing people I work with.  Everyone is up for a laugh, and you have to be willing to “have the piss taken out of you.”  I became a local in the pub beside work (confirmed because when our work moved buildings I got a text from the bar staff asking why my friends and I hadn’t been in that week).  It’s the best team I’ve ever worked with, and their friendship has what’s really made this year for me.

It has also placed me in a difficult position.  I love Glasgow, I love the atmosphere of the city, the nightlife, and the people.  I love having a my extended family close to me.  My original plans were to head back to Canada in August for a friend’s wedding and then attend law school at the University of Calgary in the fall.  I have now applied and been accepted at the University of Glasgow as well.  I don’t have to decide until I board a flight home August 3rd, so I’ll probably leave it as close that date as possible to make up my mind.


Sierra– Have a great time in Iceland and let us know whether you head for Calgary or stay in Glasgow to study law! One last picture of Sierra, looking very lawyerly (?): Sierra


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