Insider's Guide - Glasgow Caledonian University

Insider's Guide - Glasgow Caledonian University

Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We speak to Kristina Tsenova about the ins and outs of studying at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland.

The Specifics

What’s the name of your school?

My university is called Glasgow Caledonian University. It is situated in Glasgow, Scotland, but also has campuses in London and New York. Despite its young age it develops and expands rapidly as a modern and cosmopolitan institution with more than 170 courses and students from more than 100 countries.

My first impression of how well GCU takes care of its students was striking, as coming here was my first time being away from home, I knew no one and I was alone in a foreign country. GCU does everything to help students feel at home by organizing so many wonderful multicultural events. And all that free pizza!

What’s the name of the neighbourhood?

GCU is in the heart of Glasgow City Centre, close to theatres, cinemas, concert halls, pubs, clubs and much more. Everything is so close and convenient and Caledonian Court (which is GCU’s accommodation) is 2 minutes away from campus! Which means you can never be too late for lectures (unintentionally that is).

Closest train station or public transport option?

Buchanan Bus Station is just 2 minutes away from campus, as well as the subway! Various parks, historical towns, the Highlands and the beach are all very close to Glasgow and you can get your bus tickets in advance for a very cheap price.

How long have you been there?

I have studied in GCU for the past four years and recently graduated as a Bachelor of Science in 3D Computer Animation and Visualization. My course offered a wide variety of subjects, giving students the chance to specialize in various spheres depending on their interests - 3D computer animation for digital film, visual effects, games, architectural and concept visualisation, virtual simulation or motion graphics.

We were allowed creative freedom and were able to work on projects we actually really wanted to create, rather than tedious and obligatory tasks. As I love coming up with my own ideas this was perfect for me. I also got the chance to meet many like-minded people and be part of teams with artists, programmers and designers, which created a very dynamic industry-like atmosphere.

Why did you choose to study here?

My primary reason for choosing GCU, was that the type of course I was interested in is relatively new and not that common. GCU had exactly what I was looking for in terms of subjects, which are more oriented towards the digital arts, the movie and game industry.

Additionally, Scotland supports EU students through an organization called SAAS, which covers our undergraduate student fees. Coming from a working class family, this was of such a great help and gave me an opportunity I could not have had otherwise. And it was in Scotland, of course (castles!).

Scotland has always held fascination for me, with its rich history, beautiful nature and warm-hearted people. It proved to be more than I ever imagined and experiencing it all first hand was enriching and precious experience.  

The Scene

What is the first thing you see when you walk outside?

I see the recently renewed campus with its lovely futuristic lawns and recreational areas. True, it might not be one of those castle-like 500 old universities, but it looks modern, bright and even sci-fi! It has many great spots to enjoy the sun. Or more often the rain, as Scottish weather is notorious.

The closest shop to outside your school is:

Sainsbury’s – 2 minutes away, right next to the bus station! However GCU is pretty much self-contained – it has its own pub, where students can go for a pint after a busy day, the canteen and cafeteria to enjoy lunch and chill with your friends and the Library where you can meet your peers to discuss projects or study and research on your own (24/7 around exam period).

Your school is great, but you wouldn’t mind a bit less:

Software crashes! Honestly, it has brought many people on the verge of hysteria. However in our field it can’t be helped and has taught all of us to persevere and create back-ups.

The unofficial uniform of your school is:

Anything! I have seen people wearing both suits and pyjamas on different occasions!

A mandatory stop for anyone new to your city:

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Necropolis! Who doesn’t like a castle full of art and science and a Victorian City of the Dead! In Kelvingrove you can spend hours exploring art, nature, history and inventions. You can even go there to draw or take photos as reference for your art projects.

The Necropolis is a bit creepier way to spend the day, but it has its charm, as it’s full of amazing statues, it’s very peaceful and has a panoramic view over Glasgow.

A common myth about your school is:

That it’s too young to be any good! Being new only makes it more progressive, which is so valuable for any course in our field (which is relatively new itself)!

A massive night out for students at your school is likely to be:

The Students Association Bar! Well, at least for 12-hour Harry Potter/ LOTR marathons, with tons of free pizza, donuts and coffee.

There is also Walkabout - a pub that offers great food, drinks, various events and life-streaming of sports.  

The Superlatives

You won’t find a better place to eat than at:

Bloc +, where you can find food for every taste and live music in the evenings, the chocolate café Coro, to enjoy the sweetest desserts and the Blue Lagoon, as fish and chips is Glasgow’s trademark.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen at your school is:

Some anti-stress alpacas walking around for people to pet during exam period…

One thing you’d never change about your school is:

The best part of my GCU experience was working with my professors, which are all such interesting and kind individuals. I’ll never change anything about them, as they made all the struggles of university life worth it and helped me and my peers immensely with precious advice, feedback and insight into the industry and what’s ahead!  They were the ones that prepared us for all the challenges we need to face now that we are on our career paths.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is:

A 24 hour lab for computer students to work in, since when deadlines approach, the last thing you want is sleep! And a very good render farm, so that rendering doesn’t take weeks…

Someone gives you $1M to pimp out your school. You use it to:

I think GCU is doing great with it's finances,  however more computer/art related courses, a wider variety of subjects to choose from and the latest innovations and software would make it more desirable for people in the creative fields.

My name is Kristina Tsenova, I am a traditional, digital and 3D artist and currently a university student (3D Animation and Visualization). I have a passion for art, literature, cinema and photography.