Five Things I’ll Miss About The UofG Campus You’ve Never Heard About (Aka Dumfries)
Hand on heart - did you know UofG has a campus in Dumfries? And even if you did, do you actually know where that is? Let me clear up that mystery for you:
I have been a student with the School of Interdisciplinary Studies down here for more than two years now (first with a MLitt degree, then with my PhD studies), and I have decided it is time to move on and go back to where my Scottish adventure started more than 5 years ago: Glasgow. For me, moving somewhere new is always accompanied by reflecting on what I’m leaving behind. So here they are, the 5 things I love about Dumfries and why I’ll miss it:
1. The familiar, yet eclectic atmosphere
Even though studying at a small school can have its disadvantages, the positives outweigh those by far. The School of Interdisciplinary Studies has 52 members of staff and around 350 students. Truth be told, I don’t know every student, but I sure have encountered all staff members in one way or another and I’ll miss feeling like I know the community – from the janitorial and cleaning staff who you can always have a blether with, to the lecturers and fellow PhD students. Despite there not being many people, the research and teaching that is being undertaken is extremely diverse. The School offers programmes around environmental sciences and humanities, primary education, tourism, health and end of life studies. However, given the interdisciplinary approach, it’s not as straightforward as that and really you can find anything here – from lectures on environmental ethics and politics, to leadership and management in education. Additionally, our campus is a shared one. If you decide to visit, you will not only find UofG buildings, but also departments of the University of the West of Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway College and further higher education providers. Having so many people united on a small campus is inspiring and can further fruitful cooperation.
2. View outside my window and the campus
Crichton Campus (that’s what the campus in Dumfries is called) is absolutely beautiful! The view outside my office is peaceful and calms the stressed PhD nerves any time. Due to being on the edge of Dumfries, the whole campus is quite tranquil and not very crowded (not that Dumfries ever sees many crowds anyway!). When going for lunchtime walks it’s easy to leave your worries behind and gain perspective (similar to the lunchtime walks on main campus!). The history of the campus is an intriguing and fascinating one. From the 1840s until the 1980s the site was home to the Crichton Royal Hospital, an asylum for psychiatric patients. Innovative ideas in occupational and art therapy were developed here and the Crichton became widely known for its exceptional contributions to psychiatric research. The site was closed in the 1980s and a university campus was developed, which the UofG joined in 1999.
Credit: E.Loose (left), @uofgdumfriescampus (right)
3. Criffel and the landscape
Very similar to the natural beauty of Crichton campus are the wider surroundings of Dumfries and Galloway. The rural region is stunning and perfect for hiking, stargazing, ocean swimming or walking in the forest. Just the other day, in fact, a few of my friends and I decided to go to the beach in the evening, make a camp fire, roast marshmallows and let the world be the world. The best part of that evening: we saw the milky way and shooting stars. If you ever want to experience something similar, you should visit the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, the first of its kind in the UK. Alternatively, a hike up Criffel, the highest hill in the region, is a great way to get stunning views not just of Dumfries and Galloway but also of England’s Lake District in the not-so-far-off distance.
4. Cultural Life
Something people often don’t associate with Dumfries is cultural life. Yes, Dumfries is rather small compared to Glasgow and it might be situated in a rather rural area but there is no shortage of theatre, music, arts and other cultural experiences. The Theatre Royal, for example, is the oldest theatre in Scotland still operating as such, and it is a great venue for stage entertainment. More into performing yourself? You could participate in The Stove’s monthly Brave New Words open mic night – an evening where you are sure to meet the creative squad of Dumfries. If you’re more into less performance-intensive creativity, Drawing for Enjoyment is the way to go. This steadily expanding group meets once a week to draw. Just for fun. No prior knowledge required. The list is endless. Gigs in pubs, ballroom dancing lessons, art galleries…you just have to look for what you like and you’re sure to find something that appeals to you.
5. The people
Yes, it sounds corny, but as much as people make Glasgow, people also make Dumfries. That starts with the very first person I met in Summer 2015 who was trying to help me because I looked lost when I tried to find my Airbnb, the second person I met who was my Airbnb hostess and has become one of my best mates, to the third person I met…see what I’m getting at? People here are amazing and the community is devoted to making life better for everybody. The 843 registered charities and thousands of other community groups in the region are proof of that.
Now you might wonder: if it’s so great in Dumfries, why are you moving away? The answer to that includes a variety of academic and personal reasons, starting from having a bigger Maker community in Glasgow which is important for my PhD, to wanting to immerse myself in a larger community of like-minded people. None of this, however, takes away from the loveliness that is Dumfries & Galloway, and if you ever have the chance you should visit and see for yourself.